“They” are working on a proposed trade agreement between the US and the EU, and to my mind, it cannot come quick enough.

I like buying stuff online. But I do my best not to buy stuff from the US. I would buy a lot of stuff from the US if it wasn’t for the trade barriers in place, the big administration of adding nothing to something of low worth. Sounds crazy already? You bet!

I wanted to fix my espresso machine not long ago, and needed to order some gaskets. After a while searching online, I found them in a little espresso-shop in the US. I ordered them and some clips, it all could fit nicely into an envelope. Knowing administration and postage would be expensive, I added a bit more than I thought I needed. But all in all, postage via UPS was about as expensive as the items bought: $25. I’m sure that was cheap for sending an envelope half around the world 90 years ago, but today this felt crazy to me.

Crazy was still to come, though, because as the envelope arrived in Denmark, it was held up for customs. For 7 days! Then they sent me a letter saying there was no toll, but I needed to pay 25% VAT. On top of that, they charged 180 DKK, or about $30. So $25 worth of spare parts to fix my espresso machine had become ($25 + $25) + 25% + $30 = $92,50! What it should have been, to my mind was $25 + 25% VAT + $5 postage = $36. Needless to say, when I needed a few more spare parts, I was very happy to find a shop in England that sold them for more or less the same price, VAT included, a low shipping fee and no administration fee and week-long hold-up.

But hey, like I wrote about not long ago, I just did it again, buying a Thunderbolt external enclosure via eBay from New York. ($159.99 + $30 shipping) + 25% VAT + $30 processing and 9 days of waiting! Just because it so happened that it was the enclosure I wanted and I couldn’t find it locally (meaning all of EU and Asia. I’m sure I did not look close enough).

And yes, I meant including Asia. I’m sure we don’t have a trade agreement, but I cannot remember ever having the $30 processing fee and long delay on shipments from China, Hong Kong, Singapore or elsewhere in Asia.

So for my online shopping preferences, I cannot wait for the administration fee and long delay to go away, hopefully being replaced by an easy way of paying my VAT. After that, we need to have a discussion with the US postal service and the alternative carriers, because shipping costs are just crazy! (just like the 200 DKK the Danish postal service charged to send a book back to Amazon in the US)

Incidentally, do you know what’s the cheapest way of sending a post card to someone from Denmark to someone in Denmark? Posting it from India…

Tags: Trade Politics eCommerce

Categories: General