From: Cologne, Germany
.... it almost looks like you would like us to get hit with hefty import fees.
That's a pretty bold allegation.
Actually, I'd prefer if there'd be no import duties at all.
I just wanted to point out that the Matrix statement ("but what we can tell you is that our research would seem to indicate that duty, sales or VAT charge from your authorities, if levied, should be no more than $20 per package") may not hold true (at locations where officers know their job), and that it is based on sloppy research. If customs manages to evaluate the correct value and if customs ignores Matrix' favour to customers (the fabricated values on the bill), VAT will be 28.76 USD in Germany and even more in the NL.
It's pretty nice of Matrix that they are doing that, though. Worth a try.
In your perfect strict customs example the customs officer has almost limitless time and goes on checking for ISBN codes
You reported that they opened your package, correct? They have to classify the type of goods. So, if they take their jobs serious, they will look for an ISBN-code on the manual. If their rules say "no ISBN = not a book", they'll classify it accordingly. If all printed "thingies", game manual or not, are seen as book, then fair enough, i doubt it, though. They just have to check the first pages to see what it is, plus they just have to go to the Matrix website and add the game to the basket in the shop, to see the real values for product and shipping.
.... and surfs the internet to make 100% sure that al is as it should be.
Yes. The daughter of my gf received a designer jeans-jacket from her grandma from the US, a birthday present obtained at a Macy's shop. When we got to the local German customs office, the officer told us that he had done some research on Macy's website to evaluate the value, but failed to find that particular jacket, so we figured that it must have been from a discontinued line of clothes and/or on clearance.
Before he opened the parcel again, he asked if the daughter would want to wait outside, in order not to spoil the type of present, which was pretty nice, btw. She stayed with us and the customs officer got the jacket and told us that this particular brand's jackets for kids are usually $200-350 (so, anything than cheap) and that he did not think that the value given by her grandma on the parcel's declaration sticker ($60 for a new item) would reflect the truth.
We acted the innocents, but actually performed a some similar research right before we got to the customs office and couldn't come up with the jacket either, but figured - after some more thorough research - that similar jackets ranged between $179 and $450.
Since he couldn't prove his suspicion, and since it was her birthday, he gave us the parcel and waived duty payment for the jacket.
I get the impression that maybe 1 in 3 packages will be checked.
If "checked" means opened, then it's a fraction of that amount, these days. In Frankfurt, Cologne or Belgium (the UPS/Fedex hubs in Europe) roughly 1 out of 50 (or even more) parcels will get checked, only. But ALL parcels that fit in the scanner will be scanned, and parcels that won't fit get opened anyway. I've worked at an airport, so that's actually 1st hand experience.
He never even saw the DVD as it is stored in a sleeve...
How do you know? And it doesn't even matter, as there are enough clues that it's a computer game with manual and maps.
Why would a customs officer look even further as he is already spending considerable time on a package that has obviously a low value in tax revenue, doesn't contain drugs and isn't shipped to a known criminal.
You might want to ask that question those officers who charge ppl in the NL with duty values slightly over 10 Euros.
He is obliged to look further, unless the scanner didn't come up with anything suspicious, or unless his experience, his stomach or his pinky toe tells him everything is legit, because he doesn't have the time to open every parcel, indeed.
A DVD sleeve or DVD jewel case could also contain drugs, or let's say the DVD could actually contain DTP or video software for way over $1000, or the complete MS Office Suite. I don't think you know how customs inspections work. If your parcel gained some attention, and if they checked stuff properly, you'll get a bill. If not, you're lucky.
Now if you really want to cheat Dutch customs out of legally owned taxes you should describe your shipment as 2nd hand game.
Good idea, maybe Matrix should look into getting to work that method.
I stand by my promise and wil report back any extra handling costs and taxes I might receive. At the moment my best guess still is that there are no extra costs.
Yes, I'm really interested to see if you get billed or not. Looking forward to your report.
< Message edited by GoodGuy -- 11/17/2013 2:38:24 AM >