At Shippo we know just how easy importing goods via sea freight can and should be. However, the vast majority of shipping companies are very old fashioned in their approach to quotes. This can overly complicate the process of importing goods and add what we feel is an unnecessary complexity to sea freight. This only serves to give a smoke and mirrors effect to shipping in which customers can, maybe unintentionally, miss something and end up paying missing and hidden costs when the invoice arrives.
If you’re sent a list of items that you’ll be paying that’s as long as your arm and include multiple acronyms that you’ve never heard before and aren’t ever likely to need, be aware. You should clarify that the costs include everything you need to get the goods to and from where you want and that you won’t be charged any more.
The most frequent of the hidden costs is deferment. This is a cost that you can be charged for having the shipping company pay the UK Duty & VAT to HMRC on your behalf before billing it to you directly. We don’t think it’s fair so don’t add anything on for this. However, deferment can often be charged as a percentage so can be a huge extra cost. We recently quoted for a shipment where the customer had previously been stung for a deferment bill that was bigger than that for the actual freight costs!
Unless requested we always give prices that include every foreseeable cost to get the goods from and to your desired origin and destination. Things that aren’t included are duties, taxes and insurance (plus any unforeseeable costs that may come about in the rare event that customs hold your goods for a prolonged period of time or you require the goods to be stored before delivery). However, we can help you calculate the duties and taxes you’ll have to pay and with the value of your goods we can give you a separate price for the insurance.
Imagine if you’d agreed a price and put down a deposit for a chair to be made in the UK. When you go to pick it up and pay the rest the shop tells you that because they drove further than expected to get the wood they’ve doubled the price and the deposit is non refundable. If they then told you that because they paid for the wood in advance this came with a surcharge too I’m sure you’d be livid. With sea freight, this can happen if shipping companies aren’t pinned down so it’s very important to know exactly what it’s going to cost you to have your goods shipped, cleared through customs and delivered to your door.
Doing this allows you to control your costs when using FOB and EXW shipping terms but if you have your supplier send the goods to the UK port (CIF, C&F CFR) then the additional costs can be totally out of your control but that’s for another page.