(Photo: BN4 taken by Abby van Balen, Salar de uyuni, Bolivia)
Not needing her full-on winter woollies in South America, BN4 left a small bundle for me to post to the UK in time for her Christmas sojourn there.
Duly despatched at the begining of October, I was amazed to see the parcel returned to Scone this week.
Apparently the UK Border Agency have seen fit to apply custom charges to imports into the EU with a value over £15 for VAT and also to apply import duty to all items valued over £135. Moreover imported gifts valued over £40 sent between private individuals are also to attract VAT...WTF
None of BN4's items were 'new' or 'for sale' or actually 'imports' - none of them! - so they certainly did not warrant the impost of £105.01 ($161.45) that was required to be paid by my English family so that the parcel could be claimed. Unsurprisingly the parcel was not collected, and it has now made its way back to Australia.
Putting BN4 and her lack of winter clothes for Chrissy aside for a minute, what about the actual season of giving itself? Will there be customs charges for the cookbooks that I've sent to the UK family this year? Is the UK government that desperate for cash they've directed the UK Border Agency to ensure they squeeze every available last penny from any poor international sucker who still posts gifts to their family? - international gift giving might have to stop!
Who are the UK Border Agency anyway? - and why do they bother themselves with the minutiae of parcel post? Exactly what have family parcels got to do with border security? Surely their state of the art UK Border Agency scanning equipment could have informed them very quickly that they were dealing with a small bundle of used woolly clothes - certainly a pair of spectacles might have assisted and/or taking their gloves off, and judging from the condition of the box when it arrived in back my kitchen, the UK Border Agency have clearly left no mitten unturned in their quest to discover undisclosed international trade.
...and while I'm musing on this matter, who are Parcel Force Worldwide? - whatever happened to the 'Royal Mail' that we knew and loved?
Sigh - bring back Postman Pat