eBay traders and import duty

There are now so many traders on eBay claiming to have stock in the UK but with business addresses in China, Hong Kong or other Far East Asia countries that it is increasingly hard to find truly local suppliers. While I have no issue with these extraterritorial traders there are issues regarding where their products actually ship from. Several eBay adverts I checked have delivery dates far in the future yet apparent UK shipping addresses. Others clearly do have stock in the UK. One Hong Kong advert I checked said ‘3 day free shipping’ but with a delivery date 3 weeks in the future even though the product is allegedly in Walsall.

Now, while one may be willing to wait weeks for a cheap item – and these are cheap and, from previous experience still good products – there is the potential here for a product purchased from an apparent UK source to gain import duty and VAT. That would be a shock and I wonder if one can refuse said items and expect a full refund including the postage cost? I am taking that up with eBay and PayPal for advice although it can be hard to find someone to actually answer such non-generic questions.

I have had a number of items from China and had no problem with any, although I suspect I was lucky to avoid import duties. That said, the products in question were so cheap that perhaps they are under the limit. I did receive one item apparently from the UK which took two weeks (not the two days advertised) and had my address stuck over another label indicating it had first come from China to a southern UK address.

On import duty, I also purchase an item from the US which was definitely under the limit and yet was charged import duty, VAT and an administration charge equal to the total value of the item. I never paid and it was eventually sent back to the US after which I received a refund less the postage cost – fair enough but import charges do appear to be a bit of a lottery, especially with them including the postage costs to determine the overall value.

Brexit can only make this worse…

Update: On asking eBay (actually a very helpful online chat) they seemed to side with my suggestion that if a parcel comes allegedly from a UK source but you need to pay import duty that I would refuse it and claim a full refund. eBay would also want this reporting to them in the resolution centre so they can investigate such practices. I have some external LED lights on order which apparently come from Walsall so I will wait and see. I have had similar before and there were no such issues so it may just be my natural paranoia setting in!