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Tobacco products 'confiscated' by shipping fowarding company

Discussion in 'Consumer Law, Contracts, Warranties' started by Crisp24, Sep 21, 2020.

  1. Crisp24

    Crisp24 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hi everyone,

    I am an Australian citizen.

    Recently, I purchased a quantity (<$2000 USD) of cigars, from a US wholesaler.

    Whilst the wholesaler informed me that they could not ship directly to Australia, they gave me a list of recommended shipping forwarding companies that I could use to get the products out of the US and into Australia, where I live.

    I selected one of the companies and paid for my order, which was shipped to the shipping forwarding company I chose, in NH.

    However, I'd made a huge oversight, the shipping forwading company I chose do not handle tobacco products at all, and informed me that I had 2 options;

    1. Afrer 45 days, they destroy the shipment
    Or
    2. They send it back to the address (in PA) that it was sent from, if they are provided with a pre-paid UPS return to sender label (UPS were the courier, from PA to NH).

    I've just recieved an email from the shipping companies' support email stating that they will not release my package to another courier for shipping to Australia.

    I'm wondering where I stand legally on this, I don't see how they can hold onto the package, until their 45 days is up and they destroy it.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    *Tobacco isn't illegal or restricted in Australia (or any US state) it's just heavily taxed.
     
  2. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    And they aren't going to be part of your plan to get around that tax.

    Yes, you did and there is your option.
     
  3. Crisp24

    Crisp24 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    For sure, however, I wonder if there's a better way, with a legal basis
     
  4. Crisp24

    Crisp24 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I wasn't intending on getting around any tax, duty is calculated by the Australian Border Force on it's way into the country, fhe tax is very heavy and there's no getting around it.
     
  5. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Probably not. It was up to you to determine the terms of service with the forwarding company. That you didn't doesn't mean you aren't bound by them.

    Whatever it costs you to get the cigars back to the wholesaler and reship them is probably going to be a lot less than losing $2000 worth of cigars.

    And probably a lot less than the cost of a lawyer in the US to find you a "legal basis."

    Why you can't buy cigars locally in Australia is beyond me.

    Lesson learned.
     
  6. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    By way of full disclosure, I at one time served as the US Defense Attache in the US Embassy at Canberra.
    During my tenure I earned and received the QC designation to practice in Australian courts.
    I have maintained the QC designation, despite it being eliminated some years ago.
    A few of us old rascals are still alive. (LOL)

    Hmm, what does the ABF say about tobacco importation into OZ?

    Can I send cigarettes in the mail to Australia?
    Can I import tobacco through the mail? No. It is a condition of the tobacco permit that prohibited tobacco products cannot be imported into Australia through the mail. The ABF may seize any tobacco products imported through the mail and issue an infringement notice or prosecute the intended recipient.Jul 28, 2020

    To import prohibited tobacco products for both commercial and personal use, you will need a permit issued by the Australian Border Force (ABF) before your tobacco arrives in Australia.

    See Home Affairs notice No 2019/13 (36KB PDF) https://www.abf.gov.au/help-and-support-subsite/CustomsNotices/2019-13.pdf for more information.

    Information on how to apply for a permit and the conditions is available at: List of prohibited items

    The current duty rates that apply to tobacco products imported into Australia are available at:
    Chapter 24

    Well, let's continue:



    For more information see: How to import

    You can continue your research here:
    https://www.abf.gov.au/importing-exporting-and-manufacturing/prohibited-goods/categories/tobacco
     
    shadowbunny likes this.
  7. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Having lived in Canberra for three years, our Australian cousins have some hefty duties and taxes on most imported goods.

    Plus, they assess what I term a VAT.

    The price of a box of Arturo Fuente cigars in the US is about $245.00.

    The price of that same box of cigars in Queensland Australia is $1,445 (AUS) = about $1,045 US dollars.

    Expressed in US dollars $2,000 = about $2,775 Australian dollars.

    The OZ GST (goods and services tax) is 10%.
    That said, it is complicated and has three levels, if I recall correctly.

    US Prices in US dollars
    0921famoussmoke.png


    Australian prices in AUS dollars
    0921cigarworld.com.png
     
  8. Crisp24

    Crisp24 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thanks for the replies, all. I've seen the ABF doc you posted, cigars are actually exempt from requiring a permit, I it states that in the doc, and I have imported many quite recently, ABF calculate duty, send you a notice, once it's paid they send your parcels on to you.

    Yes, cigars are very expensive here, it's still worth buying them from overseas and paying the duty and shipping, over purchasing them locally.
     
  9. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Then I would suggest that you get those UPS prepaid labels sent ASAP.
     
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  10. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    A better option would be to buy cigars (or other tobacco products) directly from Cuba, as you folks have an established relationship in place with the Cubans who make the best cigars in the world.

    Australia and Cuba established formal diplomatic relations in 1989. Cuba opened an embassy in Canberra in October 2008 and the relationship has enjoyed renewed momentum in recent years.

    I suspect you'll be pleased with the value of your dollar against Cuba's sagging, struggling, and lagging Peso.

    In fact, your dollar is worth about $1.00 today against the Cuban Peso at .72.
     
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  11. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Depends on the terms of your agreements with the seller and the shipping company. I assume you didn't just have the goods sent to the shipper without making arrangements up front, so I assume there is some sort of agreement in place.

    That said, for <$2,000 worth of product, you're pretty much at the shipper's mercy,** which would mean having the goods returned to the seller (hopefully for a refund) would be the better option. Then you can make a new purchase.

    ** - What I mean by this is that pursuing any legal remedy would be prohibitively expensive in light of the value of the goods.

    I don't really understand this statement.
     

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