Friday, February 7, 2014

Double Duty

I’m a happy man. I got a cheque in the mail the other day—actually two cheques—from the Government of
Canada, Border Services Agency, in response to my request for a partial refund on the duty I paid for my On-One Fatty delivery in late December.

As I mentioned here a few weeks ago, the bike arrived at my house in two boxes (as fat bikes are wont to do), on two different days, and the Canada Post delivery guy required payment of $122.15 (all amounts in CAN $)  and then another $104.15 (for a box containing one wheel!) before he’d hand over the goods. The charges struck me as exorbitant at the time, but, truth be told, he could have asked me for a thousand dollars and I would have happily forked it over (on my credit card, of course) to get my hands on that shiny new bike.

When I ordered the bike online from the UK, I knew I would have to pay some duty when it arrived. But I had no clue how much. On the Canada Border Services Agency website, there’s a “Duty Calculator” gizmo that offers an “estimate” of what you’ll pay, based on the type of merchandise, country of origin, and value of the item. According to Mr. Calculator, I could expect to pay $263.34, which seemed ridiculously steep.

But I’ve had enough experience with cross-border shopping in the US to know that in real life, duty charges can vary wildly from case to case. And although there must exist somewhere some hard-and-fast guide to duty charges (inside Mr. Calculator’s program, you’d think), in my experience much depends on the individual border agent and his or her mood (and in this case, general feeling about bicycles and bicyclists) at the moment the case comes across his or her desk.   

I may have drawn a dud the first time through the CBSA, but I feel I got lucky with my refund request. Although I had asked for a re-assessment of the whole transaction, in the box on the form that asked for a specific amount I was requesting, I put down $94 (the charge on the second box with just a wheel in it, minus the non-refundable Canada Post fee), thinking I’d be fortunate to get even some of that back. So imagine my surprise when I got not one but two cheques (they arrived, like my bike, on consecutive days), for $94.29 and $44.86. I’m calling it my double-duty booty.

So, in the end, my On One Fatty cost me $1412 for the bike, $130 for delivery, and $87.15 for duty (a charge of roughly 6%, by my calculation). (Note that this was before the Loonie went in the crapper so the exchange rate now is considerably worse.)

So, grand total spent on my On-One Fatty? $1629.15. I'm happy with that.

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