Shipper is billing us for $675 in 'CBP Exam' fees on 150cf?

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robo
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Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 4:46 pm
Location: New York, NY

Shipper is billing us for $675 in 'CBP Exam' fees on 150cf?

Postby robo » Mon Sep 30, 2013 1:54 pm

Just wanted to run this by the smart people here. We have a shipment of household goods from Europe to the US. It's about 150cf. We were just informed by the shipping company that our stuff was 'selected for inspection' and they've paid $675 in fees, which they will bill us for.

When we asked for the invoice, they sent us a photocopy of a generic looking page with a line that just says 'CBP Exam' - $675.

Does that sound right? It seems a lot of money to check a relatively small shipment, but we were wondering if this is just normal.

Thanks,
R

hardatwork
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Joined: Sat Jun 04, 2005 5:52 pm
Location: Orange County, California

Re: Shipper is billing us for $675 in 'CBP Exam' fees on 150

Postby hardatwork » Tue Oct 01, 2013 10:21 am

First you should ask the shipping company for a copy of the actual invoices showing what they paid. The document you received sounds more like their invoice rather than the actual fees paid.

While $ 675 does sound high there could have been several charges involved in the process. Normally the goods must be transported from the warehouse they were off loaded at to an exam site of customs choosing. There could be port storage ffes as well which is typical when the container is held by US Customs for the inspection.

Again ask the shipping lines for copies of the actual charges they paid on the shipment. You have the right to see the actual fees they apid on your behalf.

robo
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 4:46 pm
Location: New York, NY

Re: Shipper is billing us for $675 in 'CBP Exam' fees on 150

Postby robo » Tue Oct 01, 2013 10:28 am

Thanks - I guess the question is what do we ask for? We already asked for the 'invoice from US customs' and received that generic looking form. Is there something else we should ask for? Should the invoice have the Department of Homeland Security logo on it or something?

hardatwork
Posts: 1077
Joined: Sat Jun 04, 2005 5:52 pm
Location: Orange County, California

Re: Shipper is billing us for $675 in 'CBP Exam' fees on 150

Postby hardatwork » Tue Oct 01, 2013 10:40 am

Actually US Customs does not charge for the inspection itself.

The charges all come from third parties than handle the work on behalf of US Customs.

The goods are transported to a third party warehouse and unloaded for US Customs. The US Customs Inspector then does to the warehouse inspect the goods. The warehouse then repackes the goods back into the container and send the shipping company the bill of their services. On top of the warehouse fess there also could be port storage fees that were paid on the container while it was waiting for the warehouse to pick up the container from the port.

Tell the shipping lines you want to see all of the breakdown invoices they were charged on the container showing things like port storage, warehouse handling fees, transportation fees, ect.

Again you have the right to see the line item fees that were paid that are included in the $ 675.

robo
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 4:46 pm
Location: New York, NY

Re: Shipper is billing us for $675 in 'CBP Exam' fees on 150

Postby robo » Tue Oct 01, 2013 11:04 am

I see - that makes sense, but I guess it also means that it will be pretty hard to know if the charges are genuine or not. I guess that's just part of the cost of an international move :P

hardatwork
Posts: 1077
Joined: Sat Jun 04, 2005 5:52 pm
Location: Orange County, California

Re: Shipper is billing us for $675 in 'CBP Exam' fees on 150

Postby hardatwork » Tue Oct 01, 2013 11:14 am

Yes unfortunately exam fees are now a cost in having goods moved to the US.

However you should be given proper documentation supporting this fee. To simply give you a invoice saying pay $ 675 for customs fees is not acceptable and you should push the shipping company to send you the breakdown for the $ 675.00. You have the right to see the actual charges paid out forthe container. Stand up and demand they prove they actually paid any fees at all.

I have no idea what company you are dealing with but be warned that some company do try to profit from unaware client especially one time clients.

robo
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 4:46 pm
Location: New York, NY

Re: Shipper is billing us for $675 in 'CBP Exam' fees on 150

Postby robo » Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:54 pm

So the shipping company is now telling me that the $675 is "a flat cost charged by customs for the inspection", and that there is no further detail available.

Hm..

-R

hardatwork
Posts: 1077
Joined: Sat Jun 04, 2005 5:52 pm
Location: Orange County, California

Re: Shipper is billing us for $675 in 'CBP Exam' fees on 150

Postby hardatwork » Tue Oct 01, 2013 2:55 pm

Wow that is not true at all.

US Customs does not charge for inspections themselves ALL costs related to inspections fees are actually charged by third party companies chosen by US Customs.

Ask the shipping lines which port the goods were cleared at so YOU can call the Director Of US Customs at that port to discuss this fee based on what the shipping lines told you, that it is US Customs that is charging you. Go to cbp.gov to look up the Director of US Customs at the port of clearance. Do not assume the shipment cleared customs locally.

Also ask the shipping lines for a copy of the bill of lading so when you also call the FMC to discuss this charge you can be sure to have the shipping company bill of lading available for the FMC to investigate. Contact the FMC at

Consumer Affairs and Dispute Resolution Services
Phone: 202-523-5807
Fax: 202-275-0059
E-mail: complaints@fmc.gov

Even with the government shutdown there are people working to assist you to get to the bottom of this matter immediately.

JAHaddow
Posts: 505
Joined: Fri Nov 14, 2008 6:50 pm
Location: Mesa, Arizona

Re: Shipper is billing us for $675 in 'CBP Exam' fees on 150

Postby JAHaddow » Wed Oct 02, 2013 6:21 pm

As hardatwork has said, the customs inspections are become the normal situation. That said, you should be paying for your portion of the cost. Please note that there is no rule that I am aware of that says a forwarder can only charge you on your share of the inspection. Many forwarders are making this a profit center. That said here is a basic list of potential costs (based on an exam in LA.) LA is usually the most expensive I have dealt with.
The cost for the X-Ray and CET exam is about $1800. There could be additional costs of Demurrage, port storage and fees from the steamship line which could cost a lot. If you have a 5 day demurrage that could cost about $800 and the fees from the steamship line could be $300. Total to do the exam could be about $3000. This is a high average though. Assuming you have a single pallet of liftvan, you should pay about 10% of the cost, or $300 plus a small handling fee from the forwarder.

Again, the forwarder is probably adding profit to the inspection. You can insist on the actual invoices but I believe the company you are working with probably won't provide them. Unfortunately there is any rule that I am aware of on how the inspection charges are to be handled.

We have handled many inspections and my company passes through the exact cost and provides actual invoices from any one involved in the inspection. I believe that all companies should do the same.
"Having the Right Information Makes for an Informed Decision"


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