Guiding consumers since 2009

Online gift shopping and its sneaky additional costs

By Staff Writer
As we head into the festive season, consumers are increasingly looking for ways to conveniently gift shop this season. One such way that has converted many a shopper and grown substantially in recent times is online shopping. It not only saves you a trip to the physical store but also spares you time and hassle.
 
“While local consumers are embracing the shift towards e-commerce, many are still not aware of the regulations involved with importing products purchased online from international retailers, which could lead to consumers incurring unexpected expenses. These charges also apply when receiving gifts from international origins,” said Oliver Facey, vice president of operations for DHL Express Sub Saharan Africa.
 
Facey further explained that consumers are often “caught-off” guard when their parcels arrive from overseas with additional and unforeseen costs attached to it.
 
“These are incurred when going through Customs where, depending on the type of goods being shipped, parcels may be subject to duties and taxes. All shipments transported across international borders must be cleared through Customs, and gifts are not necessarily exempted from duties and taxes.
 
“Import duties and taxes differ in each country and are usually calculated as a percentage of the item value but in certain instances they could also be a flat fee, depending on the product type. Import shipments may also be subject to interventions by Customs where the price, contents and country of manufacture are often investigated to mitigate a wide range of risks. This could result in delivery delays as well as additional costs,” explained Facey.
 
What to keep in mind when shopping online
 
Facey advised that consumers keep the following in mind when shopping online:
 
-Consumers should take note of the receiving country’s regulations to avoid being held responsible for any additional costs.
-For South Africans specifically Facey added: “It is also important to note that each South African citizen may only receive two gifts, up to the value of R400 each year without incurring additional customs charges – i.e. the third or fourth gift will not be exempt from customs charges.”
-Consumers need also be aware that all types of alcohol and cigarettes are taxable when entering this country, regardless of their value.
-Checking local regulations prior to engaging in online shopping is vital and can prepare you to better factor in any additional costs and make an informed buy. “Customs duties and taxes are unfortunately beyond the control of shipping companies, and are regulated by the government of the relevant countries,” stated Facey. 

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