Before people go too far down the bad mouthing route..
Normally, in my experience, shipping is (or is often used as) a collective term for everything, when in fact it splits down into three component parts.
1- shipping- if you agree and pay your end,then this is what it will only ever be- period- end of.
2- Import duty- normally a set rate (I think 10%?) However, this is normally bundled in with something called a "customs clearance fee" which is charged by HMRC (you don't **c* with HMRC= Her Majesty's revenue and Customs.)
I imagine if you were a real pedant, one could say they do not want to pay that charge- but then you may have to wait an extremely long time for customs to be cleared and the package released to the British Post Office for final delivery. The exception to this is if lets say the whole transaction is entrusted to Fedex or similar for customer to customer delivery. I would imagine in the small print of the docket you sign when the parcel is collected from the sender, that it states that there may be fees to pay at the other end.
3- VAT- Value Added Tax- currently running at 20% in the UK. On small packages it may well be waivered, especially if it is plain to see the contents must be a gift below a certain value. For even small business shipments ( I have many times ordered parts for my business from the US- and they are ALWAYS subject to VAT.) If for example one ordered three expensive kits- the thinking to be to save on carriage by doing it this way, then the declared value will be large- and therefore very likely to be collared for VAT.
It seems to me, that the sender may unfortunately not have been aware that his customer was maybe not really aware of what might happen once the package begins it's tortuous journey through UK Customs.
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