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MMD > Archives > December 1999 > 1999.12.20 > 08Prev  Next

Dealing with Overseas Customers & Customs
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  My experiences with overseas customers have been good.  On
the other hand, dealing with overseas customs offices has been a major
pain.  In every single case this past year, the goods were severely
delayed at customs, regardless of the country to which the goods were
sent.  South Africa has been the worst.

I don't understand the nature of the problem so I can't be of any help
with regards to recommendations.  Even when all the correct customs
forms were included in the parcel, the customs people either don't
believe the prices or they have a problem with the classification.

In my opinion, it's all about money.  Evidently there is a feeling
that us Americans are trying to 'get over' on foreign countries, or
something equally ridiculous.  Perhaps it's the fact that the goods
over here are so much less expensive as compared to the prices paid
overseas for the same product.  Whatever the problem is, I can
certainly understand why a small business would rather not deal with
an overseas customer.

Since a number of us small businesses are working on a shoe-string
budget to begin with, all the extra paperwork, exchange rates and
additional correspondence reduce the profit on an overseas sale to
almost zero.  This is especially true if you're talking about total
product values of less than $100.00 and profit margins below 25%.

So if I had a $40.00 item with a potential profit of $10.00, and
it took me two hours to handle every aspect of the transaction,
I'd be better of working at McDonald's for minimum wage [$5.75/hour].

This year I changed one of my policies regarding overseas orders.
I no longer accept post payment.  All goods must be prepaid either
by bank draft in US dollars or by credit card.

Opinions by,

John A. Tuttle

(Message sent Mon 20 Dec 1999, 14:26:11 GMT, from time zone GMT-0500.)

Key Words in Subject:  Customers, Customs, Dealing, Overseas

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