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How can people ask me to undervalue a shipment?


#1

Often I get a mail from a customer (or a prospective customer) asking me to undervalue their shipment so that they can dodge their country’s taxes. I really try not to be insulted but in the end I find the request to be quite insulting because basically the customer is asking me to engage in criminal activity for his financial benefit. On top of that, these customers are asking me to void the shipping insurance putting me at additional financial risk in case the package is lost or damaged during shipping. I do not fault them at all for wanting to avoid paying more than they have to. I’ve been broke in my early life so I can understand this very well. It’s the part where a customer shamelessly imposes on me to take both financial and reputational risk for their hobby no less! This is not food and medicine for a child after all :cry:

On the other hand, this request happens a lot despite statements on my website that I will not undervalue shipments. Even from people who are running their own businesses so you would expect them to understand the basics. It happens so much in fact that I’m starting to wonder if I’m the weird one. Should I not be insulted? What is going on? Someone please explain to me this bizarre behavior.

Your socially confused and potentially naive manufacturer.


#2

I am always delighted when a package arrives through customs and I haven’t been charged on the way. No one wants to support the corrupt governments we have in the world today, so don’t be insulted, it’s not about you, it’s about unfair levies and impositions of financially oppressive systems.

It’s a LOT of money, 900USD = £672 + 20% VAT + 4% Import Duty + £12 Post Office fee = ~£845 = ~£173 additional charges.

Because of the rarity of being able to order the ER-301 all the time, it is likely that time / financial constraints are influencing the decision to enquire. i.e. I worked hard for the last year saved up the £672 and I can save up for another 3 months to make up the extra £173, but by this time it won’t be available again.

There are probably other reasons, greed is almost certainly at play in some instances too.

However, you are not being weird, stick to your principles, we don’t want you being prosecuted for trying to import goods into other countries and avoiding duties and end up being shut down.

Some discussion here too:


#3

Although this is a good response in isolation, it does no good for me psychologically :laughing: Corrupt government or not, they are still asking me to bear the risk. Doesn’t that imply a total lack of respect for me?


#4

Yes, but it’s not intentional, they didn’t sit there thinking, “I know I will disrespect Brian”, they sat there thinking “how can I save some money!”


#5

So we are back to Hanlon’s razor. Sigh. I was hoping for a more satisfying explanation but I guess I’ll just have to grow (yet) a thicker skin and continue saying no. :laughing:


#6

Sorry, maybe someone else has a better explanation!

If it helps, I admire your ability to remain philosophical and continue regardless. In fact I admire anyone who produces anything in this domain - it’s tough!


#7

My apologies. I didn’t mean to disparage your efforts. :blush:

The majority of my customers are awesome. It’s a really unfortunate feature of the human (or just my?) psyche to focus unduly on what really only happens say one out of every 10 orders or so. I guess it isn’t a lot statistically but it certainly feels like a lot…


#8

I’m also hoping that discussing this in public will perhaps discourage future customers from asking? Pretty please with a cherry on top? :cherries:


#9

Not at all, it’s good, I appreciate that you opened up about it, perhaps this discussion will encourage folk to think a bit more.

I would like to think that you can be open about anything you are struggling with, especially if there is anything any of us could do to help.

It’s especially hard when consideration is given, as you rightly say, to the fact this is a luxury item. Perspective is always good, but never forget, the struggle is real! It still unsettles me that some folk ‘can have’ and other folk ‘can’t have’ based on environmental factors outside of their control. The world is not a fair place. Personally speaking, I worked extremely hard and made sacrifices in other areas to be able to invest in all this stuff. I definitely include it as a major part of my healthcare - it’s not just stuff - it has a profound effect on my mental well being. I suffer when I don’t patch. Yep - the world is a very weird place too.


#10

Brian, no it is not ok, regardless of the reason, for someone to ask you to engage in illegal activity.

All the reasons so far have other better ways of going about them.

Government is corrupt? Then work with your countries populace to fix it, not take the easy way out and ask others to do illegal things for you.

Don’t have the money, or money is tight? Welcome to the wonderful world of saving and living within your means. There is NOTHING you can’t save up for and get if you REALLY want to. (well, I mean if you want to buy your own island or something, maybe that is out of reach. The potential for you to make enough money exists though, at the very least.)

I find that there is a sense of entitlement in all of us. My experience has been (speaking only for myself) I’ve rarely ever truly been entitled to something.


#11

I think it’s pretty easy to overlook the implications of asking for that. Especially for the other party, i.e. the seller.

I actually had one Euro manufacturer undervalue their shipment without me even asking! Of course, that didn’t mean anything in the end as our customs ask the recipient about the shipment’s value, and I had no clue the manufacturer had put in a very low amount. But I was pretty surprised by that.


#12

I assume this is based on the idea that you live in a developed country and is not including the significant portion of the worlds population who live in poverty i.e. struggle with basic necessities for life, water, food, shelter. If so the point stands, if you are lucky enough to live in an environment where you are able to raise the cash for euro modules, you can save up a bit longer and pay your taxes too!


#13

Please lets assume that we are talking about people who are not living in poverty. As much of a therapeutic effect my product might have, we should still stay well grounded in reality and agree implicitly that we are not talking about life vs death. :dizzy_face:


#14

isn’t it funny, people with money are the most greedy usually. anyway, i don’t think they actually know that they could bring you in serious troubles by asking this, i’m sorry but they are just naive. maybe add “please don’t ask me to undervalue your shipment” directly on the order page. peter from ciat lonbarde put it like this:
“Many countries charge VAT, or value-added tax, for any imports. Although I myself am paying taxes to the U.S. government for my income, your country still wants to own a slice of the pie. Therefore they ask me to declare the nature of my shipment, under penalty of perjury. Perjury- that means if I lie, then I can be hung! Upside down! So… please do not ask to declare it as a gift, or as a sample.”


#15

I think it does, and it deserves to be held up to the customer as such. There is certainly a culture of endeavouring to divest responsibility on the rise (possibly as a result of the modelling provided by the discussed corrupt governments). Pointing out what that means in practice ie asking you to bear the risk both financially and legally should, one would hope, give the questioner pause to question their morality/motivation.


#16

I think part of the problem is some companies/people will do this, if no one acted this way and tried to avoid tax then this would be far less common. It would only be an act by those who generally try to circumnavigate the laws.

IMO it stems from the complexities of world tax systems in general, which now mean large corporations end up paying less tax than the tax their employees have to pay.

Even worse, some countries principle export is the ability to assist those who want to avoid tax, hence various dependant territories getting upset because the UK wants to make their investor lists public.

It gets even more complicated that pensions paid to people who have always paid the appropriate tax are often funded through investment firms that make a significant portion of their profit by avoiding tax and using offshore trusts etc.

Finally throw in the craziness of the fact that as soon as criminal activities really start to make money that money is mixed in with the “legitimate” cash flowing through these places!

With all of this, it is no surprise that many feel that avoidance is justified and acceptable.

Probably doesn’t make you feel any better but I think it is an element of a much wider issue.


#17

Wow. That’s a larger percentage than I’d have ever guessed. Yes, I imagine many of those who ask are just not considering the position it puts you in and the risk they’re asking you to take. Hopefully raising awareness of that here will help.


#18

Like @josker, I had one US dealer who spontaneously offered me to undervalue the shipment, as he didn’t feel like overseas taxes were any of his concern. I wouldn’t have come up with it myself, but maybe some dealers do it as a rule and it makes customers who don’t mean harm otherwise think this is an option, like an extra service of sorts… I think it’s mainly naivety, but I do believe that some of the ugliest and harmful deeds by human hands stem from some sort of lack of understanding and/or naivety so I’m not sure if that is an excuse at all.


#19

Just offer to refund their money and cancel the shipment if they want to you break the law - then they will change their tune quickly. :slight_smile:

There are plenty of other customers out there who are respectful.


#20

I run a printing business and I get asked this frequently too, I also get asked if people can pay in cash to avoid taxes. I always say no.

It is insulting, you’re justified to feel insulted, but it’s a spectrum. It’s not as insulting as say someone not stopping at a crosswalk and then getting mad at you or getting a door prize while riding a bike. I would say getting asked is lower on the spectrum.

I kind of enjoy getting asked because it’s a rare justified moment for me to respond with some sass. For example, from now on you could reply with nothing more than a link to this thread.

Also, this argument that paying any and all taxes are solely feeding a corrupt government is tiresome. I live in Canada, we have free health care, I’m happy to chip in to that pot in tandem with pursuing my hobby of buying boutique sound computers that I obsess over daily, haha. Are governments corrupt? Sure, but they also paid for my Dad’s cancer treatment. I feel the same way when I pay parking tickets, they’re annoying but I also like paved roads.