I mailed three boxes of my own stuff from Seattle to Copenhagen. Two arrived in a timely fashion; the third was delayed a week or so because it had customs due. Which I thought was odd, since I was transporting my own goods. A conversation with the USPS’s local contractor revealed that, if I agreed to pay the tariff, I could get my stuff the next day. So now I have a bill, in Danish, for a sum of money due German customs (because that particular box was shipped through Germany) and an accompanying form, also in Danish, that I am supposed to send in parallel to get them to refund my money. I’ve been sitting on this particular task for a while, but today something strengthened my resolve.
I order some samples of my new Bill of Rights merchandise, mugs and bumper stickers. The mug got clipped a bit, so that the first four amendments are unnumbered, I, II, and V respectively, but in general it looks pretty good. The annoying thing, though, was that before the post office (motto: open 10 am to 5:30 pm for our convenience) would give me my own stuff, they took out a DKK78 tariff for each of the two sets of samples. The wholesale cost of a mug and bumper sticker is listed as US 15 on the package, so that’s DKK 95. Lars explained the charges: 23DKK for VAT (25%), 44DKK fee for charging VAT, and 11DKK VAT on the fee for charging VAT. So I had to pay an 82% tariff to get my own merchandise samples through customs. Look, I’m sorry if the US has imposed illegal steel subsidies against Europe, insulting the global free trade movement and putting the lie to the Bush administration’s ideology - and cutting maybe 30,000 US jobs from steel consuming US companies in order to save a few steel jobs in electoral swing states. There’s not much I can do about. But I’ll tell you what, I’m going to take that other tariff bill, which I still haven’t paid, and I’m going to ignore until they come to deport me.