The worst experience ever with Canada customs, help sought please!

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Serge Breton, Apr 23, 2004.

  1. Serge Breton

    Serge Breton Supporting Actor

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    Well here is the story, the whole truth and NOTHING but the truth:

    i had a special delivery today from a fellow HTF member from Illinois, he was tentative to ship the subwoofer(SVS PB2+) in case of shipping damage(past experience) and recouping $1000 in insurance from fed-Ex or UPS could prove difficult so he decided to deliver the sub himself since he had free time.

    Anyways he gets here to Windsor, Ontario and forgets to stop at the stop sign when you arrive at the customs booth after crossing the bridge. Some customs agents yells (spoke loudly) at him and then the trouble started. Anyways he was delivering the sub to me, i had no way to pick it up since this sub is huge and it would not fit in mine or my wife's car. Alex was gracious enough to deliver the sub but wait he gets pulled into customs after he fully declared that he had a subwoofer in his possession and i get a phone call to come down to customs.

    No problem so i go down there. I was informed that there were some discreptancies in what was said (customs were giving Alex a hard time) and he was charged and customs had seized the sub. I forget the term but they charged him because he said he was bringing the sub to me and was going to demo it (to make sure condition/performance is to my satisfaction)to make the sale final (i had no doubt, he sent me pics). Customs informed us that the sub was seized and to release it we would have to pay duty, GST, PST X 2 and then PST and duty added to that total if i recall. Sub was sold to me for $850-$900 US funds($1200 CAN) accounting for the $100+ in delivery and our total bill on that after the penalty was $562 Canadian. Notice i say "our" instead of "his" because i feel that i have to take the blame on this also (i should have had it delivered!!!!). This had to be payed or the sub would be seized for 70 days and then sold off to auction. Alex had no money on hand (he is not working right now) and i was not going to just forget it and send him home all peaved and i was not going to go home without my new sub. I payed the $562 and took the sub home but you can bet that i will appeal this, Alex had the original receipt on hand to show customs so i was taxed and penalized on the full original purchase price of $1250US. They were rude plain and simple, i will leave it at that.

    I feel awful for Alex, his trip alone makes for a 10hr day and then for him to be mistreated like this his first time in Canada makes me embarrassed to be a Canadian! Customs put a sterotype on him as soon as he went through the stop sign in front of the booth (forgot to mention the stop sign is there because of a walkway for officers to go back and forth) and it was trouble from there. I cannot say i enjoyed the experience either.

    Anyways i am seeking retribution. There is no reason for two innocent people to be treated this way, i am fine with paying the taxes, not a problem but $562 later is utterly ridiculous. After the way WE were treated i will fight this to the end. I have heard stories of seizured but this applies to people trying to smuggle things over the border. We did not such thing, we were honest and look what happens...

    I am wondering if anyone has had a similar experience and how i can pursue this matter besides the so called "appeal" process? I should just have picked up the sub myself or insist on delivery but it's too late now[​IMG] I would have had to borrow a vehicle to pick it up so it was just easier for him to deliver and i agreed. I did not expect for him to have a hard time. The sub in the box took up the entire rear off Alex's Blazer so please tell me where customs gets their ideas from? He declared the sub and there is no way you could hide this beast even if you wanted too. Why is customs so anal, well if you know please tell me!

    This is a case of highway robbery and one of the worst case of mistreating people i have seen. I thought i was called to customs just to pay my $150+ in taxes just like when i do my own brokerage on a UPS shipment (Canadians know what i am referring to there). Instead we were treated like criminals and they were twisting words on us, this is not right!

    Rest assured there was no ill will intended on our part on this transaction. Regardsless, we were made to be bad guys... Alex (we) tries to be honest and look what happens, go figure. Either i pay or the sub gets confiscated and that's the end of story, there was no other choice but to pay.

    Any advice, help would be appreciated on this matter.
     
  2. DanaA

    DanaA Screenwriter

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    Serge,

    I have no suggestions on how to deal with the situation, but have to say my blood is boiling from reading what happened. Neither you nor Alex is at fault here. It wasn't Canada to blame for the absolute rudeness either. It falls directly on the shoulders of a nasty, overzealous jerk or two. Some people should never be put in a position where they have power over anyone!!!

    Sorry for both you and Alex.
     
  3. Mark Philp

    Mark Philp Second Unit

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    I think the blame goes to Alex for "forgeting" to stop at customs. How do you forget that? I've crossed the border dozens of times and I can't imagine it happening. Besides Windsor is the most busy crossing on the border and there are always lines of cars and trucks backed up so you have to stop. As for being "treated like criminals" I don't know about you, but technically he was a criminal for not stopping at the border. Was the customs officer a jerk? Maybe, but I've never dealt with any who were anything but professional and polite. Something tells me there is more to this story then meets the eye. As someone once said "Me thinks you protest too much."
     
  4. Serge Breton

    Serge Breton Supporting Actor

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    thanks for the replies.

    Mark,

    Alex stopped, he did not go through the border, he just did not stop at the stop sign but past it. I did this myself once long ago and i got a mouthful for doing it and there was nobody on the walkway. I understand why it's there to protect the officers but nobody is perfect.

    I will take the blame for this but now i'm out $560 so what do i do about it besides appealing. My blood is boiling, has been all day. Usually i let things slide but not in this case, not after being treated in this fashion. I tried to get customs to lower the penalty, they refused. I even tried to get them to call SVS to confirm that the sub was used and not new as i was charged for. I payed 30+% of full US retail value by the time all is said and done. I could have bought a new one for that price with change in my pocket and no headaches.

    The PB2+ is like new though and was packaged like new, maybe this why we were overcharged but this is justifying matters to much and i will not do that. They were rude, senseless, clueless and disrespectful. had we done something wrong fine but we are not criminals... Go get the bad guys no good folks like us. I don't know if Alex will post here but i hope so but at the same time i understand he is peaved and rightfully so. He never wants to come back here again and i don't blame him. Sad thing is i am beginning to feel the same, this country is becoming more like a dictatorship and the governement nails taxpayers everywhich way they can. They even want to add what is referred to as a "fat" tax. This is an 8% tax on all meals under $4. I think we Canadians need to stand up and not be so passive. The GST was only suppose to be here briefly, many years later it's still here. Our governement needs accountability...

    Yes i am bitter. I am not referring to my penalty but the way we were treated as mentionned. I'm sure there are many thoughful custom officers we just ended up with the wrong people. Give some of them authority however and they walk all over you, nothing better to do i guess. It's not right...
     
  5. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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    I dunno...the last time I visited Windsor, I innocently stopped my car perhaps 1-2 feet over the stop-sign line. The agent came tearing out of the booth screaming at me as if I'd just called his mama a ho.

    Was I wrong to not stop behind the line? Of course.

    Was his behavior at all warranted?

    You tell me.

    Jon
     
  6. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    I would file a complaint with the manager at the crossing, then dispute the charges. You should only be responsible for GST and PST if the sub was made in the US. You will need a certificate of origin to avoid duty, plus a receipt for the actual amount you paid for the sub.

    If the seller failed to declare the item I can see customs getting their panties in a knot, but I travel to and from the US and all they ever ask is whether anything in my car isn't coming back, or if I have bought something while in the US that I need to declare.
     
  7. Eric Kahn

    Eric Kahn Guest

    The only problem I ever had with canadian customs was when they wanted to search my car, which I had no problem with, the problem was that I drive a VW new Beetle and it was like niether of the agents had ever seen one before (this was in 2003) and kept trying to force things to move and got mad at me when I was trying to show them how to put down the arm rest and open it after he pulled hard on it twice.
     
  8. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    I've heard horror stories before. The most recent a guy I know was told to "proceed straight on through." He did and in an instant cars full of mounties block him and get out, along with a truck, sirens, lights on and all. They were accusing him of trying to get past immigration. [​IMG] So he explains what he was told but they performed a full search on him, his friends, and his car anyway. Imagine being streched out on your own car and searched, how fun.

    After checking up on his info the mounties later say, the best thing for y'all to do is get up and get outta here. So he did that, turned back around and went back home.
     
  9. Jed M

    Jed M Cinematographer

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    Sorry about your experience, but I can't say it surprises me. I had a pretty horrible and miserable experience with my Mom trying to cross into British Columbia from Washington and I will just leave it at that. It makes me think twice about the term "friendly neighbors to the north". Seems like there was a lot of anti-US sentiment in the BC office, and this was before 9-11. I still get upset thinking about that day.
     
  10. Alex-Mic.

    Alex-Mic. Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi
    I'm the person that sold the svs sub to Serge. I have not posted because I really dont know what to say. He pretty much summed everything up. I thought the day long trip would be a positive experience going to Canada for the first time.

    Upon crossing the bridge I was a little confused on where to go being my first time there. No other cars were at any of the booths when I approached so I was mainly looking for a booth with a officer occupying it. I proceeded to drive up to the first one I saw. Apparently there was a stop sign I drove through 15 or so feet before the booth. I didnt see the stop sign or else I would have stopped. The customs agent gave me a hard time about that, I apologized and told him I honestly did not see. I mean if I did see I would have stopped. He then asked what was in the car and I told him theres a subwoofer for home audio/theatre use in the back.
    "Huh" he says. I had to explain to him for 5 minutes what it was used for. He then asked what it was again.

    I said "I have all the paperwork for it if you would like to see it."

    "Yes can I have that." he said.

    I handed it to him, he asked what I was doing bringing it across the border. I said I was bringing it to a friends to demo it for him. I asked serge in a private message what to say when crossing the border and he said to tell customs I'm bringing it to a friends house, which is exactly what I was doing.

    I think during this whole time my radar detector was going off. I didnt hear it but the officer did. He told me they are illegal in Canada. I said well can I put it in my glovebox. ok he said. This probally just added to the stop sign incedent which is why I'm including it.

    He then pulled out a yellow form and filled it out. In the paperwork was the receipt for the sub from svs($1199 plus $50 for shipping.) He asked me if that was the declared value. I told him that was what I paid for it last september. He wrote that on the form and told me to pull around the corner to have my car searched.

    From there I went thru the whole thing again with a lady that was an even bigger pain. I have a custom built amp rack for car audio in the back which she decided to try and lift the screwed down plexiglass and vinyl cover off of. Well she broke that. I kept saying dont touch that, if you want to look at something let me lift it for you. She was handling my gear like a 5 year old. She told me to call Serge and told him to come down.

    Then she told she is going to put the sub on this dinky cart. I figured she was going to inspect it. I said dont touch it, I'll put it on there. Which I did. She wheels it inside, then once behind the counter(from a distance) she says "The subwoofer is now seized and in our possession." I look at her like wtf you little bizitch.

    Serge walks in to customs 5 minutes later and we meet. She is very rude and unprofessional with him just like she was with me.

    They came up with the price to to recover the sub going by the price I paid for it new delivered via freight to my house some 9 months ago. She is like "oh this is all we have to go by."

    Serge and I asked her to and her partners in crime to call svs to get b-stock/used value of the sub. They wouldnt.
    She then said "Look this is what you have to pay, you can either pay or dont and it will go up for auction in 90 days."



    Thats about it.

    The sub is then recovered, I get to hear Serge's setup for an hour and we talk home theatre, I drive home 6 1/2hours just north of chicago very irritated.

    I think my friend said it best today, "Canada hates the US, we go up there to hunt their animals and pollute their land, the want nothing to do with us."

    I dont hate Canada by any means, I just have a different view on Canadian customs and dont plan on visiting again.
    If it matters I wasnt treated like a terrorist or drug smuggler upon leaving Canada which was nice.
     
  11. brentl

    brentl Cinematographer

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    As with any country there are things I hate, it just so happens that the "border patrol" in Canada is one of things I hate about my own country.

    Most of the others are political so I'll steer clear of them!

    Why would they charge you for duty on the sub if you said it was for a demo?

    I also hate the fact that we get charged for P/Gst when we buy a used item. Damn I hate that!

    I hope you guys get some satisfaction in future dealing with the "border partol"

    Alex, sorry for the problems but please don't let that skew your feelings about Canada and it's people, leave that to the people that live here[​IMG]

    Brent
     
  12. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    With the updated details, I can see full well why you had this trouble. Had you said that you had sold the sub and were delivering it to a buyer, and had paperwork indicating the amount of the transaction (and the proper certificate of origin), I'm sure all of this could have been avoided. The new story sounds like you were (or at least customs seemed to feel you were) trying to import the sub under false pretense, for which customs has every right to seize the item. Customs hears lots of stories about things being imported/exported, so you can't blame them for being suspicious. Once you are pegged as untrustworthy, they won't be very nice to you.
     
  13. Daryl Furkalo

    Daryl Furkalo Second Unit

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    About all that comes to my mind, is that Customs figured you were trying to avoid paying GST/PST/duty on the item by saying you were bringing it for a demo and not selling it. You have to pay the customs charges at the border before it can be brought in, otherwise it can be seized. The fine they can charge is double the GST/PST on the item in question. I am sure driving past the stop sign and the radar detector didn't help the situation since the border nazis. They can be a pain to deal with.
     
  14. Serge Breton

    Serge Breton Supporting Actor

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    the duty part is part of the standard penalty formula. I did not figure out the $562 charge but duty would be charged if applicable. On electronics i believe there is no duty plus the item was made in the USA which does make a difference as part of NAFTA or whatever you want to call it. I cannot confirm if i was charged any duty but i would not doubt it[​IMG]

    Alex, i did not know they broke part of your sub off (the plexiglass?). They should pay for that! Even after all that they still give you a hard time. You never told me this, is is fixable?

    Just to note there is nothing wrong with Alex coming over to my house and us putting the sub through it's paces and talk home theater. We discussed this in our PM's and we thought this would be fun to do, we agreed. Or is this a crime? Apparantly so in the view of Canada customs. We had 3 different options on the transaction, he could just ship it, i could meet him in Detroit if he thought it was easier (i would have to borrow the inlaws van) or the sub could be delivered to me directly. I was fine with any of these scenarios and was very comfortable with this whole deal but as you can see things did not work out.... Had he tried to smuggle the sub over unreported i could see the charges but he told customs what he had, provided proper paperwork and everything.... My sister in law works for Fed-Ex and she spoke to customs (who i don't know, whether it's 100% accurate i don't know)and the agent said that because he went through the stop sign, customs powertripped on him. On the statement it says that "false information was given" or something to that effect which is the reason for the fine/penalty. Nobody is perfect, he's not a criminal and nor am i. Whether he went through the stop sign or whether they think he said/did something wrong does not make this right. End result is that he/i am not the bad guy, they may have assumed we were the bad guys and he/we had a bunch of drugs in that big sub box or something (just speculating) but the fact of the matter is that they are WRONG! I want them to give Alex an apology first and foremost then i will worry about the penalty later.

    I have contacted a local radio station on this matter and we will see what develops. They will not get away with treating us like that, period.

    My apologies Alex again for making your 11hr day into a 14+ hour day. Customs made a mistake and i want them to be accountable for it, i tried to do this at the customs office but this did little good at the time. I will call a member of parliament if need be.
     
  15. Chazz_S

    Chazz_S Supporting Actor

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    "I look at her like wtf you little bizitch."
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  16. Serge Breton

    Serge Breton Supporting Actor

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    as mentionned in one of my above posts i was fine with paying whatever taxes were imposed (just like doing brokerage on a package).

    It's fine that customs assumed there was foul play, i am guessing they did since they charge full retail value, maybe assuming once again the sub was new, not used. The fact is they were wrong and even after explaining over and over again we were still treated in this manner. All this for being truthful.

    I was called in by customs and i was there within 15 minutes figuring i would have to pay taxes, and this was not a problem i went straight there. I found out different once i arrived...
     
  17. Alex-Mic.

    Alex-Mic. Stunt Coordinator

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    Daryl Furkalo,
    I never said I was not selling it to Serge. I told the customs lady he was interested in purchasing it. I dont consider the the deal finalized until the item is actually delivered. I can see where this can create a problem because coming back without the sub, no one would have to pay taxes.

    I had no idea about all this tax stuff to begin with. I feel they took advantage of me because of my lack of knowledge dealing with and the procedures going into canada.

    Serge,
    The top part of my car amp rack is screwed down from the inside of the rack. The screws go into mdf board. She lifted the 60-70lb. amp rack by a corner to look inside or underneath. This created too much stress for the fiber board and caused the corner to come lose. I can just drill another screw in there and it will be fine. After I saw this happen is when I told her to not touch anything. I remember when she was figeting with it, she asked if the top part comes off. Well it does now, partially. Not a big deal
     
  18. Jimi C

    Jimi C Screenwriter

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    He would have been smart to act as though it was part of his car audio system. I live in a boarder city and cross into canada almost monthly, ive never had any problems. Going from canada into the US is 100x easier than US into canada though. One trip oback that sticks out is a return trip from a rolling stones concert in TO, The customs agent was a women in her mid 30's probably, My friend had on a stones tshirt, the only question we were asked was "Lucky, you saw the stones, how were they?" I couldnt beleive it.
     
  19. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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    Jesus christ, I've had less trouble getting into Germany and the UK than many of you have had getting into canada, fuck that, I'll buy my maple syrup elsewhere.
    The guy in Frankfurt (where the lockerby panam flight that was bombed departed, and has serious security) just stamped my passport and that was it. I didn't even have to stop after getting my bags, he just waved us through.
     
  20. Alex-Mic.

    Alex-Mic. Stunt Coordinator

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    When I went to London after 9-11 I was greeted and told to have a nice visit. It was nothing like Canada.
     

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