Sunday, October 29, 2006

Bloody Cheek

I am in the process of placing my first ever order with KnitPicks. It's an American company, so of course the first thing I did was checked the shipping charges, and found this little gem:

We are pleased to offer Canadian customers duty-free shopping from our Web site and our U.S. catalog. As a service to our Canadian customers, we collect from you only a GST & duty of 10% on the total value of items ordered, excluding any shipping charges. Please Note: You are responsible for any HST or PST over 10%, if applicable.

(First of all, what the hell does this mean: "We are pleased to offer our Canadian customers duty-free shopping...we collect from you only a GST & duty of 10%..."?)

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you have to have a GST number to collect GST. And wouldn't the Canadian government like to know that KnitPicks is helpfully collecting a 10% GST and duty for them? So I did some looking around the Canada Border Services Agency website ( and found this:

1. With certain exceptions as set out in paragraphs 2 and 3 [these exceptions include alcohol, tobacco, books and magazines], this Order applies to both non-commercial and commercial importations of goods through the mail.

2. When it has been determined that the value for duty of goods being imported by mail does not exceed CAN$20 per mail item, and the goods are not subject to the exceptions listed below, these goods are exempt from the goods and services tax (GST) and the harmonized sales tax (HST) under section 7 of Schedule VII of the Excise Tax Act and are granted remission of all customs duties, excise taxes, and provincial sales tax (PST).

I'm no taxation lawyer, but what that seems to say is, if the duty value of the package is assessed at less than $20 Canadian (and you can get a lot of yarn for a duty value of $20), you don't have to pay squat to bring it into the country by mail. So what is this little 10% scam they've got going, just a way to screw the Canadian customer? Lovely. How about they just be honest and say, "We here at KnitPicks never liked the NAFTA, so we add an extra 10% to all Canadian orders, just for living in the wrong damn country." But don't pretend you stick that 10% into an envelope marked "Canada Revenue Agency", attach a $1.10 stamp and pop it into the mail, just as a little service to your northern neighbours.


Kate said...

Wow. Are you going to call Knitpicks on it? Not to mention, when has GST ever been 10% in the first place?!?!? Even if they were totally correct in what they are doing (which they are not it would seem), they are charging an extra 3% just ... for kicks?!

Jessica said...

Oh wow, that is awful :( Do you have any American friends who could order for you and then ship it to you? I'm not usually one to try to get around fees like that, but this seems like somebody has screwed up pretty badly.

Gwen said...

I'm really not sure what to say here, being boggled by your thoroughness. I'd have clicked on "Pay using PayPal," neglected to tell my husband, and though, "Jeez, good deal! Glad they ship to Canada."

Shan said...

Kate, you bet I'm calling them on it. I have an email already drafted.

Jessica, happily for me I do have a SIL in the States, and my parents are going there for Xmas. So, KP will ship to her, then mum & dad will bring the yarn back to me. But still... it's the PRINCIPLE of it!!

Gwen, you wouldn't believe how many regs I had to prowl through before I found that memorandum. "Whereas" and "heretofore" and "notwithstanding". I felt like I was back in Internal Audit.

Kate said...

Tom just reminded me that GST is only 6% now, so it would be an additional 4%. Hrmmm.

Anonymous said...

cracking up