With Google’s newest Pixel phones crossing that magical $1,000 line in the sand, there’s a whole lot more hurdles involved in shipping such a phone into Australia. For one, it attracts GST, something that previous devices from Google haven’t. There’s also the process to actually clear it through Customs, which is far more straight-forward — and can be done in bulk — when the price is under a grand.
However, the Pixels aren’t, and that’s where the headache begins according to the Whirlpool thread on buying a Pixel.
Curious as to why their phones were being delayed at Customs, a number of users got in touch with Google, and found out there was a slight hiccup in the process. They were receiving emails like this from Google:
Thank you for placing an order on the Google Store! My name is <snip>, and I’m a member of the Shipping team here at Google.
Our shipper has informed us that they need you to fill out and sign the attached customs document for the device to enter your country. You can contact TOLL directly to product these documents for the shipment clearance process.
If you have any additional questions or concerns, please let me know. I will be happy to assist you in any way that I can.
The Google Support Team
The attachment has the following info:
This letter hereby appoints Toll Global Forwarding to act on our behalf as our Customs Brokers in respect to customs-related matters for shipments through the Toll network.
This authority is given in accordance with Section 182(1) of the Customs Act which requires as follows:
“Where a person claims to be the agent of an owner of goods for the purposes of the Customs Act at a place, and officer may require that person to produce written authority from the owner authorising that person to be such an agent and, if that written authority is not produced, the officer may refuse to recognise the authority of the person to act on behalf of the owner at that place”
We also certify that we are the holders of ABN……………………….. authorise and instruct Toll Global Forwarding to quote this number on all customs entries lodged on our behalf.
All documents relating to import transactions should be handed to the above company.
Our company acknowledges the following:
– we have received a copy of Toll Global Forwarding service terms and conditions of trading.
– We guarantee to pay all customs duties, GST and/or any other charges which may become due as a result of our shipments.
– We confirm indemnifying Toll Global Forwarding in respect of any duty or GST liability, or other fines or penalties that may arise out of, or in connection with, any customs matters, or the carrying out of any service by the above company in connection with the appointment referred to herein.
– We understand that in respect of disbursement payments made by Toll Global Forwarding on our behalf to third parties where GST is involved, Toll Global Forwarding will pay the GST amount applicable on our behalf to obtain release of the cargo and then claim back from the ATO the amount paid as an input credit on their next BAS. Where the actual disbursement is charged to us, it will once again be inclusive of a 10% GST which we must pay to Toll Global Forwarding and which then becomes eligible as a tax credit on our next BAS.
This authority is operative from the date shown below and supersedes all previous authorities in existence.
Company Name: ……………………………
Customers weren’t expecting anything like this; surely you just order online, and your phone arrives by courier in a couple of days, right? Wrong. According to the terms and conditions of the Google Store, which few will probably have read, by buying anything from Google (but especially relevant where the price is over $1,000) you become the importer of record, and you become liable for customs fees, import duties and taxes. Yes, that means that the customer becomes liable for GST, customs duties and a handling fee (usually around $50 or so).
That takes the cost of the Pixel a lot higher, and so understandably there was a bit of an upset because customers didn’t know what was going on. Having to sign import / customs broker authorities isn’t a fun customer experience. Fortunately, it seems that Google is handling the financial side of things, but that form above still has to be signed.
Whirlpool user Shizlmynizel reports:
In essence, after a very long winded chat, the shipping specialist assured me that I (we) do need to sign the form and send it back, but that Google pays toll the fees applicable for importing. He said he checked with his supervisor, and promised me in writing (said he’d send a separate email) that there would be no extra fees applicable in receiving the order.
While Google are seemingly doing the right thing and looking after much of the process, asking users to sign import declarations etc is just not consumer friendly, especially for a product which it wants to see adopted by the mass market. Something needs to be changed on the back-end to get this form completed electronically as part of the ordering process, so customers aren’t left waiting once their orders have shipped.