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:

Hello there,

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: ……………………………


Name: …………………..………………
(please print)
Date: …………………………………..

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.


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

This would never happen with an Apple iPhone preorder. Apple devices arrive at your location on the day it’s released, not a week later because Google don’t know how to work with Australian Customs. Worst. Google. Phone. Release. Ever!


Package status has changed from customs processing to released from customs and in transit to destination…. Ooooh


All this for a company that wants to provide us with driverless car technology? God help us. They can’t even get a supply chain right that other smaller companies have been doing for a hundred years.

Gareth Williams

Pretty terrible service and no proactive communication. I have had to chase and chase Google (no useful knowledge) and Toll (have not got back to me) and have found more information here.

Daniel Narbett

I can see how feeling like you’re ‘authorising’ an import might feel a little weird:

“We’ve packed your phone inside these nice clear bags of white powder to keep it safe…”


When I placed my preorder 3hrs after the announcement, I actually messaged Google support to confirm that I wouldn’t be hit with GST or other fees on import for exactly the reason that it was over the magic $1000 figure. They did of course confirm in writing, but it should have come as no surprise weeks later when this occurred. Even more glad that on release day I walked into JB Hi Fi, confirmed they had stock, and cancelled my preorder with the Google store since they hadn’t even started processing it. Honestly, the Google Store just wasn’t prepared for… Read more »

Nizar Noor

I should’ve done the same. This sucks.


Same thing here. Didn’t bother with a pre-order. Walked into JB at 9am on launch day, asked for my desired phone, received it. Paid for it. Walked out. No issues at all.


I ordered it on Google because you can open it, use it and send it back, no questions asked up to 15 days after the purchase.




Just spoke to toll, the operator predicted this was about the pixel before I could even give her the tracking number! She said they won’t be sending out anymore forms and are working on a way to bulk clear all the phones on their end. Apparently there are 1800 currently waiting.


Even more glad I got mine through JB.

Nizar Noor

Shizlmynizel though…..

Dean Rosolen

Getting anything shipped through Toll is never a smooth process anyway (so much so that I have taken to referring to them as Troll). This customs stuff just adds to the pain.


Or they could, you know, cut the price to under AU$1000 and make everyone happy.

Google’s attempt to be apple does not appear to be going smoothly, does it?


For the Pixel if they had not of tried to keep the GST for themselves then they would have been under 1K. Greed got them.


I knew this was going to happen. Google charges you for GST but pockets it for itself.
If you don’t have a CC without overseas fees then you also pay that at 3%.

Do no evil Google says. If this was true buying from Google would mean NO GST. This is proof that Google has been avoiding tax for sales in this country. We have not heard the end of this yet.


If Google isn’t picking up all the import costs to make sure that those ordering online pay no more than those buying in store, then something isn’t right.

The international transaction bank fee is even worse, though to be fair, Google do warn customers that this might happen.


Oh Google…

I’ve got a friend waiting for his Pixel because of these issues. He’s not happy Jan.

Tommy Wong

Luckily i got mine from JB HIFI on the first day without preorder…

Nizar Noor

I should’ve done the same…


This is the reason I did the same; no mucking around with online ordering and tax/duties/importing issues.


Here in Kiwiland the tax free limit is $400. Anything over that attracts GST, Customs fees, handling fees and a biosecurity fee so if you land an item of say $401 you get slugged with and extra $150 .

Gregory Eden

All Google need to do is import a container load and sell them normally. This is caused by shipping each one individually from OS, probably Hong Kong.

Gregory Eden

Better still just go into JB HiFi and buy one over the counter.

Jared Mayfield

I haven’t got an email either, is it possible some people won’t be getting them and Google will sort it out. Every year I buy from Google and every year it never goes smoothly.

Fernando De Leon

Surely Apple does this too yet I never knew. I ordered an iPhone 7plus and the device arrived. I never had to sign anything. Luckily I returned my iPhone and cancelled my pixel xl order from Google and was able to grab a black xl from jb on the 20th


Does Apple ship them from overseas or from a local warehouse?

Google ship their directly from Asia into Australia, hence the dramas.

Fernando De Leon

From what the Apple guy told me is from Hong Kong


So sounds like Apple is on the ball here and Google wasn’t! Probably not used to selling >$1k devices in Aus!


Apples Price includes gst and is sold by apple Australia.

Pixels although on an Australian storefront with an Australian Price are sold by Google Singapore and are grey imports. This isn’t New and they’ve been doing it since halfway through the Nexus 5 launch to save a bit of money. The same thing happened last year with the 6p but everyone seems to have forgotten.

It’s a dog move and I really hope something finally happens from it.

Fernando De Leon

Last year I got the nexus 6p from Google never did I have to go via the issues ppl here are saying

Major Sceptic

Did it cost over a thousand dollars ?

Fernando De Leon

thats the thing an iphone 7+ costs the same as the nexus..yet i never had issues…my wife received the phone no hassle.


Did it cost over 1K.
Your question has been answered. Apple is processing via Australia and is probably including the GST in the importing documents so all taxes paid. Google is not, they are charging the GST but keeping it for themselves so when the device arrives the paperwork contains no taxes paid so GST must be paid.

Google has been caught out, they are forced to pay the GST as this would be a massive public relations disaster.


That’s the really bad and Google never provides a seamless experience when purchasing online. But why I am not receive this email to sign something?