As an online buyer and seller or just about anyone who has to receive a gift, the Philippine customs is probably the scariest place you don’t want to see. I have only read and heard of several stories regarding their own horror experiences in the vicinity of PhilPost but earlier, I had my own.
I ordered some cosplay wigs from Beijing, China amounting to 20.49USD (roughly 920php) with international shipping fee via EMS of 28.06USD (roughly1260php) Summing it up, I had an order worth 48.55USD (roughly 2180php) But since I paid via Paypal, I had to pay 21.69USD and 29.59USD for the goods and shipping, respectively. In total of 51.28USD or roughly 2300php. and the horror begins. I received a notice card from EMS last Dec. 10 that my parcel was subject for inspection. Upon receiving, the thought already bothered me nonstop. But still, I was in hopes it won’t be so much. I went to their sorting center in Domestic Road, Pasay. We arrived around 11am. Upon entrance, I was asked by a kind man what my purpose was. I showed him my notice card and he directed me to the middle window, the customer service. The guy from the CS window took my notice card and gave me a queue number in exchange. The process was so he can take the parcel from the warehouse and be taken to the inspection area. I approached the guard and asked what was the next step, he told me I had to wait for my number/name to be called. I asked how long it would take, and the lady beside her butted in saying it would take 3-4hours and that she was already there since 9am. Hearing that, my brother and I decided to get some brunch, hoping to fill ourselves up for the impending waiting ceremony. Around 30-40 minutes, we came back. The guard was calling the queued numbers for the items to be checked by their personnel. The queued numbers given were for redeeming back your notice card. On the upper left corner is the number the guard was calling. Here is a photo of the procedures. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want a high res copy of this.
I entered the room and waiting for me was kuya Bernie (overheard the name from them). He cut open my package and saw the 3 wigs I had in there. A lady (named Scarlet, not sure about this, just what I heard) around late 30’s approached us, she was roughly 5″3-5″5 in height, medium-large built. She asked how much was the total value of my items. I blindly said $10 since that was what the company I bought it from put. This washer exact words, “Paano mo binili ‘yan? Hindi ako naniniwalang 10 dollars lang yan!” Her voice ill, as if she was already used to the word 10 dollars. I told her I paid via Paypal, and she demanded I show her that, then left. They put my parcel together with the other packages. Kuya Bernie was kind enough to tell me what to do. He asked me to open my Paypal account and show his boss the amount I paid. That’s when I thought that the lady was probably of importance. I opened my 3G and showed her the $21.69 on my Paypal. Honestly, she did not even check which transaction that was, so I thought I should have showed her a different amount instead, lower perhaps. Anyway, after that, she took what seemed like a receipt and scribbled those numbers. After that, she told kuya Bernie, “Paki kuha naman ‘yung package ni Ms. Beautiful.” In the attempt to look friendly and to uplift the spirit with the boss, I randomly remarked “Ay na-touch naman po ako.” and laughed. She laughed as well and said, “Totoo naman, maganda ka.” For a while she sounded really nice and kind there. I was already having the thought the package was going to be given to me unharmed. But I was asked to wait outside till my name was called. That was my cue that my wigs were going to be taxed. I had no choice. Sayang effort ko sa part na ‘yon. After waiting for around 30-40 minutes, my name was finally called, I was given this paper by one of their staff. Yes, you see that correctly. it’s 1289php tax on this ‘temporary’ receipt I don’t even know why necessary. Baffled I was, I stood there in stupor for a good few seconds, idle, before I came to my senses. I headed to the lady “computing” who was actually the same lady who just a while ago, praised me. I was already about to ask why my “taxes” reached that high, till she left and went to the other ‘cubicle’ and discussed whatever it was that was too urgent, it was what I assumed her simple way of hoping I’d just pay for the shit written and not ask anything. After around 5 minutes of partly looking dumb in their office, she came back to her seat, and did everything else besides attending to me. The guy named Bong (yes I am lucky to hear their names) actually was signalling Scarlet to look to my direction. Judging from his look, he knew I was somewhat pissed already on how she was acting. I smiled at him as thank you. Soon after, the lady was not able to avoid me. Non verbatim. Me: Paano po lumaki ng ganito ‘yung tax ko? Lady: 10% customs duty, 12% VAT (while she pointed on my “receipt”) Me: Gan’un po? Mas malaki pa po ‘yung tax ko sa actual kong binili, kahit personal naman siya, hindi pangbenta? Lady: Wala, gan’un talaga ‘yung computation. Kahit anong gamit basta galing ibang bansa, kahit nga regalo e, may tax. Bayaran mo na lang yan.. I was about to ask her why other parcels were released without tax, if what she said was true. But she took her baon and ignored me by saying “kumain ka na muna, iha. Kakain muna ako.” and left to hide behind the other cubicles. Oo, nilayasan niya ako, while I was not even finished. I was standing there in the middle of their office, staring at my receipt and trying to understand what the jargons were, but failed. I was honestly thinking of just leaving my parcel there, but I thought I’d have more loss on that since I already spent over 2k without the tax. When I was about to pay, I asked for explanations from their cashier. I first questioned the freight cost that seems to value so much. $46.30?? As far as I know, it only took me $29.59 for the shipping. The cashier explained the $46.30 was only for the rest of the computation since it is necessary to get the Customs Duty fee. I asked her where it came from, and she couldn’t give me a decent answer other than “Hindi mo naman ‘yan babayaran buo (she encircles the freight fee with the end of her pen while “explaining”) kasama lang sa computation ‘yan. ‘Eto, lahat ‘yan nakasulat naman dito” while pointing on the small stack of paper on her table that seem to be a ‘flyer’ of explanation. It’s named Primer fr Postal Service, Answers from the Tariff Code and National Internal Revenue Code on the most frequently asked questions. If you want a high res copy, feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com
In no hopes of getting a rightful answer, I gave her the money, and she called Bong to write me the receipt. After that, I took the receipt to the release window where I had to pay, yet another fee. I wasn’t able to ask what this was for, but from what I read, this is the fixed storage fee you have to pay.
After paying, I got my package with a heavy heart and an empty wallet, literally empty wallet. As I went out, kuya Bong was standing near the entrance and asked nicely if okay na. I could only reply with a half a second smile, though I should have thanked for he seemed really nice then.
Upon reading When in Mania’s post regarding the high customs fee, I came across a comment from a certain Ms. Charo Logarta Lagamon, who, as you can see on the pic, she claims to be the Acting Chief, Public Information & Assistance Division at Bureau of Customs.
As far as I remember, my package arrived Dec. 10. So let’s say it came prior to effective date, I’ll let that slide. But the “the system used to generate the receipt hasn’t been updated.” I find it really BS. Given that case, wouldn’t that mean the system is BS and the effective date is nonsense to begin with?
1. Why couldn’t they explain to me what those jargons on the receipt were about?
2. Why were avoiding my questions about how things were going?
3. What is the basis of their computations?
Honestly, I am really pissed, because I once ordered some other things online and had it shipped via DHL. It costs $30 but my tax was 1461php. While this transaction via EMS only costed $21.69, yet I got taxed 1289php + a 100php peso fee. DHL had it straight to my home, while I went through all the hassle of going to and from Pasay, as well as dealing with people who either didn’t know what their jobs were, or avoiding questions for internal benefits.
I hope our government pays attention to these things as well because their are a whole lot of stories I read about corruptness and all those going inside customs.