Some of you probably think running a mail order business from home is a bit of a doddle. Yet every transaction has the potential to turn into a nightmare of worry and bad feedback, particularly the 30% which are sent abroad.
Take, for example, a recent shipment of heavy vintage photographic equipment to Turkey.
This weighed around 8kg and was not particularly valuable (around £25) so after much research we found the cheapest shipping cost which was by road transport across Europe for £35. The customer duly paid and the courier collected.
A few weeks later the courier company rang to say the goods were at a customs warehouse in Turkey and the customer had refused to collect them. Several emails later it transpired that the Turkish Customs would not release the goods without payment of £60 import duty which only applies to road imports - if it had gone in by air freight there would have been no duty at all.
Reluctantly we had to refund the customer his payment for goods and shipping costs and asked the courier not to expend another £35 returning the goods because of their low value.
Yesterday we received a bill for £45 from the courier which Turkish customs had charged for "destroying" the goods.