UPS and CITES trouble

Discussion in 'The Backstage' started by TJR, Nov 9, 2017.

  1. TJR

    TJR Junior Member

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    Nov 9, 2017
    Hi all. Sorry in advance for a very long post.

    I'm posting today to share my problems I've had purchasing a guitar. If this is in the wrong place feel free to move it.

    I'll start with a bit of background information. I've played guitar since I was around 13 years old and since then it's been a dream of mine to own a Les Paul, like I'm sure it was for everyone on this forum at some point. So this summer I decided to make this dream a reality, and save up as much as I could to accomplish this. I'm 22 and I'm on minimum wage but I finally managed to get enough money together after lots of hard work.

    I went out to my local guitar shops and tried a lot of guitars but none of them felt like "the one", so i spent a lot of time looking online (perhaps this is contradictory, but I felt qualified after trying a few to find the specs I wanted)

    I found the right guitar at the right price, however it was in the US, and I am in the UK. It was a little over 1k so I had to save up a little more but was able to borrow some money to complete the purchase. Obviously I'd heard about all the CITES regulations so I decided to do some research and this is what I found:

    If it is proven to have been manufactured before the laws came into effect, the guitar can be imported with the correct paper work.
    The CITES paperwork is the responsibility of the seller.

    The website of the well known US retailer I bought from also reiterated this fact, so to me everything looked good. No paperwork on my end, fantastic.

    I made the purchase and was very excited. There were a few weeks of delay after buying the guitar which o expected due to the paperwork involved, and I messaged the seller to confirm this and they confirmed that they were waiting for their CITES representative to notarize the paperwork.

    I checked the tracking every day and finally it was in the UK! I couldn't contain my excitement until the estimated delivery date creeped backwards. I had previously received a few calls from UPS customer center but they kept ringing during my work hours and I had assumed it was just to confirm the delivery date.

    They then sent me a letter, strangely dated 4 days before I had purchased the guitar, stating that they had tried to contact me regarding a customs declaration.

    So I returned the call and explained the letter and I was then asked to send them my import and export CITES license. Strange. I told them what I had read on several websites and the retailers website and asked them to contact the seller for this.

    They told me that the seller couldn't have filled in an import licence and that I should have had one in place before the guitar was delivered and told me to contact DEPRA, the CITES authority in the UK. So I rang them next. I was told that it's likely that the guitar will be seized by customs as it "seems like the guitar must be illegally in the country" and that I could be prosecuted for illegaly importing it. This would be if the correct paperwork was not in place, which is usually filled in by the retailer on behalf of the buyer. If the import license was not in place then I could apply for a "retroactive import license", but I was told that would likely be a waste of time as they "almost never grant them"

    I then decided to make a call to the US in my panic in order to speak to the seller. They assured me that the guitar was legally in the country, that they would contact UPS to verify this and that they would make sure that I would get my guitar.

    The next time I spoke to UPS, I explained what I had been told and asked them to contact the seller to get all the correct paperwork. They told me that the import license could not be filled in on my behalf and that I should have done it myself, despite me finding no information anywhere that states I should have done this.

    I continued to contact the seller and they continued to tell me that they would resolve this and they also told me that this was odd as they had never had UPS contact a recipient for any paperwork before, but not to worry as they would resolve this matter.

    Fast forward to today, and it is almost two months since I have purchased the guitar and I have received a call from UPS stating that they will be sending it to customs so that it can be seized and likely destroyed.

    I've asked the seller what they can do as they told me numerous times that I would receive a full refund should anything stop me from receiving the guitar.

    I don't know whether this ordeal is due to UPS losing the original paperwork in the document wallet as the seller suggested, the seller not completing the paperwork correctly, or my mistake due to the lack of clear CITES guidelines relating to guitars.

    This whole mess has been horrible to deal with and I wanted to share it here to warn people who might be buying guitars from across borders. Don't take any chances regardless of the guitar or seller. Make sure your back is covered at every possible point. I expected at worst a few weeks wait while all the paperwork was verified. Now I'm worried that my money is gone, and the guitar is gone too. I'm hoping that I can get a refund but I'm worried it's unlikely if the guitar can't be sent back. In which case I'll have to attempt a charge back on the card. What should have been a great moment and my first Les Paul, has been a nightmare that doesn't look to have a happy ending.

    Thanks for reading if you managed this far!

    Attached Files:

  2. cherrysunburst00

    cherrysunburst00 Senior Member

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    Mar 15, 2015
    DAMN. I'm so very sorry that this happened. I think contacting your cc company is the way to go.
  3. Death Incarnate

    Death Incarnate Premium V.I.P. Premium Member V.I.P. Member

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    May 19, 2010
    Man, that's really shitty. My condolences.

    I bought a Epi Firebird V from New Zealand (I'm in Boston, MA) because Epi didn't sell model V in the USA. After shipping and customs, it cost me so much I could have just about a Gibson Firebird V.
  4. Crotch

    Crotch Support MLP Veterans & Vendors Platinum Supporter Premium Member

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    Jan 13, 2012


    In all seriousness, that blows!
  5. Howard2k

    Howard2k Premium Member

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    Nov 30, 2009
    Sorry to hear that. I'm loathe to take any of my guitars even across the US border because of all this craziness.
  6. mudface

    mudface Non-Deadbeat/Non-Prominent Double Platinum Supporter Premium Member

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    Aug 29, 2016
    Carbon fiber, plastic, acrylic , and Richlite....the only way to go..........:rofl:
    NewDayHappy likes this.
  7. Sp8ctre

    Sp8ctre Senior Member

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    Jan 8, 2014
    Wow! That is the worst horror story I have read in some time. I hope this gets sorted out in your favor some how...
    truckermde likes this.
  8. WaywerdSon

    WaywerdSon Senior Member

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    May 1, 2013
    Pain in the ass, and its entirely possible that you are screwed. I'm not exactly how your represntation works in GB, but this might be an instabce where a call to your local parliment members office might be of some assistance. They can possibly pull some strings for you. International shipping is sketchy to begin with and add in bullshit custom regs, and the whole CITES thing might be the stupidest set of laws ever written. I cannot for the life of me see how they benefit anybody
    Thumpalumpacus and endial like this.
  9. Sct13

    Sct13 Gold Supporter Premium Member

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    Sep 18, 2011
    wow thats terrible....

    I'm sorry your having to deal with this.
    rockstar232007 likes this.
  10. bluesondoor

    bluesondoor Senior Member

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    Jun 2, 2017
    Get your refund immediately. Don't chance it because you're not getting that guitar unless a miracle happens. Sorry to hear all this
    Warren Weldon likes this.
  11. XpensiveWino

    XpensiveWino Senior Member

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    Dec 24, 2014
    I'm sorry to hear of this, and hope it works out for you. I am currently in limbo with my own CITES shipping issue from Canada to the US. Fortunately, my deal is with a friend and someone I know. We've decided ultimately that we will coordinate time when he can cross the border, and I can drive to meet him. We're talking a total travel of more than twelve hours one way.

    For all of this, I am done shipping internationally. Outside of a friend involved, I just won't deal with it any longer.
    Howard2k likes this.
  12. Nippon

    Nippon You looking at me?

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    Mar 5, 2016
    Sorry to hear that.
  13. ACEit

    ACEit Senior Member

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    Jun 12, 2016
    1) all this cites regulation on guitars is just crap...
    2) ask immediately for a refund... I will never have confidence on a guitar laying in some custom warehose uanttended for months
    3) I'm pretty shure that, after been "destroied", the guitar will be safely played by some ups or custom employee..
  14. Frozen Rat

    Frozen Rat Senior Member

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    Mar 3, 2016
    I couldn't read all that. Whatever it said, let me offer you my heartfelt condolences for whatever it was that went wrong. I'm sure you're traumatized about something, I'm just not sure what, because I have a life and can't read your autobiography just now. Maybe I sound harsh. Maybe I sound rude, but if you are going to send a lament, be succinct, and BTW no one cares why you started playing guitar, GET TO THE POINT.

    Go have a cold beer and hug your kids or your wife or whomever loves you and be glad you didn't have a heart attack or get run over by an insane Uber driver today and pray to whatever God you hold dear it doesn't happen tomorrow. The planet is awash in guitars, if you can't get this one (I'm really reaching now, not knowing what your message said) I'm sure another will show it's lovely head soon enough. There's no such thing as "the one" just like there's no such thing as a "soul mate." There's just a lot of facsimiles of the same thing out there and plenty others will do just as well as whatever you're pining over.

    I'm going to bed now, I feel like I'm too grumpy to be posting any more tonight.
    Pete M likes this.
  15. RichBrew

    RichBrew Senior Member

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    Aug 14, 2010
    Well, that does surprise me.
    Bobby Mahogany, BDW60, Tcb37 and 3 others like this.
  16. geddy

    geddy Senior Member

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    Dec 30, 2012
    There's something wrong with all this. Something smells!

    I don't know what DEPRA is but it doesn't seem to be the organisation which manages cites in the UK. All the right info can be found by searching for cites UK on Google which will take u to the government website. While your there take a look at import duties and vat.

    However, buying a guitar from the us when there are so many dealers and private sellers in the UK is not a great idea. By the time you get hit for vat and admin charges you'll have paid a large premium.
    Biddlin and azzapeel like this.
  17. Pete M

    Pete M Senior Member

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    Aug 30, 2007
    That sucks. The only thing that people can seem to agree on with CITES rules as that nobody can agree on anything. Which makes it a complete gamble as to what may or may not happen if you try to buy a guitar from overseas. Next week some guy's guitar will sail through customs with no issues, gauranteed. You just got unlucky.
    TJR likes this.
  18. fry

    fry Silver Supporter

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    Jan 10, 2011
    I read the whole backstory, didn’t take that long. If I thought it looked like too much, I would’ve passed, and I would not have dropped in to be a jerk to the guy. It’s OK not to participate in the discussion if you have nothing to add.
  19. Rocco Crocco

    Rocco Crocco Senior Member

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    Feb 8, 2013
    Having a bad day?:rofl:
    moreles, Aussiemodo and Howard2k like this.
  20. RedSkwirrell

    RedSkwirrell Senior Member

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    Jan 22, 2012
    I used to work in shipping (globally, but UK based).
    CITES licences can be just one of the PITAs there are to trip up private shippers!
    If it was a normal Import Licence, I would understand why the seller would say that it's your responsibility.
    But it's a CITES licence; It is their responsibility (as the owner/seller) to make sure their item conforms to theirs and international movement laws.
    How could anyone expect the buyer to have/know that level of detail?

    I assume you have also checked import duties and v.a.t. (levied on the sales price plus shipping) and you are in the clear....(?).

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