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Your Experiences of Importing into the U.K.


Kanpai Keith

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Kanpai Keith

Question for all you U.K.ers on here, what’s your experience importing models from Japan.  Are you being hit with fees and vat every time or is it a lottery?  Do you ever yet lucky and what is the cheapest postage options?

 

Cheers.

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35 minutes ago, Kanpai Keith said:

Question for all you U.K.ers on here, what’s your experience importing models from Japan.  Are you being hit with fees and vat every time or is it a lottery?  Do you ever yet lucky and what is the cheapest postage options?

 

Cheers.

Almost always you’ll have to pay tax and some kind of admin when importing  into the UK.

 

its still cheaper to import from Japan though even when I’m stung with it.

 

Train Trax in the UK has really good prices for the UK, but I’d suggest RG Rokko and HobbySearch.


For postage I generally try and pay for DHL, it’s quicker, I can pay tax quickly and it’s in my hands in less than a week which is impressive, it’s normally about 5000/6000 yen.

 

Guy

Edited by GCS
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The magic number is £15.00, if you buy anything above this value you will have to pay tax to HM Revenue & Customs, plus £10.00 (if I'm correct) to the Royal Mail just to inform you.

Postage won't be taken in consideration by customs.

As GSC mentioned above Train Trax and also Top Slots n Trains have good prices in the UK.

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I found I got stung on most occasions and like most, never had issue with the duty, but the criminal “admin” fee that Parcelforce imposed. 
 

I assume carriers like DHL avoid this. 
 

When I was in the UK, I was only aware of Plaza Japan through eBay and not the cheaper online retailers we all use now. With duty and ransom fee imposed I found it would rarely be any cheaper than Train Trax. Plaza tended to use EMS which always seemed to get picked up from PF.

Ami Ami tends to be the cheapest now I live in Japan but stock sells through quickly and I tend to preorder stuff to avoid disappointment.  There are also some imposed household limits for stock which can sometimes be frustrating. i.e I want to preorder 4 but can only order 3.
 

They are often the cheapest by some way in most cases and I earn a few odd points which often goes towards the next shipping cost.  
Domestic shipping is ¥500 which is fine and always takes 2 to 3 days with Sagawa to Kyushu. Although other retailers offer free shipping and more “Store” points, it would still work out cheaper with Ami Ami.

 

They offer DHL shipping for overseas so perhaps others can tell you whether using DHL or EMS and getting stung is better value. Looking at the shocking exchange rate between Yen and Stirling would put me off at the moment. Still cheaper than Gaugemaster though! 😂

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Kanpai Keith

I have been looking at various sellers recommended by the good people on here over the past few weeks.  I’ve put together some shopping lists for which the prices are excellent, but then add on ¥5-6000 postage and those savings disappear, then add on fees and vat and the price spirals.

 

I’m tempted to pick up track from the U.K. and small high value items for Japan.  AmiAmi have a nice loco I want for circa £45 using snail mail I believe it will only be ¥1000 extra so with the fees etc works out much cheaper.

 

 

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13 minutes ago, Kanpai Keith said:

I have been looking at various sellers recommended by the good people on here over the past few weeks.  I’ve put together some shopping lists for which the prices are excellent, but then add on ¥5-6000 postage and those savings disappear, then add on fees and vat and the price spirals.

 

I’m tempted to pick up track from the U.K. and small high value items for Japan.  AmiAmi have a nice loco I want for circa £45 using snail mail I believe it will only be ¥1000 extra so with the fees etc works out much cheaper.

 

 

Track from the UK yes, you’ll find locos are the biggest saving. I just picked up a 12 car Kato ICE 4 for just under £300 including shipping and tax, if I bought that in the UK it would be at least £375...pretty noticeable saving.

 

Guy

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roadstar_na6

No need for DHL/EMS in my opinion unless you won‘t spend an awful lot more or are really impatient to get it. I get almost all my stuff through small Air Mail parcels or ePackets and they usually take around 2 weeks to be delivered to me - which I think is fine.

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Unfortunately they don’t tell you shipping until after you place the order. The good news is (at least for the US) the price is usually about the same from other options like hobbysearch. Train in bookcase is around $20-25 EMS or DHL to the us. DHL rates have swung around a bit with covid. EMS seems to be going well to the UK now but not here. 
 

in general the HS site can give you a good ballpark figure for price and shipping (although they just got a very good DHL rate when they started it this year) to start with, then shopping can further bring the price down. HS is just and easy and large database of most stuff produced even if long out of stock or production.

 

cheers

 

jeff

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I get “to be determined” for shipping with amiami and get the Shipping price on the payment invoice. Luckily they are always reasonable. I can’t remember if there was a time they did give a price for the US shipping, too many orders over the years to too many shops...

 

jeff

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Not overly impressed with Hobbysearch at the moment. They took £200 of my money back in March for the HO Hokutosei pack, which they've not sent due to the SAL shutdown. There's been no communication or offer of a solution from them. Very poor customer service IMO. 

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Reach out to them, they can do EMS or DHL to UK. They got buried with all the Returned SAL packages. I’m sure they can get it shipped, just have to pay the extra shipping. Their English speaking cs usually are not there for long periods so things may be mixed up some still. Overall they have done good cs for me over many years.

 

jeff

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Yep, I've sent them a polite email along the lines of "Do you have any options for getting it to me? Would be willing to cancel and accept a refund if possible". I honestly don't mind leaving it for now and ordering again in future, but can't just write that much money off.

 

I would have cancelled the pre-order but it said in bold text that it couldn't be cancelled. This wasn't a concern when I placed it in November...

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I would just keep pinging them on the order. They have gotten some of the returned SAL packages shipped out other ways later to others.

 

sorry it’s stuck in limbo.

 

jeff 

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Yep, nothing yet so I'll ping them weekly until I get a response or a dispatch email. I'll accept either EMS or a refund. DHL looks horrendous for both shipping and ransom fees.

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After a week of silence I've found a button on HS. Anyone else who is getting the silent treatment from their excuse for customer service, read on!

 

If you go into account>orders and scroll down there's a button for "paused orders" which enables you to change shipping methods on jammed stuff. Apparently a BCC'd email to all customers in this situation drawing their attention to said button was too hard...

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On 8/30/2020 at 10:53 AM, Kanpai Keith said:

Question for all you U.K.ers on here, what’s your experience importing models from Japan.  Are you being hit with fees and vat every time or is it a lottery?  Do you ever yet lucky and what is the cheapest postage options?

 

Cheers.

Back when things were normal I used to order small items up to about £50, use the cheapest SAL and take the risk of it being uninsured, not tracked etc. I would say 75% of the time if the stated value was more than £15 - £18 you'd pay £10 handling fee to Royal Mail and whatever VAT applied. Legally Customs can add the cost of shipping on top of the declared item value and so charge VAT on that too but with SAL they never did.

 

For higher value I'd use EMS or similar which unfortunately goes via Parcelforce that charges a nominally higher fee, £12, but when I was working from the office, delivery was an issue. Also, with Parceforce they send a letter through the post telling you to pay the fees. That can add another two or three days before you can finally arrange delivery (Saturdays are £10 extra!). With SAL, I could just collect at the local post office on an evening. Parcelforce means treking down to their delivery centre if no-one's home.

 

Now I place one big order and hang the cost and use DHL. I've had three parcels delivered to the door within four working days from Hobbysearch and Ami Ami and await an order placed yesterday evening (Sunday) with RG-Rokko that DHL will deliver this Thursday. My recent Buyee parcel took three days from Osaka to Coventry then spent two weeks at Parcelforce International Centre. I'd rather pay DHL and get the stuff fast. The extra cost over EMS really isn't a lot and it's so much less painful to!

 

The names above plus Plaza Japan, Model Train Plus, Hobby Link are all fine. To me the point of ordering from Japan is that it gives you choices that you simply don't get here. Keith at Train Trax has decent supplies of Kato but trying getting new Tomix or Greenmax - virtually no chance.

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@ia909 thanks.  Looking at a loco from AmiAmi best price works out around £45.  So with post, fees and vat it bumps it to £75ish. Which still isn’t bad.

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Check if RG-Rokko has it, their prices are usually even better than AmiAmi.

(If they don‘t, check their japanese website if it‘s in stock and drop them a message)

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On 9/7/2020 at 5:47 AM, Welshbloke said:

After a week of silence I've found a button on HS. Anyone else who is getting the silent treatment from their excuse for customer service, read on!

 

If you go into account>orders and scroll down there's a button for "paused orders" which enables you to change shipping methods on jammed stuff. Apparently a BCC'd email to all customers in this situation drawing their attention to said button was too hard...


It's interesting to compare your HS experience with mine. I had two orders that were returned to them when EMS was suspended. I received an email informing me that it had been returned to them, and a subsequent email informing me of the paused orders/changed shipping methods button. I've just had one parcel delivered yesterday, and the other is on its way, both with DHL. I'm not overly impressed with DHL so far, but I have no complaints about HS's communications. I wonder what the difference is?

 

All the best,

 

Mark.

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I have (some) complaints about their customer service.

I have two pre-orders with them this month. I received a payment notification for the first one, wrote them to ask if I could combine both items in one shipment (which I thought would automatically happen) or add items to this first shipment. I haven't heard back from them but have received a late payment notification and two emails notifying me that I still had products in my cart. I would prefer an answer to my question rather than receiving borderline spam emails. I wrote them using a form on their website.

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They have some restrictions regarding their order cancellations and re-combinations, but I think when you pre-order stuff you can add it to a monthly shipment somewhere during the process. If you didn‘t do that you‘re probably in bad luck.

 

EDIT: Link to their FAQ on this topic

EDIT: Another one regarding recombination

Edited by roadstar_na6
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Yes, the two items were not supposed to be released the same month but one was postponed.

An answer from their CS would still be appreciated, even a "no". I haven't used them in a while and didn't know I had to do the recombination beforehand.

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