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Last October I was sent some tokens and medallions in two parcels from New York, correctly declared and valued. Parcelforce stopped both parcels and decided that one contained ‘iron and steel’ and the other ‘novelty items’. One cannot appeal against the decision before receiving the parcels and paying up.

VAT and all other charges came to £248.27 and £71.12 on parcels valued at $500 and $250 respectively! I paid up and appealed – only for both now to be declared as ‘novelty items’. However, I was to receive a refund of £133.56. I have re-appealed and while I await a verdict it would be nice if they could send me the cheque for £133.56.

Much of the HMRC paperwork and its website publishes telephone numbers that do not exist. However, on one call I was advised that if I thought the ‘help’ I was getting was unhelpful, then perhaps I should contact my local MP. So I did and now Zac Goldsmith’s office has joined with me in getting nowhere fast.

Just pick up a phone

If our public servants could see the nature of a complaint and pick up a phone I would guess that the matter could be explained and resolved in minutes. There are some 58,000 of them in HMRC alone, but they do not work like that.

And while on the subject, perhaps someone could explain why the value on which VAT is charged on a parcel is not simply the value of the contents but the value of the contents PLUS the cost of the postage. This seems wrong at so many levels.

Daniel Fearon

New Malden