Monday, October 10, 2005

Importing

As most of you will be aware, I'm partial to importing MTB bits when the price is right. As many questions are often asked on forum's about importing goods, I thought I'd spread the word based on my experiences.

Why ?

If you're looking for exotica or hard to find goods within the UK then it's an obvious step to look elsewhere and the US market can offer substantial savings. Many of the products used on MTB's are developed by American company's, so acquiring these nearer to source saves money. German or British goods are often more expensive in the US so it's often best to look for goods on a national basis. The US market is also very competetive and retailers often have heavily discounted goods in order to attract customers.

Retailers

Both Chad at Red Barn Bicycles and Larry at Mountain High Cyclery are very competitive (knowledgeable too) and between them there's not much that they can't supply. Currently, their web presence is minimal but a quick email or phone call we soon see you straight.

Other generally cheap online options are; PricePoint, Nashbar, Performance Bicycle, Beyond Bikes, Green Fish Sports and Jenson. Most of these offer frequent discount or coupons, the latest of which can be acquired here.

Speedgoat are also worthy of a mention as their website contains comprehensive product info. Go-Ride is often worth a look. Wrenchscience and Competitive Cyclist also have good websites including "bike fit" calculators.

Importing

Is actually very easy and pretty exciting as you get to track your order as it roams the globe. There aren't any special tricks to learn or documents to complete but a few points should be noted.
  • Import duty and UK Vat are charged at 4.5% and 17.5% respectively if you're ordering components, or a bike in bits.
  • Duty increases to 15% if you import a ready build steed.
  • Duty and Vat are charged on the foreign cost of the goods, plus shipping before converting to GBP and calculating to import charges.
If you import from the US then I'd recommend using USPS which in turn will automatically employ Parcel Force within the UK. USPS Global Express allows you to track the consignments to UK customs where upon you'll acquire a PF tracking number. The goods are then usually held at a local depot for you to pay the outstanding charges. However, note that PF will charge you extra for their involvement.

My experience with Fedex was much less straight forward, which is ironic as they're a dedicated door-to-door option. You're able to track the consignment with a little more accuracy than with USPS, however my parcel was left at the airport will no warning of charges that needed to be settled before it's release. Fortunately, I caught this promptly online and chased 'em up throughout an entire day before the goods were eventually dispatched. I then also received an invoice for the outstanding payment 35 days later ! So don't use Fedex if you're in a hurry. Oh yeah, they also overcharged me !!!

Some peeps seem to have managed to escape import duties, although I haven't, which makes the goods really cheap compared to the UK MRP.

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