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As it turns out, Satine's flute HAD in fact arrived in NZ in time for Christmas.  But unfortunately, it took customs over a week to notify me - by post - that they were charging me a ridiculous sum of GST plus handling fees and would only 'release' the flute following receipt of payment in full.  I was completely outraged.

Firstly, I cannot comprehend on what basis I should be charged GST (Goods and Services Tax) on an item that was produced in Europe (or somewhere in Asia even?) then shipped to Australia, sold online and shipped to NZ.  But alas, despite receiving well over 90% in my commercial legislation exam at university, GST isn't only charged on goods and services produced and sold in NZ.  Apparently it can also be charged on goods and services produced and purchased outside of NZ!  Who'd have thought?  Interstingly, had I purchased the very same flute whilst holidaying in Australia and brought it home with me I would never have been charged GST as it would have been deemed a personal purchase.  However, the simple act of purchasing online and having the item delievered classifies it as an 'import' and therefore the government has every right to their share.

I'm sorry, but I fail to see the difference beyond the method of it's arrival into the country.  It's not like I bought a container load, nor a crate, not even a box full.  Just one, single, flute on it's own.  Clearly, it was for personal use.

I wasn't even seeking out a bargain to the detriment of a poor NZ company - as this particular flute is simply not available for purchase in NZ - I had no choice but to look overseas.

Anyway, no amount of outrage was going to change the fact that NZ customs were holding Satine's flute ransom and if I didn't pay within 21 days from the date of invoice, the flute would be returned to the sender.  Which would no doubt result in additional charges!

So I resolved to pay the invoice and accept the fact that Satine's flute was closer to $1500 NZD in price than $1000 NZD...

Hang on a minute... HOW MUCH?!?!?!?

Upon closer inspection, they were charging me GST on a flute (plus postage) valued at $1300 NZD.  I have NO IDEA where they got that value from as the (rather nasty) woman whom I spoke to over the phone assured me that their charges were based on the customs declaration form on the package.

But there is no way in Hell they could charge me that much as I had only spent $895 NZD on the flute INCLUDING postage and packaging.  So armed with my evidence (in the form of the invoice and payment receipt) I went back to customs to plead my case.  Only this time, I submitted my claim electronically and in no time at all I received the profuse apologies from a manager claiming clerical error.

I still had to pay GST but at least I didn't get over-charged and the flute arrived a few days later.

Both the outer packaging and the box within had been destroyed - what were they looking for - drugs?  But the flute was in perfect condition.  And it truly is just that - perfect.  It was worth every frustration and every cent I paid.  I still think it is grossly unfair to have been charged GST but I'm more upset about the way in which I was charged than the charges themselves.  Had I been charged at the time of purchase, I would never have blinked an eye.  But the delays, the rudeness of the woman answering the telephone at NZ customs and the over-charge coupled together has certainly left a sour taste in my mouth.

It is of course, now in the past.  I have verbalised and covalised my frustrations at the injustice I feel and now it's time to take note of the lessons learned, to let go of the feelings and move on.

Onwards and upwards that is... we have a new instrument to learn to play!!


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