Customs Clearance Costs. (I’m getting old and grumpy, I know)
I'm an impatient man when it comes to waiting for new albums and I basically don't listen to an album until I get the CD. Old-fashioned, I know, but compared to all vinyl lovers, that's not so bad because that's a real tragedy.
Now that has become difficult nowadays because it is often a long wait for CDs and especially if they have to come from outside the E.U. and that happens quite often. The most difficult in this area is the U.K., I recently had to wait four weeks for a CD to arrive.
How is this possible in times where everything is going faster?
For a little over a year now, there has been the phenomenon of customs clearance costs. Where this almost never happened in the past, it happens every time now and that has two unpleasant consequences.
Firstly, these costs are often almost 50% of the purchase price of a CD and sometimes even more, just idiotic. Example: The CD version of the beautiful mini album of Sky Passage (The Gathering) from Canada cost me € 15.80, but I had to pay € 9,15 customs clearance costs! That's out of proportion, isn't it? By the way, I'm still waiting for delivery.
Secondly (and I find that much worse) there is the delivery time. After paying the customs clearance fee, the CD has to go from customs to Post.nl, there we go, and they then have to do their job and deliver the CD. After payment of the customs clearance costs, it is always indicated that they will do their very best to deliver the relevant letterbox package within 5 to 7 days. That never happens! Example : I ordered the last CD of IO Earth (Sanctuary) in England from the band itself because my regular suppliers did not offer it. This CD was sent and was a neatly 5 days later in the Netherlands but got into the hands of customs. Again more than ten euros in customs clearance costs paid and waiting for the CD. It arrived in the mailbox another three weeks later, that’s 4 weeks in total!?
I couldn't resist and phoned Post.nl and that's no fun because I've been on hold for three quarters of an hour. Why the hell are you doing that you may ask, and you are probably right. Just out of frustration. In the year 2023 we are not able to get a letterbox package from A to B within a few days even in our not so big country.
Finally I got a lady on the line and she really didn't feel like it. With an extremely unfriendly attitude, the conversation began. After telling my story, it remained silent for ten seconds. She didn't do anything with my story and started reading a standard reply from a piece of paper. Slowly I started to get very annoyed and didn't settle for her standard answer because I can read that on the site too. Callcenters, I know, but folks ; That has to change. A conversation was not possible because she kept reading the same story. When I asked if I could speak to someone else, she didn't do anything but went to consult a colleague. Another ten minute wait. If this conversation was recorded for training purposes, I fear for her job. Oh no , not at all, lack of staff. (I can't hear it anymore) Anyway, what was the answer in the end, after a lengthy consultation with a colleague. Customs has fourteen working days to deliver the package to Post.nl. What? So there’s the extra three weeks of waiting. Hello, it's 2023!
After cooling down for a while, it is clear to me that something is not going well with the transfer of a package to Post.nl and who is to blame? I leave in the middle.
What have I learned from all this?
Something I have known for some time, namely that, where possible, it is better to order from a supplier within the E.U. Personally, I prefer Beyond Rock (Ned.) or Just for Kicks (Dui.) because they are correct and fast too. It is true that sometimes you have to wait a little longer, but not four weeks. Fortunately, there are already bands that are smart enough to take care of the distribution not only from their own country but also from a country within the E.U. This prevents a lot of annoyance on both sides. (Although Fish will disagree)
I realize that I belong to a dying breed but I think that as a reward for pre-ordering an album on CD (unfortunately for the vinyl enthusiasts this is different for them due to huge capacity shortages) you should at least have it on, but preferably before the release on streaming platforms. The bands earn more this way and the fans who are willing to spend a little more are rewarded. Musicians are entitled to a fair reward for their efforts, but there should also be something in return.