ThinkGeek used to be my #1 favourite online store. Their collection of T-shirts, gadgets and other items which appeal to nerds was a site I frequently visited to admire their latest additions.
Not anymore… A while ago they changed their shipping methods, resulting in a $30 shipping charge for a single T-shirt. In other words, the shipping costs twice as much as their average T-shirt costs…
Here in Norway, there is this stupid limit of NOK 200 (approx $37) on tax-free import. Any import which has a value of more than NOK 200 results in a hefty value added tax. And since the cost of shipping is included in this it’s next to impossible to order anything at a store which charges $30 for shipping…
Anyway… Since I subscribed to SourceForge as a paying member, I was entitled to a free T-shirt from ThinkGeek (which is part of SourceForce, Inc.). I figured that this order would slip under the NOK 200 limit since the total value of the order would be $0 (the T-shirt is free) + $ 30 (shipping), which is less than NOK 200.
I even verified it in their Order Management before finalising the order. There is clearly states: ‘Order Total: $30.01’.
Well, the order was processed, shipped and received by me without major problems. (UPS claimed no one was home when they tried to deliver. A lie, since there is always someone home. I had to pick up the package at the local post office, but that’s no problem for me.)
However, I was very surprised and not very happy when I received a bill from UPS a week later for NOK 180 (approx. $33.5) for tax! I contacted UPS immediately to find out why this was. Turns out that ThinkGeek has specified the value of the shipment as $47! (This is quite a bit more than NOK 200).
So instead of indicating what I paid for the T-shirt ($0), they listed the retail price of the product ($17)…
Too crazy for words, of course! If all stores would work like this, and people would end up paying taxes over the retail value of products (instead of paying taxes over what they actually paid for a product), it would put a serious dent in online shopping.
Well, I have learned my lesson the hard way here… That so-called free T-shirt has cost me more than $60… 🙁
I’ll do my future T-shirt shopping elsewhere…!