80th birthday gift from Australia lands woman with customs bill

Betty Brown was one of the olympic torch-bearers. Picture: James Bass

Betty Brown was one of the olympic torch-bearers. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2012

It had taken a year to make and travelled 9,000 miles across the globe but Betty Brown’s parcel from Australia faced one last hurdle.

Instead of landing on her doormat in Scratby, all the disabled adventurer received was a card telling her to pick it up from the Great Yarmouth sorting office and pay £24.60 for customs and excise.

“It was devastating for me,” she said. “I had already waited a year and was really excited.”

The parcel contained a quilt made by her niece especially for her 80th birthday.

“She posted it off on May 1 paying 48 dollars registered post. Then I got a card from the sorting office saying to get my parcel I had to pay out £24.60 for customs and excise. I rang my niece and she said nothing was said to her as it was a gift.

“I just do not think it is fair. It is a gift for my 80th birthday and I have to pay £24.60. The girl has spent a year making it, the materials have cost her 60 dollars plus the 48 dollars to send it. There is also an £8 handling charge. What have they handled? They have not delivered it to me.”

The 80-year-old former deputy headteacher at Greenacre, who carried the Olympic torch, said her niece was also upset about the charges.

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A Royal Mail spokeswoman said:” All goods entering the UK from outside the EU are subject to customs VAT and duties, which are payable in the country of destination. We are legally bound to present these items to the UK Border Force for assessment. The UK Border Force is responsible for determining whether customs charges are applicable.”