“I bought wine in Europe and had to pay hundreds of unfair taxes”

Online shoppers have been forced to pay hundreds of pounds in taxes on imports from Europe after receiving incorrect invoices from major courier companies.

Alan Edwards, from Suffolk, said he consistently received incorrect invoices on his imported parcels. He was overcharged by £318 and told to pay almost triple the amount due when importing wine from Portugal.

The courier company FedEx charged him £502 in customs duty and VAT for a £170 purchase. But after disputing the invoice, FedEx recalculated and found that Mr Edwards only owed £184, sending him a new invoice.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “This is the fourth incorrect invoice I have received in the last five deliveries. It no longer appears to be a one-off error, there is clearly a problem with the system,” he said.

Since Britain left the European Union, goods or gifts received from the EU are subject to VAT and customs duties. However, Brits have repeatedly reported being charged twice the VAT.

Typically, buyers are notified that they must pay the charges before they can receive their packages. In the case of Mr Edwards, he said he was given a seven-day deadline, after which his article would be sent back to Portugal.

However, he refused to pay the tax until a reassessment was done. “It’s a real mess and I tried very hard to tell them. Most recipients have little or no understanding of duty, VAT or agent fees and will pay unless asked for a clearly ridiculous amount,” he warned.

Mr Edwards said he had also been overcharged by courier giant DHL on several occasions. However, his case is not an isolated one.

Paul Carlier, 53, from Kent, contacted Telegraph Money after paying over £100 in unnecessary fees and tax on the purchase of two garments.

Following the involvement of this newspaper, Mr Carlier was compensated with £100. The 52-year-old had paid £381 for the clothes, but £650.74 in total after taxes and duties were added.

DHL apologized for the errors. FedEx could not be reached for comment.

Mary I. Bruner