Okay, so you’ve found your dream guitar at an overseas auction house. The guitar is worth $5,000 and the bid is currently £200. You place a bid for £800 thinking if it goes that cheep it’s worth taking the risk of it being unplayable or a fake.
4.00am in the morning, your cell phone flash’s you awake, amazing news you’ve won the auction not at £800 but an amazing £600 only a $1000 in your own currency. The next morning you open your email the invoice is for £720 dam that buyers premium. The auction house has three independent shipping agents they use so after a few hours of emailing and waiting a day or two for replies you find the cheapest one a staggering £350 you know it costs about £100 to ship a guitar from London to Australia but if you ask a friend to go and pick the guitar up he’ll have to pay local VAT which will be an extra £150 so you bite the bullet and pay up and shut up. Before you placed the bid you had to give your credit card details to the auction house and it has now been charged for the purchase but not at your usual exchange rate, it’s the Visa or Master card “week in Bali” rate usually about 2-3 % more than it should be. And make sure you pay it quickly before they start charging you 18% interest (not a bad mark up on the 2% official rate). Okay 5 days latter the shipping company have picked up the guitar and you’ve avoided the Auction house’s storage charge but only just. The guitar now owes you £1070 and is winging it way towards you, the courier company calls you and asks you to pay $330 Tax and duty. Now I know there is no GST or import duty payable on items under $1000 in Australia (although this has recently been appealed) But this amount includes shipping and they also uplift the price by 20% to calculate the GST of 10% and usually also charge you 5% import duty although the guitar is 50 years old, you can also get charged up to $100 for customs clearing fees although most of the major freight companies do this for less. I won’t even go into CITIES certificates or other paperwork as is often required on guitars as it is another whole article.
Now 10 days after your purchase the guitar arrives it now owes you $2530, you open the carton the aroma of cypress dust evokes the golden era of Spanish guitar making but your dream guitar has a few issues so you call your favourite luthier who says he’d love to set it up for you but is so busy he can take it on until next month. Long story short 3 months later and another $700 on set up fees you finally have the guitar of your dreams. All up cost $4,230.