Postal woes

Barbara Moore , Kenilworth

Having many friends and relatives outside South Africa, I love sending and receiving parcels, and as Christmas nears, it’s exciting to receive Christmas presents through the post.

However, in recent years I find that the Post Office charges enormous fees to hand over my parcels – a standard handling fee is quite understandable and absolutely fine.

But when it runs over R1 000 as I have experienced (the Post Office eventually released that one, after I told them in a letter not to be a Grinch at Christmas), or even R330 to collect a gift from a cousin over the Post Office counter, as happened to me yesterday again – it leaves one upset and very frustrated, and it happens over, and over again.

I am, after all,  a private citizen receiving a present, not a company or shop receiving goods.

After all, the sender paid full postal fees to have their gift safely delivered into my hands – and our Post then requests the full value of the contents of the parcel from me in cash, before they will release the gift.

The only option open to  the public is to ask family and friends overseas to please stop sending gifts through the mail – and then the postal service will suffer. They are cutting off their nose to spite their own face.

Martie Gilchrist, Regional Communication, SA Post Office, responds:

It is vital that customers who send gifts from other countries to mark all presents clearly with the word “gift”.  This helps SARS to know that these items are probably exempt from import tax. 

All goods or parcels imported through the South African Post Office go through SARS customs control and are liable for import duties and VAT plus clearance fees. 

Import tax and VAT are not levied on all imported parcels.

SARS policy stipulates a person may receive two gifts per year, with a value of no more than R1 400 each, without being made to pay customs duty on them. 

Certain products are exempt from gift status, even if their declared value is less than the equivalent of R1 400 – wine, spirits, tobacco products and perfume. 

If you receive more than two gifts per year, custom duty has to be paid. The customs money is paid at the Post Office, but we only charge a handling fee.

The fee for small packets for instance is R28.