Customs defends receipts verification from online shoppers
Acting deputy commissioner of the Jamaica Customs Agency, Kirk Benjamin, is urging Jamaicans to understand and accept the security measure implemented to cut down on the underinvoicing of goods being imported into the island through online purchases, despite the inconvenience.
Benjamin said while he understood the frustration of persons who have to travel to a customs office to verify the price they paid for the goods, if the receipt seems too good to be true, all verification has to be done to ensure its authenticity.
He argued that it is the people who do the wrong thing who are making it difficult for those who are trying to do the right thing.
"I know that Amazon is not going to create a fictitious invoice for you, so, therefore, I say, 'Can you just come and open your account?' You come and open it and we see it and you go.
"We are constrained because if later they do an audit, and the auditor general does some verification and asks, 'Why did you accept this item, which normally sells for $100 and you accept it for $10?', then the customs officer now will be in problems," said Benjamin.
He added: "So in an effort to be able to protect themselves, we say give us as much evidence to support this, because if it is in the normal range that the item normally sells, they won't call you for that, but if it normally sells for $100 and you have it for $10, then they have to call you in. It doesn't mean that I'm calling you a liar; all I'm saying is just give me the evidence to support this."
Benjamin further charged that some Jamaicans are being shafted by the courier they select to take in their purchases.
"We have had people come to us to complain of horror stories, saying Customs charges them that much money, and when we check, we did not charge them like that.
"So I always say to people, ask the courier for your import declaration, because it's unique to you. If the courier says that you need to pay duty, just say to them you want to see it, because it clearly shows you what Customs charges and that should correspond with what is on there bill," said Benjamin.