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Problem With The Mail

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AndiFlatland | 00:36 Sat 30th Jan 2021 | Business & Finance
10 Answers
No idea where to post this - I hope somebody oout there can advise.

I'm wondering if anybody can help me sort out a problem with a Discogs order?

On 19th December, I placed an order with Discogs for a fairly rare CD, and paid a substantial amount immediately after placing the order. The seller is in Italy. I have rarely had any problem with Discogs orders, and it is one of the most reliable sites I use.

With the Covid-19 crisis and Brexit, as well as Christmas/New Year, I had expected a bit of a delay - but now I am somewhat concerned about what I'm being told and asked to do by the seller. I had the following e-mail from the seller a few days ago:

"Hi Terry, what happened?
The CD Clydie King - Direct Me came back, as you can see from the attachment, the label says it was returned by the recipient.
Is there an explanation?
Do i need to make a refund?
let me know thanks!"

There was an attachment, which was a single picture of the packet, with no sign of my name and address on it. I was somewhat mystified by this, and sent the following response:

"Sorry, I have no idea. I have been here every day since I placed the order, and it is unbelievable that it could not be delivered. The local post office knows me well, as I have a lot of mail delivered every day. I have been at this address for 43 years! This sort of thing has happened a couple of times lately, and I can only assume that the temporary postmen that are dealing with the mail while so many are off sick during the Covid-19 lockdown are not doing their job properly.
Can I suggest that the package does not show my name and address? Please put it back in the mail and make sure my name and address are shown clearly.
Thanks."

The attachment - a photo of the returned item - initially showed the item with no sign of my name and address anywhere. With his response to that, he sent me a further photo, showing my address had been reduced to disordered gobbledegook (but not so bad that a reasonably competent postal worker couldn't sort it out). His response to my message was:

"Hi Terry, as you can see in the attachment, your address reads perfectly, it was only covered by the label that the courier applied to return it, however I try to send it back. I kindly ask you if you give me your national insurance number which must be included in the customs document I sent you. Great gift from the "brexit" that was really needed right now."

Does anybody have any idea if this is right? He did not send me a customs document. Do I really have to supply my National Insurance number just to receive an item of mail which is, after all, only a CD? I've NEVER been asked to do this before, and surely there is some kind of security issue if I have to send him my NI number? Is that not private information? Is this some ridiculous, timewasting, bureaucratic nonsense which has been occasioned by Brexit?

Hope you understand the sequence of messages you've seen above. Can anybody tell me what my next move is? I've no idea what to say to the guy next.

Thanks.

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Don't send your NI number. Sounds well dodgy.
Since Brexit, if he's posting from Italy, he's obliged to attach a CN22 customs declaration form to the package, otherwise it will be returned to him.

Here's the English version, which you would be required to use if the package was going in the opposite direction:
https://www.royalmail.com/sites/royalmail.com/files/2020-03/customs-declaration-cn22-march-2020.pdf

Here's the Italian version:
https://securelogin.bp.poste.it/risorse/postali/immagini/cn22_big.jpg

As you can see, they're essentially the same (which isn't at all surprising, given that the design is fixed by the Universal Postal Union, which is a United Nations body).

Do the images that the seller has sent you show a CN22 form attached to the package? If not, that's almost certainly why it failed to reach you.

I suggest ignoring the reference to your NI number (which most definitely isn't needed) and getting the sender to attach a CN22 form (if he hasn't already done so).
We use a transport service for Amazon, M and S, Tesco, Waitrose etc for delivery to Portugal. Since Jan 1 we have to send the company an invoice showing name address item taxes paid VAT and price. To return items to the UK we have to fill in a form, sorry can't remember the name, but something likeCINS. I have just received a package from UK via DHL and it had to clear Portuguese customs and I had to put my tax number on the form they sent me. I think the sender has to fill out a customs form with your information. Could you ask your post office.

Chris is correct that is the name of the form
I can see no correlation between NI number and international mail. If you have dealt with company previousy they obviously have not requested this info before, ask them why they need it this time. I would be very wary about giving NI number, with it someone would have your complete ID. They know your name, address, bank details. NI number would complete the set.
To complicate matters further though, any seller within the EU who wishes to offer items for sale to UK customers is now obliged to register for UK VAT with HMRC, to submit full UK VAT returns quarterly and to pay the VAT they've collected to HMRC:
https://support.discogs.com/hc/en-us/articles/360017259178-United-Kingdom-VAT-Regulations

Re NI number. We have a NIF number which is our tax number and this is put on official receipts, electric and phone bills and on purchases should we want to claim back on taxes. This is maybe what the seller means by NI number.
This is what's behind all the confusion:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/vat-and-overseas-goods-sold-to-customers-in-the-uk-using-online-marketplaces

Possibly also relevant (even if only because it goes some way towards explaining why many sellers in the EU will no longer send goods to the UK):
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-55752541
Question Author
Going through your answers sequentially:

Chinajan:
I have not sent him my NI number, and will not do so unless I get some explanation of the legality of why I should do so.

Buenchico:
On neither of the photo attachments of the package is there any sign of the 'CN22' form, or of that appellation anywhere in the text, that you mentioned.

TonyV:
The company is Discogs, which is a platform for record/CD sellers all over the world to list items they have for sale. I have bought hundreds of items from their sellers over the last decade, but Discogs is not responsible for the transactions or any charges, and the sellers have to provide their own documentation. But until now, this anomaly has not emerged with any purchase I've made from any of their sellers, in any country. Nor has there ever been any additional charge over and above the quoted price + shipping. Once the order has been placed and paid for on Discogs, the deal is solely between you and the seller, and Discogs will only step in if there has been some violation of their guidelines. As far as I can recall, Discogs have never requested any such details from me, and my purchases have been straightforward from the very start.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As far as I can see, the seller is at fault, perhaps for not attaching the CN22 customs form. But also, surely a significant point to make is that the order was placed on 19th December - 13 days before any new rules from Brexit came into force. The label on the packet in the first attached photo he sent me shows a despatch date of 13th January - which is way too long a delay from order to dispatch, and critically took my order unwittingly over the borderline between one set of rules and another.
On the packet that came back to him from Italian customs, there is, as he stated, a label which had been stuck over my name and address by the courier, which gives the return date as 15th January - so confirming that the packet was not returned, as he claimed, by the customer - me - but obviously by the Italian postal authority.
But note that he has said "...however I try to send it back" (I take it he forgot to apply the future tense in that statement). So my inclination is to give it a further week or two without replying to him, and see what happens.
Any more suggestions?
Thanks everybody!



buenchico's suggestion is best I think. // I suggest ignoring the reference to your NI number (which most definitely isn't needed) and getting the sender to attach a CN22 form (if he hasn't already done so). //

...or the seller sends you either a photo or an attachment showing whichever other form he is trying to fill in. And if he doesn't - accept the refund!

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