Wednesday 24 July 2013

Time For A Rant Pt 2

The Post Office Stage Coach (Henry Alken Snr)

Items imported into the UK are liable to taxation. Any goods imported from non-EU countries into the UK over the value of £15 are liable to import VAT (Value Added Tax - currently @ 20%). Gifts between private individuals over the value of £36 are also liable for VAT. Goods and gifts over these values may also be liable for customs duty but in general customs duty for goods up to the value of £135 is not levied. Although the charge labels on packages for which tax is due are identified as "Border Force" - HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) the tax is collected by the Royal Mail and must be paid before the package will be delivered. For each charge the Royal Mail include a "handling fee" of £8.

Whilst there is a discretionary excess of £9 for customs duty - e.g. any customs duty calculated as less than £9 is not usually levied - there is no such excess for VAT. This means that if your package is valued at £15.05 then VAT will be levied at 20% of £15.05.

Whilst I have no real issue with the levying of VAT I do have a problem with the Royal Mail £8 "handling fee". Leaving aside for a moment the questionable practice of levying a charge in order to collect a charge (e.g. HMRC levying an "administration charge" for processing your tax bill) the fee amount seems excessive and often exceeds the VAT being charged, resulting in a very high proportion of the value of the item. Let me give some examples:-

Item Value £15.40 - VAT @ £3.08 (20%) - Handling Fee £8 (52%)
Item Value £27.25 - VAT @ £5.45 (20%) - Handling Fee £8 (29%)
Item Value £3.22 - VAT @ £6.32 (196%) - Handling Fee £8 (248%)

In the first example the item value only exceeds the criteria for VAT being charged by 40p but the handling fee amounts to more than twice the VAT rate. And no, I'm not making the last one up. Some operative in the Royal Mail or HMRC valued this item at USD$49.50 even though on the customs declaration the decimal point was clearly between the '4' and '9' and there was no '0' after '5'. Of course these charges had to be paid before the item could be delivered and obtaining a refund required the completion of a form submitted with evidence - all at the customer's own expense.

Daylight Robbery

Since the receiving customer has paid for the item and usually the postage and since the tax charge notification is a matter between the Royal Mail and HMRC it seems curious as to why they think the customer should pay extra for the privilege of being required to pay the tax due. The "handling" is not something requested by the customer and is hardly a service provided for his or her benefit. It is a bit like a traffic warden adding a "handling fee" to a parking fine levied on behalf of the local council - a way to defray the cost of enforcement onto the ordinary citizen when his taxes, supposedly, already pay for the cost of that enforcement. In the case of post the cost of delivery has already been paid by the sender. The customs inspection is a government intervention facilitated by the Royal Mail and by the customs declaration completed by the sender. Why should the customer have to pay for that intervention on top of any tax due?

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Time For A Rant Part 1

A blog like this shouldn't do politics. But when politics pushes its idiotic jobsworth foot into the door of a simple hobby that has preceded happy, unhindered and harming no one for a good 70 + years it's probably time to push back.

This morning I went to my local Royal Mail Post Office to post a couple of parcels here in the UK. Surprisingly I was asked to "declare" what they contained and given a leaflet - four pages - of "prohibited and restricted items". Formal customs declarations are required for international posting but this is the first time I have been asked to "declare" the content of domestic parcels. Well, sadly we already know what the British government thinks about respecting "its" citizens personal privacy so why shouldn't I have to sing out the content of my parcels in front of the whole post office? At least I don't have to complete a form the size of a book - yet - a type of documentation that every "agency" in the UK now seems to enjoy proliferating. A couple of months ago I was made aware that enamel paints - solvent based paints - were going to be restricted with a maximum amount allowed through the post and specific packaging requirements. The Royal Mail leaflet makes it clear that no amount is allowed to be posted - domestically or internationally - via their services. And this is confirmed at the Royal Mail's own website.

Teeny, tiny tins of model paint - prohibited goods according to Some Very Stupid People

Those little teeny tins of Humbrol paint that have been mail ordered with kits by small hobby shops and retailers for decades, without to the best of my knowledge ever causing any danger to anyone, are now banned from being posted in our ordinary mail. The leaflet requires safe posting to comply with national and international regulations (without specifying which ones) because the Royal Mail wants "to ensure the mail is safe for everyone" (pass the sick bag). It is always that kind of emotive appeal that is used to justify these nanny government sledgehammers as they crush our nuts. Risk aversion couldn't get much more risk averse. The cynic in me wonders where it will stop and the same cynic answers that it probably won't. It won't as long as Too Many Politicians suffocate us with regulation, more regulation and yet more regulation - all for our own good of course. With increasing numbers of people earning lucrative salaries and gold-plated pensions churning this stuff out day after day, in Brussels, in Westminster and even in local council offices, there is a vested interest in building empires, extending their control and proliferating red tape. And the sad irony is that it is ordinary taxpayers who fund most of the multi-tiered government "agencies" who tell them what they can and can't do in increasing areas of their once private lives.

Small retail and mail order businesses are most affected by this nonsense as they now have to send the teeny tiny tins of enamel paint by courier and pass on the additional cost of doing so to their customers, the ordinary taxpayers. This must especially affect those businesses whose main product is paint. How much business activity is suppressed by these unbelievably stupid and inflexible regulations? Big business can defray costs by bulk shipment - small businesses have to rely on the loyalty and perseverance of their customers. This nonsense doesn't contribute to a free and vibrant economy - it hinders it, but the taxpayer funded jobsworths who churn this stuff out don't have to compete in a free market - they get paid anyway. And the two things of which there is no shortage in nannied Britain is official stupidity and the projectile vomiting of red tape. You can find them both everywhere, usually hand in hand and spoiling your day.

I haven't finished with the Royal Mail yet. . . 

Tuesday 9 July 2013

Recent Poll

. . . And the answer is - 10%-50% - but only just!

Thanks to all those who took the trouble to acknowledge receipt - and vote!

Image credit: PD-Art via Wiki

Sunday 7 July 2013

Fujimi A6M3 ~ Another One I Missed!

In the brief run through of Fujimi A6M3 kits included in the Aeromodeller Zero blog last month I included a box with nice art but the unusual trademark of 'Shizuoka Hobby'. Since then another boxing has turned up (shown above) with identical art and layout but the standard Fujimi trademark of that era and numbered 7A2-100. What does this mean? Well, I'm hoping it is like one of those rare printing mistakes on stamps and the 'Shizuoka Hobby' box turns out to be a very valuable rarity... Seriously though it would be interesting to learn the story behind the different logos. Can any Japanese readers help?

As before I have updated the original article to include this example of box art.

Image credit:- Box art © Fujimi Mokei Co. Ltd., circa 1960-70

Saturday 6 July 2013

Fujimi's Old Goshikisen ~ Here's One I Missed!

Back in February when I blogged a run-through and description of Fujimi's 1960s Ki-100 kit I missed this one which has recently come to notice. And very nice it is too, the unknown artist depicting Capt. Yasuhide Baba's '39' of the 5th Sentai racing through a hazy summer sky with a convincing rendering of the Ki-100 factory scheme of # 7 over natural metal finish. After re-organisation of the Sentai in March 1944 Capt. Baba served as the Hikotai leader until the end of the war. The box art shows the spinner as wholly red whereas photographs suggest that at one time the rear part was natural metal or perhaps white.

I don't know whether this boxing precedes or follows the K Hashimoto art versions but the '1/72' might be a clue as the first of those show '1/70'. The scan of the box art has also been added to the original blog for completeness.

Image credit: Box art © Fujimi Mokei Co. Ltd., circa 1960s 

Wednesday 3 July 2013

Update ~ Robert Short

Added another photograph of the Boeing 218 to the article on Robert Short with kind permission of R A Scholefield of Added suggestions for modifying the Matchbox P-12E kit courtesy of 'Old Man'.