MailBoxes Reiterates Call: ‘Speak Up’

January 18, 2012

With the Premier scheduled to host the first of Government’s series of Town Halls this evening [Jan.18], Mailboxes Unlimited president Stephen Thomson has reiterated his call for residents to speak up against any potential duty hikes.

An email sent out to Mailboxes 9,000 customers yesterday said, “Dear US Express Member, As promised in my last email, please find below the Premier/Finance Minister’s schedule of Town Hall Meetings/Forums to discuss ‘The Budget 2012”

“Our issue is the damaging tax proposal of increasing duty for ALL imported personal items by as much as 500%, whether by Air Freight, Ocean Freight or Courier. This will affect all residents of Bermuda without exception.

“95% of all imported items come into Bermuda via Ocean Freight, Air Freight, Courier or the Post Office, which are billed at the normal lower duty rate. Only 5% comes through the Airport, which is at a 35% duty rate.

“If the intention is to ‘normalize’ or ‘harmonize’ duty rates, lower the airport back to the normal duty rates that all other methods are on.

“Please speak up Bermuda and have your voice heard. Come out and join in these discussions,” concluded the email from Mailboxes.

Last month Government released its Pre-Budget Report, which contained a list of revenue-raising policy options under consideration including “harmonising duty for personal imports.”

The Pre-Budget Report said, “There are different rates of duty that are assessed to individuals who import items for personal use. At the airport the rate is 35% however via other methods of import, the rates vary from 5% to 33.5%.

“Because of the inconsistent duty rates across methods of import, Government efforts to support local business are not as effective as intended. Therefore the Government will examine changes to duty rates for personal imports.

“Changes that harmonise rates must be done in a way to ensure that those who import goods for business use or for resale do not face additional requirements and additional “red tape”. The Government continues to remain committed to supporting local retail and is looking at a way to ensure that the correct balance is struck.”

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Comments (54)

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  1. Triangle Drifter says:

    Lets hope that lots of angry people, especially ones who look like PLP supporters show up at these pre budget meetings & let the PLP know, in no uncertain terms, how they feel about being robbed by the people they voted for.

    • Voice of Reason says:

      Angry people to show up and say what? I can see how this will go.

      1) Angry Person, “Premier don’t hike duty up to 35%”
      2) Premier, “Who told you that was the plan?”
      3) Angry Person, “Steven Thompson said so, and the Royal Gazette said there was a raise to 35%”
      4) Premier, “The government has said no such thing, but thank you for your thoughts”
      5) Angry Person, “You mean its not true”
      6) Premier, “Not at all”
      7) Angry Person, “I can’t beleive i missed my stories to come out here after receiving lies in my Inbox”
      8) Premier, “Sorry about that, any other thoughts”
      9) No longer angry person, “No Premier, you are doing a great job”

    • Jo Public says:

      What we really need to do is stop with this stupid duty syatem. Books are 0% duty. Why, they don’t expire go bad, are easy to ship and the duty free savings are not being seen in the prices. Ever looked at the US price on a book versus the BDA price at SOME NOT ALL bookstores. Savings are not getting passed to the consumer so why let them benefit with lower overheads while other business pay more. If everyone paid something and nobody got a free ride than we should see better pricing. Why should an electronics store that deals with items that are fragile and also may need parts and after sales technical serice be forced to pay 22.25% to 33.5% duty when a bookstore that sells books that sit on a bookshelf, need no servicing, dont expire, go out of style, depreciate in value, and (aside from a few exceptions) can be sold at anytime…even years later atthe same price have the benefit of paying 0% duty…and still charge so much. Another stupid example. Import a TV with a “tuner” in it and you pay 33.5%. Import a TV without a tuner and you pay 22.25%. Silly right?! There are many examples like this one, with software (gamees 22.25% vs most other software 0%), clothing (manmade fibres 6.5% vs synthetics 22.25% I think). It dooesnt make sense. The duty system is so complex now, that we have the bulk of our customs officers doing paper and looking for silly errors and a very, very, very small number actually inspecting packages and containers. This is one of the main reasons (in my humble opinion)why so many drugs and weapons get into this island. The odds are in the bad guys favor because our good guys (customs)) have their hands tied doing pointless paperwork. UBP, PLP, OBA someone fix this!

      Charge everyone the same % duty regardless of the item, streamline the process and make it simple so that importers don’t play the word game

  2. Family Man says:

    As someone else said, the PLP are now robbing Peter to pay Paula.

  3. Tired of nonsense says:

    Harmonising is the new word for tax increase obviously…

  4. Bda says:

    I believe that putting all the duty rates at 25% would be fair. Steve Thompson is only out for himself! DONT BE FOOLED!

    • It’s 35% not 25% & of course Mr. Thompson is looking after himself, but he does make a lot of sense if you really think about what he is saying..

    • Tired of nonsense says:

      Only Bermudians would advocate and support a massive tax increase during a recession which increases the cost of living even further for all sectors of Bermuda’s society…

      But hey it is the same individuals that cheered the payroll tax and FCPT increase two years ago when Bermuda’s economic downturn was well underway as well…

      Guess you get what you vote for…

      I guess I will just never understand such “logic”

    • Rick Rock says:

      Mr Thompson is not going to be paying these taxes. We are. So I’m not quite sure how you can make out he’s the only one who will benefit if the taxes don’t go up.

  5. longtail says:

    As I understand it the 35% duty is to apply to ALL personal items, even those items – such as hearing aids – that were previously duty free. If this is indeed correct then the handicapped will be penalized for their disability…. yet another example of the present Government’s record on human rights! A pair of sophisticated hearing aids costs $6,000 or more – duty on this would be in excess of $2,000.

    • Voice of Reason says:

      You all really need to stop making stuff up. It doesn’t make you seem intelligent.

  6. solidarity says:

    over 500% increase for cloths!

    this shows no empathy for the potwasher wages we have been ‘educated’ for!

  7. PORTO GIRL says:

    Duty belong to the Bermuda Government not to the courier Company’s. Have you looked at who delivers your courier packages. All Bermudians. I guess you will see the courier company’s closing their doors in the next few months, because we will not be able to afford to buy online and ship items to the couriers companys. So Mr. Thomson and the rest will close their doors and we will have another bunch of Bermudianas without jobs. You all need to think about where you are putting your X to in the next election!!!!!

  8. LaVerne Furbert says:

    As usual, Mr. Thompson is being disengenuous. Why should Bermudians who shop overseas (online) be charged less customs duty than those Bermudians who shop overseas (in person)? It doesn’t seem fair to me.

    Mr. Thompson hasn’t shared with readers the other charges that couriers heap on to people’s bills, like $75.00 for Customs Clearance and $30.00 for documentation (for one item that cost just over $100.00.

    I guess Mr. Thompson is right to be concerned about his bottom line.

    • Sara says:

      Ridiculous that you can contiune this charade as if we are all stupid. For shame, for shame.

    • Rick Rock says:

      LaVerne, Paula Cox is the one being disingenuous. And you are too. Taxes were raised, LaVerne. Increased. Made Bigger. Airport taxes were increased, LaVerne, from 25% to 35%. And only then, after that tax was increased, did Cog start talking about “harmonization”. If, all along, she was interested in “harmonization”, why didn’t she just do that? If it was offensive to her to have differing taxes from various means of entry, she could have “harmonized” everything to the pre-tax increase average -perhaps 12% or so.

      But she didn’t do that LaVerne, she INCREASED taxes, and now wants us to pay that INCREASED rate every time we bring something in. That’s she think “harmonization” means?

      It’s nothing more than a thinly disguised money grab.

      And by the way, it will make things more expensive for the PLP faithful. Working class people will be hit hard by this whenever they want to bring in something that they can’t buy here.

      If you think it’s just white people, or OBA supporters, or expats who import things, go ahead. You’ll be annoying your own voter base in an election year. Not that that will stop you. You don’t actually care very much about them either, when it boils down to it.

    • Rick Rock says:

      Laverne, also, it does not cost $75 for Customs Clearance and $30 for import documentation. You’re talking sh&t.

      • LaVerne Furbert says:

        If, I could post my invoice from the courier service I used, I would do so. I was charged $75 for Customs Clearance Services.

        Maybe you can enlighten us as to how the Government can raise money to provide programmes for the people of Bermuda. I think most countries raise money through government taxes.

        • 32n64w says:

          Are you sure the customs clearance services fee didn’t also include duty? If not, which courier firm charged this outrageous amount? The post office only charges $1 to prepare the duty form.

        • Rick Rock says:

          Aha. You want to know “how the Government can raise money”. So you admit, it has all been a tax increase exercise, not a “harmonization”. Like I said above, more taxes being raised from ordinary Bermudians.

          Now, perhaps there could a discussion about comparing policies that reduce the tax base, and policies that increase the tax base. Here’s a clue: telling IB to get lost and go somewhere else in the world, will reduce the tax base.

          Perhaps there could also be a discussion about prioritizing government spending. Cricket teams, football teams, multimillion dollar music parties, luxury travel, are the kinds of things that have angered ordinary people, LaVerne. Which is why we don’t want the tax increase. It’s because money has been spent by the PLP on stupid idiotic things in the past, and that’s what we think they will do in the future.

  9. tricks are for kids..... says:

    I have given up on mailboxes and wont be using them again. I brought deorating glasses (large Brandy glasses) for centerpieces for decorating. The glasses (4) cost me a total of $80.oo, Mailboxes in the US told me that they have the glasses and they were in two boxes..Mailboxes was going to charge me $300 to have them shipped w/duty, wharfage included. No way in hell was I going to pay that!!! I told them to keep them!! but the girl said they couldnt keep them and their policy is to donate them to charity. I also had $70 worth of flip flops that cost me $185 shipped through mailboxes…So Mr. Thompson’s place has been “dicking” the people of Bemuda as well so is his interest REALLY FOR THE PEOPLE or is he just looking out for himself….Either way we’ll get “dicked” it’s just a matter of who will do the “dicking” for less………

    • Professor says:

      If you feel you got “dicked” by mailboxes, then it is as a result of your own ignorance. Their website tells you exactly how to calculate shipping costs based on the value of the item and the larger of either the actual weight or dimensional weight, which the website demonstrates how to calculate. Duty (rate depends on item…for now) and wharfage (~1.25-1.5%) can be found on the government website. Insurance is a flat 2% and the shipping surcharge, the last time I asked, was around 15% of the calculated shipping costs (yes, I asked and they told me).

      I’ve been with mailboxes for 2 years now and have brought in laptops, clothing, shoes, and books. And every time I want to bring something in, I open up my spreadsheet that I created and put in the cost, weight, and shipping dimensions (most websites that ship regularly will give this information). Then I compare this versus the cost of buying in person or sending to a relative, then subsequently bringing by plane (taking sales tax, airport duty, and baggage charges into consideration).

      In other words, I do a little homework to research the costs. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do this.

      • tricks are for kids..... says:

        @ Professor so sorry for getting your knickers all in a twist becaus you don’t agree with my comment, sorry if during my post I did not go through ALL the details about the dimensions of the box..I’m also sorry that I didn’t share with you ALL the details about the conversations I had PRIOR to shipping..My apologies yet again for not being a fan of Mailboxes like you…With that said, having been a client of mailboxes since its inception I am quite aware of the details that you have so graciously shared….I also know that I am not the ONLY one that has complained of the cost to land something here whilst using his services (other posts can attest to that) I also know “Steve” on a personal level and yes I can honestly say that he doesn’t have the publics interest at heart he is purely out for himself..

        • Professor says:

          My knickers are never all in a twist and I’m not a fan of Mailboxes; just a customer. I too have complained about their costs. But, for most things, they are cheaper than using the UPS and FEDEX directly.

          I’ve only laid out a “logical” course of action to prevent being “surprised” by the shipping costs. And it is a course of action that anyone can and should take. If that is too complicated, then you are probably getting “ripped-off” shopping online anyway. ALL of the shipping costs can be calculated BEFORE even making the purchase.

          Further, we live in a free market society. So, if there are that many disgruntled customers who feel swindled by Mailboxes, they have tons of options: 1) FEDEX, UPS, Post and ZipX, 2) accompany the item by plane, 3)send by boat, and 4) ultimately, you could risk some of your own capital, start a new competing service, and take all those customers with you. I’m sure if you were in that situation, you would want to prevent legislation that potentially harmed your business and put your employees at risk.

  10. VJ says:

    I agree….Mr. Thomson is indeed being disengenuous. His concern isn’t for the customers, it is for HIMSELF and his bottom line. I stopped using his services after he ripped me off one time too many. I use the service at the post offices and save big time. Also, to the person that stated that people with disabilities will be penalized, where did you get your information? It is my impression that duty free rates would not be affected. Also, like someone stated, why should people coming through the airport have to pay more than someone shopping online? I don’t see how Mr. Thomson thinks he can dictate to Government how much duty they can charge. He is only concerned that he will have to lower his rates (and profit margin) after ripping people off for years….

    • Johnny says:

      I totally agree with you, I too stopped using mailboxes after being charged alot 1 too many times. The last time I used them it took 5 days after my goods reached their us address, they told me their own commercial was giving wrong info. They prey on the fact that many US business’ do not ship to Bermuda, and then charge you more than a courier( that’s why he says hes not a courier).

  11. serious says:

    We Bermudians need to start to speak up why is everyone just taking the crap?
    all acting like we are druged and going along like sheep lets go say it do it

  12. yes says:

    dont worry about this folks just call ur MP and tell them hike it up more what they hell our government is doing a great job its not their fault we are the nasty spenders trying to ignite our economys

  13. longtail says:

    Mr Thompson is not the issue here – it is the Bermudian taxpayer who is being ripped off by a Government that cannot get its numbers right yet again. All Bermudians who travel or receive goods by post, courier or whatever are being hit by this massive tax increase. You do not have to use Mr Thompson’s services, but you are still going to PAY, PAY, PAY!!!!!

  14. The Doctor says:

    Well thanks Steve for reminding me to make some noise about this propsed tax hike.
    it appears that the 35% tax hike is to bring the coffers up to keep Paula and her cabinets salaries in ther pockets as they dont want to take a pay cut while the rest of the civil service and government workers are working past there 40 hours for straight time. I guess it is also to put back the funds that were embezzled on the various projects that the government have managed. I guess it is now all the global economies fault and the people of Bermuda have to pay to fix it.

    Lead from the front and do the right thing ……..there are many people struggling and suffering out here and a 35% tax hike will only make it worse and ensure your won’t get re elected back in power.

  15. Honestly says:

    @The Doctor, I can agree with you in saying that this Govt will be in trouble if the tax hike is approved!

  16. Itsaboutallofus says:

    I’m sorry, when did the Premier say all duties were going up to 35%???

    Everyone has gone all crazy and for possibly no reason. Relax folks.

  17. Steve Thomson says:

    This msg is for Laverne Furbert.
    Unfortunately, you talk a lot but seldom listen. You voice your opinion, but dont bother to check your facts.
    Fact # 1. Mailboxes is not a courier….I hire Fedex to move our items
    Fact # 2. We dot not charge customs clearance fees. We get charged them by Fedex, but do not pass them onto our customers
    Fact #3. We do not charge for “documentation” and never have.
    So, Laverne, clearly you do not run a business and just simply have your hand out at the end of the week for a paycheque. Try running a business and not your mouth or at least check your facts first….you lose so much credibility.

    P.S. I will now wait for your normal nasty vindictive reply…bring it on Laverne

    • Real Talk 4 Life says:


      What you got to say to THAT, Laverne?

    • O.B. says:

      In no way am I a fan of Laverne, but she doesn’t actually accuse Steve Thompson of these charges. She says “couriers”, not necessarily Mailboxes. The accusations of Mailboxes charging exorbitant fees was by a separate person.

      Shouldn’t you be at the Town Hall meeting right now, Mr. Thompson? Please tell me that you went after giving these numerous pleas…

      • O.B. says:

        Apologies. That should have read Ms. Furbert.

        From what I understand, and I stand to be corrected, neither Mailboxes nor BEST were in attendance. If this is true, I don’t think Mr. Thompson should be discussing anything about someone else losing credibility.

    • Death to Party Politics says:

      Let’s get ready to rummmmmbbbllleee!!! ( in Michael Buffer voice)

    • Rick Rock says:

      No reply from LaVerne I notice. She gets completely confused when facts are introduced into a discussion.

  18. Wow says:

    But she only got 8 votes likely her family lol then got booted out

  19. Bailmoxes says:

    Mailboxes is a reputable local business with decades of experience and good repute in the shipping and house packing industries…I DARE anyone to try and prove otherwise.

    There’s no reason not to take Mr. Thomson at his word. All of you GOONS who try and say otherwise are nothing more than ill goats!

  20. VJ says:

    Bailboxes….why all the nasty name calling because people are voicing their opinion? You sound like Mr. Thomson, who also resorted to calling Ms. Furbert all kinds of names. Boy, he really sounded like a respectable businessman….I have totally lost what little respect I had for him after that! He should have just kept his two cents out of this chat (conflict of interest) but since he jumped in maybe he can answer a question for me….though I doubt he will. Mailboxes charges according to actual weight or dimensional weight. How exactly do you calculate this when the parcels come loaded in a Fedex can along with all of the parcels, documents packets, etc. They are all just thrown in there helter skelter, not packed up taking up a certain proportion of room. Some cans are full, some half full or some nearly empty. What does the actual weight or dimensional weight have to do with anything when everything is just thrown into a big bin, loaded onto the plane and unloaded by Fedex employees that just chuck it into the back of their van to take to a central location to be then unloaded and sorted for distribution. I can understand a flat handling fee, but I really don’t understand the space fee when everything is just all jumbled up together….

    • Tired of nonsense says:

      Where exactly did Mr. Thomson call Ms. Furbert “all kinds of names?”

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      Nice attempt at deflection from topic the VJ. Your post has absolutely nothing to do with the 35% money grab the PLP is attempting to do in their desperate attempt to cover expenses run up by their Government.

      Typical response from the damage control spin squad.

    • Still Larnin... says:

      I thought this was all about import duty – not about how much money Steve Thompson makes… Sheesh… He’s a businessman obviously he wants to protect his business… Wanna make some money – increase duty on liqour and cigerettes… Do you know what the duty on wine is??? $1.80 a bottle – no matter the value… So Nightrain? duty is the same as Moet etc… Think about it.. oh and dont forget the hotels get relief from this duty too… Just sayin….

  21. VJ says:

    @Tired of nonsense, you can play your silly little games but you get the gist of my statement. Mr. Thomson’s comments were waaay out of line. If he doesn’t like the fact that people are voicing their opinion of his company, then he needs to stop reading. If he wants to read the comments, then he needs to be a big boy and suck it up. In any event, I’m awaiting a reply on the question I just asked but if you are a spokesman for Mr. Thomson, perhaps you can answer…..

    • Tired of nonsense says:

      It is you VJ that is playing silly games…

      You stated that Mr. Thomson called Ms. Furbert “all kinds of names”

      I simply asked where you saw that…

      Obviously telling the truth is nothing but a “silly little game” to you while blatantly lying is simply the truth…

      Amazing…but not surprising…

      • VJ says:

        I suggest you re-read his comments. He did not need to resort to saying Ms Furbert would reply in her ‘normal’ way which is nasty and vindictive. People are entitled to their opinions…he had no idea how she would reply or if indeed she would even reply! So enough deflecting, as Mr Thomson’s spokesperson are you going to answer my question on how he comes about his rates when all of the packages are chucked into big cans of equal size and weight???

        • Tired of nonsense says:

          Never used mailboxes so I don’t know and truly don’t care…

          What I care about these days are people like you that come onto these blogs and blatantly lie as a means to denigrate someone based solely on the support of your Party…

          I will continue to point such lies and manipulation of teh truth…

          And with all due respect Ms. Furbert isn’t known for her reasonable and articulate responses…

          Actually she posts a bit like you…attack and half-truths…

          So again where did Mr. Thomson call Ms. Furbert “all kinds of names?”

          Just say he didn’t and admit that you lied…

          It is so simple…but yet so hard inna?

          • VJ says:

            On the contrary, it is people like you that hide behind the computer to poison people’s character or take pot shots. You have lowered yourself to calling people liars and if anybody is on the attack…its YOU!!! I asked a perfectly legitimate question of Mr Thomson, and if you “do not care” then why are you even in the discussion? And by the way, I support my party…always have and ALWAYS will!!! You’re so “tired of the nonsense” but what are you doing to make things better? I would bet my bottom dollar that you are contributing nothing to society but whining and throwing poisoned darts at people that don’t think as you do!!!

            • Tired of nonsense says:

              Yeah I know…revealing blatant lies is “attacking” and taking “pot shots” at someone’s character…

              So again where did Mr. Thomson call Ms. Furbert “all kinds of names?”

      • LOL (original) says:

        Besides it not like LV does not call people all sorts of things on a regular but I guest VJ respects her for that.

  22. VJ says:

    @ Triangle Drifter…my post had everything to do with the article!!! Isn’t Mailboxes the one that sent out emails to its customers trying to get them to oppose the raise in duty? Therefore, my question to Mailboxes to explain their rates to their customers was right in line with the article. Your statement makes no sense…or did you read a different article than the one I read?

    • Tired of nonsense says:

      Only strange individuals would jump up and down in support of a tax increase in the middle of an economic downturn…

      party before country…as always