An Auckland luxury car importer is $5000 out of pocket due to customs broker, Online Logistics going into liquidation.
Online Logistics was used by overseas shipping companies to import goods locally, acting as a middle man to pay GST and duties to Customs on behalf of importers in order to clear goods into the country.
On 17 November 2017, an application for putting Online Logistics into liquidation was filed in the High Court at Auckland. The application was heard on Friday 9 February 2018 where the liquidation was finalised.
An Auckland dealer, who asked not to be identified, ordered a BMW in November through an international shipping company, and paid customs broker, Online Logistics $3938 in GST, a $1300 shipping fee, and $42.82 for a customs transaction fee.
The GST was payable to Customs while the shipping fee was owed to the shipping company.
In order for importers to receive their goods customs brokers must lodge declarations and pay the associated duties and GST on behalf of clients.
After receiving word from the shipping company that it hadn’t been paid, and that the BMW was waiting for clearance in Auckland, the importer said he tried unsuccessfully to contact Online Logistics.
He told the NZ Herald that he received a letter from the company in January saying it had stopped trading “due to an unforeseen financial situation, and we have been left with no option but to close down immediately”. The letter instructed him to contact another company for his car.
In an email seen by the Herald on Sunday, Customs told the importer they had no record of a payment by Online Logistics on his behalf, despite the company’s invoice saying the payment had been made immediately.
The man had to repay $3632 in GST to clear his car – less than Online Logistics had asked for. The shipping company waived its fee a second time because of the circumstances.
Customs said it couldn’t comment, except to confirm it had applied to the High Court for Online Logistics’ liquidation. A hearing was held in early February.
The BMW importer told the NZ Herald he was now “wary” of importing anything else.
“You would think these people are vetted by Customs but that doesn’t seem to be the case at all.”
Although customs brokers must be registered by them to be declarants, there is no public register people can rely on to choose brokers.
“It is quite concerning as it seems quite a few of these guys are complete cowboys, in an industry you would expect to be quite tightly regulated,” he said.
He said Online Logistics would have been aware since November they were facing liquidation, and should never have invoiced him.
“There’s no excuse for it. They should have stopped trading.”