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‘How I got €37 postage fee refunded for £3.50 book delivery to France’

When his sister sent him a book she had written, one reader was charged a huge fee to receive it but has won a refund

Peter Johnston, 85, said the postman was ‘very embarrassed’ by asking for the fee to deliver a book from Peter’s sister in the UK Pic: Peter Johnston / kipgodi

Peter Johnston is one of many readers who reported being charged more to receive a parcel from the UK than the contents were worth.

With just one difference: Mr Johnston, 85, is expecting to receive a refund cheque in the post any day now.

Read more: French residents charged huge postage fees on UK parcels - refunds due

Read more: How I got back tax wrongly charged on gift sent to France from UK

Daughter in France wasn’t charged

When his sister sent him a copy of a book she had written from the UK, worth £3.50, the postman, whom he had known for years, seemed “very embarrassed” as he asked Mr Johnston for €37 in postage fees, which he grudgingly handed over.

The postman was unable to explain why he owed so much money.

“My daughter in France received the same book and didn’t have to pay anything at all,” Mr Johnston, of Quimper, said. 

“I wasn’t very happy, so I went to the local post office, where they said ‘We don’t know what it’s for, and can’t tell you anything more’.”

Receipt showed error

Mr Johnston believes he must have given his email address to the postman along with the cheque, because he later received an email with a receipt (incidentally, addressed to Pole Jokiston).

According to the receipt, he had paid €29 in VAT and €8 in handling fees.

Thus followed an email exchange with La Poste’s customer service team, where he explained that low-value gifts were exempt from VAT.

Finally, Mr Johnston was informed he would soon receive a full refund.

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La Poste claims improvement to custom charge issue for foreign parcels

French post office confirms it is ending its next-day red stamp

Post-Brexit tax rules recap: How to send gifts between UK and France

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