Just a quick PSA.
It has recently been brought to my attention that, in an attempt to save their buyer from being charged customs fees, some vendors are marking "gift" on their custom forms, instead of "merchandise."
First off, simply marking it as a gift vs. merchandise will not automatically eliminate any fees owed by the buyer. It is dependent on the costs provided on the form, by the seller. These costs will be (or, should be) the price of each item that was purchased. The fees/taxes that will be owed, will vary by location. (Also, listing much lower prices than what was originally charged, is fraud.) Not only can falsely filling out the customs form result in penalties by law - it can delay the shipment of the package, result in the package being returned or lost, etc.
The vendors who are doing this may not even realize that it is absolutely illegal. They may not know this, but do it as a courtesy to their seller. They may not want to miss out on a sale - they probably don't want to lose a customer. However, even though doing this may seem like such a small thing - it is a small action that can have a huge consequence! It is punishable by law. It's illegal to falsify customs declarations or mark an item as a "gift" in order to avoid customs fees. It's mail/customs fraud. And it will be a risk that you won't want to take. It won't be worth it.
I myself have not been one to participate in illegal activities - and I am not about to start. If that means I lose a customer... well, that's just unfortunate. I would love for my customers to save as much money as they can- but it's business. It's legal. And I don't ever intend on running my business illegally. I don't charge my prices in hopes my customers will have to pay more. Not at all. Again, it's business. And my policies state that international customers are responsible for any and all customs fees that they will be charged.
I suggest, perhaps, sitting down and re-evaluating your CODB. Check on what your local taxes/duties/fees are. Make sure you're setting enough aside for your prop expenses.
So, in conclusion, I will not mark the customs form as "gift," if it's not a gift. If it's purchased merchandise, you can expect the form to be filled out as such. And I will not provide any other prices than the price they were purchased at. Just because other vendors are doing it, does not mean that it is ok. I am sorry if this rubs some people the wrong way. But I will run my business as legally as I know how to. This will be no exception. And it's unfortunate to lose customers over it. But I hope this helps those who may be doing this, and don't realize it is illegal (or do realize it is).