I was traveling in Singapore and my hotel lost some of my clothes during cleaning. When I checked out they said they couldn't find them and asked me if I wanted them shipped to me when they found them. I said yes.

I received the clothes via FedEx a month later. I thought that was the end of it, but two weeks later I was sent a bill (for £130) from FedEx.

What should I do?


They are charging for:

"Disbursement Fee: 12.75 Original Duty: 40.25 Original VAT: 77.25"

On the delivery notice attached to the package there is a section for "Recipient's Signature" which is empty (I was not in when it was delivered.)

However, when booking delivery the hotel put my name as "Consignee."

  • 13
    What is Fedex billing you for? Shipping? Or customs duty?
    – Relaxed
    Jan 4, 2023 at 13:55
  • @Relaxed Good point. I've commented on customs duty case in my answer now.
    – Arno
    Jan 4, 2023 at 17:01
  • 18
    "asked me if I wanted them shipped", as in "asked nicely" and you said "yes please", or as in : you filled the address in some nice massive form with some long paragraph that you did not read and simply signed. Also relaxed made a great point, read the invoice. What does it say?
    – user206904
    Jan 4, 2023 at 20:56
  • 1
    Did you already own those clothes or did you buy them in Singapore?
    – gerrit
    Jan 5, 2023 at 6:50
  • 2
    Clothes from home. Total value about £150. Asked nicely and I said yes please. Looking to see if I can find out whether it is a customs or delivery charge.
    – Omroth
    Jan 5, 2023 at 11:04

2 Answers 2


First thing to do is to ascertain why FedEx thinks that you as the receiver should pay for the delivery, rather than the sender. For FedEx to have a valid claim against you, you would have had to agree to be footing the bill at some point. If you definitely never did that, tell FedEx politely to get stuffed. If you did agree, then you'll have to pay and go after the hotel yourself - the background story is irrelevant for the issue between you and FedEx.

If you do have to pay FedEx, contact the hotel and ask them to reimburse you for the shipping costs. This is a "be firm and polite"-situation - since it was their mistake, they definitely ought to pay for it, but bringing an international law suit over £130 is just not going to be worth it.

The situation might be complicated, eg you may have signed something you thought said "I received this", but it actually said "I'm gonna pay for shipping". That wouldn't actually create the legal obligation to pay for it, but proving it might be near impossible. In this case, you could try arguing to FedEx that their agent mislead you, while contacting the hotel asking them for the reimbursement. Then go with whoever budges first.

Relaxed raised the possibility that FedEx might not be invoicing you for delivery, but instead asking you to reimburse them for custom duties they paid on your behalf. Since it is your stuff being send to you, it seems clear that you are liable for custom duties to HMRC, so if FedEx paid those for you, they'd indeed be justified in asking you for money. As above, it then is reasonable for you to ask for the reimbursement of the reimbursement from the hotel.

  • 20
    If it's clothing you purchased at home being returned to you, shouldn't it be duty free just as if it was taken home in your luggage? Or is this a case where creating the documentation needed to not pay customs fees is normally impractical to produce. Jan 4, 2023 at 20:45
  • 2
    @DanIsFiddlingByFirelight, I had a similar situation once, basically the mistake is partially on the idiot (the hotel) who declared the items as being of high value (like 2000$ since they are being billed 130 gbp+, unless it is really fancy Dior tux). Also when you return internationally bought items the seller may sometimes get stupidly charged by customs. Or when you return items bought outside the UK/EU, it is a tough one to get reimbursed. Basically documentation on these cases are very tricky, and they are meant to be like that anyway, because that's what custom duty charges are.
    – user206904
    Jan 4, 2023 at 20:51
  • 4
    Once got charged 50€ of custom duty fees (30 +21 fixed dhl fee) for for a key to open a door inside my place. The idiot who sent it to me thought it would be nice to declare a high value for the key for insurance -_-
    – user206904
    Jan 4, 2023 at 20:53
  • 26
    If it is customs fees, there's two important things to look into: 1) Can you appeal the valuation of the items/attempt to prove its your own previously owned stuff, etc 2) double check what the law says on fedex billing you. In Canada, they must give you the opportunity to clear things yourself, UPS was sued (and lost) because of their "surprise after the fact billing" shenanigans, sounds like a similar thing is being done to OP.
    – mbrig
    Jan 4, 2023 at 21:07
  • 4
    @DanIsFiddlingByFirelight You would think so but I have frequently have to deal with random charges from shipping businesses (especially Fedex). The thing is that it's extremely painful to sort out, Fedex tells you it's not up to them, it's the law but they also have zero incentives to advocate for you with customs and just declare whatever is expedient on your behalf. If the sender made a mistake or did not provide a proper invoice, they will seemingly pull a value of a hat. And they will go after you instead of the sender, even for gifts or things you already owned.
    – Relaxed
    Jan 5, 2023 at 11:43

You do not have a contract with Fedex so you are under no obligation to pay them anything.

I suggest sending back the demand for payment with a note saying something like "To the best of my knowledge I have no contract with Fedex. If you have proof to the contrary please provide me with that information. Otherwise, I suggest you contact the sender of the package whom you have a contract. Sincerely, xyz"

I have had similar demands from Fedex etc and after a reply such as the above I heard nothing more.

  • Advice from random stranger on the internet inducing stress and anxiety: "I heard nothing more" legal time can be extremely long. If it happened more than 5 years ago, you should be ok. Otherwise: they may still be processing your charges.
    – EarlGrey
    Jan 9, 2023 at 5:19

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