What's new

Buying from Italy

9 Iron

Well-known member
This may turn out to be nothing more than a misunderstanding of customs policy and practice by an Italian seller, but I thought it was worth mentioning, along with the following statement:

If you buy a pipe directly from Italy, the recent years have proven the Italian sellers listed above to be reputable and quick with service. However, it seems lately there are more and more problems occurring with the importation of these items because of customs and other governmental interference. There is already one recent thread here about the FDA seizing someone's pipe from a listed seller, and now:

I just bought a pipe a couple days ago from an Italian seller listed above, and AFTER the pipe was shipped and was in transit via Fedex, the seller was told that he needed to provide the buyers (me) social security number for taxation purposes because Fedex is not acting as broker, even though they guarantee (allegedly) 2 day delivery. Since there is no way in hell I am providing anyone with my social security number, the thing is certain to end up up in customs purgatory. As of now the tracking shows only that the package left europe, not having been processed through any shipping facility here, which leads me to believe it is sitting in customs because "The Payoff" didn't occur.

Buying from these sellers, through no fault of their own, is going to become a game of Russian roulette. Sometimes you get a duty bill, sometimes you don't. Sometimes you get your package, sometimes you don't.

9 Iron

Well-known member
Why isn't Fed/ex acting as a broker? This seems highly weird.
I'll have to see how this plays out, but my initial impression is that the whole system regarding customs/import has become so convoluted and confusing that nobody seems to know what they're supposed to do and every time you ship, something else is asked for. Which individual at Fedex did the vendor speak with today? Different person, different answers.

I went to the US Customs website and found this:


It basically says that a courier can broker an import under $2500 without a tax ID number from the buyer, usually. There are, of course, built in exceptions that are not fully explained so as to create confusion.

At this point I'm just going to sit here and not answer the inquiries and see what the package does. If it clears and is delivered I doubt the vendor cares to continue the conversation. If it gets held up I'll just direct him back to Fedex and arm him with the link to customs above. Ultimately at 30 days it becomes an undelivered item dispute with paypal and the vendors recourse is with the carrier for mucking up a simple 2 day delivery.

9 Iron

Well-known member
Just to update my situation, my pipe was delivered despite my refusal to answer any questions about tax ID numbers. Sure seems like it's all a matter of too much red tape, nonsense and confusion with importation into this country. The seller did a bang up job of shipping promptly and Fedex delivered despite their ignored requests. The seller seems to get it too, as he quit asking me for my info once the package hit the states.

The pipe in question: