This site (bluejeanscable.co.uk) was established as Blue Jeans Cable's primary site for sales outside of the US and Canada, and accordingly, there are a few differences which you may note between this site and our primary site (www.bluejeanscable.com). As our ability to handle international orders on the US site has improved, the differences are smaller than they have been in the past, but we'll explain them here.
The primary pricing difference between this site and our US site is that pricing here is in British Pounds rather than in US Dollars. You may notice that the pricing, however, does not always represent a straight dollars-to-pounds conversion, and typically this means that the UK site price for an item is slightly higher than the US price. Does this mean we charge our international customers more than our US customers? It may look that way, but it's not--this will require a bit of detail.
Both on our US and on our UK site, prices of most items contain a sort of "implicit cost of shipping" component which we tally up when calculating shipping charges, and which is based primarily on item weight and size. When we calculate the shipping charge for your order, we work out the actual cost of shipping, and subtract from that amount the implicit shipping which was charged on the items in your cart. Because the cost of international shipping is higher, we have made the implicit shipping cost components on most items a bit higher, reflecting the higher marginal per-pound cost of shipping. If you fill your shopping cart with a set of items on our UK site, and fill another cart with the same set on our US site, you'll find that when you get to checkout, the higher cost of the items on the UK site will--plus or minus some small rounding error--be balanced out by a lower cost of shipping on the UK site than on the US site. Because our payment processor does not convert currency at as favorable a rate as we can obtain elsewhere, this ordinarily will mean that the US site pricing winds up being, if anything, a little bit higher in the end result, especially for UK customers, than pricing on this site.
As noted, on this site we accept payment in Pounds Sterling; we are working on solutions to allow us to accept payments in Euros and other currencies as well, but cannot do so at present.
Our default shipping method on this site is Federal Express International Priority shipping, which will deliver to most locations only 24-48 hours after the shipment is picked up here in Seattle. In most cases, FedEx is not only the default, but the only, shipping method offered here, because we have found that the vast majority of complaints from our international customers in the past have related to shipping--postal service methods often wind up being too slow, too hard (or impossible) to track, unreliable, and unpredictably costly, with packages arriving at the customer's door with a bill for customs clearance charges. If you don't mind slower shipping, these methods can sometimes offer good service at a lower cost--and you'll find that they are offered as alternatives on our US site, but not here.
Handling of Customs Charges, VAT and Duties:
Probably the greatest annoyance to a customer buying across international borders is the unpredictable and often costly process of customs handling. When FedEx International Priority is the shipping method, we simplify this for you by charging you an amount which represents the VAT and/or customs duty we expect to be charged on your order, and we then prepay those charges through FedEx so that your package will arrive without any bill for these charges. In the event (it does happen, rarely) that you do receive a bill from FedEx for such charges, it's a mistake on FedEx's part. Do not pay it, and let us know--we will handle it.
A note about customs: we have found that customs charges in many countries are confusing, inconsistently applied, and just generally counterintuitive. As a result of some of the practices followed by taxing authorities and the practices followed by Federal Express in reporting tax liability, we have had to write algorithms to generate our customs valuation statements for us, to correct a tendency toward overcharging. While this is a fairly complex subject, here's the quick summary: Most countries apply their VAT and duty not just to the stated value of the goods in the shipment, but to the sum of the stated value and the cost of shipping. Unfortunately, when FedEx reports the cost of shipping to the destination country, it does not always report the actual cost of shipping. It may in some cases report the actual cost, in other cases report the list rate, and in still other cases report some rate in between those two. If you've been grossly overcharged for VAT and duty on incoming shipments from other vendors in the past, this is the most likely explanation. In order to correct this behavior and get the taxable total to accurately reflect the actual value of the goods plus the actual cost of shipping, we base our customs valuation upon the practices followed by FedEx and the destination country. In some cases, this simply means that we report the stated prices as the value; in other cases, we take the total amount charged exclusive of VAT and duty, subtract from that the shipping rate which FedEx will report (which, depending on country of destination, may be the actual rate charged or the list rate), and then apportion the remaining value between the items in the shipment. In many cases, this still results in our being overcharged for taxes, but it does at least push the result in the correct direction. For this reason, you may find, when examining the customs valuation statement which accompanies your order, that the values given are not the same as the prices paid--please be assured that we are NOT understating these amounts to avoid taxes, but are simply adjusting them, as explained here, to ensure that taxes are paid upon the correct basis. In practice, for a variety of reasons including those above, we tend to get overcharged on some orders, and undercharged on others, and on the whole we come out just about even.