Today, I had to pay a customs charge on a t-shirt order from Threadless.1 This article is not moaning about that customs charge. Sure, I don’t expect to be hit with one when I select the “Standard Plus with Prepaid Customs” shipping option, but that’s not my real issue.2
No, my real issue is: why the hell does brokerage company Customs Clearance Ltd do everything possible to make themselves look like a scam site, even though they aren’t?
Firstly, let’s take a look at their site, cclpay.com:
It looks and feels like a cheap scam website. And this:
…might be something useful if you’re in the know, but means nothing at all to the standard user. In fact if anything, it’s so badly designed it actually looks fake, even though it isn’t.
Then, there’s what happens if you click on the About CCL tab. It immediately redirects you to a page on ccllhr.com – an entirely different domain. Throwing you between different domains is exactly the kind of thing scam websites do. It’s massively, massively suspicious. Again, I reiterate: CCL is not a scam. But they’re seemingly doing everything in their power to make themselves look like one.
(For that matter, as CCL are a UK company, why aren’t they using a .co.uk or .uk address? It seems weird to use a .com for a company like this.)
Finally, what happens when you actually pay your customs charge? You get an email, which states the following:
“This will appear on your statement as WWW.CUSTOMSCLEARANCEUK”
But… but… what is “WWW.CUSTOMSCLEARANCEUK”? I’ve been dealing with a company called CCL. “WWW.CUSTOMSCLEARANCEUK” isn’t even a valid website address, let alone one I’ve been using throughout all this. If it’s not the company name, and it isn’t a valid website address… what exactly does it mean?
I could go on, but you get the point. I’ll reiterate one more time, for the absolute avoidance of doubt: CCL is absolutely a valid company. They are fully approved by HMRC to “customs clear and release imports into the UK”. But the sheer ineptness in the way they present themselves make them look like scam merchants.
No wonder answering whether they’re a scam is the first question in their FAQ – and no wonder there’s thread after thread of people querying the company online. If they made at least a token effort to look legit, a lot fewer people would be worried about them.
UPDATE @ 11:25pm: Here’s customer service for you. I idly complained about this on Twitter, and Threadless’s help team found the tweet and refunded the extra customs charge within five minutes of contacting me. That’s some of the best service I’ve ever experienced with any company. Fantastic. ↩