Well today I learned a very valuable lesson. The ‘cost’ of my mistake, $525…
My kids and I head over the border 2x a year. They get $250 to spend which typically gets them 2 pr of shoes, a few hoodies, a couple jeans and some T’s. We power shop, we typically spend one night, we come home. We are always well over our limit, I tell the truth with fingers crossed, I am waved through. If we stay one night we have only a $50 per person limit, with 2 nights stay can spend $400 each. Every time we’ve done this we’ve stopped at Asian1 to have supper and tally up all the receipts and list them for the border guard. We skipped dinner this time cause we’d be at our hotel in Canada by 6pm and would have dinner then.
This time my boys had their birthday money to spend and Jared had his Big White pay money. They power shop from store to store, then I pay the bill and tally it in my phone to see what they owe me when we get home. As we finished at the last stores I handed my phone to the boys and had them add up what I had tallied in my phone. Total for the two of them was $1300. I was floored and horrified. We drive the 1.5hrs and pull up to the border, he asks what we spent, I say $1300 and he gives me a slip and asks me to go inside. Inside they ask for my receipts, they’re in the car. I get them and go back in and hand them over. The total is $1600. Huh? I’m told to hand him my keys and to get my boys out of the car. I get the boys and tell them what’s happening and they tell me I’m an idiot, THEY spent $1300, that wasn’t our TOTAL…. OMG! I was so shocked and horrified by the $1300 that I didn’t even think about the other purchases! He tells us he’s going to search our car and that if he finds unclaimed goods he can sieze all goods in our car and impound the car… I’m feeling stupid, I apologize for not having had a proper total, although am not worried as he heads off to the car.
He comes back only a few minutes later and says ‘there is are TJ Maxx bags and you didn’t give me a TJ Maxx receipt, you’re being dishonest’. I’m feeling freaked out now! I stammer that I thought I had them all and I’m sorry and can I check online for the total? oh right, I have no WiFi. The boys spent $95 there, that’s in my phone tally, I found only a couple things for me so he adds $150 to our total. We’re at $1750. He gives us a huge lecture that we’re wasting his time, he’s supposed to be stopping criminals, looking for drugs and guns and because I lied he’s not only charging us the 12%tax he’s also charging us 17% duty, since that’s the duty % on clothes. I ask him can I total up how much isn’t clothes? His answer: ‘you told me when you came in that you’d bought clothes and shoes, do you want to change your story now and experience the consequences of lying to me again’. Ummmm…. ‘no, no, I simply wanted to clarify that the majority was clothes although there are some things that aren’t’. All I could think of at that moment was 3 throw pillow and a sport chair. He states that 17% is being charged on everything (without allowing me my $150 duty free allowance) since I lied to him about the total we spent and have wasted enough of his time.
$525 & 30 minutes later we leave. OUCH. We get to our hotel here in Langley and I look over the receipts he had and compare it to what I see online on my MC statement. Somehow I was missing over $500 in receipts and as we unpack the car I realize our non-clothes was at least $300. I had EVERY store hand me the receipts and I put them all in my purse! I’ve never lost a receipt before although it was a good thing I had this time. He may have burned me at the stake had he realized I understated our total by over $1000 simply because I was thinking about how much my boys spent! (I also have no idea how I spent $1000 since I wasn’t planning to buy anything but butter!)
So, here’s what I’ve learned:
- Have a detailed tally AND pre-tally the items that are not clothes!
- Don’t give my kids B-day money, therefore we’ll spend a whole lot less money
- Stay a second night. We’d have saved $170 in duty with having a higher duty free limit and we’d probably not even have been questioned if we had a bigger duty allowance
- Have my boys take broke friends so that we have a higher limit allowed going back over the border