OK...I confess

Jun 24th, 2003, 02:51 PM
  #1  
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OK...I confess

I was just thinking the other day about things that I have done in the past that I would have to admit that in retrospect seem pretty dumb and risky...with regards to US Customs....
I was 19 and spent the summer in England. I lived with a family whose father was in the Wines and Spirits business. They had a basement filled with hard liquor...it looked much like a Liquor Store..no joke. Besides being in the wines and spirits business the husband and wife did not drink....Anyway they loaded me down with about 20 bottles of booze which I carefully wrapped in my duffle bag. With full knowledge that I was under age and trying to smuggle this booze back into the US you can imagine my flight home. Well I got very nervous upon landing. When I reached US Customs I did the unthinkable...I Lied!
They grilled me and I pretended like I had spent the entire summer in England to learn more about great literary figures...big fat lie again...I thought if I presented myself as a nerdy person they would just overlook me...They did...Well I have never forgotten this...now every time I go through Customs I list everything I buy down to bubble gum!!! Yes at 19 that was a dumb thing to do...as I have gotten older I have realized how stupid that was...Does anyone have any similiar confessions?
Katherine is offline  
Jun 24th, 2003, 03:00 PM
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Returning to San Diego from Tiajuana we stuffed illegal firecrackers in my friend's ample bra. When we got to customs the officer was smoking a cigar, so we got a little nervous (well, my friend got a little more nervous) when he leaned towards her to ask quesions.
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Jun 24th, 2003, 03:03 PM
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OK, Once I brough back 2 bottles of wine from France and didn't declare a pair of pants I bought!
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Jun 24th, 2003, 03:11 PM
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richard..I read your trip report on Vienna...welcome home...
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Jun 24th, 2003, 03:29 PM
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Thanks you, and I will say I declared everything I bought in Vienna and Europe. I am thrilled that the customs office has raised the exemption from $400 to $800.
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Jun 24th, 2003, 03:31 PM
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By the way, I NEVER list all the items I buy on the customs form. You don't have to, read the fine print. You only need to list if it is over the exempted amount. I simple write "Items for Personal Use" and the total value. I never had a problem.
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Jun 24th, 2003, 03:41 PM
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I know Richard...it is out of pure guilt that I do so...lol
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Jun 24th, 2003, 06:03 PM
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When I was 17 I spent the summer in Europe. I bought 3 watches in Switzerland and did not declare it on the form. Never did I think I would be stopped asking for the receipts - well, I ended up in JFK being bodysearched by a guard (male)and I just started crying and telling them how my parents would kill me. I think I made them feel so bad for me that they let me go. What a relief.

Do I declare eveything now? Hell, no. I write souvenirs and have not been stopped. I guess I look more tradional now. I am not saying to lie, but if it is a few dollars over the limit it is no big deal.

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Jun 24th, 2003, 06:11 PM
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My husband fusses at me for writing in the declaration form "book mark 2 euro" etc, haha...
What I feel bad about is sneaking a picture of some street performers in Amsterdam without tossing any coins their way. Somebody near me chastised me for it - I don't know why I didn't, I like the entertainment and haven't stiffed anyone before or since, certainly not if taking a picture of them. (and I'm the one who accuses my hubby for wrong-doing if he sneaks a new Coke can into the minibar to replace one he took out - they don't look the same, you know...)!
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Jun 25th, 2003, 03:05 AM
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I feel compelled to relate a US Customs story of my onw on this thread. Several years ago we were returning to the US from Italy via JFK. I had purchased a rather expensive (at the time) men's gold chain link bracelet in Venice and I declared it on the Customs form since it was many times beyond the then $400 duty-free exemption.
Unfortunately, I got into a hassle with one of the agents about the "actual worth" of the item even though I had a receipt with me. Finally, the agent declared, "Well, I've decided not to charge you any additional duty [beyond what I was already going to have to pay] but normally I would..." or words to that effect. What was infuriating to me was the implication that he could charge whatever or how much ever he wanted regardless of the regulations.
I was willing to pay, and did pay, the extra duty but after that I have, frankly, been reluctant to declare things at times, pareticularly since when you ship things back they often skate into the country duty-free despite the overall value.
On the other hand, the replaced can of coke in the mini-bar is interesting and I suppose that is why many hotels now have the minibars that charge you the instant something is removed.
Ah, the joys of foreign travel.
 
Jun 25th, 2003, 03:43 AM
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When I was in m y late teens, I went on a "date" to London with my Dad. I bought a great pair of knee-high boots from some fancy-schmancy store and had them in their big bag as I returned to the US.

I was in front of my dad when we passed through customs and the agent asked me how much the boots were. Well, my dad really hadn't noticed the bag until the agent saw me. I was so worried about the $$$ I had spent, that I told the elderly male agent, "I'll whisper the price in your ear, because if my dad hears, he is going to kill me!"

Needless to say, the agent practically fell out of his chair with laughter and let me go. I was very young and was more afraid of my dad than any ol' customs agent
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Jun 25th, 2003, 06:09 AM
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Two years ago and during the 'mad cow' scare, my wife and I were returning from Amsterdam with quite a few tulip bulbs. When we arrived in Philadelphia, a sign in customs explained that there would be a $1,000 fine for any undeclared agricultural items. Although nervous, we didn't declare the bulbs and made it through without incident.

The bulbs were planted and not one ever bloomed.
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Jun 25th, 2003, 06:46 AM
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My friend returned from France and got caught witrh a sausage. $100 fine.
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Jun 25th, 2003, 09:21 AM
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PCircles...that is priceless....lol
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Jun 25th, 2003, 09:31 AM
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Here is another customs agent story. By the way, they all seem like very nice people

Before my wedding, I went to India to get my trousseau ready. My grandma had already been in India for about 5 months buying stuff for my wedding. So, I got back with 2 HUGE suitcases full of $$$ shawls, saris, and other essentials for a traditional Indian wedding.

Of course, I got picked "randomly" to have my bags inspected. The customs agent opens my suitcases and sees all these fancy things. Rather than nail me for duty, he is so enthralled with my wedding plans and clothes, that, after chatting with me for a good 20 minutes, he wished me all the best and sent me on my way.

I still don't know if I was supposed to pay duty or not?
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Jun 25th, 2003, 09:35 AM
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Customs agents aren't really looking for people doing excessive shopping while in Europe. They are really looking for drugs, money, agriculture, antiques and precious gems brought back in excess to be resold.
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Jun 25th, 2003, 09:39 AM
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Last month I was returning to Los Angeles from Rome on Swiss where they had served me a banana with lunch, I tucked it into my purse thinking I might want it later in the flight.
When I got to baggage claim, the cute little drug sniffing dog came up to me and sat down. I knew this was a signal to it's trainer, I was really tired so I blurted out, I don't have any drugs! The girl was very stern and said do you have food? I said no. She said go stand in that line over there (with all the shady looking people).
When I got to the customs agent, I suddenly remembered the banana and meekly took it out of my purse. He gave me a lecture about sneaking in fruit and said he would let me go that time, but in the future I would have to pay $500 for a concealed banana.
Yikes.
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Jun 25th, 2003, 09:39 AM
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Myself and my friend took her parents off for a nice day trip to Calais. I did the unthinkable. I forgot my passport. I only realised this when we got to the Channel tunnel. As I live about 45 miles away, I didnt fancy either getting the train back or waiting around the terminal!

I confessed to the rest of the party what had happened, then we cooked the plan. I purchased a leather cover for my (non existent) passport. I tried to relax and look as if all was ok :-" On the way over to France, we were just 'waved' through - phew! I spent the whole day sweating and thinking I would be arrested as an illegal immigrant

HOWEVER, things were different on the way back. I put my casual face on, and even carried on eating my sandwich when the immigration guy asked us for the passports to scrutinise. When he got to mine, it, of course, was empty! oh hell! He said very sharply, 'where is it then?!!' We just all looked at each other in feigned surprise, then my friends parents had a fake arguement that deserved an Oscar, blaming each other. The customs/imm. guy got so exasperated with the 'family arguement' he just waved us through!! It was very embarrassing, never to be done again. quot;> but I am glad I got away with it!!
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Jun 25th, 2003, 09:41 AM
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Another story - this time from the US to Delhi.

In the early 90's customs in Delhi were very strict and you were not allowed to bring in any electrnics without paying a 300% (no, that is not a typo) tax.

One of my cousins ran a software business in India and needed a replacement piece for some hardware. rather than wait a few months for the customs clearance to come through, my cousin asked me to bring (read: smuggle) the hardware in on my next visit.

Of course, when I landed in Delhi, my bags were selected for inspection. The male customs agent opened my suitcase and put his hand into my bag to start inspecting. The problem was that the first thing he grabbed was my lacy undies. To me this was immensely embarrasing and I burst into tears! Again, I was pretty young!

The poor customs guy dropped my undies like hot potatoes, other airline officials saw me crying and rushed to my aid. My bags were closed and I was sent on my way with profuse apologies.

When I opened the suitcase at home, I saw that the smuggled piece of hardware was directly under my undies and would have been the next thing the agent found if I had not turned on the waterworks! So, I caught a break!

I think agents around the world have been alerted about me
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Jun 25th, 2003, 09:49 AM
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This guy I got to know at DFW in Customs (because I traveled a lot)...once told me they caught a lady trying to smuggle in a cockatoo (spelling?). She had given the bird some tranquilizer and it apparantly woke up when the lady was in the Customs area. She hid the bird in her bra and you can imagine when that bird started to move around...
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