This really happened to an unsuspecting citizen……
Original Story: Cindy Zinderman
Did you know that your shopping habits could be preventing you from enjoying the benefits of a Trusted Traveler program? One man found out the hard way that shopping through the Amazon Marketplace can land you in trouble with customs.
In a story outlined by LifeHack, a frequent traveler placed an order through the Amazon Marketplace for luggage by luxury brand Rimowa. He paid full price for the luggage and thus assumed that it was legit. However, his luggage never arrived and Amazon eventually refunded his money. Eventually, he went to Neiman Marcus and purchased the luggage in person and moved on with his life.
Until later when he applied for renewal of his Trusted Travel program, for “pre-approved, low-risk travelers” offered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and was denied. It seems that customs had flagged the man for importing counterfeit goods. Even though it wasn’t his intention—and he never actually received his purchase.
Having a violation on your record for infringing on customs laws makes you ineligible for taking advantage of Trusted Travel—whether or not it was intentional. You can appeal the decision, but it’s a lengthy process that takes months. And in the meantime, you have to go through the regular line every time you travel.
Although the man’s story seems to be a first of its kind, it does highlight issues with buying online. The Amazon Marketplace is convenient, it is also filled with counterfeit items and scams so you need to be very careful of what you purchase—especially if the item is from overseas. Warning signs are low prices, fake reviews and other signs. You can reach out to Amazon’s customer service if things seem off and purchase from stores directly when in doubt.
NOTE: I am addicted to shopping on Amazon and a huge user of Global Entry / TSA so this was eye-opening and scary! Wow, who knew this could happen???