American Shoes, Import Duty and Tea Money

The inexpensive shoes here are crap and not that inexpensive. The expensive shoes have ‘Holy Shit!’ prices and may be fakes. Both are available in wide and extra wide widths, not so good for my narrow feet. Only reason shoes cost the same here as in Europe and America must be people’s aversion to uncomfortable shoes.

I have funny shaped feet. B width, high arch, narrow heel, wide forefoot to start, and I pronate badly when walking. New Balance makes a leather walking shoe that has been my athletic shoe in white and my work shoe in black since I can’t remember when. The white pair I left the US with in ’08 were well broken in then and are well broken down and gray now. The only option I considered was buying on-line from an American source, even though that meant I’d have to pay import duty on them. My foreign purchases so far have either been things unavailable in Thailand, worth under 1000 bt (~ $33) or medical, so none required paying import duty.

There is an official import duty schedule online. The amount requested before the uniformed man hands over a shipment sometimes is at variance with that document. I got off easy. Import duty plus VAT (Value Added Tax) was 612* bt (~ $20.5). Summing the shoe price, shipping to my mail forwarder, shipping to Thailand and import duty it totaled about the same price as expensive shoes sold here. But my new ones fit, so I came out way ahead.

*Actually the receipt said duty plus VAT was 587. I figure the guy at the counter pocketed the extra 25 bt (~ 75 cents). Over here such informal fees are called ‘tea money’, regardless of the amount.

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