(Author’s note: checking out PART ONE could make the following ” mo beddah”)
Ok – here’s the pulse-quickening second installment of my French Country Travel Life Camera Caper.
As two weeks dissovled into the start of three, still no camera. And to add to the free floating anxiety, my pals needed their apartment back.
Not to worry. Happily DA BG had more than one Parisian pal. Jean Michel was that one. A fellow “realisator” who offered me a couch to surf on until the “big day” arrived.
Curiously, it went down the very next am. When the morning mail brought the long awaited news that my ‘unit” had arrived. Just one (not so)tiny grain o’ sand in this otherwise pristine oyster. The French Customs wanted what I considered to be, an excessive amount of import duty. 700 Euros. Excessive for you too?
This for a used camera that cost $80 to repair, $50 to ship, plus $35 for a new battery. They somehow decided (a coin flip was my guess) that both items (camera and battery) were each worth 350 Euros. (At this time, worth waaay more than dollars.)
Obviously something was rotten. And it wasn’t in Denmark. Closer inspection of the dastardly document confirmed that the stinky fish was the advice of the French company who had shipped the camera. As a result of their “help” I had ticked the wrong box. The result: French Customs was charging me for a NEW camera. (and battery.)
While I don’t know for sure if “le douane” (French Customs) has the same powers as the IRS – a la – they can take and sell your house, car and teddy bear, then say “oh gee ..sorry …we made a mistake” and there is no “remedial action.”
But my quest for a non 700 Euro solution did confirm that if you don’t pay, they store your precious maguffin indefinitely.(Like certain American police store confiscated drugs “indefinitely?”)
However, unlike the no way josé IRS, you can file a claim against “le Douane.” That’s the good news. The bad is just what you’d expect.(Especially in a country where four out of five froggies are bureaucrats.) There is no time line obliging them to respond. Equally, no criteria as to how they arrive at their decision. Which is, bien sur, Final. (Can you say:” no appeal?”)
Bottom line: to say very few claimants are successful would be the height of overstatement.
Quelle adventure wot? Clearly my mantra here was :”can’t pay – won’t pay.” And, equally I was NOT going to try duking it out with le Douane. But, obviously, I had to have the camera. Yes, dear reader, “Rock and a hard place” time!
Without a doubt I needed divine intervention. And divine intervention I got. In the form of a delivery guy who was either: a) new on the job b)a few bricks short of a full load c) had other things on his mind. Because, while I wasn’t there, he delivered the goods without demanding the 700 Euro first! (Yes, there IS a dog!)
His company, predictably,squealed and howled. But it was, as I good naturedly reminded them – THEIR mistake. And you know who pays when you make a mistake dear reader. Do you not?
EPILOGUE: I did make my rendezvous with the Famous chef. Who turned out to be a total jerk. Insisting on doing our interview in French, although he spoke perfect English and understood my cinematic masterpiece would be viewed by English speakers. Takes all kinds to make a World, dunnit?
THROW ME A BONE HERE,PEOPLE!
What are ya thinkin’?