The Difference Between Customer Service and Mail Fraud


Published On: 02-15-2012 09:37pm

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As published on Zibbet's blog and on The Pursuit of Etsyness

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Many of us who sell online have had this experience, and I think it’s something that should be addressed so that those that are new to the world of online selling have a reference.

When you sell Internationally, as many of us do, you occasionally run across the odd customer who wants you to help them circumvent their customs fees by marking “gift” on the customs forms or by claiming the item’s value as less than the purchaser’s paid price.


This seems harmless, and because most of us are focused on providing exemplary customer service, you might even feel tempted to agree to this request. But, you might want to re-consider this decision because, contrary to your first instinct, this is not good customer service.  It’s mail fraud.


Mail fraud of this type may seem harmless, but it’s a felony. It carries a sentence of up to five years in prison and/or fines of up to $250,000.

Are you willing to go to federal prison for a sale?

One way to ensure your customers are aware you’re not willing to participate in this is to add a note into your shop policies under your Shipping information. If you’ve had a request or two like this, or are concerned about getting these kind of requests, I encourage you to do this.

Here is an example from our shop – “INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING shipping is available at reasonable rates that are listed at the bottom of each item description. Please note that we are not responsible for any VAT/Customs fees that may be related to to your order nor will we help you in illegally circumventing these fees if they are applicable to you. Falsifying customs declarations or having an item marked as “gift” in order to avoid customs fees is classified as Mail Fraud and is a felony.”

Although good customer service is everything in any type of business, please remember that stepping over the line from good customer service into fraud or illegal action is often a line that the unscrupulous can try to blur.

Be careful out there!


Twist the Leaf is an artisan jewelry designer that specializes in quality artisan jewelry designs for the every day women who appreciate color, quality and style. As co-collaborator of Bits n Beads by Gilliauna, he contributes a wide variety of designs to the shop and helps with the day to day running of the business where needed.

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