Customs give the green light: Xiaomi smartphones start to reach their buyers
After a wave of complaints to the Investigative Committee of Russia, the Federal Antimonopoly Service, the Prosecutor's Office and media, customs officers stopped to turn back parcels from China
The customs have begun to allow parcels with phones ordered by Russians in foreign online stores. In April, the Federal customs service froze thousands of orders, mainly with Xiaomi cell phones, seeing in them signs of counterfeit. Buyers, who did not receive their orders, considered these actions as arbitrary and suspected customs officials in collusion with the dealers who sell these devices on the territory of Russia a half to two times more expensive and started to complain to regulatory authorities. After the raised uproar, the smartphones started to be allowed, but it is unknown whether the conflict have been exhausted: FCS believes its actions were legal, as well as the Russian Association of Internet Trade Companies (AITC). Read the details in the article of Realnoe Vremya.
Phone amnesty, or Customs gives the green light
The Federal Customs Service has begun to allow smartphones from China. On the page in the social network, which Russian citizens created after not receiving their parcels, there is joyful excitement. Only a few days ago, there was placed sample of complaints against customs officers to the Prosecutor's Office, Investigative Committee and the Antimonopoly Service, but now – screenshots with the tracking of parcels with the long-awaited inscription ''allowed by customs''. Almost all parcels were stuck at customs for 16-20 days.
The delays of smartphones ordered in Chinese online stores started in April. The Federal customs service included the trademark Xiaomi in the register of objects of intellectual property at the request of the right holder, which in Russia is Smart Orange PLC. According to the law, the customs shall notify the representative of the right holder about a suspicious phone import on the territory of the Eurasian Economic Union. Smart Orange in its turn responded that this item had signs of counterfeit and opposed its importation. Therefore, customs officers started to return thousands of phones back to China.
As representatives of the Federal customs service commented to Realnoe Vremya, ''in accordance with the article 111 of the Customs Code of the Customs Service, officials of the customs bodies when performing customs operations carry out checks of documents and information, during which they send corresponding notifications to right holders about a detection in the international mail of goods with signs of infringement of intellectual property rights (counterfeit). When sending a notification to the right holder, the customs body decide on prolongation of term of release of goods. In the case if, according to information provided by the right holder, the item is counterfeit, the customs authorities in cooperation with FGUP Russian Post take measures to prevent import to the Russian Federation of prohibited goods, arriving at the international mail, and provide their immediate export from the Russian Federation.''
Signs of counterfeit suddenly ceased to be found?
According to media reports, Smart Orange asked the customs office to look at the phones from China in order to stop ''black'' deliveries of smartphones and accessories under the brand Xiaomi. Perhaps, the main threat the company saw in private entrepreneurs involved in the supply of gadgets to bypass official channels, but eventually it is retail customers who began to suffer who order smartphones for their personal needs. The president of the National Association of Remote Trade Aleksander Ivanov called the actions of the customs officers turning back such parcels a lawlessness.
''As for legality of this I have serious doubts. For goods for personal use this story — with the rights of separately taken distributors — does not apply. Goods for personal use do not fall either under the provisions of certification or under the act of the law. What has happened is arbitrary. The question is whether the victims are going to plead and prove their right. A private person in this respect has a weak position — they are almost powerless against the state. But a Chinese seller will not go to Russia to sue – it's a microscopic part of the business for them,'' said Aleksander Ivanov to Realnoe Vremya.
What happened if the phones began to reach their customers — have customs officials changed their position or the company Smart Orange suddenly ceased to find signs of counterfeit in Xiaomi ordered directly from China? Smart Orange could not comment on his position to Realnoe Vremya immediately, we have sent a request and are expecting a response.
Discounts for the victims of ''greed''
A wave of criticism came down on the official distributors from dissatisfied customers. They believe that the original Xiaomi phone bought in China from an authorized dealer cannot be considered a counterfeit — it is, without doubt, original and manufactured in the country of the sender.
According to the customers, distributor's attempts to prevent the sales of smartphones directly from China are associated ''solely with greed''. In the petition addressed to the leadership of Beijing Xiaomi Technology Co., Ltd., it is stated that the official distributor in Russia Xiaomi sells phones at overly inflated prices.
''The prices are two times higher than the prices established on the official website of the manufacturer,'' writes the author of the petition Aleksey Sadchikov.
The representatives of Xiaomi in Russia in the official group in the social network already got tired to answer how the price of the product is formed in Russia.
''The pricing policy has been mentioned earlier, however, we are ready to repeat. The price of our products in Russia depends on many factors. Taxes and customs tariffs of the Russian Federation — one of the most important. Besides, we offer a number of services that are included in the price of the product: warranty service, localization, adaptation to the local market and much more,'' answers the official distributor.
It is noteworthy that as soon as the problems began with the delay of the phones at the customs, the distributor offered customers whose phones went back to China ''maximum possible discounts for the official Xiaomi products''. For this, it was necessary to send confirmation that the good was returned to the seller. From the messages under the post it became clear that the discounts were paltry and people were not in a hurry to use them.
AITC supports customs
The social organization RosKomSvoboda and the National Association of Remote Trade spoke out against the actions of Smart Orange PLC that declared war on Chinese online stores. However, there are experts who agree with the position of the Federal customs service and the official distributor.
''AITC believes that the activities of FCS are fully justified and correct from the point of view of the law. In our understanding, it is the right holder in the country where the products are sold under its brand name should determine whether a particular product is counterfeit or not. With a rapid development of the Internet, the cross-border online trade has become the main channel for the receipt of counterfeit in our country. Thus, for example, in the classic import the customs have long learned how to prevent the supply of counterfeit goods. Cell phones coming from abroad in parcels are not certified and tested for safety (all officially imported to the territory of the Russian Federation phones must be certified in the security bodies of FSB and FSTEC) and cannot be used when working with our Telecom standards. This means that such products cannot be legally realised in Russia,'' says Aleksey Fedorov, the president of the Association of Internet Trade Companies.
According to Fedorov, the cross-border e-commerce has long become a channel for receiving small shipments of goods for commercial use. Increasingly, for example, in the regions a resourceful entrepreneur orders a shipment of phones in several parcels ''for personal use'' fitting in the current in Russia threshold of duty-free import of 1,000 euros. The sale of goods in this case takes place at the purchaser's premises, at the place of receipt of goods, that is, such products are considered purchased in Russia and not abroad.
''Sales marginality of Apple phones is less than 3%''
It often happens that foreign goods in online stores are cheaper that its analogues in Russia. AITC believe that this is due to the fact that some models are not provided for work in our telecommunications networks. Besides, they do not have warranty service and maintenance.
''In our work we have repeatedly faced with a big misconception that Russian sellers get 300-400% of the profits from the sale of one phone, which, of course, is not true. For example, the margins on sales of Apple is less than 3%, the sellers receive profit from the sale of accessories and equipment maintenance, but the difference in customs duties paid by Russian companies and not paid by their foreign competitors, reaches 28%. We understand that today the Chinese counterfeit everything. At the moment, even on the Runet one can find a huge number of sites that sell copies and replicas (which, in fact, is just a pretty word for counterfeit products). China has a powerful production modern technology, however, along with this there is developing a huge number of clandestine factories for production of goods under famous brands that you can buy at very low prices,'' says the president of the Russian Association of Internet Trade Companies.
The Association advised not to buy from unofficial sellers and always remember that ''a miser pays twice''.
''After receiving a good, in most cases, you simply will not be able to return money from a foreign seller,'' said Aleksey Fedorov.
It should be noted that the Federal Customs Service in the case of the Xiaomi smartphones did not confiscate but sent back to the seller, who returned the money to the buyer.