Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Importing from Ishibashi Music

It's a week shy of ten years since my arrival in Japan. Had I stayed there up till now I could've applied for permanent residence. OH well.

 I thought I was cured of my guitar impulse buys, but sadly I just can't shake this monkey off my back. I thought it would be interesting to see how the ordering process works from outside Japan.

While I was in Japan one of my "go to" music chains was Ishibashi Music. Their prices are quite good and quality of instruments pretty darn good. One major advantage of buying from overseas is that you automatically get a discount saving on the sales tax. One big disadvantage is that the international webshop is kind of broken.

 I placed my order on the Tuesday 9th of May and was contacted the day after. I asked for some detailed photos. On Friday the 12th they said the guitar would be in Shibuya on Monday and they would take more photos for me. By Wednesday the 17th I still hadn't heard from their representative, so I sent an email asking for an update and this is where the communication broke down. I was finally contacted on Saturday the 20th after speaking directly with their native English rep Jason.

 I met Jason a few times in Shibuya while I was teaching there (sadly though he doesn't remember me, but it has been at least 3 years I guess). I have to say he is the saving grace for their international customers. I was thinking the worst feeling like I'd had been ghosted and the guitar might have been onsold to someone else. I was very close to negging them publicly, and I am the last person to give negative feedback!

I paid immediately on the 20th but the guitar wasn't shipped until Wed the 23rd. Another thing that bugged me was from shipping a ton of stuff I knew EXACTLY how much it costs to ship guitars via EMS. The guitar was in a soft case and they charged 14,000 yen. I said it should be much less but was told it was their flat rate.

EMS is a fantastic service. On the 25th it was already in Sydney! Here came my second problem. I was hoping it would be go through quickly, but the guitar is easily over $1000 so I knew it would be stopped by customs. I kept quiet but unfortunately it came up twice going through customs so no way out :(

On Monday the 29th I called Australia Post to find out what was happening, and sure enough I needed to submit an N10 Import Declaration form. You do NOT need a customs broker to do it. The form is easily filled using Adobe Reader and common tariff codes can be found here.

So how much does it cost to import?

Here's an example of how the duty and GST is calculated on a guitar valued at AUD$1,500

If the Customs value (CV) of imported Goods = $1,500.00
Then the Customs Duty @ 5% of the $1,500 (CV) = $75.00 (Payable)
Assuming the international transport and insurance (T&I) = $125.00
Then the VoTI = (CV) + Duty + (T&I) = $1,700.00
GST = 10% of the VoTI = 10% x $1,700 = $170.00 (Payable)
Therefore the Total Duty plus GST payable = $245.00

The other cost is a customs entry charge currently $90 to submit the Import Declaration. The money definitely adds up. I factored in all these costs, so I paid quite close to what I expected. If it's under $1000 (excluding shipping) then you're sweet and can avoid paying any of this, supposedly until July 1st, 2017.

Unfortunately guitars with ANY rosewood has an additional headache thanks to stupid CITES regulations.

So what guitar did I get?

A Steinberger GP2T! I quite like my Steinberger Spirit. It is probably my most used guitar. My new guitar is an original from the 80's. It's most dubious claim to fame is featuring in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.

Steinbergers have been going for absolutely crazy prices but the price, although still a little high, from Ishibashi was almost a no-brainer considering this one has a Transtrem! I tried a ZT3 which has the last transtrem but the older ones have more range, and seem to be easier to replace parts.

OK. What a long post! Anyway, I know I said it before but I'm thinking this will be my last post. I just don't have much more to say, and I think it's a good one to end on. The blog will be online as long as Google wills it to exist. Maybe I'll go back and update any dead links and typos. I'll still respond to messages so feel free to say hi sometime.

Sayonara :(