Thursday, 5 March 2015

Importing my Japanese sports car...Step 2: Between the auction yard and the ship

I am importing a sports car from Japan into Australia for a variety of reasons I have outlined before.  In my last post I outlined the process of finding, inspecting and bidding for the car before actually winning my car at auction.

I thought it would be a quick and easy process from that point on...but unfortunately I was mistaken.  The whole importing process turned out to be much longer and far more frustrating than I first thought.

Working out who and what you are paying is far more convoluted than you first think

When I first researched buying a car from overseas I thought I understood all the costs and where all the different fees and services went to.  In fact it was far more complex than I first imagined and if I'm going to be honest I still don't know exactly where all the money went to.

The problem really stems from the fact that when you talk to your car import broker you are talking about a landed and complied cost (that is the cost to actually get the car into Australia and to your door step), back solving all the different costs along the way becomes incredibly complicated.

My car purchase was a case in point.  When I bought my car I was told that I had won it for a FOB (free on board) price of JPY707,000 however the actual price the car sold at auction for was more like JPY597,000.  The difference is approximately A$1,000 and although I knew that auction fees and transport costs had to be paid to the port I certainly couldn't work out how this could cost 1/6th the cost of the car.

Complicating this was the actual person I was paying.  The bill I received actually wasn't from the auction house at all - it was from what looked like a broker operating out of Japan so presumably they put a margin on top as well.

This was only the start of the number of fees that I had to some point I should add them all up.  You may ask why I didn't kick up a bit of a fuss about the fees I was paying to unknown parties.  The fact is that if I get my car for the landed and complied cost that my broker was talking about I would still have gotten a deal compared to Australian I kept my mouth shut.

Paying the auction cost involved using a foreign exchange broker

Next I actually had to pay the JPY 707,000 to the broker in Japan.  I had their banking details and I was going to go into the bank and do an international transfer when I saw that the fee to do so would have been something like $30 and the exchange rate was terrible!

My car import broker had a deal with OzForex where I could get 2 free transfers for setting up an account with them.  I checked their exchange rate which was much better than my local bank and worked out I could save over $100 by filling out a bit of seemed like a no brainer to me.

Unfortunately what this did was slow down the time line a little as I had to get my account approved before I could transfer any money.  As this was around Christmas everything seemed to slow down.  It actually took more than a week to actually receive the invoice and longer thereafter to set up my account.

After checking the transfer details about 20 times I confirmed my transfer details and the bulk of the cost of my car left my bank account bound for Japan.

It took more than a month for my car to travel from the auction yard onto the ship...and when it got there I was in for a bad surprise

I couldn't believe the time it took for everything to happen.  Between paying my invoice and the car actually boarding the ship it took over a month!  By now I was starting to get impatient with the process...why wasn't my car arriving!

When the car actually got to the shipyard I was in for a shock.  I received photos from Japan showing some really bad scratches on one of the panels of the car.  As I had pre-auction photos I knew this was damage that was done after the car was bought (and was probably done by the transport company).

I got my broker to demand some sort of payment from the transport company but with no luck.  They claimed that the car was like that when they picked it up (even though I had photos proving otherwise).  One of the disadvantages of being in a different country is that you don't know the avenues to pursue in a situation like this.  As a respray of the particular panel will only cost me $300 - $400 I grudgingly decided to let it go.

There was plenty more to do before the car actually got to Australia and I'll outline that process next time

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  1. Quite interesting journey that you went through with the import of the car. The scratch is too bad but at least it arrived it in one piece. Enjoy your car!

  2. Should have bought an Mx5 mate, solid and cheap little things. JDM too

    1. The mx-5 really did tempt me quite a lot. I couldn't use it as a daily though - I really do need more than 2 seats and a bit of a boot.

      My fiance and I have been talking about getting one as a weekend car (she has been lobbying for a car for a while and has worked out that the mx-5 is probably the only thing that would make me give in).

      It wouldn't really affect my budget either as I could fund it out of the sale of my current (boring) car.