Posted by: UFO
Did you have sufficient proof of what you actually paid? In my experience, if they don't doubt what you actually paid, usually the don't go to the extremes you experienced.
Unfortunately the honus is on you to provide the proof. This includes Paypal receipts, Ebay receipts, forum PM's between buyer and seller, etc; but it can be difficult when dealing with privately sold 2nd hand gear. If they doubt the validity of your claim/declaration, then yeah their only real choice is to assume MSRP is the actual value
I was going to say the same thing - for higher dollar items CBSA agents often want to see proof of payment. There's been a couple of times where I've had to pull out my phone and log into paypal to show them the transfer amount as proof of what I paid for a used item. Now whenever I go down I print out the invoices ahead of time and the agents tend to appreciate that. I had a chat with one guy a couple of weeks ago and he said if they can get you for anything over $3 in tax you're supposed to come in an pay, but it really depends on what's happening at the time. If there's a large line-up or they have someone in for some sort of illegal act and they're busy they're not going to bother with trying to collect a small amount of tax. He also mentioned that they tend to be more lenient with people bringing back items for personal use. At the end of the day it really comes down to the agent you get and what happens to be going on at the crossing. I tend to look at it from the perspective that you will definitely save money on the shipping costs, you stand a good chance of not paying any tax or duty and you can save $25-40 on a tank of gas. That's worth the hour or so of my time to make the trip down to point bob.
When it comes to getting a used bike or frame it's important to look at the "to your door" costs. After you factor in exchange, fees, shipping and tax if you're only saving say $100 or so on a $1000 plus item it's not really worth it and you're better off buying local. In my case with my Knolly Warden I ended up saving myself about $1200 so it was definitely worth buying out of the US. BC is actually a great market for getting a used bike as so many people here have hook-ups or get bro deals that they flip their bikes at the end of every season so it means you can often find a year old bike that's about 2/3rds or less the cost of a comparable new bike. I know a couple guys that have been doing this for a few years and it works great for them as it's a new bike every year and it works well for the buyer as they get a great bike in good shape that's very well priced.