Last week Customs officials told the company to cease the service or face seizure of the goods or a heavy tax bill.
But a Hoverspeed spokesman responded: ‘Not only do those of us living in the UK have to pay some of the highest duty rates in the EU, Customs appears determined to ensure that cross-Channel travellers cannot enjoy the benefits of lower prices on the near Continent.’
Under the service, Hoverspeed had offered delivery anywhere in England and Wales for purchases of four cases of wine bought in its Calais and Ostend ‘hoverstores’. Cross channel shoppers pay 2p duty in France compared with more than £1 in the UK.
But the scheme required customers to walk their purchases through Customs in Dover, before handing it over for delivery within 72 hours.
Customs wrote to Hoverspeed saying personal imports cannot be used for commercial purposes. As holding the wine for delivery is considered a commercial purpose by Customs, it is liable to forfeiture or payment of UK taxes in full.
‘We have done everything to satisfy Customs requirements by ensuring that passengers travel and accompany their goods through Customs controls, thereby providing an opportunity for them to be questioned in the normal way,’ the spokesman added.
Customs has pledged no action will be taken against consignments already delivered.
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