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Old 21-09-2012, 13:26   #1
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Ripped Off by CBP!!!

Be VERY careful when ordering CBP decals on line!!!!!

This will probably sound more like a rant than a word to the wise so please bear with me.

U.S. Customs and Boarder Patrol requires a decal number when a vessel checks back into the U.S. from foreign travel so on August 27, 2012, I started to order a decal for 2013 on CBP's web site (https://dtops.cbp.dhs.gov/main). During the ordering process, I was unable to verify that the new decal was for 2013. Because there was a warning "Fees are non-refundable, you have verified your shipping address" and a check box signifying agreement to proceed to the payment page, I became suspicious that I might not get a 2013 decal.

I sent this e-mail to CBP help desk:
From: John Bickford
Sent: Monday, August 27, 2012 6:45 PM
To: DECALS
Subject: Ordering Decal for 2013
Dear DHS,
Is it too early to order a CBP decal for 2013 through DTOPS?
The system presents me with the year of order but I can’t tell what year the decal is to cover. I don’t want to spend my non-refundable fee on a decal for 2012 that I already have.
Thanks,
John Bickford
S/V Yachtsman’s Dream
The next day, CBP replied:
From: Dustin On Behalf Of DECALS
Sent: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 5:19 AM
To: John Bickford
Subject: RE: Ordering Decal for 2013
Hello John,
Yes, renewal for 2013 will be available on September 1st. The site will then allow you to pick 2013 decal. If you have any further questions please contact us.
User Fee Help Desk - Decal/Transponder Program
U.S. Customs & Border Protection
Telephone: (317) 298-1245
Fax: (317) 290-3219
Trusting in my government (BIG MISTAKE!!), I ordered a new decal on September 12, nearly two weeks after they had said 2013 decals would be available.

On September 18 I received an automated e-mail announcing that "2013 Renewals are Now available." That same day, my new decal arrived in the mail. Much to my chagrin, when I opened the envelope it was a 2012 decal, NOT 2013. Boy was I angry!

Another e-mail to the help desk by reply to their reply to my original:
From: John Bickford
Sent: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 7:15 PM
To: DECALS
Subject: RE: Ordering Decal for 2013
Dustin,
In accordance with your response below to my question about ordering a 2013 decal, I submitted order number 502867 on September 12 for what I thought would be a 2013 decal. Imagine my displeasure when I opened the envelope that arrived over the weekend to see a 2012 decal.

How can I get this replaced with a 2013 decal? I read the disclaimer on the statement that came with the decal, “The applicant is responsible for ensuring that duplicate decals/transponder are not requested. All transactions are final. No refunds and no credits will be approved.” but do not believe that I ordered incorrectly. When completing the order I tried particularly hard to be sure I ordered a 2013 decal but your site obviously foiled my attempt.

I would appreciate any help you can give me on this issue.

Sincerely,
John Bickford
S/V Yachtsman's Dream
His response:
Hello John,
I understand your frustration. Unfortunately you will have to order another decal for 2013. We will not be able to do refund/exchange Please make sure when ordering online when it ask “User Fee Year” you select 2013.
User Fee Help Desk - Decal/Transponder Program
U.S. Customs & Border Protection
Telephone: (317) 298-1245
Fax: (317) 290-3219
While ordering a 2013 decal, I very carefully traced the steps to see where I could have verified the decal year. The details of the order show a box for decal year but it remains blank until AFTER the order is 'fulfilled' (i.e. decal is shipped). This appears to be a huge SCAM designed to trap unwary users into ordering incorrect year decals.

Related to this whole convoluted process, users can't get a decal for subsequent years by "Renewing" - they must select "New User Fee" from the menu instead of "Renewal".

Again, Be VERY careful when ordering CBP decals on line.

End of rant.
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Old 21-09-2012, 13:50   #2
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Re: Ripped Off by CBP!!!

That site has been frustrating since they first went online.
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Old 21-09-2012, 14:30   #3
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Re: Ripped Off by CBP!!!

I've gotten my CBP decal online every year since 2006. While the instructions and choices have been obscure (and not necessarily better through three revisions of the web site) I've been pleased with the service.

That said, ordering my new decal each year is on my Thanksgiving weekend list of tasks. Even overseas it isn't a problem as you get the decal number in a confirmation e-mail and no one has ever looked at the decal, although they have wanted the number about 20% of the time. Mostly they just ask if I have a decal.
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Old 21-09-2012, 14:51   #4
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You mean as a US citizen, you have to have a sticker to go back home. I thought that decal thing was for "furriners" sheesh.

Dave
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Old 21-09-2012, 14:58   #5
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Re: Ripped Off by CBP!!!

The decal thingy is a mechanism, like the decals on private aircraft and transponders on commercial trucks, for CBP to connect their records to documentation and registration data (that you provide) at other agencies.

The USCG has documentation numbers, FCC has FRNs, Social Security has SSNs, and CBP has decal numbers.

If you enter the US on a US documented or registered boat and don't have a decal you'll be charged the registration fee but you don't get a decal. It's a lot easier to just get the decal.
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Old 21-09-2012, 15:09   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Auspicious
The decal thingy is a mechanism, like the decals on private aircraft and transponders on commercial trucks, for CBP to connect their records to documentation and registration data (that you provide) at other agencies.

The USCG has documentation numbers, FCC has FRNs, Social Security has SSNs, and CBP has decal numbers.

If you enter the US on a US documented or registered boat and don't have a decal you'll be charged the registration fee but you don't get a decal. It's a lot easier to just get the decal.
Why are you charged to return home on a leisure yacht. I don't believe I know of any other country that does that to its citizens. Surely you just land and go home. When I sail from the US to home I dock and go to the pub, the first time money changes hands is for a pint of lager !! . I mean the barman knows its me, You guys need a revolution

( tongue in check, slightly )

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Old 21-09-2012, 15:13   #7
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Re: Ripped Off by CBP!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
Why are you charged to return home on a leisure yacht. I don't believe I know of any other country that does that to its citizens. Surely you just land and go home. When I sail from the US to home I dock and go to the pub, the first time money changes hands is for a pint of lager !! . I mean the barman knows its me, You guys need a revolution
Hi Dave. I'm just describing what is, not what I think should be. I shan't roll around in the mire of political opinion.

On the other hand if you want to meet in a nice pub in Plymouth or Hamble next time I'm over you can talk politics for as long as your buying. *grin*
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Old 21-09-2012, 15:21   #8
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Re: Ripped Off by CBP!!!

Above a certain size you have to pay. At 40 feet I have to pay. My friend at 28 feet doesn't pay. But that is when getting the decal when you arrive at customs for the first time that year. I don't know whether everyone has to pay to get one in advance.

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Old 21-09-2012, 15:41   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Auspicious

Hi Dave. I'm just describing what is, not what I think should be. I shan't roll around in the mire of political opinion.

On the other hand if you want to meet in a nice pub in Plymouth or Hamble next time I'm over you can talk politics for as long as your buying. *grin*
Sure, no I seriously thought the decal thing was for foreign boats arriving.

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Old 21-09-2012, 15:47   #10
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Re: Ripped Off by CBP!!!

A well oiled rip off machine. Did not take my sticker when I left the states thinking I would not need until my return trip when it would be expired.Oops! Ended up in Puerto Rico where I had to pay the 26 bucks to check in, but not get a sticker.Need to have it before you arrive. Then had to pay another 26 to get the actual sticker before I could check back into the Spanish Virgins after spending time in the BVI.
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Old 22-09-2012, 06:39   #11
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Re: Ripped Off by CBP!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
Sure, no I seriously thought the decal thing was for foreign boats arriving.

Dave
Oh no. We have a much greater hell awaiting those...

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Old 22-09-2012, 08:44   #12
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Re: Ripped Off by CBP!!!

We cruised the North Channel (Canada) for 3 weeks this summer. Homeland Security intercepted us on the way out of US waters. Nice polite young men in a grossly overpowered vessel. They asked a few questions about our plans and wished us well. They reminded us to check in with immigration at Drummond Island on our return. On our return, the customs agent at Drummond boarded and checked documents; vessel documentation, passports, master's credentials. We had a nice conversation and he welcomed us home. No mentiion at all of any 'decal'. This forum is the only place I've ever heard of this. The information this is supposed to link is all required to be on board anyway. Its in our Customs and Immigration - Documentation book along with insurance papers, radio license, EPIRB registration, USCG vessel documentation, Masters credentials, TWIC cards, etc. Its not hard to imagine any of our nut-job agencies to enact any wierd new reglation at any time. It sounds also like it is annual, making it yet more onerous and difficult - as though one's personal information regarding SS, passport etc. changes! How are we to keep up? What if another new one happens while you are away? When anyone, any business or organization claims to be over-regulated, believe them!
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Old 22-09-2012, 12:19   #13
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Re: Ripped Off by CBP!!!

Does every boater need a sticker?

or only 47%?
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Old 22-09-2012, 12:29   #14
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Re: Ripped Off by CBP!!!

Apparently not those in 58" boats.
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Old 22-09-2012, 12:33   #15
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Re: Ripped Off by CBP!!!

When we check back in the US in Beaufort, NC this past May, we were told that the decal is No longer needed/required. When we asked him why it is still on the website as needed, he stated that they want your money.

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