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Guitars Getting Confiscated

posted Apr 16, 2014 16:03:22 by MichaelWamback
Wanted to post this as a sticky topic for now.

One of our members recently had their Chibson confiscated by Customs in New York. A second member had a Chibson bounce from Chicago to LA Customs, which is also a bit unusual.

While these may be isolated incidents, they may also be the beginning of a more vigorous crackdown on the importation of counterfeit goods by US Customs.

We will update this topic as new information becomes available. But you may wish to consider this risk when placing an order for a replica guitar if you live in the United States and discuss the possibility of the guitar getting confiscated with the seller when you purchase. In particular, you may wish to have them specify what their policy is if your guitar does end up getting confiscated. In most cases, sellers have offered a full refund, or to make and ship a new guitar.

There should be no risk of confiscation if you have ordered a guitar with an altered headstock shape and your own logo. This will apply only to guitars that break trademark laws.
[Last edited Apr 19, 2014 17:02:53]
The two most important things to remember in life: "The only time it's acceptable to work with amateurs is if you are making porn." "If you want to work with clowns, join a circus."
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82 replies
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MichaelWamback said Apr 16, 2014 16:04:43
Update - the second guitar that bounced to LA Customs was also confiscated for trademark violation.
The two most important things to remember in life: "The only time it's acceptable to work with amateurs is if you are making porn." "If you want to work with clowns, join a circus."
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shojonz said Apr 16, 2014 17:24:19
Any reports on San Fran yet?
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kungfoo222 said Apr 16, 2014 17:43:54
Here's an update on the refund. I initiated a dispute to which the seller immediately rejected. Next, I contacted my credit card company, explained and initiated a chargeback. It just so happens the credit card representative was also a guitarist and was very helpful. :-) As of right now my CC has been credited the full amount and AliExpress has been notified of the chargeback. The rep states that only 30% of vendors dispute chargebacks. If AliExpress does dispute, I will have to provide proof of the confiscation to close the matter. Glad that I got my money back. I have a feeling that if I had waited for the AliExpress/Seller solution, it would have never materialized, much like the guitar.
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ChibsonsandMore said Apr 16, 2014 17:47:50
I think one thing that we should note in this thread about any sort of confiscated guitars: Did they have trademark infringing logos on them?

I assume both of the ones in question had such logos, one being a PRS and the other a Gibson.

I have a guitar on the way with my own custom logo on it, so I'll update as soon as I either receive or something happens to the guitar that is in transit.
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shojonz said Apr 16, 2014 18:51:26
@Kungfoo222 - Did you mention who your seller was? I looked at your other post, but the sellers name didn't jump out at me.
If we have to start choosing different headstocks, I'm going to be bummed.
I don't care about the look so much, but more complicated orders seem to not always work (at least with my past experiences).
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TomS. said Apr 16, 2014 18:59:57
How many ports of entry are there in the U.S for these imports? Does everything flow through those three main hubs, or many other cities?

I ordered a Chibson a couple of weeks ago, now I am thinking it will get seized. I live in Maryland, so I wonder if mine will come through New York. We have a large port in Baltimore, but I don't know how these goods flow.
This is my Chibson. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
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ChibsonsandMore said Apr 16, 2014 20:17:38
There are only three for the USA, Tom.

New York City
Chicago
San Francisco

If you're going through NYC, the chances (up until this last couple of weeks) were slim that you'd get it caught. The one on the forums here is the only one I've ever seen get seized in New York City, and I've had six pass through there just fine personally.
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littlericky said Apr 16, 2014 20:39:30
I'm in NY with one on the way. I'll keep you posted on what happens.
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HtesJoseph said Apr 17, 2014 00:16:33
I also should have passing through NYC in the coming weeks and will keep all posted
My band page on Facebook, The Damn Hippies. Like it if you like it. (*};=/ https://www.facebook.com/TheDamnHippies
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drew said Apr 17, 2014 02:55:42
I'm now doubting that it's a good idea for people in the US to be posting information about pending orders, the suppliers they're buying from, tracking info, etc. in an open forum like this.
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SteveTebble said Apr 17, 2014 08:08:41
Good point. Wait till the guitar is in your possession then you can say what you like!
God give me patience ... but I want it NOW!!
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GsxJones said Apr 17, 2014 11:37:16
I hope this does not kick off in the UK.
If it did,I'd just order guitar's with plain unbranded/logo'd headstock's and do my own inlay's etc. Ive noted a few sellers on ebay selling gibson inlays which are not that hard to fit. Its always an option if you want the correct marking's on you Chibson.
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MichaelWamback said Apr 17, 2014 14:33:21
Only the 2 incidents so far. Might just be a coincidence, but we need to consider the risk. Just glad I've got my REG double neck safe and sound, as getting that confiscated would have been a bitter pill to swallow.

I'm also wondering if it makes sense to order the guitar in a case. Can you guys who had your guitars taken confirm if you had ordered them shipped with or without a case.

My thinking that Customs might be less likely to open a case, and it might also make it more difficult for them to detect the exact shape of the guitar if they x-ray the package. I'm guessing that's their first step, and if the x-ray shows something suspicious they will then open it.
The two most important things to remember in life: "The only time it's acceptable to work with amateurs is if you are making porn." "If you want to work with clowns, join a circus."
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TomS. said Apr 17, 2014 14:41:02
Michael,
That's an interesting thought about the case. But wouldn't the x-ray penetrated everything, the examiner would see the outline of the case then the guitar within?
This is my Chibson. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
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MichaelWamback said Apr 17, 2014 16:21:28
Quite possibly, but I'm still thinking you might have a better chance if the guitar is in a case. If nothing else, it would be a bit more work for them to open it up.

I'm pretty sure that their first step is to x-ray any suspicious package. They do that with tractor trailers. If they suspect drugs, then have a special truck that has an x-ray unit that can drive alongside a trailer and x-ray the contents. It's pretty impressive technology, and very time saving compared to opening and inspecting every shipment.

I'm sure Customs uses scanners similar to what you see in an airport to check packages.

I'm also wondering if the Chinese couldn't make a small wooden form to place around the headstock that would conceal the shape.
The two most important things to remember in life: "The only time it's acceptable to work with amateurs is if you are making porn." "If you want to work with clowns, join a circus."
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