Et Games is having a rough time at the hands of UK bureaucrats who have confiscated our most recent shipment of wooden games. We’ve lost a whole shipping container worth £20,000, plus legal fees, other costs, and forgone profit that brings the figure closer to £40,000. This is a massive amount of money for a small business. It’s having a catastrophic effect, and we’re having to think about redundancies and ultimately winding up the business. Your help would be much appreciated as we try to straighten this out: sign our petition here to put pressure on the authorities to change their stance.
Owing to a recent change in the rules, we need an import permit issued by the UK authorities every time we bring in a shipment of our wooden games. For our most recent shipment, there were delays by the Indian authorities in providing the necessary paperwork, which meant we could not apply for our UK permit until shortly before the goods arrived. The UK authorities say this is too late, and so they have confiscated the shipment.
We should be absolutely clear that there is nothing wrong or illegal about our products: we know this for sure because our next shipment is due to leave India soon and the UK authorities have already issued the permit with no questions asked. This new shipment is for exactly the same kind of goods and the same Indian supplier and paperwork as before. The UK authorities are destroying our business simply because (they claim) we did not fill out their form early enough. There is in fact a legal provision for them to issue a permit retrospectively, but for some reason which they have refused to explain, they will not use this provision.
We’re not the only business to have been caught out by this senseless bureaucracy: I’ve contacted all the other fair trade importers I know who use the same kind of wood, and three out of three have lost shipments under similar circumstances in the last year.
Our games are made from Sheesham wood (Dalbergia Sissoo). This species is not endangered (it is listed on the IUCN Red List as having conservation status “not threatened”). The wood for our games comes from managed plantations. However, the rules have been changed so as to require an import permit because Sheesham looks similar to some endangered Rosewoods, and the authorities wish to prevent unscrupulous importers passing off these endangered species as Sheesham. We support rules that help protect the environment. In our case, we can see no benefit to the environment, just catastrophic harm to livelihoods both in India and the UK.
If you agree with us, please sign our petition to persuade the authorities to change their stance. Assisted by our MP (Damian Hinds) we’re pursuing a complaint with the Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman, and we’re hoping a letter from Damian Hinds to the relevant junior Minister (Therese Coffey) will also help. Finally, we’re appealing to Border Force to take a fair minded approach and release the goods.
You can read a report about our case in the local paper here: