Autoholics Blog

Autoholics

Your daily fix of automotive news and car-crazy culture. The blog written by gearheads, for gearheads.

Previous in Blog: Corvette Rumor Watch: Small V8 Turbo for C7?   Next in Blog: GM Wants You to Pay More for Gas
Close
Close
Close
55 comments

Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

Posted June 10, 2011 12:00 AM by CarDomain

I take all my cars over the line into Canada pretty frequently, and every single time, I worry that some psychopathic customs official will dismantle my car in search of whatever, and then nonchalantly give me back the hacked-up carcass once they don't find anything. I probably wouldn't take a vehicle into Mexico right now. Well, except maybe my Eagle.

How about you? What countries has your car been to? Ever had any car troubles while abroad? If so, how'd you fix 'em?

Visit Autoholics

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be Good Answers:

These comments received enough positive ratings to make them "good answers".

Comments rated to be "almost" Good Answers:

Check out these comments that don't yet have enough votes to be "official" good answers and, if you agree with them, rate them!
Guru
United Kingdom - Member - Indeterminate Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: In the bothy, 7 chains down the line from Dodman's Lane level crossing, in the nation formerly known as Great Britain. Kettle's on.
Posts: 30314
Good Answers: 817
#1

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/10/2011 11:02 AM

France, Belgium and a forthcoming hop into Germany are on the cards.

No worries here. The insurance cover embraces mainland Europe and the car is of German origins, so there's no issues over reliability nor spare parts.

__________________
"Did you get my e-mail?" - "The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place" - George Bernard Shaw, 1856
Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member United Kingdom - Member - New Member

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Harlow England
Posts: 16498
Good Answers: 661
#2
In reply to #1

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/10/2011 11:30 AM

show off
Del

__________________
health warning: These posts may contain traces of nut.
Reply
2
Guru
Canada - Member - New Member Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member Hobbies - Musician - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Up North
Posts: 540
Good Answers: 30
#3

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/10/2011 4:02 PM

WOOT! We instill fear in others! Tippity tappity tippity tappity.

Seriously, answer only the questions you're asked, don't offer any information you're not asked for, look the psychopath in the eyes, tell the truth and you'll be fine.

I've been to your country by car many times and have never had a problem. YOUR guys are actually scarier because everyone is a terrorist!

I have had a State Trooper put his hand on his holster after telling me that I "shore looked mighty familiar". Now that was scary.

__________________
Steve of the North...since 1962.
Reply Good Answer (Score 2)
2
Guru
United States - Member - USA! Hobbies - Musician - Sound Man Engineering Fields - Mechanical Engineering - More than a Hobby Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member

Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: City of Roses.
Posts: 2056
Good Answers: 99
#4

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/10/2011 4:19 PM

I once was on my way back into the US from Canada and was one of the "random" searches. I was taken into a small holding room out of sight from my vehicle. Once the search was finished, and I was free to go i was told I would need to sign a release form to get my car back, I was not shown the car, and was not allowed to leave the holding area until I had signed the paperwork. When I got back to my car, I found that ALL of my luggage was torn apart and scattered about on the ground next to my car. I had a custom interior, including headboard, which had been torn off. The dashboard was loose, spare tire removed, and everything in a basic state of chaos. I was furious, and demanded some explanation. unfortunately, I failed to read the fine print of the form i was forced to sign, which stated that the car was received in the same condition they took it in. It was a huge ordeal, and ended up costing me about $500 to fix. That was the last time I crossed into Canada, 12 years ago.

__________________
Don't believe everything you read on the Internet!
Reply Good Answer (Score 2)
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member Safety - ESD - New Member Hobbies - Fishing - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Near Frankfurt am Main, Germany. 50.390866N, 8.884827E
Posts: 17996
Good Answers: 200
#7
In reply to #4

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/11/2011 7:35 AM

I would have tried to get some form of compensation by taking photos of the mess first and then approaching MY governments consulate in the same country that it happened......

That was a foul trick probably only carried out by a low level of customs inspector, it certainly wasn't legal......

I have (especially before the borders came down with the EU here in Europe), been searched many times, once 3 times on the same story and rainy night!, but they put back everything as it was each time....

Also you MUST try and look a little less "Dangerous"!!

A question, was that car 2nd hand? If yes, you might have had a car that the sniffer dogs could smell, but not find, drugs......drugs from a previous owner (or even one of your children/friends if they were of a car driving age!).

It doesn't take much to get a sniffer dog going, tiny amounts.......and as to the customs, for them you (your car) had at some time carried drugs, so they would be most "unhelpful" to you....

A friend of mine goes shooting often with the BG (customs "police") of Germany......he is full of such tips and stories....

__________________
"What others say about you reveals more about them, than it does you." Anon.
Reply
Guru
Canada - Member - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Edmonton Alberta Canada
Posts: 629
Good Answers: 39
#39
In reply to #7

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/14/2011 2:11 PM

"I would have tried to get some form of compensation by taking photos of the mess first and then approaching MY governments consulate in the same country that it happened......"

All I can say is good luck with that. The first point to understand is that untill you pass the customs examination you are not IN that country. There is always a small "no man's land" between borders. You have left your country and you are applying to enter another country. This why people subject to customs inspection are basically covered by no bill of rights or constitution.

I have had trucks stuck in this no mans land for days. Don't have the proper documents to enter Canada, don't have proper proof of exit to return to the U.S.A.

__________________
All that is required for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.
Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Guru

Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 7045
Good Answers: 206
#10
In reply to #4

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/11/2011 1:39 PM

I have 2 questions.

1st, The Americans or Canadians performed the search?

2nd, Why do you think they selected you? Long hair, attitude, loud car, what? Generally speaking they just don't tear a car apart unless they have a reason.

Reply
Guru
Canada - Member - Specialized in power electronics

Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Montreal, Canada.
Posts: 1357
Good Answers: 80
#14
In reply to #10

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/11/2011 7:01 PM

"I once was on my way back into the US from Canada "

This had to be the American custom.

It also happened to my friend last week (he is also American). The American custom agents seem to think that you are coming to Canada to get illegal stuff to smuggle down to the US. Little they know that is is easier to procure anything in the USA than it is in Canada.

While I have been questioned heavily a few times by the American border officers, I never had my car searched. Telling them the whole truth is usually enough to avoid complications.

Advise #1. If you stop at the duty free, declare what you bought. They know exactly what you bought the minute you paid for it. They are connected to the cash registers at many crossings. Don't take them for fools and your border crossing will be less memorable.

Advise #2 Don't make their life difficult and they are (usually) going to act similarly. They are doing their job. If you don't like it, complain to your elected representatives. They are the ones who vote the laws and direct the rules implemented by the officers.

Advise #3. Avoid crossing when the security threat level is high. During those periods everybody is considered a terrorist.

Advise #4. Eat the sausages and ham sandwiches before reaching the border. Vacuum sealing is not good enough for them. Any meat will be ceased.

Question: What happens to the wild meat that hunters caught while hunting in Canada? Can you bring it back in the USA?

__________________
Experienced is earned, common sense is taught, both are rare essentials of life.
Reply
Guru
Hobbies - Musician - New Member Australia - Member - Torn and breading Engineering Fields - Nanoengineering - New Member APIX Pilot Plant Design Project - Member - New Member

Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia
Posts: 3721
Good Answers: 74
#17
In reply to #14

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/11/2011 7:58 PM

....wild meat....

Is that slang for Canadian women?

Stupid Australians

The worst border I ever crossed was in 1987 crossing East Germany to get to Poland and back. Our Geiger counter was the first thing to be confiscated. My brother had found a company which manufactured the Camel Boots. Not sure if you had this Camel cigarettes advertising campaign in the US. We visited the factory but could not buy them, they had to be bartered for, in this case, toilet paper. 5000 boots= 500.000 rolls of the stuff we take for granted.

Anyway, nowadays it would take maybe 4 hours to do the trip. It took us 3 days back then. Just to get there. It was 4 days to make it back. Not only were we stopped and searched at every border, on three sides, but we were stopped on the road to get there as well. Every time they did a #4 , just in a February snow and rain drift environment and always Uzis at the ready.

All they wanted was Deutsch Mark but we found out much too late and our Russian, polish language skills were not good enough to get the massage. To bribe an officer would get you into jail and would take diplomatic intervention to buy you back out. They did it for a living. As we later found they were all bribeable but all too late. There were no regular service stations and the hand cranked ones did not take Sloty (their currency back then) but only DM. While doing the one arm pumping he explained how it all worked but could we trust him?

Coming to think of it there was nothing regular to be found at all. Not in East Germany nor in Poland. No wonder it all collapsed in a heap.

I was never back after the wall came down and am happy to live on a continent with no borders. State borders yes but more on the map or when it comes to the footy. You should all come and try it one day.

Don't come by boat, Ky

__________________
The Twain Has Met
Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member Safety - ESD - New Member Hobbies - Fishing - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Near Frankfurt am Main, Germany. 50.390866N, 8.884827E
Posts: 17996
Good Answers: 200
#18
In reply to #17

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/12/2011 3:37 PM

Back in the '80s, I used to drive to and from Berlin from West Germany, passing through East Germany.

I never had any problems simply because I kept to the speed limits (100KMH) on the Autobahns and did not cheek the VOPOs (Volks Politzei)......I made probably 80 trips, so times 2 for the number of traverses = 160 odd passages.

I never ever had to get out of the car and never had my car searched either....

__________________
"What others say about you reveals more about them, than it does you." Anon.
Reply
Guru
Hobbies - Musician - New Member United Kingdom - Member - New Member

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: England
Posts: 951
Good Answers: 48
#15
In reply to #10

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/11/2011 7:26 PM

If he was travelling US to Canada then US does the search. Authorities care who enters, not who leaves.

The most intensive search I ever had was once travelling back 'home' to Qubec from the UK, via New York (I didn't even have long or green hair at that time!) I think jt is quite right. I never had much respect for US or Canadian customs authorities. On the other hand, I have huge respect for the UK customs authorities.

Of course, this has nothing to do with taking cars (or bikes) across borders. I just make sure I am well prepated.

__________________
brianparker007@hotmail.com
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 7045
Good Answers: 206
#16
In reply to #15

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/11/2011 7:49 PM

I know the TSA are jerks. They ALWAYS pull me aside in airports. When you're 6'4" and anywhere near 300 lbs. you get attention wherever you go regardless if you want it or not. But I've never heard of someone having their car's dash loosened up and $500 damage for a "random" search. There has to be more to that story! The guy got jacked around pretty heavy. Maybe on the way out they said the wrong thing so they got "extra attention" when they returned to cross.

Reply
Guru
United States - Member - USA! Hobbies - Musician - Sound Man Engineering Fields - Mechanical Engineering - More than a Hobby Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member

Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: City of Roses.
Posts: 2056
Good Answers: 99
#30
In reply to #10

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/14/2011 11:28 AM

Americans did the search... But to their defence, we did look like a car full of troublemakers.

__________________
Don't believe everything you read on the Internet!
Reply
2
Guru
Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member Engineering Fields - Civil Engineering - New Member Engineering Fields - Nuclear Engineering - New Member United States - Member - New Member

Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 714
Good Answers: 37
#21
In reply to #4

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/13/2011 12:51 PM

I've seen this happen and was nearly in your position.

I was active duty military in the middle of a military move (permanent change of station) and the drive took my wife and I through Buffalo, NY (near Niagara Falls). (Note the car had nothing more than typical things you would take on a vacation.) So we decided to take a detour for a couple days since we were so close. We had no problem heading into Canada, but on the way back the US customs agent decided we needed to be searched.

We pulled off to the search area where we saw officials searching a minivan. Clothing, toiletries, papers, food from a dumped cooler, and all kinds of belongings strewn on the pavement. Next to that were the car seats. Think tornado and this would resemble the aftermath.

We spoke to an official inside, after a few minutes he confirmed my military status and said we were free to go and thanked me for my service. As my wife and I were making it back to our car, we noticed the owners of the minivan. An elderly couple (late 60's or early 70's)... she was visibly weeping trying to repack and the man was distraught looking at his dismantled vehicle. Note it was a fairly hot summer day.

I grabbed a tool kit from my car and started to head over to help them remount the seats and was stopped by a customs agent. He asked if I knew them... "no"... why are you going over there? I looked at the tool kit I had and said something to the effect that I was going to help them put the seats back in the car. The agent said that if I didn't move my car it would be considered abandoned and removed. I moved the car and started back to help and was once again stopped, same line of questioning, but this time said that the search area was off-limits unless I had property there and would be "detained" if I entered. The agents never flat out told me I couldn't help them directly, but always provided some type of threat if I did.

I have no idea what this couple did, how they answered, or if they fit some profile. With regards to abuse of power there is the letter of the law and there are rules unwritten because it seems like basic human decency. There is no doubt in my mind that putting a car in an undrivable condition, that required tools to re-assemble, in the middle of summer, and preventing the elderly couple from receiving any assistance isn't just an abuse of power, but is downright criminal.

__________________
Sometimes my thoughts are in a degree of order so high even I don't get it...
Reply Good Answer (Score 2)
Guru
Canada - Member - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Edmonton Alberta Canada
Posts: 629
Good Answers: 39
#22
In reply to #21

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/13/2011 1:04 PM

Ok, now that is an abuse of power.

__________________
All that is required for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 1294
Good Answers: 35
#24
In reply to #22

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/14/2011 8:37 AM

Re: Ok, now that is an abuse of power.

(I'm glad you see it that way--I was going to respond to post #21 and then your post #20 separately, now I can combine them. ;-)

My question is, what can be done in a situation like that (assuming that you are, for example, the observer like ChaoticIntellect in post #21)? Another poster says there is no due process no recourse in a situation like that, but, there must be, or should be.

I'd hope that I'd have a cell phone at hand and the phone numbers of my senator and congressman and start by calling them--telling them what I see, and hoping for a proactive response. Any better ideas?

The situation looks pretty clear, an elderly couple with their vehicle disassembled to the point they can't move it? What's next--if they walk away to seek help the vehicle is impounded as abandoned? What could an elderly couple have done to deserve that--even if they were carrying drugs or something, the issue should be dealt with in the courts.

Reply
Active Contributor

Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 22
#25
In reply to #24

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/14/2011 9:01 AM

RE: Recourse at Customs

US Customs Service predates the US Constitution. I may be wrong, but I think it also predates the Articles of Confederation as well. They are quite literally a law unto themselves. If you have a beef with them and want to take it up with someone other than the agent, you don't go to a state or local court, generally, you don't even get to go to a federal court. You usually end up in Customs Court, where the judge and everyone but you and your attorney is a Customs official. Care to guess which way most of the Customs Court decisions go?

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 1294
Good Answers: 35
#29
In reply to #25

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/14/2011 11:10 AM

Re: They are quite literally a law unto themselves. If you have a beef with them and want to take it up with someone other than the agent, you don't go to a state or local court, generally, you don't even get to go to a federal court. You usually end up in Customs Court, where the judge and everyone but you and your attorney is a Customs official.

I guess I believe you, but I don't see how that is possible. Isn't the constitution the "supreme law of the land", and it establishes three branches of (Federal) government, congress, judicial, and executive? Surely any function (of the government) is under the supervision, control, or oversight of one (or, really, all three) of the only branches of government that exist.

Is the US Customs service a state "function"? (A power not enumerated in the Constitution, and thus left to the states?)

Isn't the US Customs service part of the Department of Homeland Security? And there is a "Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security", a member of the President's cabinet? (Hmm, now I have to think about the Federal Reserve which in some sense is not really part of the Federal Government (I guess)--but who appoints the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board (or any members for that matter--I guess I should have paid more attention in "social studies" classes.) (Or, do some research.)

Reply
Active Contributor

Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 22
#31
In reply to #29

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/14/2011 11:31 AM

Technically, you are correct, Congress could bring the Customs office to heel if they decided to, and that's why a cell phone with your congress-critter's office number on speed dial is the best suggestion in this string. The problem is that getting anything involving a customs decision changed is like elephants mating: It takes place on a very high level, there's a lot of screaming, trumpeting and thrashing about, and it take 14 months to develop anything.

It's a tough sell to a federal judge to get him to reverse a Customs judge's decision on Customs regulations.....it can be done, but you've already been found guilty once even before you get to court. A much better policy is to smile, cooperate, put up with the rude and abusive twit until you've proven that you are innocent right there at the border. Painful and humiliating as it is, it only costs you some time, a bit of effort, and your pride. A trip to federal court will involve thousands of dollars and weeks of your time, and you can still lose.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 1294
Good Answers: 35
#33
In reply to #31

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/14/2011 11:52 AM

Thanks, I'm sure you're correct, and it is what I would hope to do if I were in the situation.

But, if I were in the situation of observing that elderly couple described in an earlier post, I guess I'd start by calling my congress critter and try to demand that they got somebody to the site to observe first hand...

I'd also (discretely) take pictures, and "wear a wire" (record any conversations I was a party to or overheard--again, discretely).

Reply
Active Contributor

Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 22
#35
In reply to #33

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/14/2011 12:11 PM

Cell phones can not only take pictures, but they can broadcast conversations directly to a congressional staffer (discreetly). Ain't technology grand?

Reply
Guru
Canada - Member - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Edmonton Alberta Canada
Posts: 629
Good Answers: 39
#44
In reply to #25

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/14/2011 2:43 PM

"US Customs Service predates the US Constitution. I may be wrong, but I think it also predates the Articles of Confederation as well. They are quite literally a law unto themselves. If you have a beef with them and want to take it up with someone other than the agent, you don't go to a state or local court, generally, you don't even get to go to a federal court. You usually end up in Customs Court, where the judge and everyone but you and your attorney is a Customs official. Care to guess which way most of the Customs Court decisions go?"

I don't know the history but US Customs is NOT a law unto itself. It is in fact a branch of your Homeland Security Office and is subject to the same laws.

You can learn more here, including their history.

__________________
All that is required for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.
Reply
Active Contributor

Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 22
#45
In reply to #44

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/14/2011 2:52 PM

Quote from the site you referenced:

Today, in addition to its own laws, Customs enforces well over 400 other provisions of law for at least 40 agencies. A number of these statutes are quality of life issues that relate to the environment, such as motor vehicle safety and emission controls, water pollution standards, pesticide controls, freon smuggling and the protection of endangered wildlife. Other laws safeguard American agriculture, business and public health, and consumer safety.

I found the comment about "in addition to it's own laws" illuminating.

Reply
Guru
Canada - Member - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Edmonton Alberta Canada
Posts: 629
Good Answers: 39
#47
In reply to #45

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/14/2011 4:31 PM

"Their own laws"

I will reply to that as a Canadian Customs Broker because I'm sure they mean exactly the same things. Their "own laws" will be The Customs Act, The Tariff Act, The Excise Tax Act etc, all laws passed and enforced through the normal channels of parliment and the courts. As the first line of defence at the borders though they are also tasked with enforcing other domestic laws which fall under other government departments (OGDs) such as food inspection, drug purity/narcotics, and environment protection. On top of all that there are the international laws that they enforce, trade in endangered species, nuclear proliferation, trademark and patent protection, all the free trade treaties. As a broker to many and varied importing companies I often claim that I have to know more laws than any practicing lawyer, and so do the customs officers. None of the laws they deal with are passed or enforced by some shadowy "customs court".

__________________
All that is required for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.
Reply
Active Contributor

Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 22
#48
In reply to #47

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/14/2011 4:52 PM

Do you do "expert witness" work? I'll tell my co-worker and my employer that they can ignore the fine and penality they were assessed last September by a judge that was a Customs & Border Control employee. I'm sure they'll enjoy hearing that the court didn't exist. Naturally, the company is appealing but I expect things will go much smoother if they can hire you to testify that the customs judge was just a shadowy figment and doesn't exist.

Reply
Guru
Canada - Member - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Edmonton Alberta Canada
Posts: 629
Good Answers: 39
#49
In reply to #48

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/14/2011 5:02 PM

Just continue to appeal the case up the ladder. You will eventually reach a "real" court. Of course if the parties were guilty I'd cut my losses and learn from the experience.

Where I live there are also landlord tenant courts but they aren't staffed by secret agents either, nor are the laws they debate passed by a shadow cabinet.

Then there is traffic court, divorce court and the most shady of all night court.

__________________
All that is required for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.
Reply
Guru
Canada - Member - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Edmonton Alberta Canada
Posts: 629
Good Answers: 39
#41
In reply to #24

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/14/2011 2:27 PM

I don't know that there is anything that can be done there and then. An officer's decision on the scene is almost unchangable. If I was there I would take names, take badge numbers, take pictures, follow orders and once in the safety of my lawyer's office let them have it with both barrels. There are many appeal procedures for any customs decision but they all take place much later. The officer on the front lines rules and his decision stands until you can file the paperwork to appeal to higher authorities.

I deal with customs every day but with commercial shipments and over the phone. When I first started, before much of the computerization I dealt often face to face with the officers. I learn't very quickly that the worst thing you can do is demand to speak to the officer's "boss". The boss will always back up the first decision.

The same as when dealing with a beligerant police officer in the dead of night on a dark street. Say Yes sir, No sir, how high sir? and take notes. Later is the time to raise complaints, when you are safe, have witnesses and a good lawyer.

__________________
All that is required for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.
Reply
Guru
Canada - Member - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Edmonton Alberta Canada
Posts: 629
Good Answers: 39
#43
In reply to #24

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/14/2011 2:36 PM

"My question is, what can be done in a situation like that (assuming that you are, for example, the observer like ChaoticIntellect in post #21)? Another poster says there is no due process no recourse in a situation like that, but, there must be, or should be."

There is literally nothing that can be done on the scene. You don't argue your guilt or innocence to the police officer who is making the arrest. In Canada there would be a couple of levels to appeal or seek compensation directly with Canada Customs and if you are still not happy to can proceed to federal courts. Customs officers have sweeping powers but that situation seems extreme even for them. The failure to allow someone to assist the couple is way beyond reasonable and surely would be redressed in the lowest customs court. The officer in question would be displined or fired and the couple compensated for the car they abandoned.

__________________
All that is required for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.
Reply
Guru
Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member Engineering Fields - Marine Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Vancleave, Ms about 30 miles inland from Biloxi and the coast
Posts: 3198
Good Answers: 105
#5

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/10/2011 6:51 PM

I have been to Mexico and Canada many times and never had a problem. The last time was about 20 years ago. I'm sure border crossings have been tightened since 9/11. Border agents probably do profiling to decide who to search. I guess I must have an honest face.

__________________
Mr.Ron from South Ms.
Reply
Guru
United States - Member - USA! Hobbies - Musician - Sound Man Engineering Fields - Mechanical Engineering - More than a Hobby Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member

Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: City of Roses.
Posts: 2056
Good Answers: 99
#6
In reply to #5

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/10/2011 7:46 PM

At the time of the "incident" I will admit, there were four of us "relatively" young guys in the car, that could easily have been profiled as "troublemakers". Their claim was that we all appeared to be "under the influence of intoxicants" Which was partly true. The other three guys had been drinking fairly heavily just prior to our border crossing, and were causing a ruckus in the backseat. They tore my car apart looking for the large quantities of illegal substances that they suspected we were trying to smuggle. They didn't find as much as a baby aspirin in the car, and were not willing to apologize for the inconvenience, and damage to the vehicle.

Left a sour taste in my mouth for the US customs officers.

__________________
Don't believe everything you read on the Internet!
Reply
Guru
Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member Engineering Fields - Marine Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Vancleave, Ms about 30 miles inland from Biloxi and the coast
Posts: 3198
Good Answers: 105
#8
In reply to #6

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/11/2011 11:42 AM

Profiling and "probable cause" are tools used by law enforcement. It may offend the ACLU, but it is a very necessary tool to fight crime.

__________________
Mr.Ron from South Ms.
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Surrey BC Canada
Posts: 1571
Good Answers: 40
#9
In reply to #6

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/11/2011 12:08 PM

I cross the border many times a year. I have a nod through most of the time, and have been hassled going both ways. It appears random.

Over the years while crossing into the US on business I have been detained in a small room while the US customs thoroughly searched the rental vehicle at a remote crossing in Bodet. (No dogs.) There were no other vehicles in site, they scanned the passport, used special lights, cross refrenced in some special data base etc, etc. It was amazing just how much information they had on ones border crossings. It is all recorded and appears to have notes about when they last hassled you. It was obviously a rooky getting training and they said as much. Unfortunately I had a plane to catch and they made me late. Too bad!

I have had similar experiences coming back into Canada. The last "random" search I believe was due to my 30 year old son being asleep in the passenger seat with sunglasses on. He was groggy when he woke up and didn't know where he was for a few seconds. That's two mistakes on our part!

Other times the Canadians get annal about how much duty free you are bringing back. The next time when you have none they look as though you are lying. The time after that they don't even ask if you are bringing anything back. Go figure. It seems so arbitrary and random.

The only thing I believe is there are illegal searches on both sides, and both sides customs agents are a law onto themselves without recourse to due process. There have been recent newspaper articles about US agents apparently way overstepping reasonable protocol, banning people for 5 years who have a US cottage just across the border for the last 20 years, banning people who harbour their boat in a US marina, or a legitimate Canadian business owner with US offices, etc., and there is no reasonable challenge the victims can make without spending 10's of thousands of dollars.

I believe both sides should have a mechanism in place where the judicial system can review an arbitrary decision by a border agent having a bad day. Our police are open to scrutiny, and so should the border agents on both sides.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 859
Good Answers: 33
#11
In reply to #9

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/11/2011 1:45 PM

Used to go to Mexico a lot, 20-30 years ago, surfing , fishing and general camping. Got put into the Advanced Inspection line a few times--There never tore the car apart, but made us take out EVERY item, including items from the glove box, and lay it on the greasy pavement--That is a lot of camping and cooking gear, fishing tackle etc., etc..Took over an hour--They were almost childish in Ooohing a AAhing on each little thing--Stopped going--Friends still do it, but the lines are over 3 hours at times, so I just fly down now, and rent a car...Much easier, but not in your case..As an aside , of the graft and corruption...Many "undocumented" citizens that I know, pay appro $5-7000, US dollars, and walk right up to the border, while a US Customs official opens a gate, without looking at them, and they are now in the US--This is not hearsay--Too many stories I could tell you, about the tunnels, etc. There is too much money to be made, and they will never stop human greed..

Reply
4
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 719
Good Answers: 25
#12

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/11/2011 2:17 PM

Don't get me wrong, Customs keep us safe. (we hope) But a lot of them seem to have
a very poor "social manner." Being polite and pleasant is not their forte. Why not?

I'm a simple sort of chap who is not quick on the up-take, a bit deaf, (daft) and
then some overly nasty customs official barks at me. (as they have done.)

They make no allowance for how I am, believing I am acting "awkward" or ignoring
them. They speak with an accent, shout as if I know what they want, and get even
more annoyed and impatient when I fail to respond correctly. In a word, impolite.
They make no allowance for my age, slowness, lack of awareness, eyesight, etc. and
just want to show "off" how in control they are, omnipotent, and blooded minded.

So now, I don't go. They can live without my few tourist pounds, it's not worth it.
I say "they" meaning any official who snarls something at you which is not heard
clearly, or misunderstood. In my opinion customs officials should be trained, in that
they are supposed to "look after" and "help" the travellers, not be a nuisance to all.

If one assumes the vast majority of travellers are "innocent" of even considering a
serious crime, and, that they have approx. 2 hours before they allow anyone to board
the plane, (whatever) they "waste" this valuable time being difficult to us.

With all the technology at their fingertips, they could seriously vet all the passenger's
backgrounds and make a very educated "guess" at any likely passengers who just
may be terrorists, smugglers, drunk problems, etc. This would free both them selves
to study their quarry, and free all the remaining travellers, from their unacceptable
behaviour, i.e. with useful constructive targeted attention on more likely suspects.

Then travelling could be far nicer, more relaxed, enjoyable, and as they entered into
the spirit of their service, far more politely, they would become appreciated and in
return get more co-operation. Instead of proving they can do what they like, talk to
you how they like, insult you and damage your property however they like, regardless
of any ones feelings, discomfort, embarrassment, and/or loss of material goods.

Simply; why show off their "thuggery" on innocent travellers in a strange setting?
There is no gain, and they will get no support, by frightening and worrying the innocent
traveller, who mostly wants to just enjoy or survive the day. (IMO)

We know they have the power, there is no profit in worrying us, it's the really bad
guys they want to look to, instead of wasting their time on the innocent. (easy pickings)

Sorry about the rant, but I really think the "action" state has gone far enough.
Whatever happened to the polite knock on the door (first) No, we'll smash it in.
Whatever happened to the polite "what have you there?" No, strip off for a search.
Please, remember, you are paid to look after us, not make our lives even worse.

It's a difficult job to do. Please, target the bad guys, and care about the innocent.

jt.

Reply Good Answer (Score 4)
Guru
Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member Engineering Fields - Marine Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Vancleave, Ms about 30 miles inland from Biloxi and the coast
Posts: 3198
Good Answers: 105
#13
In reply to #12

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/11/2011 5:53 PM

I have found this to be true every time I had to go through customs, either at a border crossing or at an airport. They act aloof and are never friendly. I think their aloofness must be part of the training by the US Customs Service.

__________________
Mr.Ron from South Ms.
Reply
Active Contributor

Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 22
#19

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/13/2011 9:32 AM

Most Canadians are just plain wonderful folks. I figure they scour their entire population to find the "special" people to staff the borders. I've had the car searched several times going into Canada when traveling for business but never had it torn apart. The time I flew in in a light plane was a different story. Their customs folks wanted everything out of the plane, then they demanded that we let them use our tools so they could start to dismantle the interior cabin. They were convinced that there must be a "baggage compartment" in the plane that we weren't showing them. That particular plane doesn't have a baggage compartment, just a small space behind the back seat. Even the pictures in the maintenence manual showing that there was no "baggage compartment" didn't convince them. One hour to gut the interior, 10 seconds for "gee, I guess there really isn't any compartment in here", three hours to put it back together. Not only did they not offer to help reassemble it, they actually got a little impatient about us taking up space on their ramp while we put it back together.

Reply
Guru
Canada - Member - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Edmonton Alberta Canada
Posts: 629
Good Answers: 39
#20

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/13/2011 11:52 AM

So far I have seen no abuse of power in the stories here. That would be tough though because the power given to customs officers by law is almost unlimited. Personally I have had one search of my truck by U.S.officers but they later explained why and it was a plausible reason to me. When asked why my wife and I were going into the U.S. we said we were just going to the nearest train station to pick up my wife's mother and aunt. we lived almost right on the border and that was the nearest train stop to our house. We drove a small Mazda pickup with only a tiny "king" cab and they either didn't notice it or thought it too small to hold two more adults. So basically they didn't believe my story and acted accordingly. What I should have said that seeing it was my mother in law ......... she would be riding in the back.

Other than that, no other problems. With my wife's (an American/Canadian) kids and entire family in the U.S. and us living up here in Canada we have been back and forth many times. We always let her do the talking on the way into the U.S. and I parlez avec les agents de Douanes (when we lived in Quebec) on the return trip. We present one american and one canadian passport every time. We have been waved through most times even when the pickup was piled high either with gifts for the kids and in-laws or my wife returning with some of her possesions.

Now Immigration Canada, the first time I brought her up here, that is another story completely.

__________________
All that is required for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.
Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 259
Good Answers: 6
#26
In reply to #20

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/14/2011 9:03 AM

I went to Quebec once on vacation. Though I admire their desire to keep their culture alive, they could have been more polite. We didn't want to polute them with our Emglish, but fill their banks with our tourist dollars. I never went back after that. Nice place to visit if you don't deal with the people.

Reply
Guru
Canada - Member - New Member Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member Hobbies - Musician - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Up North
Posts: 540
Good Answers: 30
#27
In reply to #26

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/14/2011 9:35 AM

Sorry you had a bad time in Quebec. They can't help but be a little uppity, they despise the English. The following quote is proof:

Frenchman: You don't frighten us, English pig-dogs! Go and boil your bottoms, sons of a silly person! I blow my nose at you, so-called Ah-thoor Keeng, you and all your silly English K-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-niggits! [makes taunting gestures at them]

Sir Galahad: What a strange person.

King Arthur: Now, look here, my good man--

Frenchman: I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty-headed animal food trough water! I fart in your general direction! Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries! Now leave before I am forced to taunt you a second time!

There you have it. Go west young man, or farther east.

__________________
Steve of the North...since 1962.
Reply
Guru
United States - Member - USA! Hobbies - Musician - Sound Man Engineering Fields - Mechanical Engineering - More than a Hobby Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member

Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: City of Roses.
Posts: 2056
Good Answers: 99
#32
In reply to #27

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/14/2011 11:48 AM

Love Monty Python!

__________________
Don't believe everything you read on the Internet!
Reply
Guru
Canada - Member - New Member Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member Hobbies - Musician - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Up North
Posts: 540
Good Answers: 30
#54
In reply to #32

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/16/2011 8:29 AM

Yeah, it was one great show. The Ministry of Funny Walks, Mr. Gumby, Twit Olympics, exploding penguins, the Argument Sketch...the list goes on.

__________________
Steve of the North...since 1962.
Reply
Guru
Hobbies - Musician - New Member United Kingdom - Member - New Member

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: England
Posts: 951
Good Answers: 48
#34
In reply to #27

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/14/2011 11:56 AM

"Fetchez la vache!".

I am quite fond of the people of Quebec. They can be the warmest and friendliest of people (and with a sense of humour closest to the British than I have seen anywhere else), but only if you speak french. It's a shame. It is possible to protect your culture and still be open and friendly.

__________________
brianparker007@hotmail.com
Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member Safety - ESD - New Member Hobbies - Fishing - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Near Frankfurt am Main, Germany. 50.390866N, 8.884827E
Posts: 17996
Good Answers: 200
#36
In reply to #34

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/14/2011 12:29 PM

I have been visiting France (not Canada) since 1957. I have worked there many times since, though my spoken French has worsened over the last 20 years or so, sadly.

I have an Uncle who at 85, still lives in Antibes on the Côte D'Azur who IO visit occasionally, or he comes here....

BUT the European French simply "over-protect" their language and customs (worries about Franglais is a prime example) to such an extreme that the country as a whole (Italy and Spain sadly also) that in these countries of Europe its difficult to find someone that speaks English in a shop!!!

If you go to the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark or any of the norther Scandinavian countries, it seems that EVERYONE can speak English.

I learnt good French at school, I taught myself Portuguese in the Navy (both of which are so rusty I need a dictionary!) and picked up German when I went to live in Germany at 34 years old......but nobody is as backward as the French in picking up foreign languages......They even complain if you speak French with a slight English accent!!!! They will never change either!!!

I have liked all the Canadians I ever worked with, which is quite a few, none spoke English (Canadian?) with a French accent, so I do not know from which "side" they came from. I also never asked.......

I find Canadians to not be like their French cousins......at all!!

__________________
"What others say about you reveals more about them, than it does you." Anon.
Reply
Guru
Canada - Member - New Member Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member Hobbies - Musician - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Up North
Posts: 540
Good Answers: 30
#50
In reply to #36

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/15/2011 8:08 AM

Depending on which night it is, some of us can be like these guys...

__________________
Steve of the North...since 1962.
Reply
Guru
United States - Member - USA! Hobbies - Musician - Sound Man Engineering Fields - Mechanical Engineering - More than a Hobby Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member

Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: City of Roses.
Posts: 2056
Good Answers: 99
#51
In reply to #50

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/15/2011 11:32 AM

Yep, I'd say that's a fairly accurate representation of what we all looked like trying to cross into the US from Canada.

__________________
Don't believe everything you read on the Internet!
Reply
Guru
Canada - Member - New Member Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member Hobbies - Musician - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Up North
Posts: 540
Good Answers: 30
#55
In reply to #51

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/16/2011 8:34 AM

No wonder...two open violations and one probable cause. Didn't even give yourself a chance, didja? Blame it on our beer!

__________________
Steve of the North...since 1962.
Reply
Power-User
Canada - Member -

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Canada
Posts: 435
Good Answers: 4
#28
In reply to #26

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/14/2011 10:30 AM

Sorry for your bad experience.

Was that Quebec city or the Quebec province in general? I know Quebec city can be pretty very "anal" when it comes to language but say, Montreal, would should not give you a hard time about it.

Even though I am of french speaking origin, and I do understand the need to 'keep the culture', I will never understand the reasoning behind such impoliteness (if that is a word).

It's too bad as there are so many beautiful places to visit up here....

__________________
Handle every stressful situation like a dog. If you can't eat it or play with it, just pee on it and walk away. - unknown.
Reply Off Topic (Score 4)
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 719
Good Answers: 25
#23

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/14/2011 6:58 AM

Hi all, I would really like to thank all of you who have given me a "good answer" mark!

Truthfully, it really surprised me. My rant was not at all to solicit marks, only to
answer the question, and explain how border controls have genuinely affected me.

While I do not expect a gold star (or to go to the top of the class) I do admit to
being flattered at your response! Thank you all. (never had such fame!)

jt.

I went to the doctor, to explain I was going a little deaf.

He asked me, "what are the symptoms?"

I said "an American cartoon family."

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 719
Good Answers: 25
#37

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/14/2011 12:56 PM

If it were possible to get a law passed that customs are required to notify
the owner of property (e.g. car clothes etc.) that a "search" will be completed,
and that after the search, the owner will have the option to retain the goods,
or be paid an agreed sum for i) the total value of the goods. ii) damage done.

The elderly couple (for example) could say this vehicle and contents cost us $xxxx.
(This is noted in writing, and signed by both the couple and customs.) and then
they have the right to accept the goods back, or be paid the money on the spot.

A law such as this would achieve a lot.
1. Although it's not their money, customs would think more than once before
damaging, or leaving other people's property "unusable."
(supervisors would certainly be told to watch unnecessarily created expenses!)

2. Travellers, although still inconvenienced, (and there is no way round this) could
"walk away" with a cash sum and leave "the mess" for the perpetrators to put right
and remove. (the "waste" - probably ending up at auction, cents to the dollar)

3. This would make customs "accountable" for their actions. They still do not need
just cause to do what they do, (i..e they can still do whatever they wish to) but,
their obligation to immediately recompense the suffers should give them reason to
have at least some consideration for any damage they do, even it they believe it is
necessary.

4. Naturally, if the "suffers" are bad guys and e.g. drugs are found, any payment
then becomes void. (provided the owners are charged with an offence.)

I haven't given a lot of thought to this so there may be flaws in it, but I definitely
think customs accountability is the answer to the issue. (contact congressmen)

Classic case of knocking over the little guy one by one. (united we stand.)

jt.

A Tortoise is mugged by 6 snails. Police officer says "tell me about it". Tortoise replies
"difficult to say - it all happened so quickly."

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 1294
Good Answers: 35
#38
In reply to #37

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/14/2011 1:12 PM

In general, it sounds like a step in the right direction--worthy of consideration.

Of course, then you will find the customs agents with small bits of things like marijuana to "plant" when "necessary".

Reply
Guru
Canada - Member - New Member Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member Hobbies - Musician - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Up North
Posts: 540
Good Answers: 30
#40
In reply to #38

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/14/2011 2:19 PM

Hmmm, usually it takes far fewer posts on a theme like this to reference a conspiracy....

__________________
Steve of the North...since 1962.
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 1294
Good Answers: 35
#42
In reply to #40

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/14/2011 2:29 PM

Sorry for the delay ;-)

Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Guru
Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member Engineering Fields - Marine Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Vancleave, Ms about 30 miles inland from Biloxi and the coast
Posts: 3198
Good Answers: 105
#46

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/14/2011 2:57 PM

Back in 1992, I had been working in Quebec as a contractor to their Navy. I was there for 3 months and when the job was over, I returned to the U.S. I had accumulated a lot of stuff (a pickup truck's worth). Everything was packed carefully for the long trip to California. As I approached the border crossing, I was struck by the fear of being searched and having my carefully packed truck torn apart. I stopped; the agent took my passport, went inside, came back out, asked me why I had been in Canada, took a cursory look at my carefully packed truck and told me "welcome to the U.S.", returned my passport and waved me on my way.

__________________
Mr.Ron from South Ms.
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Surrey BC Canada
Posts: 1571
Good Answers: 40
#52

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/15/2011 11:22 PM

Now that we have all spouted off, I wonder what the next crossing will be like!

Reference to the Vancouver Sun articles.

The pen can be mighty!

http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Banished+border+Canadians+ensnared+customs+hassles+post/4782534/story.html (Sorry! Link no longer available.)

http://www.vancouversun.com/news/lifts+border+North+Vancouver/4810453/story.html (Sorry! Link no longer available.)

http://www.vancouversun.com/pdf/Document2.pdf

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 859
Good Answers: 33
#53
In reply to #52

Re: Do You Take Your Car Over the Border?

06/15/2011 11:47 PM

It is obvious that these people are doing everything back-ass-wards--First--Fly to Mexico--Burn, or bury all of your past, and present papers. Make sure you are TOTALLY UNDOCUMENTED!! (Most important)--Now, find a coyote, and get yourself smuggled across the border (That is one of the easiest things you will do). Once in the country, you will now be able to file for food stamps, welfare, Title 9 housing, free HealthCare, an ACLU attorney to help mitigate any problems you have, and they will link you up to another attorney, who will monitor any "Abuses", so that you can sue the United States, for... What? Let's see.. Discrimination, Abuse, being Transgender or Transsexual and being discriminated against, (Actually used quite a bit), leaving a Country that committing genocide (Lots of those), or lack of Freedom of Speech (Lots of those)--You get the point--Only Law abiding citizens are the ones that are left to mess with. They are the last standing to impose taxes on their homes, cars, other property, insurance, school fees, local fees, dog licenses, cat licenses (True), and a myriad of other use and consumption fees--If Illegal---All is good--Via Con Dios, mi Amigos...

Reply
Reply to Blog Entry 55 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be Good Answers:

These comments received enough positive ratings to make them "good answers".

Comments rated to be "almost" Good Answers:

Check out these comments that don't yet have enough votes to be "official" good answers and, if you agree with them, rate them!
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

Andy Germany (3); Apothicus (8); C-Mac (2); ChaoticIntellect (1); dbaer52 (6); Del the cat (1); Envelope Guy (1); Fredski (2); GW (2); Holzfeller (2); jt (3); ky (1); marcot (1); PWSlack (1); rhkramer (5); Rick@cae (1); ronseto (4); RVZ717 (5); Steve of the North (6)

Previous in Blog: Corvette Rumor Watch: Small V8 Turbo for C7?   Next in Blog: GM Wants You to Pay More for Gas

Advertisement