Just to complete the information loop, I did order a small item from Freestyle. It was despatched on 1st May and arrived today, 15th May.
So, about a fortnight door to door, which seems pretty good to me.
Unfortunately I have been hit with "customs charges" which added 30% to the cost: actually, only about £4 for "customs" but another £8 on top of that for the luxury of having RM collect the £4. This somehow is harder to swallow now they've been privatised ...
Still, I'd allowed for that, and am happy enough. It's not something I intend to make a habit of, but I wanted something particular on this occasion.
I'm not sure how if I had a friend send it I could avoid paying duty or handling charges, but if you're still following the thread Ian, perhaps you could advise?
It's very hit & miss whether Duty and VAT are added to items, it seems to vary with the airports and customs hubs. I'm told that you can have a line added to a package to indicate you will pay the Duty & VAT which means the Post Office or other service can't charge you for the handling fee but I'm not sure of the wording.
I tend only to get friends to post from the US where a seller won't post abroad or their charges are prohibitive, I've done the reverse where minimum orders for International postage means it's not economic
Also I mainly buy off private individuals in the US so non commercial packaging etc and they always declare the correct value, expect once. I bought a 10x8 camera where the idiot seller decided that it would be better to bump up the value for insurance reasons in case there was a claim, I paid more duties than I should have as a result. Had I been in the UK at the time it arrived I could have claimed it back as the completed listing was still showing on ebay and I had the Paypal receipt, I arrived home just after the deadline to claim.
There's a nasty new system where US sellers, shops as well as on ebay, collect the Duty & VAT at the time of sale and they charge extra to do this and postal charges are also high, effectively this wipes out any potential savings on film etc from B&H. So much for the free market.
It is very much a lottery - I've had stuff from non-EU Europe, as well as HK, mainland China, Japan and Korea, and at all sorts of values (a couple much higher than this one) arrive without any intervention by HM ...