I've been raped by this BS a few times also. The worst was when they asked me for $80 brokerage on an item that THEY BROKE IN TRANSIT.
Lately however it seems things have changed, or I just happened to have real good luck. I imported a $250 LBV from the States and UPS actually called me to ask who my broker was. Since I didn't have one I asked what my options were. One was to have them do it, which I promptly rejected. The second was to do it myself. I went to the UPS office, drove a few blocks to the customs office with the UPS paperwork, paid my taxes after telling them what it was, went back and got my parcel. Piece of cake.
The next time I had something come UPS was a massive bulk order of those cheap plastic PASGT helmets from eHobbyAsia. I'd ordered sixty of them and they came in two large cardboard boxes, unbeknownst to me by UPS. I had them held for pickup and went to get them at the sortation plant after UPS did the brokerage themselves. Bear in mind this was a four-figure order so I made sure to bring a liter of KY. I think my heart skipped a beat when I read they had only charged me some $15 total for everything. Not only that, but the second box came a couple of days later and they'd be closed by the time I was available to come get it, so they put it aside for me and said "Oh sure, just come down anytime and we'll let someone in the plant know you're coming to get it." I showed up at like 9 pm and got it without a hassle at all. Color me impressed.
On the whole I agree, USPS/CP, FedEx, Purolator are far superior. FedEx has charged me brokerage on occasion but certainly nowhere near what UPS has.