Dear sewists of the world,
Does it happen to you too? You budget for an online purchase, pay the high cost of shipping internationally… and then BOOM! You get hit with customs and brokerage fees when it arrives?
I recently bought $70CAD (That’s $50US) of fabric, and paid $40CAD ($30US) to have it shipped to Canada. When it arrived, UPS charged me $43 more to receive it! That’s suddenly some expensive fabric.
You guys shared all kinds of similar stories with me when I complained on Instagram, so i thought it would be a good conversation to bring to the blog.
Here’s what I gathered from our IG discussion:
- Customs fees are usually random, which lures us into complacency
- Fees have stopped some of you from ordering online
- Customs fees are generally a percentage of the value, once the value is over a certain amount. In my case, it was over $20, and I paid about $13 on the $70 value.
- HOWEVER, your shipping company may charge brokerage fees for their trouble. (I don’t think it’s really all that hard for them…) On this package, $30 of what I was charged just goes to UPS, who I already paid $40 to ship my bloody package.
- Consensus is that USPS (aka. the US national post service) is the best way to avoid brokerage fees, at least for Canadians. You may still get charged customs fees, but not the expensive brokerage fees.
Here’s the challenge though – USPS would have costed me $13 more than UPS. I haven’t been charged customs on my last 3 or 4 packages, so that $13 would add up quickly to be more than what I paid UPS. On the other hand, I don’t begrudge paying my country some customs fees, but I hate paying a huge corporation who was patronizing to me on the phone when I called for an explanation. Should I pay more for shipping each time, to avoid the surprise charges from time to time?
I’d love to hear about shipping costs and fees to your country: What has been your experience, and what is your best solution?