Costly Shipping Charges from U.S. to Canada - Steve Saunders Goldwing Forums

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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-06-2009, 09:27 AM Thread Starter
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This is the first time that I have ordered motorcycle parts from the U.S. I bought these parts through Cheap Cycle I received the parts within days, no problems, good service, smooth transaction.

One order was sent through the mail, value of $56.00 U.S. dollars. The other order was sent through U.P.S. (United Parcel Service), value of $405.00 U.S. dollars. I have no idea why they were shipped through two different carriers . Both parcels arrived on the same day.

U.P.S. charged me a $60.00 brokerage fee and $60.00 G.S.T. (goods and services tax here in Canada.)

For those of you not living in Canada, if I had purchased the parts through Honda in Canada, I would have paid G.S.T. also, just one of our taxes. The parts are more expensive here through Honda Canada.

My brother tells me that he orders parts all the time from the U.S. and receives them through the mail, U.P.S., or FedEx. He has never paid a brokerage fee or G.S.T.

So what’s going on here, does anyone have any idea? Has this happened to anyone else? Are charges applied to purchases over a certain dollar amount?

Feedback please!
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-06-2009, 10:06 AM
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It all has to do with importing and customs.

Technically speaking, you are engaging in international trade and you are an importer.

I work in shipping but I deal with ocean shipments, and I haven't done any U.S./Canada work. But I can try to talk about the basics.

Normally, when goods leave the U.S. documentation must be done and submitted to the U.S. government declaring the export. Likewise when goods come into the U.S. they must be declared. Part of this process is to calculate and pay import duty, if reqired. Canada customs would have a similar process, but I do not know the details of it.

It is also normal practice for shipments for an importer to hire a customs broker to handle this process for them.

UPS and FEDEX are both primarily carriers, however they both have customsbroker divisions. So when they carry goods internationally, they can handle the customs brokerage for you. You of course have the right to designate another customs broker. If you do that, they would notify your chosen customs broker of your shipment and then they would hold your shipment until your customs broker completed the process. Then they would complete the delivery.

Now while the process is mandatory, some goods/shipments may be exempt. I don't have experience in this area so I don't know how it is triggered so that they know when to process customs and when not to. I can say, however, that it has to do with the way the shipment is documented/and declaredwhen it is sent. Value will also be an important consideration.

I assume, but can't say for certain, that shipments going by mail instead of by a commercial carrier are not triggering this process because the post office isn't in the customs brokerage business. In that case, it is your responsiblity to know if it needs to be declared so that you can pay the proper taxes on it.

Failure on your part, may be unnoticed. I don't know how your government looks at these things. Honestly I have never done mail order from Canada, so I don't even know how my government looks at it.

We have a similar problem within the United States, with interstate mail order. Each state, county and city determines their own sales tax rates. Some places don't have any sales tax, and some have low rates and some have higher rates. When ordering by mail order, sales tax is collected only if the buyer and the seller are in the same tax area. I am in Virginia, and if I order something from North Carolina the seller doesn't collect sales tax. But Virginia expects me to pay it. It is my responsiblity to pay this tax to Virginia, and they give me a chance to do so each year when I do my income taxes. I have never met anyone that has actually paid this tax on mail order purchases. It is hard to enforce and I would suspect it isn't enforced.

Further I suspect you may have a similar situation that the stuff you got by mail may not have an enforcement system set up and is simply falling through the cracks.


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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-06-2009, 10:28 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Wolfman, very interesting. My brother always did have better luck than me! He has never paid these fees.

I was just talking to the postman a minute ago. He just delivered my B/O part. No charges. He seemed to think it may be due to the parts not being manufactured in the U.S., or items valued above $25.00. Let’s see what others have experienced.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-06-2009, 10:39 AM
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If you do a bit of Googling you will find that most couriers nail canadians with exorbitant fees. DO NOT LET THEM SHIP BY COURIER. USPS is fine.

I believe there is a class action lawsuit over the abuse. Don't hold your breath waiting for our elected officials to do anything about it.

I believe there is a way of avoiding the fees through UPS but it has to do with some internal routing at UPS.

Canadians living near the border often have US ship to addesses and go across once and a while to pick-up.

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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-06-2009, 11:45 AM
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When I lived in Canada, I made SURE that anyone in the US I bought from, shipped to me using USPS. UPS and Fedex (UPS, particularly) charge exorbitant "customs fees" that often exceed the cost of the shipping itself.

Regular mail gets the job done, without the ridiculous profit fees charged by UPS.

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-06-2009, 01:25 PM
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I also was charged a brokerage fee when I had a seat shipped via UPS - the brokerage fee was pretty much the cost of the seat. Now when I purchase anything - I have it shipped USPS - occasionaly Canada Customs charges a fee based on value - however their inspection(brokerage) fee is only $6 ( or has been in the past). If it is something I can wait for I usually have it shipped to a friend's place in Montana , the reduced shipping cost usually cover's the price of the beer + gives me a good excuse to go for a ride.

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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-06-2009, 01:47 PM
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I have shipped a few things to Canada, and I learned from the first guy I shipped to, he told me to ship USPS. I've done it that way ever since.

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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-06-2009, 05:49 PM
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I always ask people shipping me things from the U.S to Canada to send by U.S Postal Service. I also ask them to declare a low value or mark as a gift if they don't mind doing so.

The only draw back is that sometimes things get held up in Canada customs for up to 3 weeks. Had this happen on several occasions now. So if you don't mind waiting sometimes, it's the cheapest way to go.

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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-06-2009, 06:44 PM
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We had the same experience with our website, that's why we can only offer free shipping to the U.S. We would offer it to everyone if we were able, I promise, it's nothing personal

However, whenever we ship to Canada, we always use U.S.P.S.

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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-06-2009, 06:50 PM
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I was planning to start a thread to share my woes on this exact topic.

I bought a pair of Harley mufflers on E-Bay for US$40. Paid US$42 for shipping. Then got whacked with $37.55 for brokerage fees courtesty of UPS.

I won't be using UPS again!!

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