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Shipping to Canada

Worth the effort?

8:48 pm on Jul 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I'm going to assume a lot of you folks are like me - you're in the USA and ship to the USA.

For those that have done a lot of shipping to Canada, has it been worth the hassles?

Timeframe to get packages delivered (postal service)?

Fraud problems due to address verification?

9:11 pm on July 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I get an occasional order from Canada and have had zero problems. The shipping cost is not very much more than a USA order so I don't even charge extra for it. Only takes an extra minute to fill out the customs form.
10:23 pm on July 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I get calls from Canadians who want to order from my site. I explain to them as politely as possible that I can't take credit cards from banks outside the US, but I will accept PayPal. (PayPal will back me as long as I ship to the address they have on the account).

I also explain that the shipping is going to cost $10 more, which they don't have a problem with. After all, they're getting a deal with the exchange rate.

Where I do run into problems is when they order an item from my site that's restricted from export (certain items are deemed "weapons of war" by the State Department). The customer insists that someretailer.com will send them the item, to which I say, "then buy it from them, and you'll both be arrrested."

11:24 pm on July 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

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It's been fine here. But, we use trucking companies which will quote for complete delivery, brokers fees, import fees etc. to be paid before shipment.

Our payment processor won't match name and address on international cards, so we call and ask for the phone number on the back of the card, and call the bank to verify name and address. This has not been a problem.

For UPS who likes to collect fees on the customers end it's trickier. Mainly because you have to explain to the customer this possibility and how much it may be. Which is a major time consumer, and worry if there are any delivery incidents on the other end, broker bills coming back or your account getting charged if the customer is not around, the list goes on and on.

2:18 am on July 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I'm from Canada and I order tons of stuff from the US. My only advice is do it, and ship using USPS or FedEx, avoid UPS like the plague. That ought to do it :-)
6:03 pm on July 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Canadians seem to love a few of my customers. :-)

The only "hassle" is you need to fill out a declaration form when shipping to Canada. If you use the USPS API for calculating postage on Checkout, Priority Mail International, Express, and Parcel Post still apply and are calculated pretty accurately.

The down-side: you can't add insurance or delivery confirmation in another country, but have had zero problems as a result.

You can now use standard priority mail packaging for international priority mail, and since the difference is 7-14 business days instead of 3-6 weeks, most Canadians select priority.

9:28 pm on July 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I use PayPal, which does away with the exchange and payment issues. Not only do I go to Canada, but all over the world. When you do postage through the site, it's actually petty easy. Not much worse than the US stuff. I use to try and avoid foreign stuff, because I thought it was a hassle and worried about problems. But it actually works surprisingly well. You get people whining about the duty fees, but not much you can do about that. Some people ask to have the value lowered, but I will only do that once in a while. I usually tell them they like to hold stuff that has a low value, then that usually makes them say forget it, because they don't want to wait longer. Which is actually true, because I've noticed stuff that was valued low seems to disappear for a while. I think they just get ticked if they're not making any money. My only problem is countries where they have the shorter max length. Most of Europe is 60". Many countries are 42" though. I have to flat out turn people down from those countries because there's no affordable way to ship that I have found. The other carriers want 5-6 times what the PO wants. I asked them why the size is different, and they just said it's up to the service that delivers on the other end. But unfortunately I've lost numerous sales from that.
11:07 pm on July 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

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avoid UPS like the plague. That ought to do it :-)

I contract with UPS -- exclusively. I second this motion. UPS wants me to get a Customs and Brokerage Account which will calculate a second rate for any taxes, tariffs, and customs fees which are in addition to the freight charges. Right now, without the account, these are all assessed on an individual order basis and charged COD to the customer -- anyone buying from me is made aware of this problem up front as they cannot process the order on the website and must call in. It usually kills the order for me, save for a few items which can only be purchased through me.

Unfortunately, my rates with UPS are very, very competitive and the cost of switching services or implementing the account prohibitive. This has kept me from offering services to Canadians; this was a big decision for me when the $US and $CA were trading at near par, especially as I have facilities in several border states.

First Data and PayFlow Pro work fine for taking card payments and allow International AVS verification, so payment and currency conversion are negligible problems. My StarShip API for UPS works well for the labels, including return service. Only problems are the taxes, tariffs, and customs fees which I am completely blind to and cannot provide to the customer, even an estimate. Sucks.

11:47 pm on July 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

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For those that have done a lot of shipping to Canada, has it been worth the hassles?

Absolutely, but we make note for international customers that their billing/shipping must match. This helps to cut back on fraud. We also run GEO IP checks and double check them very closely.

It seems that most International/Canadian orders' sizes are substantially higher than those placed within the US... so they've been well worth the extra effort.


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