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Thread: Seeking info from quilters who live OUTSIDE the US

  1. #1
    Super Member Favorite Fabrics's Avatar
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    Seeking info from quilters who live OUTSIDE the US

    I'm looking for information from quilters outside the US, who buy fabric and have it shipped to in from the US.

    I think that most of the time, stores are shipping using the flat-rate USPS Priority Mail envelopes. And historically those have been the most economical method... at least, until USPS raised its rates on Sunday.

    Since the envelopes cost so much more to ship now, I thought that maybe it was time to talk to that friendly FedEx salesman who keeps trying to steal our business away from the Post Office.

    What an interesting meeting we just had! It turns out that maybe the USPS flat-rate envelopes aren't really the best choice for the customer's bottom line. (Though they are the least expensive, from the seller's perspective.)

    FedEx has flat-rate international envelopes, and they offer a couple of features that USPS doesn't: they are automatically insured for up to $100, and (more importantly) they are fully trackable. Also, they should be delivered faster. They do cost more to ship, but all brokerage charges are included in the shipping cost for these envelopes. Only duty & taxes remain to be collected on the receiving end.

    So I asked Mr. FedEx, what about the $5 cross-border administrative fee that CanadaPost collects on our USPS shipments? He said, there's no additional fee if you ship FedEx. Just duty/HST/GST/PST. (CanadaPost would also collect the identical duty/taxes on USPS shipments.)

    Then I asked him, what about shipments to the UK? Royal Mail collects a hefty 8 Customs Clearance fee when they deliver those USPS envelopes. What do you charge? He said, there's no additional fee. Just duty/VAT. (And Royal Mail would charge the exact same duty/VAT.)

    Hmmm.... it seems to me, that even with the slightly greater cost of sending the FedEx envelopes, the Canadian customer would come out ahead a few dollars by offsetting a portion of the $5 cross-border fee. And the UK customer would come out much further ahead, because though it would cost about $4 more to send a FedEx envelope, avoiding the 8 Customs Clearance fee (which is about 12.50 USD today)... well, you can do the math.

    Am I missing something here? Or is FedEx really a better deal?

    IMHO I think that even the trackability is worth a paying a little extra for (if you're a worrier).

    I'd sure appreciate the thoughts of the international quilting community on this issue. Thank you, in advance!

  2. #2
    Senior Member fatquarters's Avatar
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    Ok, I think I can give a bit of an opinion here. I am in Canada and actually work for Canada post, so I have a bit of experience with customers on the receiving end.

    I really like the flat rate UPSP envelopes. They are sturdy and because they are flat rate, many customers tend to be able to stuff them pretty good. But they are not trackable and no insurance are the only flaws that I can see. But as a buyer they are not that expensive for me. If you charge me actual postage I am a pretty happy camper. AND I have rarely seen any loss or damage to these packages, although that's always a possibility. I would not be too upset if the fee has gone up a bit and would still be happy with this service.

    I have had very few items come through my office using FedEx so hate to comment on their service or prices.

    Now as for brokerage fees and taxes, Sometimes, depending on the value of the item, the Canadian customs attaches collections fees to cross boarder parcel. There is an $8 fee (up from5) as well as taxes and/or duty that is collected by Canada post. I suspect that this same fee WILL be applied by FEDex, although its possible the $8 could be different, but the customs duty and taxes will have to be added no matter who the carrier is.

    UPS, collects fees as well and their rates are so crazy that I refuse to buy if that is the only method of shipment.

    If there are REALLY no extra fees with FedEx it might be an option.

    If you have any other questions PM me, it's too bad we couldn't do a test! LOL
    fatquarters

  3. #3
    Senior Member annesthreads's Avatar
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    I'm in the UK. I'd never heard of the 8 Customs Clearance Fee, but have just looked it up - I must have paid it on the one parcel that got stopped by Customs and had duty charged on it. That's the big issue for me when buying from the States - if the value of the parcel is declared at more than 25-30 dollars, duty - and apparently this 8 - is likely to be charged, so there's a choice of restricting the amount of fabric to 2-3 yards (probably less now, with all the price increases), so not getting as much as possible into the envelope to get best value from the flat rate; or risking extra charges that make it so expensive it's not worth the effort.
    The smaller amounts usually get through without any duty, VAT etc being charged.
    Using a different carrier wouldn't get over the duty problem - I think it would only be helpful for me if they charged less than the prepaid envelope for the smaller amounts of fabric.

  4. #4
    Junior Member beaniekins's Avatar
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    I'm in Canada. I generally avoid purchasing things that are shipped via FedEx because of the brokerage fees involved. My husband once purchased a $10 cell phone battery that was shipped via FedEx and ended up having to pay $40 in brokerage fees before he was able to get posession of it. He asked around and apparently this is not uncommon at all. I know that Canada post sometimes charges taxes on items that are shipped here, but I get a lot of packages through the post and have only ever had to pay taxes on two things. I much prefer Canada Post (and USPS) over FedEx.

  5. #5
    Super Member Favorite Fabrics's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by annesthreads View Post
    I'm in the UK. I'd never heard of the 8 Customs Clearance Fee, but have just looked it up - I must have paid it on the one parcel that got stopped by Customs and had duty charged on it. That's the big issue for me when buying from the States - if the value of the parcel is declared at more than 25-30 dollars, duty - and apparently this 8 - is likely to be charged, so there's a choice of restricting the amount of fabric to 2-3 yards (probably less now, with all the price increases), so not getting as much as possible into the envelope to get best value from the flat rate; or risking extra charges that make it so expensive it's not worth the effort.
    The smaller amounts usually get through without any duty, VAT etc being charged.
    Using a different carrier wouldn't get over the duty problem - I think it would only be helpful for me if they charged less than the prepaid envelope for the smaller amounts of fabric.
    I think that the 8 fee is Royal Mail's "commission" for going through the trouble of delivering the package and the time spent collecting the VAT. Duty would be a separate issue. I'd read a few years back (on the HRM Customs website): "As of December 1, 2008, shipments valued at less than 105 are not subject to the Customs fee."

    It's all so complicated! And for the customers on the receiving end, I'm not sure that they understand what the various charges are for. So, in essence, a customer could be over- or under-charged, and they would not know, because they're not clear on what the rules are, anyway.

  6. #6
    Super Member Favorite Fabrics's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by beaniekins View Post
    I'm in Canada. I generally avoid purchasing things that are shipped via FedEx because of the brokerage fees involved. My husband once purchased a $10 cell phone battery that was shipped via FedEx and ended up having to pay $40 in brokerage fees before he was able to get posession of it. He asked around and apparently this is not uncommon at all. I know that Canada post sometimes charges taxes on items that are shipped here, but I get a lot of packages through the post and have only ever had to pay taxes on two things. I much prefer Canada Post (and USPS) over FedEx.
    I asked Mr. Fedex, and what he said was that the brokerage fees only applied to ground shipments into Canada. The Priority shipments (including their flat-rate envelopes) were all-inclusive, no brokerage fees apply. I was particularly concerned about this, because I learned the hard way that if the recipient (in Canada) refuses to pay the brokerage fee, it bounces back to us. At the time this happened, I did not know that there would be a brokerage fee. Actually, this was so early on in my business that I didn't yet know that there was such a thing as a brokerage fee. I learned fast, that's for sure!

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    I Live In new Zealand and buy 75% of my fabric from USA Last week I put a order into a very well known Fabric sho, I saw in ther brochure that it would cost me $15 for a flate rate (this is the usual rate) but this time I had to pay $22, has your postage gone up THAT much,

  8. #8
    Super Member EasyPeezy's Avatar
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    I live in Canada and prefer the flat rate USPS. Having said that, I'm not sure
    how Connecting Threads ship their fabric but it's one of the cheapest options.
    Last time (Dec 2011) I ordered 18 yards of fabric from them and the cost of
    shipping was $12.99 + $4.75 for duty& taxes. Anyone knows? It came in a
    small box. I should pay more attention next time.

  9. #9
    Super Member tjradj's Avatar
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    I'm in Canada and I really have to think twice and do the math before I order anything online. Sometimes I only need $15-$20 worth of merchandise. Then the shipping is also $15-$20 making the deal a NO deal. I also like to keep my LQS in business. They're there when we need that one spool of thread to finish a project, or when they have their terrific special sale days, or need machine maintenance. I sure would not want to depend on mail order for that. You may get things next day or in two days stateside, but the minimum time for receiving a pkg from the US is at least 10 days. IMHO.
    I used to be "hot", now it's just "hot flashes!"

  10. #10
    Member SoSewSue's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Favorite Fabrics View Post
    I think that the 8 fee is Royal Mail's "commission" for going through the trouble of delivering the package and the time spent collecting the VAT. Duty would be a separate issue. I'd read a few years back (on the HRM Customs website): "As of December 1, 2008, shipments valued at less than 105 are not subject to the Customs fee."
    You are absolutely correct, the 8 Royal Mail fee is the fee they charge for charging the duty. Yes, you read the right, I pay them 8 because they charged me customs duty. Aaarrgh. However, whether you get charged this fee & duty is a bit hit and miss depending upon how diligent they are feeling in checking packages and what exchange rate they are using that day to calculate the value. Honestly, I don't get charged nearly as often as I "technically" should get charged. (I always factor it into my 'budget' and consider it a bonus if they dont charge it).

    As to shipping speed, my experience is, that almost any courier is faster than USPS to the UK. Have no idea why - must have something to do with how they clear their international orders. Strangely USPS orders from Oregon/Wisconsin-ish part of the US are much faster than anything from the Eastern seaboard-ish part.

    Keep in mind I probably only get 6-8 orders or so from the US in a year so my sampling size is not statistically significant!

    -Sue in London, UK

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