Consider all costs when buying from overseas

27 Mar 12 10:00AM EST
Post by Matthew Steen  Matthew Steen Google Plus
Normally I buy shoes in Australia but I was buying a present for my sister, and a shoe she really likes is only found in Canada. Seeing as the Aussie dollar is doing so well, it seemed logical to buy a pair from overseas and have them sent over. Turns out this was a large assumption to make in terms of costs.

To send a pair of shoes from Canada to Sydney cost me just under $50. If I tack that onto a pair of shoes sourced from an Australian store, I'm paying just under $10 less than the equivalent local retail price. But given that I put in about an hour of emailing, ordering and organising in general, I'd say I'm financially behind on the deal. If these shoes had been available in Australia, I'd have been silly to source them from Canada.

In addition to that, they took around six weeks to get here because the company I sourced them from was difficult to navigate, both in terms of customer service and their website. The shoe company doesn't actually send to Australia, so I had to send them to a carrier in the USA, and from there onto Australia.

Believe it or not, the quickest part of this service was getting from the USA to Australia. It was the Canadian-USA section that took five weeks.

The moral of this story is to think twice before you decide to purchase overseas. Bulky items like shoes, as opposed to electronics, will cost you more in postage. The exception is if you’re doing a bulk order - which is unlikely for the average consumer.

Also, target websites that can supply International postage - the more middle men through the process, the more it will cost, and the bigger the potential that the process will break down somewhere.

Finally, see if there is any way to source the item locally. If you’re making only a marginal saving, you could be saving yourself a lot of hassle by going local rather than international. Let the local retailers deal with the middle men and support them rather than getting the short shrift from an international supplier.

Have you had any annoying experiences with an international retailer? Any hints for those trying to take advantage of the dollar?

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