Ebay shipping restriction
July 18, 2005 3:48 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for a way toget around an Ebay seller country restrictrion. Basicly i need an item to be shipped to Canada and the seller will only ship to the United States... I have offered to cover customs fee if any and take care of the shiping details without any succes. what are my options now ? Are there other alternative ? re-mailing services ? PO boxes ? I am sure many people in here have been frustrated before by a similar situation and maybe someone has a better idea than going down there.
posted by selfsck to Shopping (19 answers total)
The term is Amerifriend :) My girlfriend has had spiteful sellers who won't accept shipping to a US address with bidpay payment just because she asked them to ship to Canada before suggesting the alternate arrangement. It sometimes seems to be political...
bidpay never used to have the international credit card problems paypal used to have. I have been out of touch for a while so those things may have changed.

Sorry I can't be your amerifriend, maybe somebody else will help...
posted by Chuckles at 4:00 PM on July 18, 2005


I'm in Australia and I've been using them to buy stuff from Amazon that could only be shipped within the US. (And to greatly reduce postage costs when the company only wants to ship UPS Express internationally -- Frankly, the Australian postal service is better than all these high-profile US courier services like UPS and Fedex)
posted by krisjohn at 4:00 PM on July 18, 2005

If the seller already set up the auction to exclude Canada and has received a bid, the auction cannot be changed.
posted by mischief at 4:26 PM on July 18, 2005

mischief, can't you still get a 'normal' account with a Canadian credit card? I'm pretty sure I can bid on any american auction, but my account is ancient, so it might have changed.
posted by Chuckles at 4:37 PM on July 18, 2005

Fantastic link krisjohn, thanks. It should save me a lot on postage.
posted by lucien at 4:45 PM on July 18, 2005

If the seller already set up the auction to exclude Canada and has received a bid, the auction cannot be changed.

The seller can cancel the bid. In fact I'm sure postage options are editable after bidding has begun.

Chuckles - any user can bid on any auction, it is whether the seller will ship to you that is the problem. It's usually fear and ignorance of international shipping that is the problem.

Your best bet is to try and reason with the seller. For what it's worth, the only problems I have ever had with buying or selling on eBay have been with headstrong, ignorant and arrogant Americans. I would compose a nice email, explain your position, how much you want the item, and how you will make it as easy as possible and cover every cost. If that doesn't work then you are left with those remailer services.

I've had this problem a few times. On a number of occasions I have been able to persuade the seller to offer international shipping, but I've never gone as far as using these remailers - too many variables. Now I just avoid looking at any other eBay site so I cannot find items that I can't have shipped to me :)
posted by fire&wings at 4:45 PM on July 18, 2005

If the seller already set up the auction to exclude Canada and has received a bid, the auction cannot be changed.

True, but you can add any Ebay user as an approved bidder on an particular auction, and they'll be able to bid even if they are in Canada or whatever.

The easiest solution is to simply buy from another seller who is willing to ship to Canada. If you can't find one, post on Want It Now.
posted by kindall at 4:56 PM on July 18, 2005

any user can bid on any auction

No, the seller can exclude certain countries and so forth and eBay will enforce these restrictions. Except, as I mentioned, you can pre-approve anyone you want and they'll be able to bid even if they would otherwise be blocked.

I am one of those "headstrong, ignorant and arrogant Americans" who won't ship to other countries except in very unsual circumstances. I've had enough problems with bidders who want me to lie about the value of the merchandise for customs and get all bent out of shape when I won't, thanks.
posted by kindall at 4:58 PM on July 18, 2005

Kindall: Sellers can exclude countries - for instance if you exclude bidders in the UK then I won't find your listing via ebay.co.uk, but I can browse and bid on your listing via ebay.com. I presume selfsck is talking about purchasing from other ebay domains. I have bid and won items from ebay.de and ebay.ca in the past - on listings sold only to their respective countries - after persuading them that shipping internationally to a bidder who is a keen collector of their merchandise is a good idea. That's because I regularly search ebay's other domains for what I am looking for.

Whatever, the best idea is to communicate with the seller.
posted by fire&wings at 5:24 PM on July 18, 2005

Since kindall brought it up I will offer this shipping to Canada from the US tutorial...

I have had good luck asking some sellers to ship to "Toronto" rather than "Canada". I don't know weather there is a psychological disassociation with politics, if they think the shipping will work better to a major centre, or if they are just too dumb to realize that we are in a different country, but you might be able to make use of that tactic...
posted by Chuckles at 5:30 PM on July 18, 2005

I ship products to Canada pretty regularly, and haven't had any trouble, as long as I use the Post office and choose global express or global priority services. Perhaps if you email the seller and send him the link to the post office page, he can see that it's not a significantly difficult process. It is a little more hassle than shipping domestically, because the shipper has to fill out a customs form, and is legally required to state the value of the item(s) on those forms...but customs fee (if any) is collected on your end, not the shipper.

The process for shipping isn't nearly as difficult as many people think it will be. That said, I think some items (I don't know what you're trying to buy) are prohibited from being shipped cross-border...so it may be a legal aspect and not a "I fear the Canooks" thing.
posted by dejah420 at 5:57 PM on July 18, 2005

Any suggestions for the flip side of this? How can I get around online retailers in the UK who won't ship to the US?
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:59 PM on July 18, 2005

I made some money selling Red Dwarf books back in the day because of that problem Faint of Butt. They weren't printed in the US. :)
posted by Chuckles at 9:27 PM on July 18, 2005

Here's the situation with sellers that won't ship to your country:

1. eBay will allow you to bid but will include an additional "This seller does not ship to your country... are you sure you want to bid?" question before taking your bid. As a result, you cannot use sniping services.

2. Even if your seller agrees to sell to you, you may have a problem when you win the auction: Paypal now allows users to restrict incoming money (I have no idea why someone would enable this). As a result, if you were planning on paying with PP, it may be very difficult to convince the seller to disable this "feature" if'n they have it enabled. (And it's *very* hard to bring up the topic without scaring a newbie or someone who was hesitant to deal with a Canadian in the first place.)

That said:

a. I have had much luck getting "Yeses" from USA Only sellers. However, my email asking for their permission includes the following right off the bat:

-- mention that I have a high number of feedbacks, all positive.
-- that the majority of these feedbacks are from Americans.
-- that I will pay all duty/customs and allow them to use the shipper of their choice (assuming item is insured/trackable).
-- that my address is Paypal confirmed
-- that I will pay in US$
-- that I will pay with paypal funds or transfer (not echeck and not credit card).

b. There are people who will flat out say no. Them, I hit with:

-- How about you let me bid and if I win you can ship to my friend in Brooklyn.

I rarely get no to both offers.
posted by dobbs at 9:49 PM on July 18, 2005

I just have stuff shipped to friends in the States, then I have full control over how I get the item. Sometimes I get it shipped, sometimes I wait for my partner to go on business and then have it sent to his hotel, so he can hand-carry it back. Depends on the item and how fast I want it. For stuff we collect, we aren't in a hurry. And those items are too large to ship cheaply, anyway.
posted by Goofyy at 10:23 PM on July 18, 2005

Since kindall brought it up I will offer this shipping to Canada from the US tutorial...

That tutorial is exactly the kind of nonsense up with which I will not put. If you pay me $400 for a computer, I am going to declare its value at $400 on the customs form, because that is its value. I will not write down "Used computer parts, value $20" because I know it's not true. I am not willing to help some guy I don't even know commit tax evasion or fraud or whatever this is considered.

Furthermore, if I insure the package for $400 but try to put down $20 as the declared value, one or the other of those is going to be null and void. Either you'll end up having to pay duty on the insured value, like you should have in the first place, or you'll have no recourse if it gets damaged on the way to you. That would suck.

I did do the customs dance with one Canadian buyer. He refused shipment the first time. I reshipped, and so I lied on the shipping form after getting him to agree that he would bear all risk of damage in transit. Thankfully that transaction ended up all right but it was a gigantic pain in the ass to have to ship it twice, and it certainly didn't sit well with me to lie to the government. So I don't do it anymore.

Have it shipped to a friend in the US. (His address had better be PayPal verified and connected with your account, and he'd better be available to sign for the package. This is all needed for PayPal's fraud protection, and I'm not even going to ship it to a US bidder without that.) Get your friend to lie to customs for you. That's what friends are for!

(That said, I'd probably take Dobbs's offer, but I wouldn't let Canadian users bid willy-nilly.)
posted by kindall at 11:38 PM on July 18, 2005

"It's usually fear and ignorance of international shipping that is the problem."

Or, quite frequently, the result of a bad, bad experience in a previous transaction. Especially if the seller ships UPS -- usually what happens then is the Canadian buyer gets slammed with massive Customs fees, then gets angry at the seller, gives the seller bad feedback, or refuses the shipment, etc. This happens way more often than you might expect. It's really not fair to accuse sellers of "fear and ignorance" when they might just be deciding they don't want to deal with more of the hassle.

Shipping by USPS and Canada Post usually ends up not having as many hassles (I don't know why the massive Customs fees often don't happen with postal shipments), but if a seller is already set up to do all of his shipping by UPS, it can be a major pain in the ass to switch carriers for one particular shipment. Not to mention that the USPS customs forms require you to take the package to the post office and hand them directly to a clerk (or to a pickup person if you can get the package picked up). When one's normal shipping process doesn't include special trips to the PO, this is a major hassle as well.

Lastly, others have mentioned that many Canadian buyers request that we lie on customs forms, and get very angry if we refuse. In my case, I have a postage meter, and technically, I could lose my meter license if I were to be caught lying on customs forms. So I won't do it.

Actually, I do ship to Canada (and overseas) for both my mail order business and my eBay transactions. But the problems mentioned above make me sympathetic to those who decide they won't bother. I have had buyers send me extremely rude e-mails when I did not lie on their customs forms. It is very, very frustrating.

Basically, buyers need to accept that the seller can set the sales conditions, and it really is legitimately more hassle to ship across the border except for the smallest items. It's fine to ask for an exception, but be polite about it, and don't throw hissyfits if you get a "no." I once sold a pair of roller skates on eBay. I said I would sell to the US and Canada, but not overseas -- because skates are really heavy and shipping would be too expensive for the buyer. I got a bidder who was in England, but he asked up front if I would sell to him, and was willing to pay the expensive shipping fees (you would think that you could find skates in the UK without needing to buy them from the US...) or wait for the slower, cheaper shipping method. So I decided I was willing to sell to him. He was polite and nice through the entire transaction, and everything turned out fine. But if he had started the whole thing by e-mailing me "Why don't you ship to the UK?" and having attitude about it, I would have said "Sorry, no."
posted by litlnemo at 1:46 AM on July 19, 2005

If you're near a US border, consider having it shipped to a UPS store in the town just the other side. It's common practice for motorcyclists here in Ottawa to have US vendors and ebay sellers ship their much-cheaper-than-local gear and parts to the UPS store in Ogdensburg, NY, and then not only can they clear customs with it themselves (cheaply) they also have an excuse for a ride down to Ogdensburg and back. Reportedly the customs officers there are accustomed to people saying "about ten minutes" when asked how long they'll be in the US.
posted by mendel at 2:15 PM on July 19, 2005

If you pay me $400 for a computer, I am going to declare its value at $400 on the customs form, because that is its value.

Computers are duty free from USA to Canada. I assume someone who's asking you to do this is doing so because they have to pay tax (15% in Ontario) on items entering the country. Perhaps you think that point is irrelevant but many Canadians (myself included) do not think they should have to pay sales tax on a used item bought via private sale simply because it crosses the border. We do not have to pay this tax on used items bought locally.

As per insurance form and customs declarations... they do not have to match and are not compared by either place. When I ship UPS, for example, they encourage me to insure for as much as I like because they make $ on every additional $100 of insurance that I add and they feel confident they will not lose the package. At the same time, they encourage me to declare the value of items at under $200 because they do not require a third party customs brokerage firm (which incurs its own fees and delays delivery arrival). If you call any courier you can easily confirm that "insure" and "value" are independent figures.

An example of why this is: suppose I have an computer worth $2000. However, I sell it to a friend for $50 as a favor. What is its value, $50 or $2000? The answer is "Both." I'd insure it for $2000 and declare its value at $50. If its lost, both seller and buyer are covered for their costs.
posted by dobbs at 2:19 PM on July 19, 2005

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