Why can't I get me some cheapy electronics in Ireland??
September 15, 2006 3:40 AM   Subscribe

Why are online retailers only shipping electronics to their home countries now?

Ok, this doesn't apply to ALL retailers online, but I've noticed a disturbing new trend where a lot of retailers will only ship electronics to the country of origin. Ie Amazon.com will not ship electronics outside the US (example), Amazon.co.uk does not ship electronics outside of the UK (even to Ireland! And this is a new policy, as I purchased a camera from them back in January), Play.com will not ship electronics outside of the UK. Is this an insurance issue? What is the purpose of this policy? It's extremely frustrating, since electronics are (almost) invariably way more expensive here in Ireland...
posted by antifuse to Shopping (13 answers total)
I bought an iRiver H340 from these guys about a year back. I got caught for VAT on import, though my brother bought the same thing a few months before that and his slipped through without VAT. Either way, they were pretty competetive on price and had a decent selection.

Standard disclaimer - I'm not in any way associated with them, I just found their quality of service to be high, and their command of English entertaining.
posted by leakymem at 4:16 AM on September 15, 2006

I would expect it to be a combination of tax laws (and the paperwork inherent with international tax collection), the PITA nature of international shipping, and restrictions from the manufacturer.
posted by jlkr at 4:22 AM on September 15, 2006

Response by poster: Well, I'm not so much looking specifically for alternate retailers, I'm more curious as to why this policy seems to be popping up at more and more online retailers.
posted by antifuse at 4:24 AM on September 15, 2006

Do you know anyone lives up North? Get it posted there. I know a few people who do that.

I'd say it's happening more as it's less hassle for them to get you to buy from Amazon.ie rather Amazon.co.uk
posted by twistedonion at 4:27 AM on September 15, 2006

Part of it may also be the increasing complexity of previously simple electronics combined with technology export laws. If something now has encryption built in for some new feature where it never required it before, it may be more difficult to export due to regulations on where you can send encryption stuff. I gather there may be similar export regulations on sending some higher end processors to certain unfriendly sorts of nations, as well.

There may also simply be licencing and pricing issues. Manufacturers may be looking to set different prices in different markets (see university text books as an example) and that's more difficult for them if retailers can ship out of their own markets.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:30 AM on September 15, 2006

For US -> EU shipping, the RoHS (Restriction of Harmful Substances) directive recently went into effect in the EU, banning the sale of electronics containing several materials, most notably and importantly lead solder, which was standard in everything. I don't know that this is a cause for what you mention, but it could be. It's a huge deal in the catalogs and websites of electronic component distributors.

Apparently the current batch of lead-free solders are both inferior to and more harmful than lead, so everyone wins.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 5:49 AM on September 15, 2006

Response by poster: I'd say it's happening more as it's less hassle for them to get you to buy from Amazon.ie rather Amazon.co.uk

Except, there is no Amazon.ie at the moment (it just redirects to Amazon.co.uk) :)

A big more googling seems to be pointing in the direction of the various electronics recycling initiatives (ie WEEE in Europe). But one would have thought that if that's the case, at least with the UK sites, they'd still ship within the EU (unless the UK hasn't adopted WEEE yet...). So, perhaps it *is* just a security issue. Luckily, there's still plenty of German electronics sites around :)
posted by antifuse at 6:01 AM on September 15, 2006

Except, there is no Amazon.ie at the moment (it just redirects to Amazon.co.uk) :)

God, that's annoying... probably why my mates are getting stuff delivered up here then.
posted by twistedonion at 6:07 AM on September 15, 2006

Fulfillment services that include foreign orders are ludicrously expensive? Everyone hates postage zones? They don't need the business for the irritation?
posted by shownomercy at 6:31 AM on September 15, 2006

Except, there is no Amazon.ie

In addition, the Amazon offshoots that do exist do not sell electronics. For instance, Amazon.ca doesn't sell them and amazon.com won't ship electronics to Canada.
posted by dobbs at 7:35 AM on September 15, 2006

It could be due to agreements with the manufacturer that only allow sales in certain geographic regions. Some retailers get regional exclusivity on their goods and cross-border shipping would get around that.

Wasn't it cheaper to buy German cars in Italy a few years ago? Same thing - they price to the market but geographically adjacent markets may have very different economies.
posted by GuyZero at 8:19 AM on September 15, 2006

Sounds like someone could run a nice business of re-shipping goods across borders. I don't know what the big deal is on international shipments... it takes like 30 seconds to fill out a customs form.
posted by rolypolyman at 8:32 AM on September 15, 2006

Best answer: i can confirm that it is because of the recycling directive. i think, though am not sure, that the restrictions are likely to be temporary.

i suggest you drive to the north!
posted by ascullion at 12:52 PM on September 15, 2006

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