Crazy Customs Charges: Someone Stop The Insanity

You know, if there’s one thing that consistently irritates me about living in Canada, it’s the cross-border scam that is brokerage and customs. The other day I received a package from the USA, a couple of products that I had ordered and paid for (rather than the review product I usually get for instance). The real value of the products was $46.97 USD. Shipping to Canada was $16.55 USD, and they only offered FedEx shipping as an option – no postal service. Courier shipping means brokerage fees, but I really wanted this stuff so I went ahead. The package arrived on Tuesday, and it had a declared value of $20 USD – the company was nice enough to reduce the value for customs. Problem is, $20 CAD is where the brokerage fees kick in with FedEx and most other courier companies. $20 USD = $23.68 CAD. Guess how much brokerage and GST tax there is on a $23.68 shipment? $19.95. I kid you not – 84% of the stated value of the product.

So I ended up paying $38.65 CAD on getting the product here (shipping + brokerage fees), and the total value of the product was only worth $53 CAD to begin with. That’s just wrong. It amounts to a tax on Canadians that want to order products from the United States. If I could find a Canadian reseller for the product I want, of course I’d order from the Canadian side of the border! I did that with the Gorillapod, buying it from Eureca and it worked out great. Brokerage fees should be a percentage of the item value, not a value that starts off at $20. I don’t know if it’s a courier company scam where they know they can charge whatever they want for incoming products, or if the Canadian government really does make the paperwork and process to difficult that the courier companies need to charge this much to break even. Either way, the USA is Canada’s biggest trading partner, and if it wasn’t so expensive to order products from the USA I think more Canadians would do so.

I guess I shouldn’t complain too loud though – I could live in Europe or Australia and have it be even more expensive/impossible to get the products that I want. What was the product you might ask? It shall be revealed soon…