Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Down with UPS!

(A pun that reads better on the page than said outloud ...)

Stephen Mann, a computer-graphics professor at the University of Waterloo, has very nicely articulated why we Canadians hate getting packages shipped to us by United Parcel Service. Please, please, please, use the regular U.S. mails. See what Mann has to say right here.

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


At January 23, 2007 1:07 PM , Blogger Lou_Sytsma said...

Absolutely the custom handling fees are ridiculous!

At January 23, 2007 2:53 PM , Blogger Dwight Williams said...

I may have recently been Stung. There was a second-hand color printer involved here. Someday I may explain on my other blog.

At January 23, 2007 3:08 PM , Anonymous Jim Shannon said...

The last package I received from the US (Alaska)was a Cd in an envelope.It wasn't from UPS but from Purolator but back then 1999 they charged me $10 for that package. I refused to pay since the cd was a burned text copy of this fellows won material. In other words it was a non retail product but I still got dinged and I still have the Cd. They just invoiced me for the balance.

At January 23, 2007 6:24 PM , Anonymous don said...

Well, being a registered "high value importer" with Canada Customs and Revenue myself, all I can say is that it's not UPS you should be complaining about. It's the Canadian Government and the NAFTA crap we got suckered into.

The Canadian Government requires that anything, Anything, brought into this country be tracked, registered, whatever, so they can get their cut on import taxes, GST and all that. There is an 1800 page document (which I can post if anyone wants to read it) that lists everything that exists and what duty rate our Government will charge you to bring it into the country. There are exceptions of course, and qualifiers for things made in the States (which are duty free, supposedly) and formulas for assembled items of ranging dollar values but, and this is the whole crux of it, the documentation that needs to be supplied, presented and processed when Anything crosses the border is a Red Tape lovers dream come true. That is what the charges these shippers charge are for. Processing a nightmare of paperwork.

UPS is no different than any of the others. Even most brokerage houses charge about $30. Even by mail you can be hit with a surprise or two. Purolator is $25 or $30. FedEx Ground is $30 as well. FedEx Air (or 2nd Day) is only $7 though. Yes you'll pay more for the overnight service, but brokerage is $7.

If you have any questions, feel free to post them here - that is if Rob doesn't mind.


At January 23, 2007 6:58 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Don, you say, "UPS is no different than any of the others." That's simply not my experience.

I get packages all the time from the U.S., via FedEx, Purolator, DHL, US Postal Service, and UPS. It is ONLY UPS that charges the outrageous brokerage fees to regular-joe consumers like me.

Stuff coming by US mail (and thence Canada Post) gets a $5 processing fee IF AND ONLY IF there's GST or duty to be collected, and they often don't bother even with that; if there's no duty, it comes with no cost levied.

UPS charges four to six times as much -- $20 to $30 -- and charges it EVEN IF there's no duty or GST to be collected. That's not the same as the others.

It may be that you, as a "registered high-value importer," are red-flagged and get hit with customs and brokerage fees on everything by everyone, but most of what I get is low value -- books, electronics worth less than a hundred bucks -- and it shows up without me being gouged UNLESS it comes by UPS.

If you follow the link in Prof. Mann's original posting, you'll see that many of us are having similar experiences AND ONLY WITH UPS.

At January 23, 2007 7:17 PM , Anonymous don said...

Anything valued under $1600, for the most part, usually can slip through with little problems. And I should have clarified that. And yes, UPS will charge that $30 regardless. Of the other guys, all of them only charge you if they do indeed collect duty and/or taxes. I didn't make that quite clear on "low value" items.

I don't like or use UPS either myself. I use FedEx and Purolator. They are the better of the bunch.

But we should always beware and double check for any incoming charges, regardless how we use.

One thing I run into quite often is these guys always assume US$ coming from the states and apply the going conversion rate, then calculate everything. Almost everything I bring in is already invoiced in C$ so I always have to double check they didn't over calculate and thus over charge me. They get it wrong about 50% of the time. It's very frustrating.

Always always always question and triple check.

The other thing is that anything designed and built in the states is exempt in duty & taxes. So that could be why a lot of the stuff you see Rob come up is hassle free.

If in doubt, always get the shipper to include documentation that proves U.S. origin.

At January 23, 2007 9:54 PM , Anonymous don said...

And one more thing. Anything that does get caught at Customs and that you have to pay for, they keep track of. And if they see a growing dollar value of goods going to your place over a year, they will contact you and ask you what your business is and why you're not claiming (GST-wise) any of the imported goods.

I don't remember what the dollar value is that a you can safely bring in unnoticed in a year, it's quite high but not as high as one would think. Really though, the average Joe should never hit it. [pondering] I think it's around the $5000 mark, but I'm not sure.

At January 24, 2007 2:45 AM , Blogger Drakkenfyre said...

Don has a really good point about Canada Customs being a big part of this problem. In fact,they're a big part of one of the ugliest actions our government takes, and it does it every single day.

Our government participates in the daily censorship of books.

If they weren't, why would they ban so many books?

Case in point, the beleaguered Little Sister's gay and lesbian bookstore, since funding was denied, can no longer afford to challenge the government's theft of their books as they cross the border: http://www.macleans.ca/topstories/national/article.jsp?article=2007_1_22_1169488742

From the Globe and Mail article:

"This is a sad day for Canada," said Joseph Arvay, lawyer for Little Sister's. It is deplorable that the government can pour vast amounts of money into funding the Customs Canada apparatus, yet an impecunious bookstore cannot be aided in challenging its enormous powers of censorship, he said.


My point? I'm not trying to absolve UPS of blame, as they are obviously gouging people, but maybe if our government didn't feel it necessary to spend so much money on tracking and logging (oh, and on legal fees to fight gay people who want to read books with pictures of stuff that doesn't hurt anyone and that you can readily see on the internet), maybe UPS wouldn't be able to get away with charging anything at all.

Why? Shipping companies do incur some cost at the border. The post office thinks it works out to $5 a package. UPS uses this to their advantage to ask for more. Maybe we should stop our part of the insanity and maybe the UPS part will end on its own.

At January 27, 2007 3:30 AM , Anonymous Walt Guyll said...

I worked for years in the shipping dept. of a Seattle Book Store and shipping to Canada was always a dicey proposition. Postal service was unreliable, untrackable and often delayed, much worse than in the U.S., for some reason. We were very much aware of the U.P.S. problem, and would advise customers to send inexpensive books surface mail and try to keep it "under the radar" of customs.
The countries that really made us nervous were Italy, The Philippines and anywhere in Africa.
One time back in the Nineties we sent about $500 worth of medical textbooks to Manila and some Philippines customs agent grabbed it, demanding a $400 "customs" fee from the recipient, who then refused the shipment. Customs then demanded the same amount from us, just to ship it back! They did offer to destroy the books for free, however.
Don't get me started about Italy...

At March 16, 2007 2:02 PM , Blogger UPS just follows the law said...

I am a brokerage account executive with UPS and your comments are uninformed and I will explain how brokerage works. UPS charges brokerage because Revenue Canada requires us to. This is the fact with international shipping between any two countries in the world. Shipping equates to freight charges while brokerage is duties, taxes and a filing fee called "entry prep". If you were to bring in goods say from Japan you would have to pay both freight charges and duties and taxes and the fee for a broker to file for you. This applies whether you are Joe Shmoe or a multinational conglomerate. The reason the post does not charge an entry prep is that by law they do not have to charge one, just as UPS,FEDEX are not allowed by law to sell shipping at a price equal to or under that of the post office. The thing that you do not seem to know is that the entry prep fee is included with all air services by couriers as it is included with the rate structure. If you have beef with brokerage charges then fine use the slow untraceable postal system or even better use an air service with a courier and it is included and you can track your goods regardless of what country it is and hey if we are late we refund your shipping charges (the post will not). I hope this sheds some light on this touchy subject. I do apologize you feel like you have gotten the shaft but until the government changes the laws then brokerage charges will always exist. You have to remember that the government wants you to buy “Canadian” products and implements duty, taxes and other non-trade barriers to protect Canadian industries.

At March 22, 2007 9:01 AM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

With all due respect (that is, more than you've given me with your condescension), you've missed the point, Mr. UPS Just Follows the Law (if that is your real name).

Everyone understands about duties and brokerage. You UPS guys simply charge way more for the brokerage than do your competitors (including FedEx, DHL, Purolator, and so on), at least when dealing with individuals. "Brokerage Executive," bah. I'd rather UPS had "Brokerage Average Guys" -- and thought more about the average guys whose pockets they were reaching into.

At March 27, 2007 2:37 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Just received today a parcel from the US via DHL -- one of UPS's competitors -- valued at US$1,195. DHL's brokerage fee? Just Cdn$7. UPS charges four times that much to clear even a $0 package.

At May 15, 2007 7:24 PM , Anonymous Kevin Wells said...

I just got a UPS invoice in the mail. I had a package valued at $780. The GST, brokerage and yada, yada is $65. The entry prep fee is $58. I have shipped over $14,500 in the past three weeks in over 30 shipments from the USA for my business. They were all shipped with different couriers *EXCEPT* UPS. The most expensive "fee" I have had to pay was $7 plus my GST.

The UPS guy is completely wrong in assuming that everyone else is the same. I can ship DHL and FedEX Air for around $50 and only pay $7 fee plus my GST for brokerage.

That means a total invoice of $57 for FEDEX AIR.

My total for the UPS GROUND shipment in question is $123 + $30 for shipping for a total of $150.

Hmm... The same? NOT QUITE!

At July 10, 2007 2:43 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

“UPS just follows the law….” not exactly. The outrageous brokerage fees go in their pockets and not to the Canadian Government. Also, the fee is grossly disproportionate with the broker’s effort. To become a “broker account executive” you don’t need a PhD a several month course would suffice. In my case, not only they charged me a high fee, but also the “executive” miscalculated the duties by making the wrong classification of the imported merchandise. I had to go and look for the right classification by myself. It’s funny; it took me only 10 minutes to find it on the Canada Customs’ web site. So, I paid the fee for nothing. I top of that I had to go and wait 45 minutes in line at their location in order to pick up my package. I pay over 1000$ in freight charges each month, and not one cent goes UPS. Also, after this experience I ask my partners to ship through other service, I will not make a purchase if they insist shipping through UPS.

At July 20, 2007 1:15 PM , Blogger ssslip said...

After approximately 75-100 eBay & online purchases shipped to Calgary, Alberta from the USA over the past couple of years - absolutely YES! UPS charges WAY more for customs, duty & brokerage fees than any other shipping method.
How bad is it? I may ask a local TV reporter to do a consumer protection story on it. I will suggest the reporter purchase multiples of the same item from eBay or other businesses in the USA, then ship by different methods i.e. US Postal Service, FedEx, DHL, etc. & of course UPS. Then expose the results. The results might have a blip here or there, but based on my experience I have no doubt who will charge the most.


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