Avoiding UPS/FedEx brokerage fees

I wrote previously about the extortionate “brokerage” fees charged by UPS and FedEx for imports into Canada. That post has attracted a huge volume of response from other enraged people.  I have learned more since then, including an interesting response direct from the Canada Border Services Agency.

If you contact UPS, they’ll tell you that you can indeed clear your package through customs yourself, but you have to do so at the customs office in the same town as the UPS depot where your shipment is being held.  For me, receiving shipments into Ontario, it would either be Fort Erie or Windsor. They can’t tell you in advance which it will be.  But either way, it’s a long drive.

One option that might be acceptable for some people is to use a shipping depot inside the US. You just have your package shipped to the depot. They’ll hold onto it for you until you come get it. Some of them, remailing services, will actually ship it on to you themselves, but then you may end up getting the same brokerage treatment again.

I was considering trying CBI Usa in Niagara Falls, NY. Their rates seem very reasonable, they’re easy to use, and I’ve seen mostly positive experiences reported on the web. But still, it’s a regrettable amount of driving.

I contacted Canada Border Services Agency by email to get their take on doing your own customs clearance:

I’m trying to find a way to import a package by UPS from the US. I refuse to pay their extortionate brokerage fee. I would sooner burn the money than gave it to those bastards (more colourful terms come to mind, but I’m trying to keep this polite.)

As I understand it, I have no choice but to deal with the Customs office in the town where they hold my package, which is going to be either Fort Erie or Windsor. I don’t know why that is, there’s a customs office at the KW airport 15 minutes drive from me, but there it is. But UPS can’t tell me which in advance which office the package would go through. I’d guess Windsor.

After I found out which of those two offices it was, would it be possible for me to complete the clearance process by phone, fax or Internet? It’s a simple process, right? I just give you the Harmonized Codes, you calculate what I owe, and I pay you, probably by credit card. No part of this strictly requires my physical presence. I can’t see any good reason why, in this day of high-speed Internet in every home, I can’t do this whole process in my pyjamas from the comfort of my bedroom.

If we can’t figure out a reasonable way to do this without uselessly converting another tank of fuel into greenhouse gases, then it just won’t happen. I’m not going to pay off those UPS criminals to do this trivial thing (and probably do it wrong) on my behalf. Or rather, it probably will happen, but it will happen by way of me driving to the US to pick up the package myself from a maildrop service. It’s actually a shorter drive to Niagara Falls, NY than to Fort Erie.

But it would be really damn stupid for me to have to do that. There has to be a better way. Tell me what it is.

When I said UPS would probably do the clearance wrong, I wasn’t kidding. My first ever experience with courier brokerage was some X-10 home-automation gear imported via FedEx. After I learned more about this stuff, I figured out that they had use the wrong Harmonized Codes for some of the gear. Because they basically had no idea what the stuff was, they were just looking for similar-sounding words. Fortunately, the codes they picked had the same (ie, zero) tariff rates, so I didn’t get burned that way.

CBSA’s first response to this email was unhelpful, merely referring me to web-pages about Licensed Customs Brokers, and Importing Non-Commercial Goods By Mail. Both of which I had already read, and which did not address the essential question: can I deal with customs at my local office, or by phone, fax, or email, and if not, why not?

After a long delay, I received a second rather more helpful response:

This is in response to your e-mail concerning the clearance of non-commercial goods imported by courier. It should be noted that your inquiry was originally forwarded to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Client Services in Windsor, Ontario, who attempted to contact you in person to discuss your concerns. Client Services was unable to reach you, thus requiring the preparation of a written reply, and hence the delay in responding.

In some instances, an individual who has imported goods by courier may wish to pay the duties and taxes owing for a shipment released under the Courier Program rather than using the accounting services of the courier or agent. Such shipments do not have to be accounted for at the office of release, but may be accounted for at any CBSA office. In situations such as these, the courier does not automatically release the shipment to the importer, but holds the goods until the importer presents satisfactory proof that the appropriate duties and taxes have been paid directly to the CBSA. In most cases, this would be a copy of the B15, Casual Goods Accounting Document. The importer is responsible for contacting the courier to make the necessary arrangements for this type of transaction.

It should be noted that every person who accounts for casual goods should provide, at the time of accounting and before the goods are released, a commercial invoice, current price list, bill of sale, or other similar document that describes the goods and contains enough information to enable an officer to determine the tariff classification and appraise the value for duty of the goods. In the case of courier shipments, the importer must also provide the unique shipment identifier number assigned by the courier to his or her particular shipment.

Payment of any applicable duties and taxes on casual importations can be made in cash, by money order, traveller’s cheque, bank draft, cheque, Visa, or MasterCard. Payment by debit card is also available at a number of sites.

Although the CBSA allows approved clients to transmit data electronically, this is not the case for casual, non-commercial importers such as you. Accounting for your goods must be done in person, and any monies owing must be paid at the time of accounting.

For additional information and/or clarification on accounting for casual importations, please contact Border Information Service (BIS) by telephone. You can access the BIS line free of charge throughout Canada by calling 1 800-461-9999. If you call during regular business hours (8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. local time, Monday to Friday, except holidays), you can speak to an agent by pressing “0” at any time.

Thank you for contacting the CBSA.

Now that’s more like it! Straight from the horses mouth: UPS is full of shit. You can do your own customs clearance at your local customs office, you don’t have to drive to Windsor or Fort Erie!

Here’s a forum posting where a guy (“Drehkraft”) claims to have done it (“UPS REALLY hates this.”). He even used the same Kitchener airport terminal customs office I would use. I stopped by that customs office and asked them in person if I could do it, and they said it was no problem from their end.

That said, I haven’t yet actually done this myself. It remains to be seen if UPS will throw up arbitrary obstacles (“the B15 document must be faxed to us on yellow paper between 3:00am and 3:01am.”) But there is some homebrewing gear I’ve been planning to buy, hopefully I’ll get around to trying it soon.

331 Responses to “Avoiding UPS/FedEx brokerage fees”


  • I still say… use air/expedited service. Brokerage is included (for a certain number of items anyways — call to verify limits). It usually only costs about USD$40 for a smallish package (say, a camera or a lens) and you get your stuff the next day.

    -john.

  • I too have used “expedited” – fortunately the sender was willing to help arrange for that – and was able to get UPS to send me stuff without a subsequent infuriating bill.

    But hey, GO YOU. I look forward to hearing whether you can manage the feat and how much less it costs you. I got my pompoms and confetti ready.

    Adam

  • I tried this process – it was a nice try, but to no avail.

    Here’s how it went down and how they ultimately screwed me:

    1) I called the 800 number of the CBSA, basically confirming what this post said and obtaining the local number of the CBSA office in Peterborough. It’s all true!
    2) Called the Peterborough Office, who said that it could be done as long as I have my Bill of Lading, but that UPS would make it impossible.
    3) Called UPS and asked them how to do it. They said that I had to present myself in person to the location of entry (the UPS-owned bonded warehouses where they keep the stuff) in order to collect the paperwork to be stamped by customs (Bill of Lading). I asked them if they could fax it, mail it, or send it electronically to me. They basically stammered a lot and said that no, I had to be there in person, or they wouldn’t release the paperwork to me. A manager basically said the same thing, so unless there’s a way of extracting the Bill of Lading from them without having to be in person, there’s no way to clear it.

    My next step is to complain to my MP about this extortion.

  • UPS is full of it and I am glad that I came across this site after much searching. Thanks for the great post, I know someone who might be able to help out a little further on getting around the UPS run around. I will post back if I get any more news.

    Dave

  • I just was raped by UPS as well. This was my first time…I imported an old board game from the 1960’s that cost me about $20 + $30 in shipping, then I was also charged another $40 in “brokerage” fees by UPS. I was shocked! The UPS category says it’s “electronics other”…but this is an old crappy board game. There is not one electronic thing in there anywhere….it’s got wooden game pieces for crying out loud. Anyways, I was happy to find this site, and glad to see you are taking action. It certainly is criminal what they are doing. Un-effin-believable!

  • Since I live on the west coastI have been using A & A Contract Customs Brokers Ltd in Surrey, BC. I just bought a couple of plexiglass specialty rulers from the US – total cost $70.00US. A & A are charging me $42.25 for Entry Preparation ($27.25) and Tariff Classification ($%15.00). What a rip off! I have another parcel coming this week worth $1100CDN. I can’t wait to see the brokerage bill for this one.

  • I have just spent an entire day trying to figure out how to export my product into Canada and learn the brokerage fees, taxes etc up front so I can charge my customer for them and neither of us will have a shock in store for us later. Was this an easy thing to find out??
    I assure you NOT!
    I have a small manufacturing biz, I know my HS Code (call the US Census to confirm yours: 1.800.549.0595 x2), and I will be shipping packages less than $1600 CAD, so there are no duties/tariffs under NAFTA.

    Here is the UPS brokerage fee schedule:
    UPS Brokerage Fees to Canada: ( in CAD$) Minimum Fee: $5.85

    Under $20 $00.00
    $20 – 40 $17.96
    $40.01 – 100.00 $31.03
    $101 – 200 $41.06
    $200.01 – 350 $53.68
    $350.01 – 500 $59.03
    $500.01 – 750 $65.75
    $750.01 – 1000 $72.37
    $1000.01 – 1250 $79.03
    $1250 – 1600 $83.39

    —————————

    I tried unsuccessfully to get the same type of clarity from FedEx, and must have spoken to at least 10 or 15 of their “International Ground” representatives. One of them even told me that such a thing did exist, but that Management didn’t like to to be given out. Another told me she would send it, but it never, ever arrived. Altogether a very frustrating exercise, and you can be certain I will not be shipping Internationally with FedEx.

    All this being said, it seems to me that in this day and age there is a business opportunity here, acting as proxy and carting the goods to a central location in one of these larger cities, or something… it certainly is extortion the way it is now.

  • Well, at last the person at FedEx who promised to send their Brokerage Fee schedule actually came through! so here it is, at last on the web! and you can compare the UPS brokerage fees to FedEx brokerage fees (put that in there for extra keyword searchability so it’s easier to find..) Here goes:

    Fed Ex Brokerage Fees to Canada as of Sept. 2008: ( in CAD$) Minimum Fee: $6.95
    Value Brokerage Fee
    Under $20 $00.00
    $20 – 40 $6.95
    $40.01 – 75.00 $19.00
    $75.00 – 100 $19.50
    $100.01 – 200 $28.50
    $200.01 – 350 $38.75
    $350.01 – 500 $43.75
    $500.01 – 750 $49.75
    $750.01 – 1000 $55.95
    $1000.01 – 1250 $61.25
    $1250 – 1600 $65.85
    $1600 – 5000 $68.75

    For each additional $1000, add $5.85.
    “In addition to other applicable customs clearance fees, there is a $20 Minimum Brokerage fee for the clearance of all FedEx Ground Manifested Shipments cleared through Canada Border Services Agency.”

  • found a ‘ups canada rate and service guide’, effective jan.,5 2009, a download in a pdf form, under page 59, to avoid bond fees, call 1-800-pick-ups and ask about our prepayment or electronic funds transfer (eft) plans. on this site,
    “http://www.ups.com/content/ca/en/shipping/cost/zones/customs_clearance.html”.
    i dont know if this is already mentioned above or is just another step in the circle of insanity, but i found this at 2am and i am 2 tired to go on, so… goodluck 2 anyone who wants to try

  • This UPS scam goes on and on as a result of the government of Canada CRA requirements. UPS is just jumping on the opportunity. If Canada changed the system to allow quick clearance through the internet with a credit card all of these practices would cease. Of course it’s a pipe dream expecting that a Government agency would increase efficiency (and lower it’s manpower requirements).

  • You can always appoint your own broker and any of these carriers will have to forward the documents to your broker by either fax or paperless system. In this case the clearance is done without your presence. Just find a broker that has fair charges. I am a Customs broker myself. We charge CAD 20.00 for a shipment valued less than CAD 1600.00. It just not worth it to do the work for less than that. For this amount we create a B3 Customs form for you, pay duty & tax and send you all the docs by e-mail. Have a look at the charges here: http://www.dilas.ca/html/brokerage_fees.html

  • This is pathetic, I bought a Dwight Shrute bobble head from the NBC/Universal Store online. The cost of the item was $25 & change to ship to the U.S., and +$2 more for shipping into Canada. I took the Canada option and it’s all good I got my package within 3-4 days I was happy. On Friday (March 27) I got a letter from FedEx and it’s a remittence payment for $13+change for custom clearing fees on a $19USD item. WTF next time I’ll just go to an American P.O. box in P.Roberts, WA for this cause it’s the same in the terms of gas to go there an back and at least I can do other things there as well.

  • My son and I ordered golf clubs thru e-bay…he paid ZERO brokers fees (Hamilton Airport)..I paid $46 in broker fees (Windsor)..makes NO SENSE!!!!!

  • FedEx, in its 2009 Service Guide (p. 10, 174) says it now offers a “brokerage inclusive service” for FedEx Ground international to Canada:

    “CUSTOMS-CLEARED TO CANADA: For a simple, streamlined U.S.-to-Canada shipping solution, choose FedEx International Ground® service. Our new brokerage-inclusive service provides customs clearance when you ship, additional duty-and-tax payment options, and a money-back guarantee on transportation charges.1”

    I’m not sure but this service appears to remove all/most of the hidden fees????? Please correct me if I’m wrong, as I don’t want to find some obscene bill in the mail.

  • The buggers charged me $62 for an item worth $80.00. That’s a 75% fee on top of what I already paid for shipping.

    Duty: $7.17
    Gst: $14.25
    Brokerage Fee: $39.10
    Brokerage Gst: $1.95
    Total Cod: $62.47

    I will never use UPS again, and I will tell all my friends the same.

  • The easiest way to deal with this delivery extortion is to deal with USPS or Canada post. I have been burned too many times with UPS and Fedex. The postal service is much quicker I find, and they do have an on time guarantee too or money refunded(this has happened to me). The post office actually works as your brokerage. All I had to pay was basically the gst on any item that came to me. If you’re going to ship across the border, trust me, use these services.

    On another note, I would love to see a class action suite against these so called courier companies.

    Just remember to check the delivery service before you order anything. It will save you a lot of grief.

  • I learned very quickly never to order anything shipped from the US. because of UPS’s extortion. For ebay, I sort everything by distance.

    If I have to order from the US, I insist on plain old postal service. If the vendor must use UPS I take my business elsewhere.

  • Do what I did and move to the US, problem solved! 🙂

  • Ha! Somebody just volunteered to be my US mail-drop!

  • I recently bought some aluminum from a US company. The cost was less than 20 Canadian dollars. They would only ship UPS, but since UPS does not charge a brokerage fee for items costing under $20 Can. I thought I was fine.

    When the package came to my door the UPS driver wanted brokerage fees. He referred to documentation with the package which said the item value was $25.

    I phoned UPS who said the seller would have to supply a revised waybill. The seller refused to do so, advising me to show UPS the Ebay order and Paypal receipt instead.

    At first UPS stuck to its line that only a revised waybill would suffice. It took 5 days of phone calls and emails before they agreed the Ebay and Paypal receipts were o.k. I went to the Toronto UPS depot, and they again said they needed the revised waybill. I persisted and they eventually released the shipment with no brokerage fee.

    Was it worth the hassle?

    I did learn UPS staff, for reasons unknown, do not always provide accurate information.

    I also learned that when I was a “broken record” about what I wanted, eventually UPS gave in.

    If enough people make UPS staff spend a lot of time dealing with an issue, it will become less profitable for UPS to misinform customers.

    Trying to clear customs yourself is a different issue than I had. But if you are trying this, UPS may mislead you. Stick to your guns.

    Grant

  • Last year a fabric seller in California shipped me a bolt of linen. It arrived with a hefty ‘brokerage fee’ price tag! I refused to pay it and UPS ‘ate’ it. They called it a “courtesy”. I called Canada Border people (or was it Customs?). They told me they get many complaints about UPS doing this, that it is an ongoing chronic problem with Canadians ordering from USA and their items being shipped UPS. UPS told me that they have to be advised in advance, and in writing that customer will clear Customs himself, or words to that effect. But do they offer this as an option on the shipper’s form?

    Just recently, I ordered some herbs from another US company, SPECIFICALLY warning them of this potential problem, both verbally and in email. Same result. Product arrives with bill for customs brokerage over $53.

    Solution: I am going to join class action law suit. I have advised the shipper of problem. Let’s see if he can sort it out.

    Note: The US exporters seem to be unaware of UPS actions in Canada. I wonder if UPS is doing the same scam in other countries?

  • I used to work in the transportation company of a major corporation in Canada. The cost for our low value clearance was only $5 (anything under $1600)

    That said, both UPS and Fedex are ripping off customers. What they charge makes no sense since anything under $1600 is cleared automatically by Customs. They should be charging a flat fee no more than $20.

  • I recently ordered a pair of presciption glasses valued at $302.00. We were shocked when delivered bu UPS for an addition $53,??. The bill said it was duty, but with NAFRA I guestion that. Reading of all the other miserable experiences, I too will NEVER use this service again. Everyone else that we know will hear about it as well!!

  • I just got my first little surprise from UPS – a bill of 23.37 for a package from the states, whose contents was worth 19.00 CAD. I noticed that anything under $20 should not be charged more than $5.95… Can I call UPS and ask them for my cheque back? I could always cancel the cheque tonight 🙂

  • I ordered tools from the U.S.
    Due to my bad experience with UPS, I switched few years ago to US postal service.
    My past orders went well with us postal service. No ups brokerage fees.

    But this time things went bad:

    USPS web site:
    Your item is being processed by customs in CANADA. No further information is available for this item.

    My tools have been sitting somewhere since April 2009 and it is now June.

    Canada post says: they are waiting for customs canada to release my package.

    Customs Canada says: it’s in a Canada post building, it’s a canada post issue.

    The seller can’t refund me because the tools are not lost, they are stuck in customs who don’t want to look or do anything.

    They want us to do free trade but the government is so fucked up.
    Canada post and customs don’t communicate.

    Customs has just one phone number and say the package is in a Canada post building so it’s not their problem.

    No one wants to tell me where my package is.
    In what building. Who to call to sort this mess out.

    I just want the tools I bought so I can work.

    The canadian government is so useless and incompetant.

  • I just had a run in with UPS as well. $29 fee on an $85 item. I refused the delivery and sent in complaints to them, the better business bureau, and let the company I ordered from that I they just lost a sale. I’ve also sent a letter, don’t just email you need to send a printed letter for an MP’s staff to actually notice it.

    I have a mind to send emails to other companies like Amazon and Ebay just to put it on their radar and maybe get them to add declaimers to their shipping section. Enough of this can eventually make a difference, it may take a long time but what else can we do?

  • And the government is too stupid to see how the UPS brokerage fees are hindering free trade.

  • There is also a Canada wide Class action suit based out of ontario. I may just be joining this one.
    http://www.classaction.ca/content/actions/ups.asp

  • Should have gone with LANDSTAR

  • I again was raped by UPS on my doorstep. I orderd some staff shirts from my sister, value of shirt were 285.00 U.S. They charged me $132.00 for brokergae fees. She sent the package before I could explain to her what UPS does.
    The seller is not aware of this fee, she is fighting with them there. They do not disclose this information at time of sending.
    I am letting everyone I know, not to use them.

  • I’ve learned my lesson (unfortunately more than once) about how bad UPS customer service and fees are. I now insist on USPS. I find USPS to be excellent (surprise surprise). The post offices are now able to track packages which lessens the risk at both ends (“I sent it so how can you make a PayPal claim” etc.).

    My sons lives in DC. I now send him packages Parcel Post from Canada and they are trackable online. Very good service and cheaper than UPS. I’m telling everyone I know to avoid UPS. Even Fedex is better. I switched our corporate account recently to FedEx as well.

  • Unfortunately, as I learned today, Fedex is doing this too.

    I just got a call from a Fedex contractor (someone who is not Fedex, but contracts to accept packages and deliver them to Fedex). Fedex is charging her an extra $40 on a package shipped from the U.S. to Alberta in MAY.

    Same thing – hidden brokerage fees. Before I shipped it, I checked the FedEx site and Canada customs and there should have been no fees on the item: used hiking boots, sold through MEC’s gear exchange, right around $100. FedEx first tried to stick it to the person who bought them, then told this contractor she would be charged the fee. She wanted me to pay it, but as much as I feel for her, this is extortion and I won’t give in to it.

    I second all the recommendations for USPS. Their rates are almost identical and they, at least (so far), are honest.

  • If you have already been fucked by UPS, contact your credit card provider and chargeback the amount. Those bastards should not get away with this highway robbery of Canadians.

  • Not only is this highway robbery of Canadians, it is of Americans as well.

    When I was a student couple years ago I started importing from the US not knowing a thing about the brokerage fees. UPS charged me so much that I just stopped purchasing online from US retailers for a long time before I found out how to avoid most charges with other (better) options.

    Also, if the cheapest shipping option always comes with the brokerage fees NOT included, in my opinion it amounts to FORCING your customers to opt for the most expensive shipping options out of fear of hidden fees.

  • Holy c*** my order was just shipped out via ups and its over $600.00. What am I looking at in terms of fees?? Gosh…there is nothing I could do!!

  • I order my business cards from the states because for the quality they are cheaper than any where I have found in Canada, even with the brokage fee. It’s rediculious though when a $35 order comes up, I have to give UPS their fee to process $2 in GST. BS I say. A brokerage company should offer a service for consumers as an alternative. Surprised Canada Customs hasn’t worked something like that out. They would make a killing.

  • Are there always brokerage charges once the package has been processed by brokerage and customs? What determines whether or not there will be brokerage charges and how much they will actually cost?

  • It is not just packages from the US going to CA getting the high brokerage fees. Our team ordered 5 outfits from a Canadian company. The company offered to wait till all 5 outfits were ready and ship them to one address to save us some shipping charges. All 5 families paid separatly for their outfits and their portion of the shipping charges. Each one of is paid about $150 for our portion. FedEx sent a bill a couple of months later for $200 for brokerage/customs fees for the package. Do not use FedEx! This package was sent via FedEx Overnight, and they still change the fees. The high fees are also happen when a package is shipped from Canada to the US

  • Have to second the poster who said to use United States Postal Service. I think the processing fee is $5.

    I will not ship anything to Canada using UPS or Fedex. I paid $40 once for a $15 stuffed animal for my son.

    I work for CBSA, by the way, but in Windsor, so I know that you can come and pay in person and then go to the UPS office and get your goods released. The email you recieved from someone at the CBSA is correct, but the problem lies with UPS wanting you there in person. I imagine they make it difficult for you in order to continue getting revenues for this.

  • I have beed raped tons of times by both UPS and FedEx. Of the two, UPS is by far the worst. I have imported lots of items from the US and have done the paperwork myself at Canada Border Services Commercial Import Center at the Border Crossing. I am telling you, it is not very much work to do this. That being said, It is no more work for UPS to classify an item and fill out the forms for a $50 item than $1000. The cost should not increase with the value of the item. It should be a simple flat rate. USPS and Canada Post can do it, Why can’t UPS? UPS needs to be held accountable for their questionable (criminal) activities. Perhaps its time for W5, 60 minutes or another Investigative News show to look into this and let North America know how they are being blatently ripped off. I am going to personally discuss this issue mith my MP the Hon. Peter MacKay. These money hungry parasites need to be taught a lesson. I am completely infuriated with UPS…

  • I bought myself a nice jersey from a online soccer shop, and at the time this was my first time buying something online. Among the choices of shipping, I had to (idiotically) go for UPS International (forgot the exact name). The Jersey was 79.99 US dollars, and 20.00 shipping and handling. Usually no one is home during the morning and afternoon, and it took them 3 tries to finally deliver the item. Once the item is delivered guess what. I was charged $43.00 in brokerage. I will never use UPS again. its ridiculous!

    Use USPS from now on. Just keep it simple, pay the taxes and the service done.

  • For small shipments always use USPS. They charge $8. Yup $8. I am a small business and I import goods all the time from 1000 – 30000 $’s a shipment. Customs isnt brain surgery but it can be daunting. There are lots of idiots wearing customs badges and those ones like to power trip. I have spent all day in the customs office to release a shipment. That said – its totally possible to do it with customs yourself. All they want is money. Unless you are importing something really suspicious they dont even look twice at the boxes. Its about money. UPS charges the highest brokerage fees of anyone I know. I just paid the jerks $80 for a 3 mintue phone call to release my goods. My US supplier used UPS against my wishes. USPS would have charged me $8 and would just do it – I wouldnt have to call them to release anything. Thow downside to USPS is they always put provincial taxes on business shipments which is wrong. Getting that $ back is impossible. So it can be a catch 22. Brokerage costs money. I have a broker – they charge less than UPS but not cheap either. Doing it myself is free but requires time. For personal shipments its a no brainer – USPS. I tell all my US shippers of small goods to avoid UPS at all costs. I has one supplier insist on UPS and told them fine – you pay the brokerage fees then. They didnt beleive that UPS would charge them to ship than charge 3X that to cross over the border. Well they got the bill 3 months later and learned. This is the problem, UPS markets aggresively to US business’s and US business’s have no idea what a raping they give at the border. Its criminal what UPS charges. THey will charge $50 for a $5 childs toy marked “gift”. USPS would charge zero in that case as gifts under $60 are free.

  • I recently moved from the US to Canada. I have been living in the NY for eight years and had to ship my stuff via UPS- five boxes weighing over 80 pound each box valued at 200 to 500. UPS is holding my personal items in Lachine. Since it’s personal and a move back to Canada, there should not be any taxes. I spoke to the Border office and they mentioned that as long as I prove that I have been living in the US for eight years, then taxes will reimbursed. I am fuming with UPS, I paid for intl. doc preparation. The USP office in NYC never mentioned a brokerage fee or that I had to pay for delivery from customs to home. This is misleading customers and a nightmare service. Does anyone have any suggestions?

  • Alternative measures

    Having been burned by UPS brokerage fees on a number of occasions, I’ve decided to try to take as much business away from UPS as I can. Many business in the states are not aware of the fees UPS imposes on their international customers. I always check web sites shipping carrier before placing an order, and if the carrier is not listed I will confirm with them through email who they go through. When I find that they only offer UPS as a shipping option, I’ve send them a very informative email about what we go through in result of their shipping through UPS. I explain that I would like to place an order with them (or continue business with them), however, at this time I will not due the frustration of receiving anything through UPS, and I explain in detail the experiences I have had and why I would would appreciate their changing carriers to USPS. In many cases I have had very positive responses, and they no longer ship through UPS to Canada. Instead they offer one or a number of USPS shipping options (which are generally more affordable as well). As I mentioned, many businesses are not aware of the extreme UPS brokerage fees we experience, and an email informing them of this situation really can go a long way 🙂

  • same experience with UPS.

    Simply thieves. I have returned the parcel.

    check this:

    http://betterdollar.com/mailorder/pick-up-at-us-border/

  • UPS put me into shock a few weeks ago by making me pay an extra $60 fee at the door, for a LEGO Toy set.

    I had already paid the U.S. shipper of the toy $30 US funds for S/H from the United States, in our Ebay transaction.
    UPS then shows up with an extra, totally unexpected charge of $60 on a toy, a Christmas present for my 6-year-old. A charge that was unexpected by both the seller of the toy, and myself.

    The seller has contacted me since with extreme apologies for what UPS did to me (he was unaware of “brokerage fees”), and is refusing to use UPS again and do this to any of his future Canadian customers. I told him I’d had no problems at all with USPS international. This is the LAST time I ever have dealings with UPS, and I’m also spreading the word to everyone.

    I’ve also sent my support to the class action suit against UPS.

  • I’ve just been sent information for the UPS class action suit in British Columbia.

    Anyone else in B.C. who wants to add their support and their bad UPS experience to the database, can do it here:

    http://www.poynerbaxter.com/UPS/registration%20form2.htm

    Main site for B.C.:

    http://www.poynerbaxter.com/UPS.htm

  • I received a parcel from the US via FEDEX and it was the wrong item. I put the return sticker on it and marked returned item all over the commercial invoice they sent me. The very next day it was retunred. All the documents were missing and a big Yellow sticker with permanent glue was stuck on the shipping label. I called the vendor and they said to return it via Canada post and they would reimberse the postage. In the meantime I got a bill from FEDEX for 10.97. The item cost 27.99. I called FEDEX and talked to a lady with a very thick accent and she said it was the vendors fault for using “the wrong invoice”. That is my last experience with FEDEX. The Post Office is the only way to go cross-border.

  • Very informative blog. I tried it cause the UPS Standard was $20 and USPS was $31. Hoping to save $11, I went with UPS…bad choice.

    There’s two port-of-entry for Ontario, Windsor and Fort Erie. Both are relatively far for Torontonians. I tried to clear the package myself but it came via Windsor and UPS insisted that I be there in person to clear it. A call to customs confirmed this.

    The CLVS (Courier Program) allows the importer to clear it themselves but from my experience, it’s only applicable for non-commercial shipments. And apparently eBay is considered commercial…

    Btw, the brokerage fees that Sarah posted in a reply is different from the one here . They’re charging the higher price of course. They might be updating that soon…

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