In Which Life Is Not Fun

UPS just showed up with my secondhand lazy kate and bobbins.

Guess what? There’s a huge brokerage fee, plus GST, plus PST. All calculated on the value, which UPS determined was $106, which is the value of the item plus all their service fees. (How they can get away with saying their services qualify as part of the total value of the shipment, I cannot fathom. I originally misunderstood the $106 to be the value declared by the seller, but a close inspection of the fine print on the copy of the bill I was given indicates that no, UPS is just a bully and a bastard.)

Total brokerage fees? $57.84 CDN.

How much did I pay for this secondhand set? $60 CDN.

How much is this lazy kate + bobbin set new? $120 CDN.

I could cry. This was supposed to save me money. I’m ending up with a used product for the same amount of money I would have paid for new. I could have ordered it via my friends at Ariadne Knits and supported them for the same cost.

The UPS guy was so, so nice. He talked about all sorts of options, including never using UPS cross-border because of the inflated fees (he says he works for UPS and never uses them!) and asking people to declare the actual value paid or as used goods between 1-10$ so the associated fees are much lower.

I don’t even have the parcel now, because not only am I morally opposed to being charged an insane amount of money to obtain my already-paid-for-shipping-and-all goods, my credit card is useless and I didn’t have the cash. He’s coming back tomorrow. What really makes me angry is that I tracked this parcel from the day it was sent, and not once did they include any info about charges, which would have made me ready for them so I could have had the money on hand, or at least been emotionally prepared for having to refuse it or whatever the shipper and I decided to do about it. He says they do it on purpose, and I fully expect that they do. He gets this kind of reaction all the time, and he thinks it is completely unfair to those receiving the parcels. And 90% of the time, people pay the fees, because what else can they do? They’ve ordered an item they want and/or need, after all.

I feel like I’ve been kicked. I’m trying to find some sort of solace in the fact that I helped a fellow spinner out, but it’s kind of hard. Money’s tight, and I was trying to do what was best; I found the item used and at a good price, saved up for it, and now I feel like I’m being punished somehow for trying to do the right thing. Anyway, I’ve sent the shipper an e-mail to try to work something out. If I refuse it and it gets sent back to her to be shipped again via the post office, we lose the original UPS shipping fee, but the PO would have to charge $40 in order for our total shipping costs to match the extortionist import fee UPS is trying to charge me. And from a quick glance at the fee tables on the USPS site, it looks like it will cost between $10 and $15 to mail, which at least saves me about $25.

I hate being penalized for trying to do the right thing. I hate it.

ETA: A couple of people have asked, so let me clarify: This is not duty, it is brokerage alone. UPS evaluated the parcel and said, “We have decided that you need not pay duty on this. Now pay us $58 for telling you so.”

ETA LATER: The seller is an absolute star. She was as indignant about the brokerage fees as I was, and has told me to absolutely refuse the package. She’s never shipped anything cross-border via UPS before, and you can be darn sure she won’t do it again. When it gets back to her she’ll ship it out via the post office, and she’s offered to absorb part of the cost. I’m so thankful that she was as aghast as I was and agreed to work with me to get around this, even though it means a bit of extra effort on both our parts. So I won’t have my lazy kate and extra bobbins for another couple of weeks, but the time is worth the $40 I’ll ultimately save.

3 thoughts on “In Which Life Is Not Fun

  1. Blade

    Welcome to fun world of brokerage.

    If what you’re getting is coming in express your usually safe as it moves to fast to get flagged for brokerage check. If you want something at a normal service level better off going USPS.

    What’s even more brutal is when something ships and does not have a pre-set brokerage company to handle it you can get slammed even harder.

    Livingston charges my company almost $50 JUST for their brokerage fee (on top of any actual taxes and duties) for anything valued under $1k, even if it’s a $5 sample.

  2. Phnee

    I had that happen for my pressure canner. NOT impressed, let me tell you, and the poor guy got an earful from me. What didn’t help is that I was awoken at 11:00am when I was working night shift and THEN told that I owed a ridiculous sum of money in brokerage fees.

    This was after I specifically requested they not use UPS.

    SO annoying.

    Anyway, much sympathy.


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