Nightmare selling to Canada

I didn't see 'site-related' as a choice so I'm using 'misc audio'.I feel bad for Canadians wanting to buy our gear. The weight limitation---66lbs--fedex or the PO--- Then unless you lie on the form they may have to pay huge fees.--(up to 35%)????I had a deal in progress; the buyer sent a Canadian MO.I took the bank check to the operations manager at my bank.--She tells me there could be a charge back to my account for a period of up tp 45days later.---I sent the bank check back; unless the buyer wanted to wait 45 days, before I ship the item.As I was returning this check--the postal lady says I could get cash for a Canadian Postal Money Order. --I'm surprised the buyer didn't know this.---After the fact; I now know this.---Sad but true

I'm sorry to hear you ran into some problems selling over the border, being an experienced Canuck 'phile I have no problems receiving items from the U.S.

Weight limitations is something new to me, I've had 100lb + items shipped to me by Fed Ex and UPS. Maybe it's the physical size of the item that dictates having to go a non-standard route (the infamous Dimensional Weight)?

Payment is easy, I buy a Canada Post Money Order in U.S. Funds and mail it off, the buyer can cash it immediately. Either that or PayPal.

The good old government screws us something terrible when it comes to taxing stuff but it's certainly not 35%. Any product made in North America is considered duty-free under NAFTA rules, sales taxes still apply and usually amount to anywhere between 7% to 15% of the stated value of the item (depends what province you live in). Most of us Canucks object to paying the government tax on a used item bought from an private seller and will do our best to pay little or no tax by asking the seller to state a lower value on the shipment. Generally speaking there is no duties owed on gear unless it's built in Asia; either way the government isn't smart and/or diligent enough to figure out where product is built and apply duties accordingly, stuff just gets processed through and the receiver pays whatever tax he owes.

The only other gotcha is customs brokerage fees paid by the receiver. UPS Ground will charge me upwards of $100 to process the paperwork when the item arrives in Canada, Postal Service charges a flat $5 fee, Fed Ex and UPS Air shipments are processed free (you are already paying a premium for the quick service). Your mileage does vary. In summary, selling to Canada isn't hard at all, just a few very minor twists to take into account. If anyone has any questions or problems doing business with us Canucks please feel free to get in touch at any time. Best, Jeff
I general, I must concur with Hack about purchasing used audio items from the U.S. Postal money orders and PayPal make payment simple and easy, but the 15% sales tax which we don't have to pay for purchases within Canada does leave us all with a sour taste in our mouths. I've had lots of large components (JBL and Tannoy studio monitors with 12" and 15" drivers) shipped from the U.S., mostly without any problems. Except for such large and heavy items, I prefer USPS Airmail for most purchases, as it avoids UPS's high customs brokerage fees (as Hack notes), plus I can pick up my packages at my local post office, rather than have to coordinate receiving packages at UPS's convenience.

Having said all that, my best deals have all been local or within-Canada purchases, but the reverse may be true for American buyers.

Happy listening all!
It works the same way in the other direction as well. I was told by my bank last year that since 9/11, US Bank money orders take some 30 days to officially clear up in Canada.

This harsh dose of today's reality doesn't particularly bother me as I still prefer to take a money order from a US buyer over Paypal.
When I send a money order to the U.S, it is from a Canadian bank. The bank has an association with an American bank and would indicate the American bank's name on the money order. This is common practice for major Canadian banks. I believe that under the American Uniform Commerical Code, in these circumstances, a money order from Canada is supposed to clear within 72 hours. If it doesn't, the problem is with the bank you took the money order to, not the money order. I am aware of a law suit going on right now where a Canadian bank is suing an American bank for violating this provision of the UCC, bouncing the money order to the detriment of their client after tehe date they were supposed to clear it.

Regarding shipping weight, if one company doesn't take packages above a certain weight, then others will.

In Canada, we pay taxes and brokerage fees on imported items. We may also pay customs duty. It depends on the country of manufacture of the item as to what the duty is, if any.

If a Canadian asks you to lie about the value of the item so that they can save taxes, they are asking you to commit a crime. Are you willing to pay a fine or go to jail if caught? It's your name and signature on the customs form with the incorrect information. The other person could simply deny they asked you to do it to save themselves. Not that what happens to them has any relevance to your guilt.

I've had people in the U.S. that I've purchased things from offer to lie about valuation in order to help me, without me even asking. I thank them but repsectfully decline and ask them to tell the truth on the customs form. Given who I am and what I do, I can't risk breaking the law. It would kill my job and career so I play it squeaky clean.
I agree with Jeff's comments above. I live in B.C. and pay 14% taxes on items arriving from the US. Fed Ex charges me $7.00 brokerage which is not a lot. Fed Ex Ground is about $15.00US. I tell anyone shipping to me not to us UPS. As Jeff stated above their fees are a rip off. Didn't know about the Canada Post money order. Good tip. I try to use Paypal for all me transactions. It's quick and speeds up the transaction considerably. I want it, and I want it now!!!!!!!The fee is negligible in the grand scheme of things. Customs delays have been an average of one day. I believe the money order charge back is standard no matter where you live. I don't think any bank would like to lose on a M/O transaction. Lately, I have been using Xpresspost service up here ,and, have been asking US shippers to use USPS Global methods. Shipments using these methods have arrived on schedule so far with no customs delays on either side.
BTW, PO or Fedex ground has this 66lb. limit to Canada. If you have a computer and an account at FEDEX you can use ground, for heavier items---webtv guy---no computer. There were several reasons I sent the Bank Check back. On the phone it sounded like this guy did MANY deals 'cross the border.---AND I think he should have known about Canadian Postal MO's. I asked him to click 'email-seller' from my add---so I could examine his feedback---he didn't want to--one warning flag. The other is I've read about charge backs from paypal (read about them here) Then of course the potential of a charge back on the check. (Read about that too;here)
My Bank is Wells Fargo. The operations manager is a very savvy babe. I'd have to be a fool to disregard her input--That's her field. Mom says life is a learning experience-----I'm learning;already!!
I have all my parcels from the USA to Canada shipped to Blaine, WA. just across the border from Vancouver and that way the freight costs are about 1/2 of what it would cost to ship direct to Vancouver, plus I don't have to deal with brokerage fee's, etc.
I usually go down every couple of weeks and pick up all my shipments and clear them through customs myself.
For larger shipments I always use Bax Global Air Freight, they
have very competetive rates and are perfect to ship big speakers, amp's, etc.
I just shipped a DAC to Canada through FedEx and it easy (except for the taxes the recipient had to pay!).
Markphd, regarding your 4th and 5th paragraphs LIGHTEN UP. I don't know who you are or what you do ,but, whatever it is sounds extremely important and ethical. I am really happy that you are such a law abiding citizen, someone who the rest of us can look up to and try our best to walk in the foot steps of. Do you by chance work for Canada Customs? Our country needs all the tax dollars it can possibly get it's hands on. Keep giving generously.
Just received in the mail today an invoice from Fed Ex Trade Networks (Fed Ex Ground's agent)which includes GET THIS $56.25 in brokerage fees and another $5.50 in disbursment fees + taxes totaling $66.08. WHAT A F...ING RIP OFF. NOW MY LIST OF COURIERS NOT TO USE INCLUDES FED EX GROUND. Unbelievable.

The purpose of the forums is for members to exchange information, experiences and opinion on audiophile related matters.

If I have stated something that you think is factually incorrect, or have expressed an opinion that you disagree with, I, and other members, will be happy to debate and discuss views in a civil and respectful manner in keeping with the spirit of the AudiogoN audiophile community.

If all you have to offer is childish personal insult and sarcasm, then you will discredit yourself. Other members who might buy and sell from you will be reviewing your threads and making judgements about you from your comments.

Peace brother.
Hey; I'm not the 'most straight arrow guy' on the planet. I do feel empathy for Canadian buyers. Especially the guys with the same hobby as me. AND then specially guys buying my piece.--Getting their merchandise must be something like getting in and out of East Berlin in the 70's.---Well kinda--a bit like.
As soon as we hear about the nuclear weapons stash we'll invade and put all this customs hassle in the past--EH??
I've got a question. I live in Canada and I sent my Krell 300i to Krell to get serviced. They are sending it back to me and I'm curious to know if I'll get charged anything when it crosses over the border again. I bought it on Audiogon from a fellow Canuck so the unit had already crossed the border a few years ago. They can't charge taxes on an item twice can they??? I assumed that it was made in States but I'm not positive. Anyone know??
You don't like paying exorbitant duties/tariffs then leave Canada; same for folks in Australia and many other socially enlightened countries. I am wondering how much duty I am going to have to pay to liberate my turntable coming from Germany; I was told I must pick it up at the Customs Office. Guess that means I need my chequebook......

Much easier to get on in life by just playing by the rules.
Pilotboy- you would have had to have kept the original Customs documents showing the original duties/taxes paid...
Pilotboy, if Krell completes the return paperwork properly
you should be only liable for taxes on the cost of the
repairs as well as any customs brokerage fees.
Krell isn't actually charging me for any repairs, (the unit blew up my speakers!!) so does that mean I just pay the brokerage fees and if so, what is that based on??
Markphd, check my feedback. I've had no problems with the way I conduct myself.
The last paragraph of Hack's response above is a good summary about brokerage fees. The sad part about UPS is that you will pay a significant brokerage fee even if no taxes or duties are owing as in your case. UPS does have more expensive shipping options (eg. "Expedited") where the brokerage fee is built into the higher cost.
Markphd, I think you've got it wrong. I think it's only a crime if you insure it for MORE than what the product is worth. To my knowledge there's suppose to be a difference between "declared value" and "insured value" but for private transactions, I believe most people treat the two as the same thing since there doesn't seem to be an option to separate the two on the forms. The private seller has already paid his taxes (and the taxes for the product), he cannot and should not be forced by his government to pay full insurance. The only problem is that if a problem does occur, the difference between the insured value and the actual value of the item needs to be covered but that's between the buyer and the seller. A shipper is allowed to insure an item for less. The buyer is the one paying for insurance. Obviously, if the seller insures the item for less than what the buyer asked/paid for, the seller is responsible. But if it's the buyer who requests the seller to insure the item for less than the paid for value, you would hope that the buyer takes responsibility.

It is illegal for companies to not charge the full amount for taxes. But if they are allowed to ship overseas and don't incur export fees, they cannot charge their foreign buyer their local taxes and so again should not be forced to insure the item for more than the amount the buyer is willing to pay for. Some companies refuse to insure it for less than their cost of course but that's another story.

In terms of money order. The number of days it takes to clear a money order is a bit rediculous but any other payment option would pose similar risks of fraud except for escrow, which would take just as long of a time anyways.

To me, I hate dealing with people who's all business. I rather trust and get hurt than to have never found someone I can trust
Howie, insurance fraud is a separate issue from what I was talking about.

My only purpose in pointing out the legal issue is that if you lie about something like this, you could get in serious trouble. From the responses of some of the other posts, many people think it's a trivial matter. Doing 81 km/hr in an 80 km/hr zone, or jaywalking, does not put you in the big house. This can. I had the RCMP show up at the door of a friend of mine once. They seized his product and it was only because they felt really nice that day that he wasn't charged. And I don't think that having lots of positive feedback from AudiogoN members will reduce the sentence. And wouldn't it be nice to have a cellmate who's a 300 pound Hell's Angel biker who starts referring to you as his "bunk muffin".
Markphd, what exactly are you talking about? What are you referring to as illegal? A buyer asking a seller to insure the item for less? A seller insuring the item for less? Or both?

Like I said, there should be a difference between declared value and insured value, but I don't believe anyone including the shipping companies do much to separate the two, so the insured value ends up reflecting declared value. The shipping companies will tell you that it's illegal to insure it for more than what your product is worth because you might end up cheating the shipping company, but it's not illegal to not buy enough insurance. If I'm shipping an item that is worth $5000 to me and my buyer, I can see how it's illegal for me to declare it to be anything less, but it doesn't make sense for me to go to jail because I refuse to pay $5000 worth of insurance or for my buyer to go to jail because he refuses to pay. That cannot possibly be a crime (again the bigger problem is that the insured value is treated as the declared value). In Canada, it is illegal to drive a car that does not have insurance, but we are not required to purchase extra insurance just like we are not required to purchase extra home insurance.

And lets not forget that there's no law or official pricebook governing the price structure of used audio gear. A product can be priced at whatever amount the seller whiches to sell it at. Perhaps you're not telling us something about your friend and what he did that may help explain why the police went to his place. At the very least, since it's HIS products that got confiscated, he's not the seller, and as it should be, if it's the buyer who requests the seller to insure the item for less, the seller should not be responsible for anything other than the insured value including customs and duties. I think almost everyone here would agree with me that this is the accepted norm.
I have to agree that it is wise to pay all applicable taxes when you buy an item new from a dealer, especially if you expect warranty and all else that being a new owner might entail. A transaction involving a used piece between two private persons is a little different and here I think there can be a lot of subjective leeway in how much the item is valuated for tax purposes.

Let's say you lent an amp to a friend who brought it with him Stateside for grad school. A year later, he decides to send it back to you in Canada. Surely you don't feel that any taxes should be paid? Although no money exchanged hands here, I see this as being analogous to a private transaction for a used product. I feel this is consonant with the spirit of the GST although I admit I don't know what the letter of the law is here.
Markphd These are your words "I had the RCMP show up at the door of a friend of mine once." You should be carefull in how you say things, it sounds like you told the RCMP.
I've bought most of my current gear from the States and have not experienced any nightmares, unless you count the taxes, duties and/or brokerage fees. :-)

I think Markphd was referring to the legality or lack thereof of purposely misdeclaring the value for Customs purposes. Insurance fraud is a totally separate issue. Customs couldn't care less what one declares in terms of insured value, it is, as correctly pointed out, a matter between buyer, seller and the shipping company. Declared value on the other hand is a bit more sticky insofar as Customs law is applicable. If you get caught undervaluing, you must pay the applicable Customs duties and Goods & Services Tax (GST, which help to fund things like public health care, the military and bridges) on the correct value (as determined by those wily Customs agents, with reference to the Harmonised Code in use in most nations around the globe), plus a penalty (again as sanctioned by Customs law) and interest on amounts overdue. Usually, the importer gets the bill, since they are responsible for bringing the item into the country. (And, yes, I used to work for Customs). ;-)

Markphd may have a perfectly good reason for playing it squeaky clean, but that's not much of a reason to start wailing on him.

Kleech, when taking a relatively high value electronic item out of Canada into another country, one should stop at the nearest Customs office to obtain the appropriate document for the item indicating that it was bought in Canada and will be brought back at some point (I forget the correct term or doc #). It indicates what the item is and its worth and when returning to Canada, you present the doc to Customs in order to bring it back without paying any duties or taxes. Otherwise, they can't know whether it was purchased abroad and should be subject to duties/taxes. Smart thing to do that is not widely known, especially for those taking an expensive camera on vacation or laptop on business travel.

Just my 2 cents (3 cents US).

Hey, hey, it was all right until a camera or a laptop were mentioned. With all the due respect to the rules, how do you, guys, imagine going to Customs office EVERY TIME you travel, for such a indispensable stuff like camera or laptop??? Should I consider moving closer to the Customs offices location?
You know, in Israel with its instable economics (yeah, they say it's getting better) yet recently there was a law demanding to register any camera or laptop in the Customs before travelling, and though the office was located in the aeroport, it was definitely not a pleasure. Now, this rule is cancelled as *outrageous*. Cameras and laptops are excluded from the list they're checking, unless they're new, just because no one travels without them, which puts a substantial overhead both on the customs and travellers.
Please, don't tell me such a thing is still alive and well in Canada!
A drop shipment from a Canadian mfg. to a private buyer in the US... The buyer has to provide their Social Security number in order for the shipment to take place.
Beware of big brother.
Every government in the world wants to create police states.