I think the biggest reason is not knowing if the package is going to get to ( or from ) another country in the condition it left from..The idea of having a piece broken in shipment from out of the country and trying to track down the right person for a claim is pretty scary..Its hard enough to make a claim in our own country..Just too many extra issues to deal with..If the buyer from the other country is willing to take on responsibilty if the piece is broken in transit,thats a different story,but that never happens..At least that is my feeling on it..I have passed up many sales myself ( being honest here ) just for that reason...Not sure if that answers your question or not...?
Shipping paperwork is a HUGE hassel. There is none of that if you just sell in the US market. I sold an item to someone in France one time, and the associated paperwork took me an extra 4 hours.
Unless there is a huge premium to account for extra effort, it's simpler to sell in the domestic market.
Plus, there are very few things that I can think of that can't be bought in the EU at near the same price, so why would you pay any extra for an item here in the States? The only time it makes sense is when it's an arbitrage on currencies.
Thorman said it very well. All of the same worries as a domestic sale, only much worse. Not to mention the buyer complaining about duties and tariffs etc. It is too risky and it just isn't worth it unless it is such a rare and expensive item that it must have worldwide exposure to find a customer.
I too dislike selling out of the U.S., especially since most of the items I sell are rather high priced items, and if there is a problem, I am out big bucks!
I don't want to deal with customs, or excessive insurance, or especially, bogus paypal payments. Once the item has left the U.S., there is little we, as U.S. sellers, can do from a legal standpoint should the seller lie and say he did not receive the item, or that it was broken, etc. Paypal usually believes the buyer, and screws the seller in those instances.
(I have sold a couple items to non-U.S. buyers, (out of desparation to sell items at a decent price, to be honest), but I have insisted on bank transfers in those cases.)
My two cents worth.
PS And no offense, but if I choose to limit myself to U.S. buyers only, that is my business and my business alone. I really don't need anyone telling me what I can and/or have to do. The U.S. is not a complete socialist state. Well, at least not yet - maybe next year though!
I have sold to and purchased from the UK many times with no problems.
Shipping - hard to estimate the real cost without boxing it up and taking it to the PO to get a real $$$ - expensive too.
I have to agree that PayPal seems to side with buyers when there is an issue. (true or false) An out of country dispute would be extremely difficult for a seller to disprove. With at least 75% of the overseas items that I have sold, the buyer wishes to claim "0 $" value to advoid duty fees. That means no insurance value. Its a very risky proposition.
I ship worldwide and to date have had no issues at all, but each time I do I get nervous about transit issues, etc. USPS won't insure deliver in some countries (well, one that I have experienced), other carriers are often cost prohibitive, and now and then I see folks report issues with international deals.
I think the basic issue is FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) that prevents folks from WW sales. Some stuff won't transport great distances very well so that may play into it also.
" filling out a customs declaration form"
That's enough for me. The only time I have been screwed is from an out of country sale. Also, the level of comprehension of the queens english when dealing with buyers abroad can be stressful and problematic.
I have sold to items to oversea's buyers and in both cases the buyer asked me to change the declared value to avoid fee's, this was done after I advised that I would not do it. This led to me not being able to conclude the the sale and having to repost. This also deprived other buyers the opportunity to purchase the item. I have on occasion sold items to overseas since but it was after a phone call and a clear understanding from the buyer on risk I am willing to take. Perhaps if something came up you could talk to a seller directly.
But I am glad you brought up the question because I now know to never buy anything from Kurt_tank. And don't ask me why, it's none of your business. No offense.
I now list only for sale in the US for the same reasons other mention: paperwork, requests for zero value, fears.
I have sold an item to Germany, and purchased from France, England, Australia and Canada.
The desire to avoid hassles is the big one.
I WOULD accept offers from a few contries, (Germany, England, Japan) if the offer came with a 'bank transfer' air freight shipping payment, and no request for lowering the value for customs. But it is very hard to say in an ad that I would consider 'some' non-USA offers.
I would never sell to Nigeria, sorry for those honest Nigeria Audiophiles!
I almost brought an item with me to France to avoid shipping/tarrif issues, but when the counterparty checked into what customs would like at DeGaul airport we decided to cancel the deal.
The guy did take my wife and I out to dinner in Paris though, very, very cool experience. Thank you Audiogon.
Same at DAVT said. I've been asked, literally at the last minute, to change declared value, make fruadulent statement as to contents, "gifts", etc.
I have 3 ads going now. All say that I will not make fraudulent statements, etc. I've said it every time and have a 402 on feedback. Nonetheless, it's still happended just as Davt said. I will sell overseas, but it's risky and frustrating for many of the reasons cited.
I WOULD accept offers from a few contries, (Germany, England, Japan) if the offer came with a 'bank transfer' air freight shipping payment, and no request for lowering the value for customs. But it is very hard to say in an ad that I would consider 'some' non-USA offers.
In addition to the many valid reasons which have been cited for making a listing "USA only" is the possibility of outright fraud. And the impracticality of obtaining recourse if it were to occur with a foreign buyer. That would seem fairly unlikely here at Audiogon, but those of us like me who have extensive eBay experience have been sensitized over the years to the very real possibility (at least there) of non-USA buyers using hijacked accounts, paying with forged bank drafts, etc.
Every time I have been asked to ship an item out of the US,
the buyer requested that I declare the value as ZERO dollars which negates any form of insurance. Also the "gift" declaration is another issue which can result in problems such as hangups in customs. Transit times can be very long. I had a buyer get very upset because it took almost 3 weeks for a package to reach Asia. I shipped per his instructions, and he was still unhappy because it took so long. I made this very clear in our communications and he agreed. As another post above stated, I have had only 2 issues with buyers, and both involved international sales and this was due to long shipping times and high shipping costs. It is too much hassle for me personally.
I agree with all of the above comments and can ad in my experience every time I get an international inquiry, it always leads to a discussion about electrical compatibility. That always leads to a lot of wasted effort, and no sales.
Even if you list for US only you still get inquiries from other countries. I just got one from a buyer in Asia with a track record asking if I would ship there and offering to pay with wire transfer. I told him I would for my asking price and never heard back. I received another inquiry from someone in Asia whom I was willing to deal with but I had already sold the item. I shipped a tonearm to Australia last fall. But there are too many buyers like the guy from Hong Kong who "bought" an item from me and never sent the payment. The main thing is having a history of positive feedback. But there are some countries that the Postal Service will simply not offer insurance to. My bank has discouraged me from using wire transfer unless you set up a separate account for it. Has anyone had experience using them? By no means are dud buyers limited to overseas, I recently waited 2 weeks for a payment only to be finally informed that he hadn't sent it and wasn't going to but I can deal with problems here easier than overseas.
Because international law is a bitch!
I sent an item to Spain, within 24 hours of the sale.
It got hung up in Spain Customs for some time and the customer gave me some grief!
I've been liquidating a lot of gear here on Audiogon over the past several months. And, based on my previous experience with sending gear back and forth from Canada, I explicitly say, "USA Sales Only!" It was simply too much of a headache on many levels. For whatever reason, whether I was shipper or receiver, both UPS and FedEX were constantly slamming me with outrageous fees that I could never shake.
Nevertheless, I still get a lot of inquiries from Canada, and an appreciable amount from Europe and Asia. Call me foolish, but I'll settle for a far lower sale price before I send anything out of this country. As they say, been there, done that, don't want to do it again, forget it.
All that being said, I'm going to have to figure out some strategy in the not too distant furture, as I'm about to begin selling some new gear, and I'll be looking to sell internationally.
When I've dealt with Canada sales transactions which I have several times I always end up receiving a bill for additional fees from the carrier. I hate that.
Largeyo, from the majority of posts in this thread I think you get the point now.
Personally, I have absolutely no problem dealing with any such transaction - as long as you pay US$ cash and pick it up in person (or similarly accept cash and I can drive there to pick up in person). International or U.S.domestic, it's the same. Yup, that really limits things but it suits me just fine - I'm not in the business, I'm (obviously) not buying nor selling lots of stuff. I used to deal with shipping and was mostly lucky with that. Then I did a couple of transactions where I drove (to other states, no less), met a couple of really exceptional folks in the course of completing the deal, and decided that works best for most of what I'm interested in. I still might do other stuff online (retail, etc.) but the advantages to not dealing with shipping (much less customs, tax guys, etc.) makes non-domestic deals a no-brainer no-go for me.
Largeyo, I completely agree. I am a longstanding (American) Audiogon member living abroad. I have bought several items on Audiogon from dealers who were willing to send internationally (thanks JD and Mehran, among others!). In no case have I heard back that there was a problem or otherwise experienced a problem. In a recent case, I had to pay consumption tax (equivalent to sales tax or VAT) to the Customs office, but that was fine. I was buying something I wanted, and had it been for sale locally, I would have had to pay the tax anyway so no real problem. If my willingness to do the deal at price X depended on whether or not the seller was willing to lie about value, I would wait until it was cheaper. I think potential buyers who ask sellers to lie about value do tend make life difficult for the rest of us.
There are many times I have wanted to buy things which are said to be "US-only" but frankly, trying to change the minds of dogmatic sellers is really not pleasant.
In the end, reality aside, it is what makes you uncomfortable which determines your limits. While US fraud is just as rife as international fraud, and is not really any easier for US sellers to combat (or gain relief from), the fact that the potential for fraud is in the same country rather than a different country seems to make it 'less likely' or safer. Hogwash. I would almost argue the opposite. International transactions are more likely to be done through money order, wire transfer, or bank draft, making buyer fraud less of a risk for the seller - transferring the risk to the buyer rather than the seller.
You also forget that we USA audiophiles really don't need to reach a larger market. Honestly, with 300 million people in the USA, why do I need the hassle of customs and all that paperwork to expand that base? If I lived in Europe, then I would sell to all Western European countries in order to have a market the size of the USA.
Bottom line....don't NEED to sell to Europe, therefore don't WANT to sell to Europe.
It works both ways guys. Every problem that exists in selling to somebody outside of the U.S. also exists when selling to somebody in the U.S.
Buying or selling internationally is not a problem if both sides know what they are doing, especially with regard to the extra costs. The extra paperwork is trivial, just five minutes to fill out a customs declaration. It's the extra costs people don't know about that causes hassles such as refusals to accept delivery. And that's the problem. Being in Canada, most of my transactions are international transactions with U.S. residents because of the size and proximity of the U.S. market. So when I buy something, I negotiate a price and shipping costs. I get the money to the seller. I then take care of brokerage, customs and taxes on my end upon delivery. No problem for me. No problem for the seller. He doesn't even see these things that happen in my country. It's my job to know these things when I buy internationally. I know what I'm doing and what all the extra costs are. Unfortunately, I find it often doesn't work this way when I try to sell internationally. I negotiate a price and shipping and the buyer asks me what the brokerage, customs, duties, taxes, etc. and whatever will be. First of all, this presumes he even knows that these things exist, which is often not the case. Well, how the hell would I know what your government or the shipping company charges for these things when something is delivered to you in a foreign country? You live there, not me. You tell me. It's not something I see or have anything to do with at all anyways. It's something you pay someone else upon delivery. It's not money that comes to me and it's not something I can pay for on your behalf in my country, except possibly brokerage in some circumstances. Do your homework.
I find that everything goes fine in international transactions so long as I don't have to babysit someone who doesn't know what they're doing. I've had people sending me domestic U.S. money orders printed with a statement: "Only negotiable in the U.S."...Duh...Where on the common sense scale does a person fall who sends a negotiable instrument to a foreign country that's only negotiable in their own country? They don't know what to do. So I have to tell them.
From the comments above, you can see it's a hassle to buy/sell internationally. It doesn't have to be that way. It's the people you deal with. As a result, I try to buy and sell domestically before I even advertise anything internationally. When I do buy/sell internationally, I try to ensure that I'm dealing with someone who knows what they're doing. Most of the time it works out fine.
As a practical tip, if someone says that something is only for sale in the U.S., ask them anyway if they will sell to you. I've never been turned down when I've done this. Sellers are not a problem. It's the buyers who are the problem because most don't know the extra charges at their end that the seller has no involvement with whatsoever.
There. I've had my rant for the day. I feel better now.
Selling high end audio internationally comes down to taking more time (how much varies), more work (how much varies), added risk to the shipment (how much varies), in order to make a sale. If you have a sizeable buying audience in the US, what would be the motivation for adding more variables to the sales process by selling outside the US? For most I'd say the motivation just isn't there.
I have only been refused by "US-only" sellers. I will, however, make an effort to try again, and educate sellers that it does not have to be a problem.
Just curious and please don't take this question wrong ... do you sellers that restrict your sales only to the U.S. ever buy from international sellers or do you only buy from the U.S.?
To answer your question: "Do you sellers that restrict your sales only to the U.S. ever buy from international sellers or do you only buy from the U.S.?"
The basic answer is: No, I don't buy "equipment" internationally, and Yes, I only buy from U.S. sellers.
I do make a small exception, as I will buy LPs from international sellers, but that is it.
It really is a matter of how much hassle and risk one wishes to put up with when buying and selling gear. Personally, I will take a lesser price and sell domestically, rather than make a bit more money and sell internationally. And to take it a step further, I also further discount my equipment sales when the seller is local and I can eliminate shipping althogether!
(Man, I hate shipping large items, especially speakers - although, I will admit, that I did sell and ship speakers recently, and actually had a semi-pleasant experience, unlike my first time!) And conversely, I much prefer to buy from local sellers to eliminate the hassles of shipping (incluidng the shipping costs, insurance costs, and of course the possible damage from shipping). I have had enough insurance hassles to last me a lifetime, thank you very much!
I look at this as a hobby, and as a hobby, I want to enjoy it, and not spend time fretting over shipping charges, shipping insurance, shipping damage, insurance claims, fraudulent buyers and sellers, and all the other potential hassles that are involved in the buying and selling of gear. (So adding another layer of potential problems by including international buying and selling is just not in the cards for me!) Perhaps that is why I tend to hang onto gear longer than most people. The average lifespan of the gear (in my system), is somewhere between five and ten years. Well, except for cartridges, which tends to be about eighteen months. But now that I have found the Dynavector XV-1S, that is going change! I'm done looking! :-)
Anyway, my two cents worth!
I'm not aware of any import duties, value added taxes, customs papers that have to be filled out or customs inspections on items coming in to the U.S. from elsewhere. I've puchased vacuum tubes, and other small items, from W. Germany, Australia, Canada and Argentina without any problems, for me or the shipper. On the other hand; shipping to other countries can be a nightmare for both parties. Recently, I carefully packaged a Dahlquist DQLP-1 and a number of spare caps, resistors, etc for shipment to Canada(a small box). When the buyer received the package(after paying an exorbitant import duty), it had been opened and the contents strewn about within by customs. Personally, I have no general rule as to where I will ship. BUT- UPS(tracked and insured) to the contiguous 48 is no doubt the most painless route to take, for anything of any size.
As a Canadian, this is something I deal with regularly and not just for audio. There are places/services at the border, like a large PO box, that allows sending to a US address but I never think I would use it much more, so I've never signed up. Besides, driving across the border to pick it up has become a pain.
What does bother me is when I search for the best deal, go through the ordering process only to be blocked by a form that doesn't accept a Canadian address. Last week, it happened three times for a single item and had to pay 33% more on the fourth and only remaining site. It was for a new but fairly unique automotive part. Ridiculous.
Both retailers and individuals would be arrogant to not accept the international market from the web.
>>Both retailers and individuals would be arrogant to not accept the international market<<
Let's not confuse arrogance with minimizing hassles.
I can understand sellers not wanting to sell outside of the United States. I have sold overseas and have had a few problems with the countries of Italy, Argentina, and even Canada. It takes forever to get the shipment through customs. I sent a power cable to Argentina and the person did not receive the package for 6 weeks. In the meantime, I had to deal with the suspicions that I never sent the package and the numerous emails asking for assistance. The U.S. Postal Service doesn't have a global tracking system so that is part of the problem. It is just so much easier to sell within the U.S. Despite the hassles, I still sell to an overseas buyer, but I have my fingers crossed everytime I ship the item
All my Gon purchases have been from the US, I am in the UK. Most stated US buyers only. I contacted them and asked courteously if they would consider a sale to the UK and I have not been turned down. I usually only buy US gear, where the price advantage is very real. For me, also, there are opportunities I could'nt get, except in the US, Conrad Johnson for example. You almost never find for sale in the UK, but many tempting adds on audiogon.
I would never criticise a seller for limiting to local buyers only, but I have found they can be persuaded if approached reasonably. Oh yes, I am VERY AWARE of shipping and customs problems, they are my problem, not the sellers.
It is buyers like David12 that I would, (and have on the rare occassion), sell to who are outside of the U.S.
I like buyers who understand that there are hassles in selling internationally, and they, as the international buyer, assume all the responsibilities for the hassles, problems and costs associated there with!
Good Job David!
I'm always amazed at buyers in the US that are confused and shocked that there would be Duty on an item they are buying from or was manufactured in, a foreign country. Like, you have never traveled outside the US and had to fill out a Customs Declaration on your way home or going across the border?!
I thought it would be obvious...
In any event, I have a copy of the US Harmonized Tariff schedule, the 8500 series pages, that I copied off of the Internet. That covers all the elctronic stuff we're concerned-with in Audio. I can see what the Duties are, if any, and I tell the buyer at the beginning when doing a shipping quote. If you call FedEx or UPS and ask them what the Brokerage fees will be (usually based on the value of the item that is being shipped), they will tell you - another mystery cleared-up.
I have shipped overseas many times and have never had a problem. I have never had a buyer request a zero value, and I wouldn't do it anyway, as that is ridiculous and bound to attract attention at Customs. We work out a realistic value that will allow it to slide through Customs and the buyer has to understand that the package cannot be insured for a value higher than the declared value. So if it gets lost or damaged, they are assuming that risk.
I also get them to pay by wire transfer - no PayPal unless they have a ton of good feedback, and no Money Orders.
It's a hassle and a lot of paperwork.
Funny enough, but nearly only those who do not sell outside the US comment here. In my eight years here on audiogon, I have bought and sold from and to the US as a German living in Moscow, now having moved back to Germany), without any problem whatsoever, so my advice is to buyers from abroad: ask courteously, be able to pay by cheque, bank transfer, or Paypal, and more often than not it works just fine.
Regards, Florian Hassel
During the last 1,5 years, I have bought about 8-10 expensive items (from $200 to $1000) from Audiogon, Head-Fi, eBay. I live in Russia and I've never had a problem receiving stuff from U.S, Australia, South Korea, Canada. I contact the buyer, ask him for a shipping quote, then ask him to kindly specify the invoice value as $200-$300 (including the shipping charges). If he agrees, I pay through PayPal and in 4-6 weeks I always receive what I want. The biggest problem is persuading the buyer to sell internationally. They always fear something unreasonably like small children, I cannot understand it. It seems to me that it's the buyer who bear all the risks, not the seller. So, if I am willing to take these risks, why does it matter to the seller?
Asking a seller to undervalue their product on the invoice exposes them to a potential loss in the event of shipping damage as shipping companies generally will not payoff more than the items declared value. If an individual wants to scam their government that's their business. given some of the tax laws I can even understand why they would. But asking me to be complicit is a step too far.
BTW, I am not opposed to international sales or purchases, though my preference is for US transactions, especially for larger purchases. These are always paid for with USPS Money Orders and the funds delivered via the USPS. If there is a scam or deceit it's a Federal offense and the likelihood of the authorities taking action is greater. I may not get my money back, but there is a greater chance the culprit would not do it again! (yes, mildly delusional, but it brings me comfort...)
As I understand it, it is not an offence to undervalue any item being sent, but only to give a different insurance value to the declared customs value. If the buyer wishes to take the risk of a loss on the insurance if the item goes astray and it is underinsured, that is his risk, not the sellers.
Declaring a lesser value is fraud and the border agents are more resourceful than most people assume. They have the computers to check Ebay and Audiogon records and often do, as well as contacting the seller. Not only can they fine, they can confiscate and lay criminal charges.
"Asking a seller to undervalue their product on the invoice exposes them to a potential loss in the event of shipping damage as shipping companies generally will not payoff more than the items declared value." - Why will a seller need a payoff? Nobody is foolish enough to ship an item before he receives the full payment for it. If a shipment is lost, it's a buyer who suffers.
"Declaring a lesser value is fraud" - Lesser than what? What's the reference point? If two people agree on a price, it's their private business, nobody can override their decision. If you want to sell your $800 amp for $200, and a buyer agrees to buy it for $200, it's nobody else's business.
Here's a quiz for everyone. There are two worlds; each has its pluses and minuses:
In the first world, a seller has no responsibility to deliver their product to the buyer in the condition advertised. If there is shipping damage it is the buyer's responsibility to accept the loss. There is no need for freight insurance, therefore any value for the item being shipped can be declared.
In the second world it is the responsibility of a seller to deliver their product to the buyer in the condition advertised. If there is shipping damage it is the seller's responsibility to accept the loss. The seller is allowed to insure their product, but doing so requires an honest declaration of the product's value.
Which world do you want to live in?
Thanks for playing.
I would agree with others that it comes down to what is agreed between buyer and seller. If the buyer wants to take that risk away from the seller, so be it. I have other issues with the practice but that's besides the point to the people who choose to go down that path.
T_bone, none of my comments were relative to a seller giving up their responsibility to the buyer as it's not something I'm likely to do. I give what I expect and that means the seller is responsible to deliver as advertised. We certainly concur that if a buyer and seller agree to specific terms that's their business.
In my experience someone who will openly game the system is likely to do the same to me. So I avoid them.
Ironmine, your words and overall demeanor perfectly illustrate one of the many reasons every one of my Audiogon ads clearly states, "USA SALES ONLY!"
>As a UK based audiogon member, i'm constantly surprised at items only being offered to the US, and not worldwide as most ebay items are now, why is this?
Some people have had bad experiences and other ones are lazy.
I'll ship outside the US via USPS global express with the actual value specified for insurance (I've made one claim) and customs purposes.
Delivery is usually in 3-5 business days and a tracking number is provided to confirm receipt for paypal.
I wouldn't ship parcel post (no tracking number) and you really don't want to pay for what UPS and FedEx charge.
>Shipping paperwork is a HUGE hassel. There is none of that if you just sell in the US market. I sold an item to someone in France one time, and the associated paperwork took me an extra 4 hours.
I haven't spent more than 10 minutes looking up the requirements for a given country, filling out the necessary USPS forms, and generating however many invoices or shipping lists the country's rules call for.
Looking up the foreign customs rules and finding where multiple shipments are a good idea (IIRC Australia only charges VAT, etc. on shipments or multiple shipments received at the same time with a total cost of $1000 AUD) isn't much more work.
Did I offend you? How? Probably you are just not used to how people outside the US express their ideas, that's all.
I want to live in the world which offers me a choice. In the world where I don't have to pay for the false righteousness of others. Your outlook is a result of your income. If you earned as much as people normally earn in Russia and similar countries, you would reconsider your ideas. You can afford to pay to the customs, but I cannot, so I choose the second world. Luckily, there are enough open-minded audiogoners who are willing to help to their audiophile brothers whenever they live, rather than finance the customs budgets. So, business opportunities go to such people, not to "US only" crowd.