Guest post: The perils and pitfalls of online shopping

Multiply the sentiment in this post by about 1000 and you get an idea of what it’s like in NZ. Vanessa writes about (mainly) money and personal finance over at Vanessa’s Money.

As a lover of bargains and fashion, I just have one thing to say – living in Canada sucks.


It wasn’t bad enough that, as a kid, I was never able to enter contests that ran on TV or in Archie comics (because I was not an American resident) but now, as an adult with disposable income, I can’t even spend my money on all the cute dresses and shoes that I see online!

I know, I know. The logical solution would be to just buy stuff online and return it if it doesn’t fit. Simple n’est ce pas? Wrong. Have you any idea how much it costs to ship to Canada? A quick example that I just pulled up… A pair of $348 shoes from Nordstrom will cost me $23 to ship and $110 in taxes and duty. And if they don’t fit? It will cost me another $23 to return and I will have to fill out a ton of paperwork to get my $110 refunded. Basically, I’d better be 100% sure of my shoe size or else I’m out $46.

Alternatively, I can have my shoes shipped to a P.O. Box near the border and drive down right? Um, no because most stores have caught onto that little gambit by now and don’t deliver to P.O. Boxes. Also, it would probably cost me $46 in gas anyways and if the shoes didn’t fit, I’d still have to return them on my dime.

Trip to the States? Sure, I’d love that but again, the money.

Buy Canadian? No. I want my LK Bennett pumps and my cheap ASOS clothing. Canadian clothing… pfft.

I’m sure that people from other countries can relate but seriously, I can see America from my backyard (not really, but I couldn’t resist a reference to Sarah Palin…) and yet I can’t find a cost effective way to just give my money to their economy. And this is why living in Canada, is like being the younger sibling that is never quite old enough to do anything fun.

Is online shopping a thorn in your side or do you enjoy all the perks involved?

12 thoughts on “Guest post: The perils and pitfalls of online shopping

  • Reply Kellen September 19, 2012 at 01:39

    When I lived in Mexico, we were only a couple hours from the border, so families that could afford it and had visas would drive up to the US border every couple of months to go to the US mall. But here’s my question – I mean, people sell clothing in Mexico – is it really that the clothes sold in these other countries are so expensive/not good that people there can’t make a fashion statement with those? Or is it that American brands are weirdly popular in these countries? I say weirdly popular, because in Mexico, the college kids were all into owning American Eagle brand clothes, which 1) I think this brand was marketed to younger people in America, since I don’t remember it being that popular after we were 13 or 14? and 2) at my American college, the “cool kids” where jeans and t-shirts, and the t-shirts were usually from their sorority/fraternity events, not anything branded. So basically, these american clothes that were so fashionable in Mexico are not really that big of a deal to college kids here…
    Anyway, in summary, my question is, are the clothes available in your country actually inferior/too expensive, or is it just that particular American brands are fashionable?

    • Reply Vanessa September 20, 2012 at 14:50

      The clothes are just unfashionable. We have access to the cheaper American clothing stores (The Gap, American Eagle) but the prices are much higher than in the states. Higher end shops (with the “brand names”) are often in the large cities only or not at all (and again, with higher prices)

  • Reply Kara E September 19, 2012 at 06:50

    As a fellow Canadian, I can relate! Shopping online is SO much cheaper than driving down and across the border, or even in stores in Canada, but the shipping and duty KILLS me! I had to pay over $40 on $60 worth of clothing. When companies say they “Ship to Canada,” there should be a warning that you’re going to pay an arm and a leg for it.

    Anyway, that is part of the reason why I don’t mind the “American invasion” of their big name stores arriving in Canada. It’s cheaper for us in the end.

    • Reply Vanessa September 20, 2012 at 14:50

      Agreed! Bring on the Americans!

  • Reply plantingourpennies September 19, 2012 at 12:11

    Why are clothes from the US so desirable and hard to come by elsewhere? Most of it’s made in Indonesia or the Phillipines anyhow – so it should theoretically be that much cheaper to get to New Zealand!

  • Reply Country Girl September 19, 2012 at 13:37

    Yup, I feel your pain. The cost of shipping something to Canada is pretty horrid, which really limits how much online shopping I do.

  • Reply myjampackedlife September 19, 2012 at 16:36

    There is a website called shop.ca which is suppose to eliminate the duties and shipping costs. Not sure of all the variety offered though and probably not the brand names of clothes, but for other stuff it ,ight be worth checking out. Otherwise I am with you on the shipping and duty. Brutal!

    • Reply Vanessa September 20, 2012 at 14:51

      Thank you, I’ll check it out right now!

  • Reply Untemplater September 19, 2012 at 18:50

    Gosh I can’t believe how steep those taxes and duties are. I only bought something online from overseas in France once but I don’t remember there being crazy taxes.

    Amazon started charging sales tax for California residents this month though, which is a real bummer. A lot of retailers are happy though because it helps equalize the playing field.

  • Reply My Money Design September 20, 2012 at 06:03

    I’m a huge supporter of online shopping. Stores are crowded and never have what I want. Online everything is easy to get, usually cheaper, and comes directly to my house. I love it!

  • Reply frugalconfessions@hotmail.com September 24, 2012 at 04:15

    Wow–I had no idea it was such a hassle and SO expensive to shop online in Canada! Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply Online shopping: a New Zealand perspective | NZ Muse November 6, 2012 at 19:01

    […] suffer from high prices and lack of choice here (on a related note, see Vanessa’s guest post on the headache that is shopping in Canada) though NZ Post has a new service, YouShop, that lets NZ shoppers buy items from US online stores […]

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