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Buying Gear for Non-U.S. Members

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by LeeOsenton, Nov 25, 2012.

  1. LeeOsenton

    LeeOsenton Mu-43 Button Clicker

    Jun 25, 2010
    Hayes, Virginia, U.S.A.
    Lee Osenton
    I originally asked this question in another thread after a non-U.S. mu43 member complained about higher prices outside of the U.S. I deleted my original post and created this topic to get a relevant subject line and hopefully more discussion.

    Is there a problem with U.S. mu43 members buying gear on behalf of members in other countries? Think non-profit buying service. There would be a higher cost for shipping and longer delivery time, but I wouldn't mind helping a non-U.S. member take advantage of sales. It really takes little time to place an order, receive the delivery, relabel the package, and ship it to the buyer. Some retailers may even ship directly to the foreign address.

    I love buying, trading, and selling camera gear and do so often on this site. It is a great community and I would consider doing this for established members as a way to give back. Has anyone done this and do potential problems outweigh the benefits?

  2. zapatista

    zapatista Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 19, 2012
    Albuquerque, NM
    Mike Barber
    Not a bad idea, but ensure that each buyer in the US and recipient in another country has a clear conception of import/export costs and responsibilities. To include customs duties (taxes) and potential import restrictions.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    X2 - you're running an export business, it's not as simple as throwing on a label and putting in the mailbox. You will have some time involved, and time = money.

    The best options are to either order direct, or hop a cheap flight to NYC. Fares from Europe to USA are usually considerably less than the other way, and most Europeans have plenty of holidays/vacation time where they go "somewhere" anyways.
  4. addieleman

    addieleman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 5, 2010
    The Netherlands
    Prices in the US in dollars look interesting for us EU inhabitants because the same product is often priced at the same amount of euros in the EU. However, as soon as the product is imported you get to pay 21 % taxes plus customs handling fees and that eats up the price difference. So the price difference looks tempting, but isn't in reality. Once upon a time, when you got $1.50 for € 1, it could be worthwhile, but now with the exchange rate of roughly $1.25 for € 1 I stopped buying in the US (mainly second-hand Minolta legacy lenses).

    Edit: and what to think of returning stuff or sending it in for repair? That would complicate matters even further. These days I only order stuff that is a) cheap enough to avoid import duties (below € 22 I think) and b) will not have to be returned or sent in for repair. In the latter case I simply take my loss. I can afford to lose € 4 over a broken adapter from HongKong, I won't even spend an email on that.
  5. troll

    troll Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 25, 2012
    You're trying to reinvent the wheel here, there are many services out there that do the same thing professionally for very reasonable fees. I've been buying stuff from US for many years using various freight forwarders, the one I use atm takes only $3-5 for every incoming package (that's on top of the actual price of the shipping from their US warehouse to you).
  6. addieleman

    addieleman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 5, 2010
    The Netherlands
    I'm curious. Can you name some companies that offer shipping of goods from the US to (in my case) the EU, or tell me how to google that effectively? Thanks!
  7. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    I think most import duties/taxes tend to wipe-out the advantage of the US market. (See addieleman's first post.) If you want to help out the µ4/3 community, I think doing this with used/legacy equipment might be helpful.

  8. troll

    troll Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 25, 2012
    Shipito and Myus are probably the most popular, but there are others as well. I use Shopfans at the moment but I don't think they've got English interface.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. LeeOsenton

    LeeOsenton Mu-43 Button Clicker

    Jun 25, 2010
    Hayes, Virginia, U.S.A.
    Lee Osenton
    Not really trying to reinvent anything. Just a sudden awareness that what I take for granted may not be accessible to some and wondering if there is a way to help. I didn't know such commercial services existed.

    • Like Like x 1
  10. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    I have this $1000 lying around but I'm not tempted to try to spend on US products : I'm convinced our customs will try to steal from me on a big percentage.
    I keep it for travel to Russia ...
  11. RnR

    RnR Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 25, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
  12. KVG

    KVG Banned User

    May 10, 2011
    yyc(Calgary, AB)
    Kelly Gibbons
    Not worth it because what if get gets broken, lost, etc? The claim process can take months for a reimbursement and the receiver will more than likely have no warranty as it will be a gray market product. Its a very kind idea but there can be many unforeseen issues.
  13. Chrisnmn

    Chrisnmn Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 26, 2012
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Ive said it before and ill say it again. I have personally lived in and outside USA. yes, USA is getting as cheap as china for some items. so i like to get those "deals" as anybody else inside or outside the states.

    Customs and taxes is a trial and error thing, and more often than not, things shipped outside the states DO NOT GET LOST and DO NOT GET CHARGED (unless youre shipping a whole body of gear, camera, lenses, accesories all in one box, then with that you're telling the dude at customs "hey i got this nice deal" TAX me!) but dont get me wrong ive lost stuff on the mail, but usually they get stolen by the same people in the mail, because they check that the package was not insured, or doesnt have a tracking number, or basically any information were the customer can call and ask for it. Then they take it. Also depends on what stuff your buying/shipping wakes the interest of the guys at customs to charge and what not.

    In my (personal experience) i have a firm believe that people thinks that shipping outside the states means troubles 99% of the time. And i reckon is the complete opposite.

    Also when buying from overseas most customers know or SHOULD KNOW that they might get charged taxes. Almost every country have a dodgy but working (at least) website with a "how it works" section. I say dodgy cause for example rules in New Zealand (where im currently living) use to be

    Anything under NZD$1.000 doesnt get charged. and so ive bought tons of stuff and big stuff like LP players from amazon and such, without having any problem, but rules have changed and after several calls to different "customs" agents (which they only tell you, that you ARE GETTING CHARGED even for a postcard almost) they dont know how to explain "how it works", some keep saying that anything under NZD$1.000 doesnt get charged, other says anything over NZD$300 gets charged, so i finally found this website that made more sense of how they "sort" of work and basically goes like this...

    Anything bought from overseas by the time they arrive in the country, the 15% (GST value, NZ tax) of the total of the items declared inside the box, plus shipping is lower than NZD$60 doesnt get charged and everything higher than that gets charged. and that makes sense with the "anything under $300" rule above.

    But in my experience ive bought a year ago stuff declared for more than $700 without getting charged, and ive got stuff for above $1.000 getting charged.

    Then again, a week or so ago, Ive bought from someone in the UK (here in m43 land) a P20, I paid GBP$200 which is something around NZD$350, and told the person to declare it for less, in order not to get stucked at customs. The pacakge took a while to arrive (3 weeks) but it arrived safely and without getting stucked at customs. But when i read the box, the item came declared for its real value, and insured which gave a total of NZD$500 more less, and it didnt got stucked....why is that?. Maybe because eventhough it was declared for its real value it was a USED item and not new?


    customs are quite dodgy with this kind of stuff and whoever you talk to no one gives you the same explanation (again, in my experience). but i once got an explanation that made total sense to me.
    While in Chile, i was waiting for this package, and after calling and calling my local post office, went to the office straight to shout to the manager and he explained to me, that at least in chile, packages and customs for small items (small means anything thats not a TV or a CAR, etc) theres a guy that picks up the boxes one by one and by chance decides who gets or who doesnt get charged, as random as that!.

    and for me that made TOTAL sense. It is that random.

    It even makes more sense when i saw that british TV show called "Come Fly With Me" theres an episode, where they laugh about the people behind the counter, the guys that actually load and unload everything that goes on a plane. And is exactly the same as what this post office manager told me once.

    So my personal rule and lesson is that whatever i buy from overseas, I try to ask the seller, to declare it as a gift, if they are not comfortable with that, to mark it as a "commercial sample", or if they just want to be straight and mark it as what really is, then i stick to the "stay under a grand total" rule.

    so again, anything thats under USD$1.000 is 99% safe of taxes at least for me, a person living in New Zealand and Chile (south america).

    hope this helps
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