Online shopping and buying off Amazon when won’t ship US to AU – I had an issue the other week when I went to buy an ultrasonic cleaner online via Amazon.com. The crazy thing is that many units said that the product couldn’t be shipped to my address in Australia. In the end, I worked something else out but here’s a workaround for those products that you would love to buy but can’t because of this rule blocking shipping to Australia from the US. For some products, you need to have a US address to ship the goods to. Thankfully, many items have free shipping, so there is some saving in having the item reforwarded to you in Australia.
Many products are sold online and in many cases, you don’t need to go to stores like Harvey Norman or Good Guys or wherever to get your hands on them. If you are prepared to wait for delivery, you can, in fact, buy substantially cheaper some of the listed items online. Amazon.com is a gold mine for shoppers, there are new and even secondhand goods for sale. Selecting and buying and shipping is extremely easy even for the newbie. There are brand items for sale and even items that you can’t buy in Australia. The prices are in a lot of cases lower than buying from a traditional store and even when shipping the item to Australia is taken into account, substantial cost savings can be achieved.
On-line stores such as Amazon are huge and offer many options in the product ranges. Amazon.com turns over a lot of cash in sales and has low operating expenses so the cost of goods sold and storage of inventory at their warehouses is marginal to them. There is one problem, however, and that is Georestrictions for non-US residents for some buyers. What this means is that the item you want to buy may not be shippable to an Australian address and that you need to be in the US to get your hands on the item. … Damn!
Well, don’t worry, there’s a workaround to this dilemma, and we have some solutions for you.
How to ship from the US to AU – Noninternational ship products.
How do we overcome an online shoppers problem where the advertised product states clearly that the product cannot be shipped to an Australian address? The hopes of getting your hands on that hot item you longed for at substantially cheaper price than what it is in Australia seems to be slipping through your fingers.
The answer is simple; you have to use a freight forwarding company. In a lot of cases the costs associated with using such a company to forward your online purchases remain still cost effective. There are many freight forwarding companies out there and finding out which one to use can take a bit of legwork. The result is that you still get your goods and delivered to your door in Australia or available for collection at the freight forwarding company’s Australian depot.
Some businesses can even purchase the products for you using a US card and provide a US address that you fill in when you buy online. Some suppliers do make it hard whereby a US credit card is required as well as a US address to ship the goods. After the goods have been bought and sent to the freight forwarding company’s US depot, they will then reforward the goods to you in Australia. Sure it can take time, Johnny Air whom I have used in the past took 12 days from the time of online purchase on Amazon to collection at the JA store and that was during Christmas when I was travelling overseas. If you are prepared to wait for that period, then the savings will be worth it. In my case the saving came in at nearly 40% for a Panasonic Lumix camera that I bought.
Some companies only specialise in individual countries and Johnny Airplus whom I used only ships to Asia from the US.
I’ve had some annoying and frustrating experiences with companies like Comgate (no free advertising link needed) who are based in Oregan, USA. Comgate came highly recommended and didn’t you love those situations where you get a recommendation from a volume user of a service providing everything is going ok, but remember, if contacting customer service is your big thing then do a little bit of homework before starting. I used comgate and found that when I telephoned them, everything went to voice mail. It was … “you’ve reached (name) etc. and leave a message”. I am sure they won’t be returning overseas phone calls. Why was I ringing? Well, a simple email went unresponded. So the suggestions from the voice mail were to email or go to live chat… sound familiar? It was mid afternoon in Oregan when I checked and the “live chat” went to an email facility, just like it did on other occasions I checked. I went for days with unanswered emails (the live chat doesn’t work and goes to email), a link to send your order that didn’t work; emails went un-replied to and worse still I am reading the gloating descriptions saying that Comgate has excellent customer service. I even received an email in November saying that I have seven days to act on a shipment that by a date in September! Or my goods will be disposed.
Like – Bull-Farking-Shit.
If you see a reference to the company – ComGate or a company with a mailing or office address of –
9455 NE Alderwood Rd
Portland, OREGON 97220
Tel: 503-914-6317 – run! – tell your friends.
So the moral of the story is if you want to deal with a company that has excellent customer service and telephone support is your big thing, then find out in advance.
Australian forwarding services US to AU
The demand for freight forwarding services is obviously high. As they say “If you can’t beat them, join them” and Australian’s have taken to online shopping in droves. So much, so Australia post has jumped onto the bandwagon by offering freight forwarding services for buying goods online in the US.
Australia Post shop mate – is a service from Australia Post. With ShopMate, there are no monthly fees and charges and Shopmate allows buyers to use a US address to ship goods via from saying Amazon.com. Shopmate claim that goods are delivered within 5 to 8 days ( I guess from the receipt of the goods from the US supplier) but I would say 10-12+ days around the likes of Christmas times. Everything is traceable down to when it will arrive in Australia. I don’t know about you, but I feel a little bit more comfortable sending goods via an Australia Post service than an unknown provider, but I would have to dig a lot more and try some out with some smaller priced items.
Another freight forwarding company that I have seen is called Australian Freight Forwarder. Strangely this company doesn’t have a physical address on their website and provide just a contact form and a phone number on their website. For some reason, I feel a little uncomfortable with a company that doesn’t state a physical address on their website as in the day of VOIP even a Sydney telephone number could be run from any location. Australian Freight forwarders do claim on their website they are Sydney based, and it appears the products they handle for customers are broad and varied. They have some shipping rates listed here.
There are many resources on-line for overcoming the issue of not being able to ship to Australia from the US. You might want to check out Whirlpool, a well known Australian discussion forum which has many discussion threads about the topic of freight forwarders and sending goods from the US to AU. Best Mail Parcel Forwarding US to AUS or here. Why not post a question in a forum and give it a couple of days to see if you get a response from someone who has been there and done that with freight shippers. Some carriers change policies and shipping charges and many “power buyers” on the US on-line stores like Amazon.com, etc. will be up to speed to offer the best advice that achieves the outcome you want. Some forwarding companies may specialise in smaller items whereas some may specialise in bigger, bulky items. You need to check this all out as there will be substantial differences in the handling of heavy gym equipment vs a new DSLR camera to be shipped over. Some have additional charges on top of the freight charges for reshipping.
The savings are definitely there even when all the shipping costs and frustrations of getting over the “instant gratification” bit and waiting for the goods to arrive are had. Recent customers of Price USA have saved the following (after paying fees) as noted online:
• 50 per cent on Nike shoes; Check – Nike Shoe prices on Amazon (AMZ).
• 50 per cent on MAC Cosmetics; Check MAC cosmetics on AMZ.
• 34 per cent on perfumes; Check – Perfume prices on AMZ.
• 30 per cent on Ralph Lauren clothes; Check – RL Clothing lines on AMZ.
• 20 per cent on ASIC shoes. Check – ASIC shoe prices on AMZ.
I know buying some goods such as a Panasonic Lumix camera that I bought, I was able to save over 40% on the same product domestically.
Freight forwarding fees and charges – US to AU
A quick look at the fees vary between competitors depending on which service you need. Obviously its product dependent as some specialise in small items and others might be suited for bigger items eg. a small ultrasonic cleaner vs a bigger commercial parts washing machine. I have tended to use these services for small items like cameras and therefore get charged a fixed rate of USD$20 which is the minimum charge for the service that I use.
As mentioned above, Australia Post’s ShopMate fees a fixed price of $24.95 per 500-gram parcel plus an additional $5.95 for every extra 500 grams.
As a comparison, some charge on a cost of the item which can be up to 5%, instead of a fixed price (with a minimum fee that varies depending on which shipping service is cheapest). Some charge also to make online purchases on your behalf which can be as little as USD$3 or a cost for in-store pickups. There are also other expenses for delivery insurance, shipping costs, handling, return insurance, etc. So you need to find out what all the costs are before you make the online purchase.
Do your “due diligence.”
It is important that you do your “due diligence” on the freight forwarding companies that you will use. Of course, many of the items for sale will be prepacked and unopened, and therefore, the shipping company you select wouldn’t have done any packing. The problems can arise in the treatment of the goods from the US depot to Australia and maybe some searches online on discussion forums, and complaints noticeboards may alert you to problems encountered. Also, remember, some companies might offer free storage for an interim period while others may charge for storage which may be USD$1 or so per day for a package.
Perhaps you could canvas the name of the company in a forum like Whirlpool or check for example complaints board as online shoppers may have had problems with damaged goods, poor customer service and not being able to track or get answers or companies changing names after many customer complaints online and falling business as a result.