Shopping Discussion

US (online) purchase, shipped from/via Canadian address

  • Last Updated:
  • Sep 22nd, 2021 11:19 am
[OP]
Member
Feb 27, 2011
221 posts
215 upvotes

US (online) purchase, shipped from/via Canadian address

Apologies if this is discussed elsewhere, but I figured this is a bit of a different issue than the ongoing brokerage fee question.

I've noticed that several of our recent online orders from US retailers have arrived bearing Canadian postage and sending addresses. This is despite us paying both import and cross-border shipping fees. Also, the provided tracking information at no point indicated that the items were intercepted, on the Canadian side of the border, by a third party for re-packaging, etc.

This seems to be a relatively new phenomenon, as previous purchases from the same retailers were always shipped directly to our door from the USA (until a couple of months ago).

This isn't so much a complaint, as an observation, since we weren't charged any more for this apparent extra step in the supply chain. But it does raise some questions about where the product was actually warehoused and who should be responsible for the import duties, etc.

Has anyone else had a similar experience?
6 replies
Member
Nov 15, 2008
345 posts
94 upvotes
Vancouver
Interesting. Can you share some of the retailers?
Deal Expert
Feb 7, 2017
19426 posts
17137 upvotes
Eastern Ontario
Borderfree … which is owned by Pitney Bowes is big in this niche

Example :
I order DIRECT from LL Bean.com then I pay in US Dollars, as well as being responsible for Shipping, Cdn Duties & Taxes
If I order tho from LL Bean.ca then I pay in CDN Dollars, but there are no extras.

Borderfree which operates in the USA (New Jersey in the case of LL Bean) then trucks the item across the border into Canada … where it gets then sent on to me by a Cdn Courier coming from a Cdn address

There are a lot of Retailers using Borderfree to ship into Canada … and support their Cdn Customers … whether they have a .ca website or not
Deal Addict
Jan 5, 2003
4482 posts
4007 upvotes
Toronto
Fulfilment centres are warehouses where many different retailers store their goods and when an order comes in, the fulfilment centre sends it to the customer. They are often used to avoid delays at the border. Say a Canadian retailer sells different types of widgets and there are a lot of U.S. customers. Instead of shipping individual orders from Canada, where you would need customs paperwork, possible delays at the border, customs inspections, etc. for each package, the retailer stores tons of widgets at the U.S. fulfilment centre. When an American order comes in, the retailer tells the fulfilment centre to send it to the customer. The customer in Florida thus gets the widget a lot faster (and doesn't have to deal with duties, etc.) because it came from Buffalo instead of crossing the border from Toronto.

Same goes the other direction, although historically, Canada retailers use U.S. fulfilment centres more than vice versa because the U.S. is a huge market for a Canadian retailer while the reverse isn't often true and an American retailer may not have enough Canadian sales to justify paying the fees for a Canadian fulfilment centre.
[OP]
Member
Feb 27, 2011
221 posts
215 upvotes
jm1 wrote: Fulfilment centres are warehouses where many different retailers store their goods and when an order comes in, the fulfilment centre sends it to the customer. They are often used to avoid delays at the border. Say a Canadian retailer sells different types of widgets and there are a lot of U.S. customers. Instead of shipping individual orders from Canada, where you would need customs paperwork, possible delays at the border, customs inspections, etc. for each package, the retailer stores tons of widgets at the U.S. fulfilment centre. When an American order comes in, the retailer tells the fulfilment centre to send it to the customer. The customer in Florida thus gets the widget a lot faster (and doesn't have to deal with duties, etc.) because it came from Buffalo instead of crossing the border from Toronto.

Same goes the other direction, although historically, Canada retailers use U.S. fulfilment centres more than vice versa because the U.S. is a huge market for a Canadian retailer while the reverse isn't often true and an American retailer may not have enough Canadian sales to justify paying the fees for a Canadian fulfilment centre.
Thanks. This is interesting, but in our case the provided tracking information showed the product originating in the US (NY state, for example). So either the tracking was an outright ruse, or the product was intercepted at some point after Canadian customs and re-packaged, or perhaps individually packaged, at that stage.

Interesting also about Borderfree, although unless they subcontract individual orders, there was no indication they were involved with our packages. Indeed, for our most recent purchases, the packaging and labelling looked rather unofficial, and the mailing addresses seemed to be fairly random third parties. Sort of like what you'd expect if you had bought something from an Etsy seller, etc.

We've noticed this with recent purchases both from Amazon.com and the supplement/vitamin store PipingRock.com. PipingRock charges in CAD for Canadian shipping addresses, but I always pay in USD for Amazon.com. We've ordered from both websites for years and, as mentioned in my OP, until recently always received orders originating in the US (as per tracking info and physical postage, etc.) So this recent change was noticeable, even though the purchase process has remained the same.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Nov 25, 2004
3034 posts
1652 upvotes
London
this normally happens with retailers who pre collect the taxes barnes and noble have been doing it that way for years as have the disney movie club. they can just send a big truck load of stuff upto a warehouse in canada then when it gets here that warehouse relabels it with a canada post label
Member
Nov 5, 2018
466 posts
492 upvotes
This sounds like a consolidator. The US warehouse packages up your order, then slaps a label on it with a Canadian return address from a Canadian courier. A shipping service then sends a skid or truckload of orders destined for Canada across the border, simplifying customs clearance. The skid or truckload is then dropped off directly with the courier, and all the packages are already labelled for shipping in Canada.

This has been a common practice for years, but is becoming more achievable for US sellers who are building cross-border volume.

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