The cost of international shopping

I'd thought I'd share with you the cost of my navy suit error. I bought this Anne Klein petite navy herringbone suit but alas, the fit is too small (here's my thread on that

Cost of the suit = $128.91
Duty = $35.93
Shipping = 20.57
Total paid = $185.41

And what will I be getting back after paying return shipping, etc?
$131.14, a loss of $54.27

When I order from Nordstrom it is an expensive risk to take. So I'm going to stick with brands that I know for sure fit or will shop locally. I can't afford that type of mistake.

I sooooooo wish we had a Nordstrom here...

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • replied 7 years ago

    That really stinks. :(

  • Angie replied 7 years ago


  • TraceyLiz65 replied 7 years ago

    That is a tough hit to take!

  • krishnidoux replied 7 years ago

    Really bad. Thank you for posting this, it sheds light on it. We are restricted that way in Canada, because of our small population.

  • Mochi replied 7 years ago

    I can see maybe not having multiple Nordstroms, but why not in chic fashion hubs like Montreal or Toronto? I could see it working! Anyway, too bad, Shannon. I take it for granted that I can take a lot of risks which in the end aren't really risks, apart from the time I'd be taking to ship back what I don't want.

  • krishnidoux replied 7 years ago

    Monopoly, Mochi.

  • Transcona Shannon replied 7 years ago

    Mochi - I understand there are a couple of Nordstrom's coming to larger cities like Vancouver and Toronto but it is still questionable as to whether online ordering will come through a Canadian distribution hub or continue via the U.S.

    For example we have Jones New York stores here (even one in my city) but online ordering is still only available via the U.S.

  • Krista replied 7 years ago

    Shannon, I'm sorry to hear this! That is quite a cost.

    On another note, to add to Mochi's point about Nordstrom accessibility, Ottawa (of all places, it's not exactly fashion central) is slated to have a Nordstrom open later this year or early next year. I wonder if that will change the online options for Canadians at that time?

    Here's hoping!

  • lyn* replied 7 years ago

    Ditto, Shannon - Zara still doesn't have Canadian shipping :( also, Anthro is through the US as well.

    My recent losses/stresses have come up to:
    Aldo - $250 (they signed for the returns 8 weeks ago; no cash)
    House of Fraser - $350 (DHL 'lost' my package; still working this out)
    ModCloth - $250 (UPS 'lost' my package; this will be worked out)

    It really is super annoying. I think part of the problem is the large geography of Canada too. Just because they're opening a Nordies in Calgary, means a 2.5 hr drive for me to get there if I want anything - and even farther for you, dear Shannon. I guess returns in the future might be cheaper, but duties will still get you.

  • Transcona Shannon replied 7 years ago

    Ouch lyn! That's some significant losses there for you.

    We are able to find a few things that Nordstrom carries in our local Winner's now but there's only a few of each item and finding your size is hit and miss. And The Bay is getting better at carrying some of those items as well but their service stinks.

    I think what I'm going to start doing when I'm back to shopping after my SYC, is taking Angie's recommended items and attempting to find a local interpretation of the same thing.

    At least we have Banana Republic now so that's something.

  • Glory replied 7 years ago

    So sorry to read this Shannon.

  • Amy replied 7 years ago

    That's really too bad. Free shipping is one thing I really appreciate, especially since I had packages coming from zappos practically every day last week. I certainly didn't keep all of those shoes, but it's nice to be able to try on things I can't find locally and return them without worrying about shipping costs. I feel spoiled now.

  • Mochi replied 7 years ago

    Ouch. I do realize you don't reside near any of those cities, Shannon. I had sort of assumed that if the stores got there, then the shipping would somehow be facilitated as well...and if it's STILL going through the US, then your problems are not solved. Gah.

  • Gaylene replied 7 years ago

    Right now our Canadian dollar is at par, or above, the US dollar. Shannon's example gets even worse when the dollar conversion meant that we paid $1.20 for every $1US. Her $125 suit would have cost her almost $100 more by the time it arrived!

    The easy returns, free online shipping, huge variety, and lower costs that characterize the American retail experience just don't resemble the retail practices in most other countries, including Canada. While we can access many US online shopping sites, the reality of buying from them is a totally different experience. The Canadian, and international, markets just aren't a big enough part of their business for them to go to the effort of making it as easy as they do for their US consumers. Because we have so much access to US media and websites, it's easy to forget that we are two quite different countries.

    Even if Nordstroms opens a few stores in Canada, the actual selection, services, and policies are not likely to be the same as in the US.

  • Zapotee replied 7 years ago

    Wow, seeing the shipping cost and possible currency exchange costs, I wonder if you are just better off crossing the border to a big city like Seattle or NYC and just shop till you drop...
    Too annoying, let alone EXPENSIVE... I'm really sorry.

  • Raisin replied 7 years ago

    Ughhhhh.....that's why I'm always super paranoid about ordering from the US too. I'll order my kids clothes, since I'm usually ordering a size up anyway, but for me, it's too much of a risk, especially if I've never tried the brand on at all. Sorry it didn't work out.

  • Suz replied 7 years ago

    Oh, Shannon, I KNOW!!! And it sucks, big time.

    The only way it makes sense I think is for us to shop the NAS and GO there. That is my plan this go with Sveta to Chicago or the nearest store.

    I'm about to lose shipping costs on the Born boots I ordered. It will cost a lot to ship those back to Fifty-One. I will get the price of the boots and the duties back, eventually....but I expect at least a $25 shipping bill.

    Meanwhile, Fifty-One STILL has my $100 jeans and my $220 dress -- no sign of those. I know eventually we will resolve it and I will get my money back - but where the heck are the clothes????

    And if I have to pay return shipping after this incredible wait I will SCREAM.

    The truth is, it has taken so long for the things to get here I don't even want them any more. I had planned the jeans for the holidays. Huh.

  • Mochi replied 7 years ago

    Seriously, zap. Schedule your next vacay around some good shopping here in the U.S. Not a full solution, but a start.

  • crazyone replied 7 years ago

    sorry, Shannon :( Life in the US really does have its advantages.

    Heck, you can even FLY from Toronto to Boston for cheaper than some of these shipping/return/customs charges. One of my friends recently moved back to Canada from Boston, and it was cheaper for her to fly back another time and take more stuff back than it was for her to pay the luggage fees and transport it all on one flight.

  • Transcona Shannon replied 7 years ago

    Gaylene - excellent explanataion! And I seriously don't see it getting any more affordable in the near future.

    Suz - I think that's a great idea for you and Sveta to cross the border. Chicago isn't that far from you is it? I can't believe you still haven't gotten your jeans and dress!!! What the heck is that all about? I'd be spitting mad and definitely not paying any return fees.

    I already gave hubby a heads up that I'd like to go to Minneapolis for some vacay time and maybe coincide it to NAS. There's a Nordstrom there and Minneapolis is only about an 8 hour drive from Winnipeg - that would be my closest Nordie's.

  • Suz replied 7 years ago

    Chicago is really far from me, actually. I am not sure where the closest Nordstrom's would be...but the one near Chicago is relatively near Sveta. At least I THINK that's the one she goes to. I could be wrong! In any case, the idea is to go together.

  • lyn* replied 7 years ago

    Poor Suz - I've only had one experience with Fifty-One and it involved me ripping out my hair and screaming into the phone and ... needing Ativan.

    I shouldn't complain; I have H&M 5 min away, and Zara about 30 min away from me. Everything is super picked through though; especially at Anthro and J. Crew. There are never smaller sizes even if I pony up the money for full price. Annoying.

  • Tina.b replied 7 years ago

    Ugh, I hate it when this happens! So sorry that the suit did not work out for you Shannon. Ordering from the US can be so tricky sometimes.

    I've been ordering from Canadian e-tailers when I can, fortunately there are more options nowadays. But I will probably always rely on my fav US sites as I am addicted to the great selection. I really try to research a product before buying, reading any reviews I can find. I'm lucky that most clothes fit me fairly well right off the rack, so this takes a lot of guesswork out of the equation assuming I manage to peg the right size. Pants are generally the worst and I try to buy those in person, or stick with brands I know that fit.

    I always try to fit in a bit of shopping when we vacation, though if it is a trip with our kids in tow that becomes a bit of a disaster.

  • velvetychocolate replied 7 years ago

    Sorry to hear about this Shannon! I tried to warn my Mom about ordering through any company that uses FiftyOne, but I think she forgot and went ahead and ordered some stuff online from Macy's (previously they wouldn't ship to Canada at all). Ack...two of the tops she ordered were too small and by the time she went through all the hoops/hassles to try and return, plus the fact that she'd be losing money - it just wasn't worth it to her.

    Meanwhile, if the company isn't using FiftyOne, then she's been just fine - ie. Lands End charges duty right at the time of her order, and she's not paying "brokerage" fees or what have you, and when they offer up a free shipping promotion, it applies to Canadian orders too. Thing is - for her, Lands End is just for basics, and she would love to order more things from places like Nordstrom etc. I keep telling her there'll be a Nordies at Pacific Ctr. (Vancouver) eventually (not until 2015...).

    Just as an aside, at first - she was annoyed with Macy's - but then realized it was FiftyOne that was "the problem."

    She's been able to order from Talbots in the past (they weren't using FiftyOne), as well as Lands End. Even JC Penney once, though I think JCP is now using FiftyOne as well. the end, I think I've got Mom convinced that she's better off shopping in person (ie. when she visits the US) with any retailer that's using FiftyOne. The bad thing about this is that she *likes* shopping online and would order a lot more if it wasn't so difficult.

    I wish Nordstrom was opening up next week instead of 2015. She doesn't shop at the BR/GAP companies because she wears plus, and they don't really have plus size offerings.


    In the meantime, once again - sorry to hear of the excessive cost in terms of int'l shipping/returns ...aggh...not fun, is it? Any chance you might join fellow Canadian YLF'ers for NAS next summer?

  • krishnidoux replied 7 years ago

    There was a news story before Christmas about how flocks of Canadian shoppers would line up at border postal stations to collect what they had ordered online, then cross the border back to Canada with their items. It might be quicker than actually having to go all the way to a big city.

  • Suz replied 7 years ago

    Dianthus does this, Krish, and I plan to, as well. It's only 1.5 hours to the border for me from here, and I got a "my US address." So I CAN do it this way. It's just that it does take a full day, and in winter weather I don't like to hazard it.

    I think my closest Nordies are actually New Jersey and CT. Sveta's are probably PA. So maybe we'll be going to PA. I will combine it with a visit to my mother in southern Ontario and then meet Sveta at some will be a long journey but worth it to have a savvy shopping mate. And we will order our pickings in advance and simply return what does not work.

  • jenanded replied 7 years ago

    Shannon, its crazy, and from the other side of the world one wonders why Canada would be any further to ship than Florida but then... There are a few things I really like from the US and have to buy it from Nordies or Eileen Fisher via Fifty One. Now our dollar is better than the US but we pay MORE for the item plus around $55 for example to mail a pair of shoes and socks that I ordered last night? go figure. It is still less than the cost of buying it in Australia or when we don't have the item. But I buy all our undies, socks etc from the UK - not only are the items cheaper but the postage from UK to Australia, get this, is less than $10 in AUD.... I thought I read the US firms were starting to realise people were getting annoyed with this daylight robbery....

  • jenanded replied 7 years ago

    Oh I forgot to say, to compare it takes 23hours to fly to London, 15 to the USA! so...

  • Sara L. replied 7 years ago

    Interesting! I didn't realize the duties and shipping were so high from the US to Canada. I hope you have better luck in the future.

  • Transcona Shannon replied 7 years ago

    So right that it's the shipping company that's the issue not the retailer itself. I've also ordered from Land's End with no issues and $7.95 flat return rate because they don't use Fifty One.

    What I don't understand is if there are so many international issues with Fifty One, why do so many U.S. retailers use their services?

    Krish - I've thought about getting a U.S. postal address at the border but for me, it's the time commitment in driving down, etc. Like Suz mentioned, it's basically an entire day by the time you go there and back.

  • cheryle (Dianthus) replied 7 years ago

    I sympathize Shannon. I have been burned a few times by the shipping/duties. I have a package in Pembina waiting for me right now though. From my house to Pembina is an hour drive. It usually takes 1/2 and hour to get our stuff, fill the tank (gas is much less expensive) and get back to the border and we are home in 2.5 hours. We often go after work and are home by 8:00.

    The package I have there now is a 16 gauge double stainless steel sink with the lower center between the bowls. Here it sells for over $1000. I got it online from the U.S. for about $180 plus shipping so about $200 Canadian. Well worth the 2 hours and $20 of gas. duty varies and is 20% on clothing. It is free on fabric and many household items but if you order items shipped to canada they often charge a flat rate.

    I have also talked to sellers that refuse to sell to Canada because too many packages go missing during the transfer process of shipper/customs/local delivery.

    I am still VERY grateful to be Canadian even though shopping is more challenging. :)

  • lyn* replied 7 years ago

    ;) Universal healthcare > Retail goodies ...

  • catgirl replied 7 years ago

    I've been burned with shipping charges to here so many times, I could probably buy a custom Burberry coat with the money lost on shipping. So now I don't even look at sites that don't offer free shipping or reasonable flat rate returns. Eliminates lots of places (Ann Taylor, Overstock, Crate and Barrel) but I've decided to look at it as their loss....

    Sorry, Shannon! I feel your pain.

  • Gaylene replied 7 years ago

    Unless it is from J Crew, BR/Gap, Lands End, or LL Bean, I think of items I order online from US/International websites as NO RETURN items. That means being VERY sure of an item before clicking the "Buy" button, especially if it is at all pricey. As for shopping vacations, they can be fun, but if you add up the costs of travel and accommodations, those trips aren't really practical for many people unless a person lives close to the international border or is from a city that has inexpensive airline connections to a US city. Crazy though it might seem, in my case, it is often easier for me to travel to London or Paris than to many major US cities.

    And, while I'm ranting and wailing, I have to mention how frustrated I feel when I read Angie's recommendations. Because so many of the pieces are from Nordstroms, I often feel like I've got my nose pressed against the window of a wonderful store that I can't enter, even though I see fabulous things inside. I love it when she recommends items from J Crew and BR/Gap because I can actually order and try those pieces. I'm sure Nordies is a wonderful shopping experience if you live in the US, but, for a Canadian, trying to buy online from them is just a big, expensive headache. I'm hoping that will change when Nordstroms' opens its Canadian stores, but I've heard rumors that the stores may be more like the Rack than the actual Nordstroms...

  • Nicole D replied 7 years ago

    Canadians: is a gem: free shipping and returns, free stylist advice, lots of sales and good selection of high end and more affordable on trend items. I order from them about once a month. They recently sent me a VIP $100 off any purchase over $150 including sale items, as an example.
    I have had great service from gap, old navy and BR as well.
    ANd if you're tall, Long Tall SAlly, based in UK is excellent.

    I also order from shopbop (I have had next day delivery) or Beyond The Rack. I find customs gets about one in five of my shipments, and shopbop calculates duties up front, and refunds if they are less than what they calculated.

    But I am cheesed off that we still can't order Ann Taylor even though they have Canadian shops. So not a lot of hope for Nordstrom's ...

    Cross border shopping just doesn't fir my lifestyle hoo.

    Can anyone else share good online experiences in Canada?

  • Deborah replied 7 years ago

    Shannon I am shocked at this. Particularly given your location?! I rarely order clothing or shoes from overseas because of the hassle and cost of returns but it would be cheaper than what you are facing. I do tend to look for local versions of what I see and we have a couple of good sites here that provide a very broad range of items, but then because of our seasons I have the luxury of seeing items say on YLF and then keeping an eye put for similar as we head toward that particular season.

  • Gaylene replied 7 years ago

    OK, Nicole, based on your recommendation, I'm pressing the trigger on a couple of items from that I've been coveting. I'll tell my husband it's in the interest of furthering my research into online buying in Canada. LOL

  • Nicole D replied 7 years ago

    Yes Gaylene! I hope you enjoy them, and let us know what you get!! Great deal now - additional 25% off! I grabbed these:

    I might end up wearing them as tunics instead of dresses.

    Sorry to take this off topic a bit!

  • Mona replied 7 years ago

    This stinks, Shannon. I hear you about shipping rates. I shopped from Nordstorm and Macy's last week when I went to USA but I have never ordered anything from them to be shipped to Canada. I am always afraid of incurring extra charges if items don't fit.

  • Transcona Shannon replied 7 years ago

    Una - you're so right. It is THEIR loss! I have been incredibly lucky that 95% of items I've ordered from Nordstrom's have fit but when they don't, it is an expensive lesson. And I think I'm now at the point where I'm just not willing to take the risk so won't be shopping Nordie's anymore :(

    Thanks for the eLuxe tip Nicole - will check that out.

  • Jules replied 7 years ago

    I have to admit I've been watching all this cross-border shopping and wondering if it was worth it. Of course, my perspective is coloured by living and working in downtown TO (I can hit Ann Taylor and Zara at lunch). But even *within* Canada, the online experience is often lacking. I was lusting after a blue velvet blazer from Melanie Lyne, out of my price range but I found one at Ricki's much cheaper. They only have one store in Toronto, totally out of my way and not a desirable destination (Scarborough Town Centre...) so I ordered online. I knew the size was a gamble especially since I don't know the line. Too boxy, had to return, $15!!!! in shipping for a blazer that cost $60 and was marked down further by the time I got it, that came in a plastic bag. There is no way the retailers pay the same shipping customers do.
    So - other than Gap/ON/BR and Land's End (flat fee for returns) - I am not interested. Not willing to pay to try on clothes that may not work.

  • shevia replied 7 years ago

    Wow, I think the customs fees are better in Israel than Canada. Not that I do much direct shipping - we have frequent visits from our American relatives and sometimes someone sends us a package. But I do order stuff from ebay all the time without a problem. I did notice while visiting my sister in Toronto that the prices in the stores like H&M are higher there than in New York or Tel Aviv! My sister doesn't shop for clothes at all - I give her a suitcase of thrifted clothes every time I see her. I am her personal second hand shopper and all her workmates and friends are jealous!

  • Mo replied 7 years ago

    I am deciding that my shipping and return costs are still better than having a not quite right item. I know that $10 each way is minimal compared to what you international customers deal with, but it has certainly added up for me this year. Just the returns involved with trying BF jeans this year will be will over $35 and I've yet to get the right pair, and have none. Again, I am telling myself it's the cost of having better choices hanging in my closet :)

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