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Ask Slashdot: Package Redirection Service For Shipping to Australia? 206

Posted by timothy
from the your-package-must-be-inverted-first dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I've recently moved continents, and one of the things I've noticed is the lack of the latest technology, as well as high prices for books and other goods here in Australia. I'm looking at package redirection services from the US, and there's a bewildering array of offerings, at a wide range of prices. What should I look out for? I'm hoping to reduce overall shipping costs to, but obviously worried about costs to deliver mostly empty boxes (yes, I'm talking about you, Amazon), damage to electrical goods from rough handling, packages going missing (does everything have to be registered post or tracked?), import duties (I'm not buying anything that should attract import duty, but still...) and overall costs (I'm not going to be buying frequently, just occasionally). What have other slashdot readers used, and what would they recommend?"
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Ask Slashdot: Package Redirection Service For Shipping to Australia?

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  • Start here (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 31, 2013 @06:53PM (#45295383)

    http://www.ozbargain.com.au/wiki/list_of_mail_forwarders

    There is also a number of discussions like this one:
    http://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/74601

  • Shipito (Score:5, Informative)

    by DiSKiLLeR (17651) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @06:57PM (#45295423) Homepage Journal

    I use shipito personally. Back when I used to live in Australia, and now that i'm in New Zealand. Great service.

    I picked shipito after doing my research online, you probably should do some research and read up on some reviews and make an informed decision yourself.

    • Seconded: I've used Shipito several times and their service has been first class.

    • Pitfalls of Shipito (Score:5, Informative)

      by wombatmobile (623057) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @11:09PM (#45297075)

      I've used a Shipito consolidation account for 5 months to send stuff to Brisbane. This is what I learned:

      0. I pay $50/year for an account, which gives me an address in California (Suite 123456, 123 Something St., Sometown CA, 90250). When a package arrives for me, they list it on my web based UI with a photo of the package and shipping label.

      1. The cheapest freight out to Australia available through Shipito is TNT, but the cost varies from $15/lb for 8lbs, down to $4/lb for 30 lbs.

      2. The optimal weight package to consolidate and send off to Australia is 29.5 lbs. Shipito adds a $10 surcharge for heaviness if the package exceeds 30 lbs.

      3. It is cheapest to minimise the number of small packages you send in to your Shipito account because they charge $4.50 per piece to consolidate each incoming package into the big box that they send to Australia. Their literature makes it seem like only $2.50, but really it is $4.50 because there is a handling fee and a consolidation fee for each item. So, if you want to order 10 books from Amazon, get them sent to your Shipito box in Caliornia as on shipment of 10 books and you will only have to pay $4.50 handling and consolidation fees. If, however, you let Amazon send you 10 individual packages of 1 book each, Shipito will charge you a total of $45.00 handling and consolidation to put the same 10 books in your big box that goes to Australia.

      4. Watch your Shipito account like a hawk. If a package goes missing and you don't tell them within 10 days, too bad. You have no recourse.

      5. A package can be delivered to Shipito by Amazon's courier, but Shipito might not ever credit it to your account, in which case you better read #4 again. Until the package is assigned to your account, it hasn't arrived.

      6. Their customer service is not aleays good. However, once you have received a reply from a service agent, if you continue to send further enquiries directly to that agent's email address you may get better customer service than if you just use the forum or the general address.

      7. Fill out the online customs declerations each time a package arrives. It makes it easier for you to calculate when to close off a consolidation because you can see when the value of all packages is getting close to $1000 or the weight close to 29.5 lbs. You need to send the consolidation before it is worth over $1000 to avoid being charged GST in Australia.

      8. They do some annoying things like if you let the package overstay the maximum of 90 days in storage, they just remove it from your a/c without warning and say too bad. So be vigilant about their rules, and don't expect them to be as understanding as some other more mature businesses.

      9. If you follow all the above guidelines, Shipito is a good service that will save you considerable amounts on freight, and enable you to buy stuff from US vendors who will only ship to a US address.

  • My company has lots of dealer agreements that make it a violation of our contract to send stuff internationally. Occasionally I have certain ones that will NOT let us ship to a freight forwarder. Just be aware that that CAN occur and you're far better off having a family member or a friend ready to ship something for you.
    • by AK Marc (707885)
      I've used a number of shipping forwarders (even within the US, when I lived in Alaska, 2-day to Washington was free, but 14-day to Alaska was $50 in shipping, so I used a forwarder in WA that would save lots of money and get it to me faster). Now that I'm out of the US, I've never had a problem. Amazon will not ship most things internationally. Even items marked "ships internationally" in the product description are not shippable. I think they define "international" as "Canada and Mexico" or something.
      • by aitikin (909209)

        I deal in high end pro audio equipment. First off, it's kind of easy to see who is a freight forwarder. There's entire city blocks where if I get an order there I know what's going on, and Google Maps doesn't hurt. Plus when someone puts 123 Meryl st box 929183, it's pretty evident. Not to mention an international card has to go through more verification processes because the bank will not verify transactions with US merchants.

        Second, most of my manufacturers will not honor warranties on grey market pur

  • by sonamchauhan (587356) <sonamc@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday October 31, 2013 @06:58PM (#45295433) Journal

    Around $100/year has them receiving your US online purchases at your personal US address (their Florida warehouse). They scan shipment invoices -- you view the invoices in a web interface and tell them which shipments to 'consolidate' and ship, They stuff everything together and ship Fedex or UPS. An 12"x8"x6" box costs about $50-$60 -- you save money when you've consolidated multiple shipments.

    In Australia, any import under $1000 is duty free.

  • Import duties (Score:5, Informative)

    by Neo-Rio-101 (700494) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @06:58PM (#45295435)
    As long as you keep the total value of what you are importing under $1000, you don't get hit with GST. If you were to, say, buy a PC overseas that costs over $1000, prepare to get slugged when it comes in through the post. If you have someone send something over, make sure that they price it as $999 on the customs form. I sent myself a computer from overseas and in my honesty/stupidity, priced it over the magic $1000 value and ended up paying about $200 in duties. Actually while you are in Australia, prepare to get slugged everywhere for tech. A high Australian dollar, and the fact that we don't locally produce any tech (we just dig rocks out of the ground and sell them), means that overseas tech companies here charge whatever the small Australian market will bear, and usually they typically price it on the side of unreasonable. Do I really need to talk about how terrible the internet speeds are here? No need to mention that in some places, the best you can get is 2Mbps ADSL? No? OK.
    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      I wonder how many items they see priced at exactly $999, taunting them by slipping just under the limit? Probably fewer than the number of "toys" from China valued at $1 that UK customs see.

    • If you import something for $999 USD today, it would be assessed as a $1,056.25 AUD import.

      This would probably attract and additional:
      $55 Customs Processing Fee
      $50 Import Duty (assuming the standard 2.5% import duties)
      $105.63 GST

      It needs to be less than $1,000 AUD per shipment.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      As long as you keep the total value of what you are importing under $1000, you don't get hit with GST. If you were to, say, buy a PC overseas that costs over $1000, prepare to get slugged when it comes in through the post. If you have someone send something over, make sure that they price it as $999 on the customs form. I sent myself a computer from overseas and in my honesty/stupidity, priced it over the magic $1000 value and ended up paying about $200 in duties.

      You will also probably want to make sure th

  • MyUS (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Most people I know here with the same inclination use MyUS (http://www.myus.com/)

    For group buying and ex-pat interaction, this (mostly Melbourne-centric) group is good to join: http://www.meetup.com/americans-in-melbourne/

    Don't forget to check out the local hackerspaces for (among many other things) group buying and local knowledge. I highly recommend the Melbourne Hackerspace (CCHS - hackmelbourne.org)

  • Skip the US (Score:5, Funny)

    by mirix (1649853) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @07:05PM (#45295489)

    Seems awfully silly making something in China, shipping it to the US, and then shipping it back to Australia.

  • Or don't you have a single friend or relative that will do this for you?
    • by dhammabum (190105)

      That is fine once or twice but you can't keep bothering them. Also some can be pretty unreliable ;-)

      • by retech (1228598)
        And the OP said for "occasional" items. Not a big deal if they're good friends. Or is that completely lost on /.?
  • Ask Whirlpool (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chris Pimlott (16212) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @07:09PM (#45295519)

    If you haven't seen it already, may I introduce you to Whirlpool Forums [whirlpool.net.au]? It's an excellent resource and I'm sure they'll have some good info on this topic.

    • Totally agree, as a native Aussie, it's probably the most useful and active forum across a wide range of subjects that I've found.
  • by Vegemite (609048) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @07:14PM (#45295561) Homepage
    I have lived in Aussie for the last 8 years and am grateful every time I leave the doctor's office without having to fill out one stinking form. This is a wonderful country. Support the Australia economy where you can. There are some good online bookstores like Booktopia. If you can't find any joy there, try the Bookdepository and Abesbooks in the UK (owned by Amazon?) They have low shipping costs. There is a large online electronics industry here. Maybe it won't be quite as cheap as buying from the US, but if you have a problem with the order, it won't take months of overseas troubleshooting to figure out. Australian ebay will give you access to the China markets.
    • by rtb61 (674572)

      It also makes sense in the long run. Sure you can save a few dollars here and there but all it takes is one bad purchase with zero chance of warranty and all your savings are gone. It is the middle men, the retailer's in Australia that inflate the costs. Want better prices, work to become a better customer and deep discounts will become available. Attempt to squeeze the maximum dollars and in reality you will find all that effort went for nothing due to the occasional bad purchases eating all the savings.

  • I'm not in Australia (I live in the UK) but I have bought a couple of things from ebay sellers who would only ship to the US in the past few years (sadly this seems to be an increasingly common occurence). I've used Shipito [shipito.com] for package forwarding for this and would definitelty recommend them - for my sort of low-volume use they worked out cheapest by quite some margin (as they have a plan where they don't charge you a monthly or annual fee, just a higher fee per shipment) and everything has worked out so fa

    • One other tip - more relevant if you're not using a forwarding service though - I've found it's well worth paying for USPS Express rather than USPS Priority Mail for boxes as it's usually not much more money (often in the region of 5%) and is SIGNIFICANTLY quicker - we're talking a difference of 2-3 WEEKS, at least from the US to the UK and in my experience.

      Also, some more general tips about buying things online here. Ordering from dealextreme (the non AU warehouse version) takes around a month or more to arrive. Ordering things from HK/Chinese based ebay sellers can sometimes take about the same time, or sometimes take less than a week. You can often find a AU based ebay seller with comparable items and a slightly higher cost if you need something more quickly. If you're buying media (blu rays + console games particularly), order from UK based sites (eg

  • China is a stone throw away, Why are you paying to buy china made items in the US to be shipped to you? Buy from frigging china directly, hell take a weekend boat ride and buy up as much as you can fit in your suitcase!

    • To add to this, I generally buy all my chinese made stuff from Hong Kong retailers on e-bay who ship to Australia for free.
    • What you probably do not understand is that most of th eChinese made export quality goods made in China actually cost significantly more in China. Most people who live in China, and trave out frequently, purchase their Chinese made computers while on trips to the US. Look at the carry-ons that the Chinese have while flying to China.

      Just compare apple prices with http://www.apple.com/cn/ [apple.com] In a recent article in China daily it was noted that Chinese made goods at Starbucks cost more in China than in London. Th

      • by Clsid (564627)

        I doubt that people in other countries buying online from China will be buying brands like Apple, Samsung and whatnot. China is actually very cheap once you get out of your comfort zone and stop using the local City Shop (foreigner's supermarket). I'm talking about things like buying Xiaomi, Meizu, or even some stuff from Huawei like the Ascend line, and if you want to get even cheaper stuff while sacrificing performance in tablets for instance, you can always buy brands like Teclast, Pipo, Ramos among othe

    • by dbIII (701233)
      Some stuff you can't get directly from China due to restrictive sales agreements, for instance ebook readers. Also, despite all appearances, the US does still make some stuff such as hiking gear. With a lot of brands they won't do direct mail order due to distribution deals and the local distributors gouge mercilessly in Australia (eg. $450 for boots selling in the US for $125).
      However you are right with a lot of items. There are a lot of small businesses in Australia that are really just a local agent f
  • First: having a friend forward items to you would likely be the best bet for low volume things or high value things. I find that international flat rate priority mail boxes are wonderful things. They are size limited, but service is good even to New Guinea where I'm ship stuff.

    Second... Watch what electronics you buy. In the US we have 60 Cycles 120V and over there it's 50 Cycles 220V. It's not usually a problem, but it can be sometimes. The connectors are generally NOT the same, but adapters abound d

  • by geezer nerd (1041858) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @08:10PM (#45296131)
    I moved from the US to NZ 7 years ago, and also had the need for a mail forwarder. I chose an outfit named "USA2ME", and that worked out pretty well. They charged a monthly fee and forwarded all kinds of mail, envelopes and packages. When the volume of mail dropped to only about 1 envelope a month, I dropped the service as not economical. Now I use my step-daughter's address and she sends things on to me by regular post.

    I also use the NZPost's YouShop service when doing online retail shopping in the US. Most places will not ship internationally, you know. YouShop provides a shipping address in Oregon from which they onship to NZ -- for a price.

    After moving to NZ, I found the retail scene to be lacking in choice. Eventually, I got over it.
  • I know nothing for about them specifically for Aussielandia, but from my experience with forwarders when I was living in Honduras: First, you might actually want two different forwarders, one who does air service and one who does ship service. Generally, air service for small light things you want fast, and sea service for everything else, usually you're paying a nominal monthly fee, then a per item fee for packages, the per package fee can be quite high for air, and is usually almost a (low) flat rate fo
  • by Balthisar (649688) on Thursday October 31, 2013 @08:40PM (#45296343) Homepage

    I'm an American living in China. I use USGlobalMail. These guys are legitimate and do a good job. They're my personal recommendation, and I won't go into thousands of details you can get from their website directly. Check them out.

  • Where did I leave my keys?

    Does Billy like me like me, or really like me like me?

  • I read an article once where someone had won an award for founding a website - can't remember which.

    It basically amounted to backpackers taking your stuff on their next flight with the possibility of a reward on the other end. e.g. sending a parcel of warm clothes for winter and having the recipient pick up the traveller from the airport as a thank you. Of course it relies on the trust of said backpacker! :)

    e.g. A package by canadian airmail (mostly of sentimental junk) cost me about $CA60 to Australia and

  • by Clsid (564627)

    I use usabox.com and after living in the US, I have lived in two different countries in different continents and this guy not only deliver fast using DHL, they take pictures of the incoming stuff, so you get an e-mail like interface for your packages. Plus the truly neat thing is that they have a re-packing option where if you allow them, they will open your stuff and repackage it to make it more efficient (especially useful with stuff like MicroSDs).

    Setting up the service though was a bit of a hassle so ma

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