Shipping Internationally & Shipping Rates
Hello, crafty peeps! I am often asked why I don't ship internationally from my shop. The answer is too lengthy to give in a short message, so I thought I'd adress my concerns here so that we can explore the issues more fully.
The first and foremost difficulty with shipping goods internationally is the exorbitant cost. The U.S. shipping rates for international packages are excessively high. I can purchase an item in China and pay to have it shipped here, and the entire price of item plus shipping would still be less than it costs me to ship outside the U.S. This inequity is being discussed in the White House now, but the solution being offered is to add "terminal dues" to packages shipped from China; it is not about decreasing our shipping costs to ship outside the U.S.
The shipping costs alone are prohibitive, but since some internationals have limited access to crafting supplies, they are willing to pay the shipping from the U.S. in order to obtain the needed items. I have in the past agreed to ship internationally, but only on a case-by-case basis after discussing it thoroughly with the buyer and letting him/her know what costs to expect.
Another issue of concern is what happens after the package arrives in its new country. Many countries charge their own duties and customs fees on orders placed outside their borders. My daughter sold a $400 item overseas, and the buyer had to pay $200 in customs fees before being able to collect it. Due to this, many buyers ask the seller to lie on the cutsoms form and claim the item has a lower than actual value, so that their customs fees won't be as high. Other than the dishonesty, there's another problem with that. Let's use that $400 item as an example. If the seller chose to declare the value of the item sold as only $50 rather than the true $400, and the package got lost, her insurance would only cover $50, not the full $400.
Before I began selling physical items in my shop, I had seen several videos of Etsy sellers explaining why they no longer ship internationally. It always came down to the problem with high shipping costs, customs fees, and Value Added Tax, which drove the final price of the goods so high that the buyer ended up being dissatisfied with the transaction and leaving a bad review against the seller, though these issues are clearly not the seller's fault.
As a seller, I am frustrated over the ever-increasing costs of postage, both international and domestic. Just last month, I had three potential buyers reach out to me asking why my shipping rates were so high, even for shipping within the U.S. It's simple: Etsy calculates the shipping rates based on the weight (and size) of the item you wish to purchase, and they charge you what the U.S. Postal Service charges. I do not add in any other hidden fees to the shipping.
A real example of international shipping rates occured today. A potential buyer asked if I'd ship an order to her country. The item in question requres a 13X13 inch box, which is considered oversized. It also weighs over one pound, so it's no longer first class mail. The USPS website estimated that it would cost $57 to ship it. So a $24 item would cost $81 and then possibly face another $12 customs fee upon arrival, making the total $93 for that $24 item. We would also need to factor in the currency exchange rate before reaching a grand total.
In spite of it all, I have shipped internationally on many of my giveaways on YouTube and Facebook, though my last giveaway consisted of a PayPal transfer of a monetary gift, to avoid the shipping costs. I've also done many international craft swaps, and that is getting increasingly difficult.
Thank you all for your continued support. We're all trying to do the best we can with a difficult situation.