Update 2012-06-09: Ever since this happened to me I’ve been buying from Canadian websites. Even if they’re US companies, and they ship from US locations, their Canadian sites almost certainly will not charge the customs brokerage fees. For example, I’ll buy from Amazon.ca, Newegg.ca, TigerDirect.ca, all US companies but Canadian sites. The prices are higher but you avoid the cross border fees. And, remember, the tariffs and all that are there to protect Canadian business so consider that you’re doing something good for your fellow Canadian when you buy within Canada!
Update 2013-03-29: Another thing I’ve been doing is, if I must order in the US, I specifically order through USPS instead of Fedex, UPS, etc. I don’t know the specifics but, if you’re patient, it seems like I’ve avoided customs/brokerage by doing this.
I ordered an item online, from a shop in California, with a value of approx. $250. Shipping was something like $20 via FedEx. Okay, I ordered it. I got the item, was very satisfied. A few weeks later I get a customs charge of $90, 35% of the item price!
A friend mentioned a while ago that he shipped in a $50 item and was told to pay $50 in customs charges. He told them he wouldn’t and they lowered it to something reasonable.
A quick google reveals lots of other people with the same problem. This is idiotic.
The problem is the rates mentioned when buying an item are calculated for your location They know it’s crossing borders and going to Canada. Give me the real rate! Since you didn’t that means I didn’t agree to paying any other charges.
Wow! This totally strikes me as an extortionate and fradulent practice.
From now on, I’ll be shipping via US or Canada Postal Service. I’ve heard better things about their customs fees.
If you’re thinking of shipping something into Canada, think again, you may get dinged.
I wrote a nasty letter back to FedEx and I copied it to my MP and MPP.
I hope this situation gets better.