No UPS

Last Updated: April 12, 2010
Please don't send me packages via UPS. For packages sent from the US to Canada, UPS tacks on a $20 or higher fee that the recipient pays for (this is in addition to the shipping charges paid by the sender). The $20 fee is for packages that require no GST and no PST and no duty. The fee rises to about $30 for a package worth $50 or more, for which the receiver also pays GST/PST (Canadian sales taxes). The UPS fee is a complete rip-off, and in my opinion it is fraud, since they know about this "surcharge" in advance but suggest a lower price to the sender.

I have heard that UPS claims "this is common knowledge in their rate tables" - at best, this is reduces their crime to deceptive advertising, but no one I know has ever seen these rate tables. To check on this myself, I checked the UPS web page (in 2005), and got an estimate to send a 1 pound package via Standard UPS from the US to Canada. The price quoted was $8.30 (presumably US dollars). While there is a disclaimer

	Shipping rates do not include duties, taxes or other 
	non-routine customs brokerage charges,
	
the excessive "brokerage charge" I've mentioned above seems to be appear on all UPS packages delivered from the US to Canada, which makes it "routine". Regardless, there is no indication of the amount of this charge anywhere on this "UPS quick cost estimator" page, and since it is something that UPS knows about, the $8.30 charge is clearly misleading.

Aside from the "border bandit fee", even UPS delivery within Canada is sub-par. In particular, if no signature is required, the deliverly person does not knock on our door, but just leaves the package at our door step.

NO UPS!
NO UPS!
NO UPS!
NO UPS!

Others have a similar opinion.

Exceptions

I've bought things from tigerdirect.ca that were shipped from the US via UPS without paying the excessive UPS fees.

I ordered something from LL Bean thinking they would ship USPS/CanadaPost (they use USPS for shipping within the US). Unknown to me, LL Bean ships to Canada with UPS. But apparently LL Bean has its own brokerage service and there was no UPS fee. Since the vast majority of LL Bean's items are made outside of North America, LLBean will charge about 31% of the item's price for duty and HST as they clearly state in their catalogue. And the $8.50 I paid on a $25 item from LL Bean was far less than the UPS fee would have been (and presumably on top of the $8.50 I would have to pay for duty and HST).

And a large package was shipped to me from the Disney store via UPS where I just paid HST (no duty, no brokerage fee).

Still, I'm unhappy enough with UPS that I'd prefer to give them none of my business, which makes me likely to look for alternatives to both tigerdirect and LLBean in the future. (The Disney store item was a present for my daughter from my grandmother.)

Avoiding the brokerage fee?

I was sent url for a web page that discusses how to avoid the UPS brokerage fee (summary: do it yourself; it's not that hard). I've never tried it, but possibly it works.