In my quest to find the best way to get all the things I want from the US in New Zealand, I decided to give YouShop a try. Signing up for YouShop is free and gives you a US and UK mailing address. The idea is to have your items sent to the YouShop warehouse, consolidate the packages, then have discounted shipping to New Zealand in a reasonable amount of time. Sounds dreamy, right?
I ordered a cute bag from Cuyana valued at US$190 and a game for my kids off of Amazon. Here’s a strange one - the game Guess Who? is available in New Zealand for NZ$39 - or US$26.52. On Amazon, it is US$9.97 + tax, or about $10.79 with tax if I were to order it back in Texas. Part of the advantage of using YouShop is that it is a sales tax-free zip code, so I wasn’t charged the US$15.68 on the bag or the US82¢ on the game if I were to ship it to a friend who could consolidate and reship. I was sure to stay under the NZ$400 level that would trigger the craziness that is paying extra customs and duties.
When I checked on international shipping with these companies, I learned that the Cuyana shipping fee is US$30, and the shipping fee for this game from Amazon was about US$9.50. This is something I’ve seen over and over again: it is often cheaper to buy an item online and pay for the international shipping to New Zealand than to purchase the same item in store. It pays to do your homework!
I ordered my bag from Cuyana on a Friday, and it arrived at my address outside of Portland Oregan on the following Thursday. My game from Amazon was delivered on Friday. I kept checking and rechecking my YouShop portal to see when the items would show up in the warehouse. I even entered in my tracking information into the “Expected Parcels” portion to help match the two packages that had already arrived and been signed for to my account. Finally, on Wednesday, I received email alerts that my packages were in the warehouse, and YouShop could tell me what my fees for shipping would be.
I was shocked. The 5-9 day shipping price for the game was NZ$31.50. For 9-14 days it was NZ$23. For the bag, the 5-9 day price was NZ$37.50. 9-14 days was NZ$29. There was a $6 “high value surcharge” which is awfully annoying. There was no discount or advantage for consolidating the packages. I opted for the 9-14 day option, which gave me a grand shipping total of NZ$52. By comparison, if I shipped directly from the companies themselves, I would have spent NZ$52.14. So basically I’ve lost a week of shipping time and saved 14¢. If I had known how much YouShop was going to charge, I would have had Amazon ship to me directly and just used YouShop for the bag. I understand why they can’t give me exact shipping prices prior as they don’t know the size of the parcel to be delivered, but this is a huge flaw to the program. In the future, I am more likely to go with faster, certain shipping that might cost more over the chance of less expensive, but certainly longer, shipping with YouShop.
On Saturday, eight days after my packages were received at the YouShop warehouse in Portland, Oregon, I received an email that my packages were on their way from the warehouse in Portland to Auckland. It was unclear if the 9-14 day shipping time started on Wednesday when I paid, or on Saturday when they were shipped. A little more information would be helpful.
The following Tuesday, eleven days after my items arrived at the warehouse, I checked my YouShop portal, and it stated that my items were to be delivered by the 29th. To put this in perspective, my bag left Cuyana on May 8th. My Amazon package was initially shipped out on the 9th. In the past, it typically takes about two weeks for Amazon package to arrive on my doorstep in New Zealand.
On the evening of the 24th, I received emails that my packages had arrived in New Zealand and had cleared customs. There was no indication as to whether or not this meant my packages would be delivered prior to the 29th, but I was glad to know that the items were here. I was even more happy when my packages were delivered the morning of the 25th. For my Cuyana package, it took 20 days from placing my order to arrival. For my Amazon package, it took 16 days.
The big question is whether or not I will use YouShop again. My gut says no. I don’t like the element of surprise involved with YouShop. I want to know how much I’m going to have to pay before ordering a product, and there is no way to get that information prior to placing an order.
There are several other companies out there that do something similar. Has anyone tried Myus.com? Is it any better?
UPDATE: As of December 1, 2019, there will be changes to customs and duties. Now, everything under NZ$400 will be taxed the usual 15% GST. However, goods under NZ$1000 won’t be charged all of the customs and duties previously taxed on all items over NZ$400. The short of it: purchases under NZ$400 will be more expensive, but purchases between NZ$400 and NZ$1000 will be less expensive. What do you think of this change?