Tuesday 22 May 2012

Are mail forwarding services worth it?

Ever since the Aussie dollar hit par with the American dollar, I started wanting products sold overseas because for the first time they were actually affordable. Not only that but I discovered that the prices in America are reasonable, much more so than at home. I realised that for the price of one Dior product at David Jones, I could buy two and have a bit of spare change if I bought it from Sephora. That was just the beginning.

The problem for us foreigners wanting to buy from Sephora in America is that Sephora will not ship internationally nor will they accept foreign credit cards or even PayPal. After a bit of research, I discovered that there are a many mail forwarding services out there that can deal with this issue, so then came the hard task of choosing which one to go with when making my purchase.

One of my blogger friends recommended that I try hopshopgo.com or parceliton.com as those were the services that she used on a regular basis and found them efficient and reliable.

My experience with hopshopgo.com

HopShopGo is an easy to use mail forwarding service which allows you to use your Paypal account with it. This website allows two options when making a purchase - you can either DIY and ship to their address or use a 'buy for me' concierge service to purchase from websites like Sephora. Of course both of these services incur fees, but the 'buy for me' option ends up being more expensive because it requires a little more work on their side.

When you want to use the 'buy for me' option, you go on the website you want to purchase products from and you copy the important details about the product (eg. the shade you want, the price) into the form on the hopshopgo website along with the link to the product. Once you have chosen all the products you want them to purchase for you then you go through a Paypal checkout process to prepay for your order. Within 48 hours later they will place your order and notify you about this. Within a few days or a week, depending on how fast the shipping is, HopShopGo will receive the order at their premises and you will get an email telling you that they have received it. After that, you will have to organise and pay for the parcel to be forwarded to you. Overall, a purchase from Sephora took around 3 weeks to arrive at my doorstep which I thought was awesome. Plus Sephora provides free shipping for orders over $50 so I didn't have to pay for the shipping to the HopShopGo local address.

Onto the bit which was not so impressive about this mail forwarding service - the fees. I understand that these mail forwarding services need to make a living but in all honesty, I think they charge way too much. Below is an extract from their website about how much they charge:

The above rates don't include a fuel surcharge which is charged on top of those rates (currently 14.5% of the international shipping fee), the service fee, insurance and the fees they charge for making the purchase on your behalf, being 10% of the order total. 

Even though I only purchased a few small items which don't weigh much at all, I was charged $50 for shipping. On the website where they provide you the invoice for your order, they said that the parcel weighed 3kg but on the actual box that I received, it said that my order weighed around 750 grams including the box! There is something clearly wrong with how they calculate the weight of the parcels and grossly overcharge on this basis.

Anyways, I think that this experience has put me off using mail forwarding services especially because of the fees they charge. I think that in order for this service to be worthwhile you would need to purchase a lot of products at a price that is substantially cheaper than in Australia. I don't think I saved any money at all by using this service, although I did buy a couple of Urban Decay products which are not available in Australia. Given that I could have purchased Urban Decay from BeautyBay.com, it is unlikely that I will be using mail forwarding services again in the near future.

Have you tried using mail forwarding services? What did you think of them?

10 Reactions to this post

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  1. bbBeauty said... 22 May 2012 at 09:24

    $50 for shipping!! Wow, that is too much. I have never actually bought anything but clothes from overseas, I dont do too much online shopping. But thanks for the very informative article.

  2. Anonymous said... 22 May 2012 at 10:45

    They don't accept foreign credit cards? BUGGER. I won't use a mail forwarding service because I just can't afford it, but I do have friends in the US who could buy it for me and ship it over. Thank God for money transfers haha.

  3. Stephanie said... 23 May 2012 at 00:09

    I haven't tried them before because I have always been worried about the shipping costs. $50 is massive! I think I would only use it if I was making a really big order like $500 of products.
    Great Post!

  4. Ingrid said... 23 May 2012 at 18:09

    This was really interesting! I have heard of the mail forwarding services but I think they are a little outrageous with their prices. I like ordering from free shipping sites like beautybay.com X

  5. James said... 26 May 2012 at 11:20

    Sorry to see that you have had a bad experience with mail forwarding services.

    It looks to me that hopshopgo have not attempted to make the package as small as possible for shipment to Australia. The problem with big bulky packages like this that contain a lot of air is that you end up being charged 'volumetric pricing' which essentially means you are being charged a per kg rate for shipping air!

    At Store To Your Door we always make an extra effort to ensure the package that is sent to you is as small and well packed as possible. It saves you money because you are not paying to ship 'air' and it helps us because we get more repeat business instead of frustrated people only using our service once as they are upset with the charges.

    We have low cost airmail services that take a couple of weeks to get to you as well as super quick 4-5 day express shipping.

    Hope this post doesn't come across too much like spam just want people to know there are other options out there. If you mention this blog before June 30th 2012 we will give you a 20% discount on your 'Store To Your Door Fee'

    Thanks again for your time
    James - Store To Your Door

  6. NYBox said... 12 June 2012 at 00:47

    The fees are reasonable, but to lie on the content's weight just so you can charge more than 3 times the actual rate is RIDICULOUS, almost like stealing!
    Businesses like that will soon die in the industry. It won't last long.

  7. BilliLilli said... 12 June 2012 at 23:09

    Shame I didn't know about your website earlier. If I do decide to give these types of services another shot then I will give your company a go :)

  8. BilliLilli said... 12 June 2012 at 23:13

    Can't argue with that! The worst thing is that the actual weight was shown on Sephora's original labeling of the box. They didn't even try to hide the fact that they were overcharging me on the weight

  9. forward shipping said... 30 January 2013 at 00:41

    ØI have used many mail forwarding services/companies but
    I did not get much difference in cost. Recently I used " parcelbound.com " to buy 5 iPhone's and I have saved 75% in each iPhone. They really providing lowest
    shipping rates then other companies.

  10. Pointing Ricy said... 12 May 2013 at 10:14

    Here’s a workaround I use..............
    When you sign up with BPM, you get local shipping addresses
    in 6 countries.Drop points include: USA, UK, Germany, France, Belgium and Luxembourg. You then use these for buying from whom you want, regardless of where the sellers hips or not.You then have all your purchases combined into one, even from the different countries, and use the parcel mail forwarding service to haveeverything sent home in only one shipment, wherever you are in the world!Membership for renting these addresses and using the service
    is only 5€ per month.You can check it out on http://www.bpm-lux.com .

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