Doesn't it suck when you order something online only to find that UPS charges you an arm an a leg for "brokerage fees", etc..?
USPS isn't so bad. They usually dismiss any customs fees on packages... It depends... but ALWAYS assume that UPS will charge you.
Here is a bit of info a UPS delivery guy gave me on a package I got. The brokerage/customs fees I was charged cost the same amount as the item itself!
Anyway, he told me to fax a sheet, with the sender's name, address and tracking # of the package on it to the attention of "RE-RATES" to a fax # that UPS will give you when you call in with your issue (1-800-PICK-UPS, Option 3) and stating that the package was a gift and the value is, such and such. Basically, all you need to know is that UPS does not check the fax headers and where it came from....
Also, in order for a shipment to count as a "GIFT", the item has to be sent from a PERSON not "shipping department" or a company. That is how I got dinged for customs fees.... so I sent in a fax with the actual person's name, saying: "this is regarding item with tracking number ####...... this item was a gift and the value was such and such".
In the end they approved my re-rate and I should be getting a cheque any day now (it's been almost a month! but it should be in progress).
Along with the letter I faxed, I sent in an invoice and made sure there was the person's name on the invoice and not "shipping dept". The point of the invoice is because UPS may need a "Commercial Invoice" with the new info on it, in order for them to "Re-Rate" your package-- so the letter may not be enough.
If the items being shipped are not actually gifts, instead of committing fraud in this manner, why not find another option other than UPS? There are very few things you can buy which can only be shipped one way.
UPS cross-border shipping blows. I feel your pain. I use FedEx if possible when getting items from the U.S. that can't be shipped via USPS (or if the shipper doesn't offer it). Still get slammed with duty, but not as much in my experience.
But like HowEver, I don't condone this practice as it is indeed fraud. Even if you make the shipper aware of what you're doing, the fact remains that the item wasn't a real gift.
Then the Courier Remission order - this one is interesting... if UPS (or any courier company is charging you a "brokerage fee" for anything worth less than $20 CDN then they are most likely ripping you off)
I would re-cite the often repeated advice - if possible do not use UPS. Many times I have called or emailed vendors in the USA and when I'm told that they only ship UPS I politely tell them that I'll buy my item from someone else as UPS is too much of a pain to deal with. Sadly it isn't always possible to find the "someone else" of which I speak.
It should also be noted that you can tell always UPS that you will act as your own broker (and avoid the "brokerage fee" that way) but neither UPS or CBSA makes this process particularly easy. (Though if you're crossing the border in person it isn't that difficult... usually - but then this thread is about shippping)
I use US Postal Service for all my cross border stuff where possible. I'm similar in that if a vendor says they use UPS or Fedex exclusively I will buy elsewhere ... paying manditory brokerage fees on things that don't require duties or other monies to be collected is pretty lame. I think the USPS brokerage fee is $5 (if at all depending ont he value of the item).
For what it's worth, I recently had a package shipped from the US via UPS. Item's value was CDN$10, and no duty was charged, nor was "brokerage fee", nor COD, disbursement, or any of the other lovely fees UPS loves to tack on.
Here is a handy link to UPS's fees for cross-border shipping:
keep in mind that the charge you get from UPS is them or Canada customs opening your package to check it out. If you bought a $600 dollar item and the guy declared it's value at $50 bucks revenue Canada will hold that item, contact you the buyer and say "what the hell is going on?" after they open it. Revenue Canada wants thier Tax money and they will get it. This isn't any different then trying to get away with not paying taxes on your income....same people....same BS...they are nasty!
I had a guy swap me computers (older macs) awile back. No money exchanged hands it was a straight swap. Revenue Canada held his computer that was coming to me. They called me and said they deemed it worth such and such and tried to make me pay. I told them it was a straight swap and no money exchanged hands. After about a month of paperwork and BS I finally got it. He box looked like it went to hell and back and the item was damaged. Who is to blame the shipper or the Ar$holes and revenue canada?