Shipping from the States with UPS? Think again… The UPS rip off!

June 21, 2013



A warning to all consumers who order online from the United States. We all know any high value shipments ordered from outside the country can carry an import tax from the Canada   Border Services Agency, what most of us don’t know is that when the delivery driver shows up at your door with a low value package you could be spending a lot more. UPS, for example charges a so-called “brokerage fee” often at 500% more then the tax just for paying the customs fee on your behalf. This “brokerage fee” is quickly passed off as “taxes” by UPS, and paying it is the only way to get your package you already bought and paid to ship. This is extortion, and it is legal. What UPS does not want you to know is that you DO NOT have to pay this fee, and you have no legal obligation to fall for their bait and switch. Since shipping is paid for already, why then does UPS demand more money before handing over a package?

I recently ordered several items from the United States, shipments sent via a number of companies including the U.S. Postal Service, DHL, Loomis Express and UPS. With other shipping companies I had no issues, the package came to my door, I signed for it, and no taxes or extortionate demands for money. When UPS delivered a package to me, the delivery driver noted a C.O.D. charge of over $40.00. I already paid UPS for shipping, and of course paid for the products, so I was very upset. I told UPS to hold the package at their office while I check with the Border Services Agency what the REAL taxes are. I was astounded that the only taxes required were a few dollars, and what is more the Border Agency only added that import tax because UPS demands it so they can charge their own 500% markup!

How could I avoid such a rip off? The Border Agency, far more courteous and compassionate then UPS advised me to go downtown and fill out a single piece of paper to clear the package myself. That’s right UPS is legally free to act as your own broker without consent. They can charge what ever exorbitant fees they darn well please because of one single slip of paperwork you can get in only five minutes at any inland customs office.

Having showed up in the customs office at 1 Front Street West (next door to the C.N. Tower), within seconds I was attended to by an officer who was well aware of this trick. “The CBSA has been warning the public about this problem, yet it is legal and most people don’t get the message” I was told. Armed with only my invoice, proof of identification, and proof of address just five minutes later I was handed a B15 form nicknamed the “Casual Goods Accounting Document”. This one form is all that is required to avoid the “brokerage fee”, yet don’t expect the delivery driver to understand this when they are at your door   demanding even more money to give you the package you paid to ship in the first place!

The hassle is not with the border agency, the least red taped part of their day is handing out casual import documents. The problem is with UPS, as some of their customer service agents and drivers will tell you this is impossible – you must pay their C.O.D. charge if you want your package. Finally when you speak to a UPS supervisor you must make clear that you are  self-clearing the package yourself with the CBSA. At that point you have five business days to get a shipping invoice from UPS and fax or email back the government’s B15 form. It is a simple procedure, the border agency is not a headache to deal with. Yet UPS does not want you to know that… they want more of your money!


8 Responses to “Shipping from the States with UPS? Think again… The UPS rip off!”

  1. zinabat Says:

    Thanks for sharing; I’ve been trying to figure out if the CBSA at Front St does shipment clearance with UPS because I’ve read a lot of reports that they no longer do it. Luckily yours is the newest, so down to Front St I go!

  2. Robert James Says:

    I have not shipped with UPS since I wrote this, but I had no problems back in June. Keep me updated and tell me how it goes for you. Follow the instructions and take the official invoice from UPS to the CBSA office downtown. Pay the tax, show ID and get a B15 form. Finally e-mail or fax the B15 along with the original invoice to UPS. Should save you a lot of $$$.

  3. zinabat Says:

    I just got done dealing with UPS and CBSA at 1 Front St W. The hard part was UPS. I will elaborate as much as I can for those who may find it useful in the future.

    Even if you request specifically for UPS not to attempt delivery, they will do it anyway. No matter how many times they reassure you over the phone that if you call Concord when the package arrives that they will not deliver it, they will still do it.

    UPS has terrible intercommunication issues, so the best bet in order to get your package to arrive properly is to call them every day, request status updates and make sure that after the first delivery attempt, they do not mark the package as “return to sender.” In my case, they did mark it as return to sender and I had to have someone fix that for me.

    While the package was sent to my name, it was invoiced to my mother in-law. So, the CBSA asked for an authorization letter from my mother in-law. The letter was signed by her and had something like: “I ____ hereby authorize _____ to clear all packages with the CBSA on my behalf.” Make sure you have such a letter before you go if it is not your name on the invoice.

    At the CBSA office they will need ID, the invoice from UPS, and money to pay taxes. I paid $145 for taxes on a $1050 valued shipment. UPS wanted to charge me $85 for brokerage fees. I spent about $12 on subway fare because I had to go back and forth once to the CBSA.

    I attempted to email UPS with four attachment PDFs at the email they provided me with. The emails failed to be received by UPS due to the attachment size, but it gave me a cryptic error:
    550 Denied by Policy

    If you call UPS about this issue, they will not know what it is. Make sure your attachments are large enough to be read, but small enough to be sent by email. One of my original attachments was 8Mb, which I didn’t notice until way later. I downsized all four attachments to 800Kb.

    Although I am waiting to receive word from UPS, I am almost positive that I am done.

    Again, don’t listen to other people’s old blog posts about 1 Front St CBSA not clearing UPS shipments. If they didn’t used to, they do now as of December 11, 2013.

  4. mike Says:

    Just had the same experience with UPS. I paid $199 for the part I ordered plus an additional $30 for shipping. When the package arrived UPS wanted a brokerage fee of $87… trying to talk to anyone on the phone there is next to impossible. So I sent them an email saying that they can take it back and I’ll be asking for a refund. UPS sucks…


  5. yourwardnews Says:

    Howdy Mike,

    There needs to be a class action lawsuit against UPS for their brokerage fee. It is illegal to act as a broker without consent, yet UPS claims because you used them to ship the package you gave consent… Yet that is not true, the company you ordered from shipped it TO YOU. It is YOUR package! When your package returns to the sender tell them to ship it via US Post with a tracking number. That way it will most likely get to you with out taxes or brokerage fees. If the CBSA does tax it, Canada Post adds a max $5 brokerage fee for ALL packages, which is more then fair.

  6. Daryl MacKay Says:

    I don’t know if anyone has notice but there seems to be a conspiracy toward Canadians now. Both ebay and Amazon are charging us import charges at checkout. I’ve never seen these charges before so it looks new to me.

    It’s not just UPS anymore. I stopped buying from any US merchants who shipped via UPS.

    Now it looks like more US companies are getting in on the game of dipping their hands in our pockets. US corporate greed I suppose.

    I’m pretty much to the point where I won’t be buying very much from the US any more. I’d rather give my money to a Canadian company.

    Spread the word. We Canadians shouldn’t be ripped off this way by US companies.

    We also need to let these US companies know we won’t pay extorted fees. I’m not sure most ebay and Amazon sellers understand what happens to us after we place the order button.

  7. Robert James Says:

    Canada post is now doing the same thing. They used to have a $5 brokerage fee that was waived for small items. Now it is $10… and they TAX that brokerage fee too!

    I had a package worth $2 USD mailed to me, the CBSA added a few cents tax – and when Canada post came to my door they wanted me to pay their COD.

    I just refused the package saying I am not going to pay a $10 fee plus tax on the fee… AND tax on the import tax for something worth $2.

  8. Jack Says:

    Don’t use UPS. Deals with businesses. Kickbacks. Don’t accept UPS even if it means buying somewhere else. They rip you off.

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