How do you get items that ship to the US only to other countries? Parcel-forwarding.
When you think about it, it somewhat makes sense that a service like this would exist. I have been using parcel forwarding services ever since I started my collection because a lot of the items that I buy are bought from eBay, where sellers prefer to ship within the US only.
With parcel-forwarding services, you get a US address where you can ship items to. The items arrive at your address, and an email notification is sent to you to acknowledge that the service has received your items. You can then lump your items together into a single shipment and ship it out for a fee.
These parcel-forwarding services unlocked the ability to use Amazon and eBay, among other very popular US sellers to buy things online. This had another effect. I found that buying things online from the US was significantly cheaper than going to the stores here in Dubai and buying the same items. In fact, I made a little rant about it a while back which you can read here. I found that most branded items here in Dubai are significantly more expensive. Additionally, sites like DesertCart seem to be doing the same thing I’m doing. They ship out whatever you want to their own parcel-forwarding account, ship it to their hub, and then ship it to you, while charging you a markup. I’m taking out the middle man in this process.
So, what parcel forwarding service do I use? Initially, I used Borderlinx. They seemed to be well-known, with good custmoer service, and good prices. Borderlinx is a DHL partner, so they deliver everything straight to my door. Seemed like a great deal, but there are a few catches.
Borderlinx, like many other parcel-forwarding companies, works on the principle of volumetric weight. Your shipping prices are not fixed and are dependent on which is higher, the weight of the parcel, or the volumetric weight. You can check out their website to see how they calculate it, but the crux of the matter is this:
- A heavy item will cost you more to ship out
- A light item, packed in a large package will cost you more
And herein lies the problem. You may not be sure what size your package is arriving in, and the price could theoretically skyrocket out of control if you’re not careful. However, I was willing to accept the high prices given the quality of service I was receiving.
My one other issue with Borderlinx is the lack of parcel consolidation. If you receive 10 shipments at your hub and ship them out together, you will receive 10 parcels, which also increases the cost of the shipment. I have, time and time again, suggested to Borderlinx to offer a parcel consolidation service. This is a service where they would put all your shipments into a single box and thus reduce the shipping costs. They’re already opening your shipments anyway to check if you’re not shipping any illegal goods, so why not take advantage of that? However, this seems to be against their best interests and it can reduce how much money they charge you for shipping.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was something that occured in March 2017. I had a shipment of a book that was stolen from the Borderlinx hub. They claimed that they had not received it, whereas USPS claimed that the book was delivered. Now, this was not an ordinary book. It was quite rare, and worth about $80. Some people might say that it could have been stolen by the postal service. Well, not a week after this, I had another shipment “go missing” from the hub. This time, after Borderlinx had acknowledged receipt. Borderlinx did eventually offer me a refund, and then managed to locate the shipment. They also sent it to me free of charge, as well as offer me a $40 voucher “goodwill gesture”. However, at that point I decided to stop using them as a service.
I’ve said this many times before, the monetary value of something is irrelevant to me. I am fortunate enough to say that if an $80 book goes missing from me, I experience no financial burden as a result. However, I collect rare, hard-to-find things. For me, the value of my shipments is not a financial one. It’s an intrinsic one. Finding these things, and then winning the auctions on eBay is stressful enough for me. Then getting them safely home, undamaged is even more of a nightmare. Theft is not something I want to have to deal with.
As a result, I have now moved to MyUS, another parcel-forwarding company. They operate in a very similar manner to Borderlinx. They have a siginficantly better web interface on the customer’s side, but there are a few other differences which I’d like to talk about.
First, they charge a $7 monthly subscription fee. Now, before you say “That’s terrible! No way I’ll use them!”, let me point out that they do not use volumetric weight as a method of determining price. They base shipping prices purely on the weight of the final shipment. While in Borderlinx, a shipment would cost me $160 to ship out, I’d pay around $40 to ship out the same thing using MyUS. MyUS has already paid for itself.
Additionally, MyUS offers you multiple possible shipping choices. So, if you prefer to use DHL or Fedex, you can manually choose to do so. They may charge you a higher fee for these services, so keep that in mind. I normally go with the cheapest option, which does mean my parcels arrive a little later than DHL’s 3-day delivery, at about a week to delivery. But that is fine, considering the significant amount of money I’m saving in the process.
And lastly, MyUS offers that wonderful parcel-consolidation service I’ve always been looking for. This is despite it now being irrelevant due to the lack of the volumetric weight calculations. If you receive 10 parcels at the MyUS hub, you’ll only receive one box when you get your parcel, with everything inside. For me, it’s convenient that I only have to deal with one shipping box, instead of the 10 or so boxes I always receive from Borderlinx.
MyUS also offers other little features that they charge you for on a per-use basis, like photos of your parcel (low res, high res) or additional packing materials, fragile stickers, etc. I have used them for more delicate parcels, and I think they are fine at the $2 they charge for each of these services.
So, I’m perfectly happy with using MyUS and I see myself using them for a long time. If you’re looking for a parcel-forwarding service, definitely check out MyUS, and avoid Borderlinx. And definitely also avoid Shop and Ship, which is a service provided by Aramex, who I hate with a passion.