[rescue] Help wanted

Geoffrey S. Mendelson gsm at mendelson.com
Fri Nov 7 04:37:54 CST 2003

Gavin Hubbard wrote:

> My company is growing and I need to start buying computer equipment in the
> USA. Unfortunately a lot of US merchants will not ship to locations outside
> the USA.

Gavin there are good reasons why they will not sell to out of the U.S. buyers.

The first is payment. Credit card fraud is almost impossible to deal with
out of the country. If someone buys a computer using a stolen credit card
number, the cost of recovering the computer or getting the credit card
company to "eat" the lost payment is too high and too complicated for
a small business to deal with.

A single person running a small EBAY operation will not want to spend
an hour on the phone with Visa security or to fill out forms etc, 
for a single purchase. It's just too much hassle.

The solution is to have a U.S. agent handle the payments for you. PayPal
will do for small payments, a bank might be better, look at Western Union
if they have an office in New Zealand. 

Here in Israel, they do not, but they bought the money transfer
franchise from the post office. So you can send money via Western Union
at almost any post office, but you cannot buy a postal money order.

The second is shipping costs. The cheapest way to ship is send things
via airmail. There is a special package airmail service called "EMS"
by the postal union, look into it. It may not work for you because
of insurance.

In order to send a package and have it insured, you may have to either
use a delivery serivce such as FedEx and pay a premium rate. For example
I was once going to buy a $25 SParc IPX and the only insured shipping
was $100 from FedEx. The seller would not sell it to me unless I insured

Shipping it air freight via an agent would be a lot cheaper, and they
can obtain insurance seperately. 

The third problem is customs documentation. In order to leave the U.S. a
computer must be documented as not being on a list of forbidden devices.
A small package may not be stopped, but a large crate will be questioned.
Many computers never get removed from the list as the company no longer
exists and the department of commere did not bother to, or it is worth
money to not remove them. 

An example of this would be to have the Macintosh G5's still on the list.
That would prevent you from buying a container of them in the U.S. and
shipping them overseas. Apple would not care as the ones for sale outside
(and possibly the ones for sale inside) the U.S. are made in Singapore
or Ireland and never enter the U.S.

Those are sold only to the local importers usually at 100% markup.
Eventually they get removed from the list, but the six months or
a year they are on them makes a lot of money for Apple.

Fourth incoming customs documentation. Every time you have to go to 
the customs house, or pay a clearing agent to do it for you, reduces
the value of your shipment. And if you get caught in the I don't beleive
it's a used part because it's not scratched or dirty, or you didn't really
pay on $25 for it argument, you loose.

> I'm looking for a reliable and honest person who can receive the odd piece
> of equipment and forward it to me in New Zealand. I have a commercial FedEx
> account, so there won't be any problems with shipping charges. The only
> hassle will be completing a FedEx waybill and pro-forma invoice for each
> shipment. I don't expect there will be more than one shipment a fortnight
> and I will pay for the time/effort required.

That's the problem, will FedEx accept the paperwork from just anyone?
I'm sure the random "used stuff from EBAY" package would go through, but
used computer parts, or what ever that keeps being sent from the same
person will be noticed.

IMHO, the best way to do it is to hire a professional shipping agent in
the U.S. to receive the goods, package and document them and ship them
to you. If you get a good agent their fee will be less than the money you
save using a regular freight service over FedEx.

> For the record, this isn't a smuggling operation and I'm not shipping
> drugs, guns, or banned items etc. The equipment is mostly used Sun gear
> that I'll be buying through EBay e.g. Sun Ray terminals, service spares,
> upgrade parts etc.

I know the feeling. I'm often offered used cameras on local mailing lists
by people who assume that something that is 15 years old is "like new"
and won't beleive that I can buy it used in the U.S. with a warranty,
ship it over here airmail, and pay the 18% import duty (recently
reduced from 60%) for less than they want to sell it.

Good luck!


Geoffrey S. Mendelson gsm at mendelson.com 972-54-608-069
Icq/AIM Uin: 2661079 MSN IM: geoffrey_mendelson at hotmail.com (Not for email)

More information about the rescue mailing list