Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Online Shopping Drag

The Internet is supposed to have opened up the marketplace.  You can now (theoretically) order anything from around the world (so long as you're willing to pay for postage and duty, taxes, etc.).  I say theoretically because it often ends up being the case that you can't.

My cousin is visiting from the UK in a couple weeks.  She's agreed to bring back some things for me.  So I've been shopping - online shopping.  The best kind - the kind where you don't have to leave the comfort of your own home.  So here I am, sipping my tea, clicking away.  My basket is full.  I've enjoyed the experience.  I'm a little excited.  Got some pyjamas for the girls, trousers for the little guy, along with socks and a pair of swim goggles.  All from a reputable store (rhymes with Text) - I know their sizes, the quality is good and I'm thrilled with my purchases.  I can have it all delivered to the store nearest to her house and she'll pick it up.  All is good until it's time to check out.

That's when I hit my first hurdle.  I have to register and I can't register with my Canadian address.  No worries, I've got her address and phone number.  But then when I enter my credit card number it won't approve it because it doesn't match the billing address.  It's a little irritating but I can pretty much buy everything I need here.  Except for the swim goggles.  They're nice looking swim goggles and perfect for my younger two.

Ever resourceful I go to the website of the company that manufactures them.  They deliver worldwide and Unless you live in the UK, USA or Japan, you can shop from their international website.  Cool.  Until I realise that they won't deliver to Canada or anywhere else in North America.  So then I go to the American site.  I must really want these goggles.  I'm going to the States next week, I can have them delivered to my hotel.  Yay.  But they don't carry the same products.  Same company (well known swimsuit company founded in Australia), different products - go figure.

So I'm left wondering why.  Why can't I get what I want to get if I'm willing to pay for it?  Why can't I (the consumer) order the same items from a UK site or a US site?  Even Amazon (that usually has everything) doesn't have these particular goggles.  And since I'm on the topic, why is it, that I can get something at half the price on an American site than the same company in Canada?  And I'm not allowed to buy it on the American site because of course, they won't deliver it here.

So my message is - open it up.  Let me buy what I want, where I want to buy it.  Give the postal workers something - they're losing money these days you know.  I'm happy to pay the duty and taxes if I have to.  Right now I feel like the kid outside the candy store looking in through the window with money burning a hole in my pocket.  But they won't let me in the door.


  1. I totally sympathise. I found it hard to order things on websites in the States even while living there until I got a US-registered credit card (which took a year, as we didn't have a US credit record). I ended up having US and UK Amazon accounts with different card details, and always having to switch around the country of my Apple iTunes account depending on what I wanted to order. I get that it's hard for local retailers to deal with international addresses, but international companies need to get their act together!

  2. I've been frustrated in the past, trying to buy birthday presents for friends/rellies in the UK, while living in America. The website designer obviously hasn't imagined a scenario where you might want to use different addresses, in different countries, for billing and delivery. Duuuuh...