Avoid UPS Like the Plague

I found out the hard way why UPS sucks (as least for shipping from the US to Canada). I bought an audio cable online and here is the breakdown:

  • Subtotal: $29.95
  • Shipping: $10.74
  • Tax: $0.00
  • Total: $40.69

Now here is where is gets ugly. After 8 working days the package finally arrives. Of course, they try to deliver it in the middle of the day when most of the world (including myself) is at work. So I got a sticker on my door today that says I owe $22.01 in Brokerage C.O.D. charges . WTF? $22.01, that's 73% of the original price of the cable and 54% of the total cost of the cable including the $10.74 I already paid to UPS in shipping costs.

These are most likely UPS's "Entry Preparation Charges" and apparently I must have fallen into the $40.01 - $100 range, hence the $19.45 charge plus taxes and whatever else that might have made it come to $22.01. My best guess is that the $2.45 difference is the actual duty itself, charged by the Canadian government. The $19.45, goes straight to UPS.

Apparently I'm not alone. A quick Google search turned up many stories of similar experiences with UPS:

Why was I the last to find out about this?

It looks like USPS is the way to go. I plan to have the package returned to sender, which is fairly easy to do as C.O.D. shipments are automatically returned to sender the same day the final delivery attempt is made (according to the yellow slip). I have already warned the sender and told them to re-ship with USPS. I am guessing that USPS shipping + customs (I have read it is $5 max) will be less than $22.01 so although I have wasted $10.74 in shipping it via UPS at least I didn't give them any more of my money.

Apparently You CAN challenge the brokerage fee! Pay customs yourself! and this person did it at Vancouver's UPS facility, which is where I would be going. I would try it if I had a car and a few hours of spare time... The CBC also ran a story about how to avoid paying the brokerage fee.

There is a also a pending class-action lawsuit against UPS:

The lawsuit claims that on the purchase of goods from the US, UPS fails to obtain consumers’ consent to act as customs broker; or to disclose the existence or amount of the brokerage fee which they charge; or to provide consumers with the opportunity to arrange for customs clearance by themselves. It also claims that the amount of the brokerage fee charged is grossly excessive.



i had great luck receiving items sent by UPS when I purchased items on ebay. Super fast, detailed and accurate tracking and helpful customer service when i needed to re-route the package. the cost was also lower than many other sellers but i guess that's just because of the particular seller's choice.

I found out that shipping with UPS expedited or UPS express has everything included so there are no extra customs brokerage fees. I am getting the Squeezebox device shipped with UPS express as they didn't have a USPS option. Apparently it is only UPS Standard that has these high customs brokerage fees. Maybe you got it shipped with UPS expedited or express.

I have found out UPS should be disappeared!!
I'll never never use the company again!!!
Whenever I buy something on ebay from USA,the first thing I do is to see the shipping method. USPS OK,,,,,, UPS NO....I am not gonna deal with UPS anymore......

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They are buggler, thieves.
I will never ever use ups.


When visiting my wife's sister in Ohio, I forgot my wallet on the dresser. Because it contained my driver's license, credit card, OHIP card and other ID, I telephoned and asked them to mail it to me via USPS. I received promptly and was pleased. A couple of days later, I received an invoice for $45.00...from my company's broker for "clearing" the small package through customs. Because nobody is home during the day, I asked them to address the small jiffy bag to my name, "c/o" the company. When Canadian customs saw the company name, they thought it was business related (ignoring the small size, the "care of" notation, and the declared value of "no commerecial value"), looked up my broker and I got dinged. My fault? I guess. I paid my broker because he was an innocent third party. Had it been shipped via UPS, it would probably have cost me the same "custom's clearance" fee or whatever UPS decides to call it. Sometimes you can't win no matter what you do.


Dave, I can't believe you got burned by UPS. You were forewarned. Don’t you remember Alec’s ordeal. Please don’t rant on a blog. Please post numerous printouts on your door highlighting fora posts on UPS, UPS dolls, articles saying UPS sucks, and the like. This is far more effective.

I remember Alec's UPS rants and the stuff on his wall about UPS...he took it a bit too far.

I will do my best to avoid UPS for the rest of my life. In single one month, I experienced package loss, insufficient refund, damaged package, plus wrong bill. UPS is really a company deserving bankcrupcy! What the heck are they doing???

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Yep just found out the hard way and ended here after searching on UPS. Purchased a product for $277 + $80 UPS standard delivery to Canada. Arrived home to a balance owing of $96 scribbled on a UPS sticky. $36 of that $96 dollars was Canadian conversion/taxes. So UPS gets $80 for shipping and $60 for brokerage fee for a total of $140. The crazy part is the company I purchased the product from probably didn't even make this kind of profit. So this first time customer is a last time customer. UPS go F*@k yourself :)

UPS started to follow official procedures recommended by CBSA, so it is much easier to do self clearance now, because we know there are successful cases and we know what documents are needed!

I'm here because of that orange sticker at my door with that hefty brockerage fee on it. So, for a $46.09 purchase, a UPS delivery charge of $16.39, top it with a $39.61 brockerage fee that means I'm paying $56.00 which is 0ver 100% of the original purchase price. WOW. Should I just have it return to sender and cut my loses.


After carefull review of the situation regarding UPS and their policy of adding an extra charge for their "standard delivery" I wanted to pass this information for your benefit. There was a class action lawsuit filed against them and won, however, is currently being appealed by UPS in the courts of Ontario, Canada. I read online the judgement against them, a lenghty 119 document, citing reasons why brokerage fees are not lawful, etc. It appears that UPS only charges the hefty brokerage fee for their base service, attempting to recover competitive low costs against other courier services. Thousands of complaints are aimed at them constantly, attested to by the blogs people have spoken through . Its seems to be a common story. The unsuspecting customer is always shocked when the already paid item arrives at their door COD, requesting exhorbatant levies, often near 100% of the price paid for item. My policy now is to never order anything online whereby the shipper uses UPS for the delivery.


I also had no idea about the extra tax. I had a bike frame shipped to Mexico. Frame cost $280. shipping $180. then secret tax $50. this is criminal to not tell people about these extra charges at time of delivery.

Moi aussi je me fait voir chaque fois par UPS. Même quand il n'y a pas de frais de douane ils trouvent toujours moyen de me charger 50-70% de frais administratif pour me dire que je n'ai pas de frais de douane. Vivre le free-trade agreement. Bon pour les gros pas nous!!!!!!!!
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