Archive for 2010

Oct 19 2010

Buying Cameras in the US, Saving me 25%

Published by under Cross border shopping

My old point-and-shot Canon camera was completely dead last month with an image sensor problem.  The death was a slow and painful one. First it produced a discolored image once in a while. Then it generated an artistically colorful picture no where close to what I shot.

After extensive research, I set my mind on Panasonic DMC-ZS7, with 12X optical zoom, GPS and 780p video and a Leica lens.  To my dismay, our major Canadian camera stores (such as FutureShop and Henry’s) asked for a sky high price of $$410.  On-line stores, such as also marked it at $ 410.45.   But,’s price was at US$249.95.  Given the parity of US and Canadian dollars, Canadian stores have a markup over 60%.  Isn’t this price gouging!

If I continue to encourage those Canadian stores, God knows how much they would mark up my daily essentials!  I decided not to give-in as a principle.

So I ordered the Panasonic DMC-ZS7 from and shipped it to the UPS store at Ogdensburg.  Shipping from was free but there’s a 7% New York state sales tax,  totaling US$267.45.

UPS Store at Ogdensburg, few hundred yards away from the US-Canada border near Ottawa, Kingston, Cornwall

I called the UPS store and was told that I only need to put my name on the address and bring photo ID of the same name to collect it.  The cost is US$5/item every week. Here’s the address:

OGDENSBURG, NY  13669-3474

In three days, the Amazon shipping tracking shows that the camera was delivered.   In a nice afternoon, I drove down south with my passport.  The drive was only 50min from Ottawa, ~90Km.  The bridge toll was CA$3/US$2.75 each way.  The store owner Michael was very friendly and efficient.  There was another Canadian there picking up tires and other stuff he ordered from eBay.  There is also a Walmart across the road.

US-Canada border bridge at Ogdensburg. Sparse traffic, fun driving through.

At my return, I declare the camera and paid the HST.  Mind you, the HST is on top of the full invoice price, which means that you pay HST on the US state tax too.

Including the bridge toll, UPS store fee, HST, the out of pocket total CA$316.97.  Comparing with cost of $410+HST=$463.3, I saved quite some dollars (~$120) even throwing in some $30 gas cost.  This is about 25% saving.

Most importantly, I stood up to pricing gouging of some shameless Canadian retailers.

Lessons learned;

  • Ordering from US and picking up at the border can save significantly.  No extra shipping cost, brokerage fee, etc.  But you’ll have to spend time and cost on gas.
  • Without much exception, has the best deals on HDTV, Camera, Computer, Health & Personal Care, Cosmetics, and Handbag & Accessory.
  • Combine many items to make the trip worthwhile
  • Do open all the items to make sure that you’re not bringing back something unwanted and could cause you trouble at the customs.

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Sep 14 2010

What Tax to Charge for Out of Province Shipped Goods

Published by under HST,Online Shopping,Shopping Tips

If you buy only with Canada, from another province, the HST/GST rates are now different since July 1st, 2010.  Online stores based on provinces (except QC) are required to charge the tax based on the table below, from CRA.

The GST/HST rates for the goods recipients:

On or after July 1, 2010 On or after January 1, 2008, and before July 1, 2010 Before January 1, 2008, and after June 30, 2006 On or after April 1, 1997, and before July 1, 2006 Before April 1, 1997
Alberta 5% 5% 6% 7% 7%
British Columbia 12% 5% 6% 7% 7%
Manitoba 5% 5% 6% 7% 7%
New Brunswick 13% 13% 14% 15% 7%
Newfoundland and Labrador 13% 13% 14% 15% 7%
Northwest Territories 5% 5% 6% 7% 7%
Nova Scotia 15%* 13% 14% 15% 7%
Nunavut 5% 5% 6% 7% 7%
Ontario 13% 5% 6% 7% 7%
Prince Edward Island 5% 5% 6% 7% 7%
Saskatchewan 5% 5% 6% 7% 7%
Yukon 5% 5% 6% 7% 7%

For example, if you order from an online store registered to operated in Ontario, the shop owner will charge you the tax on the 2nd column based on where you live (shipping address).

People in QC are still lucky.  Out of province shopping only cost them GST at 5%.

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Jun 13 2010

HST Coming to a Province Near You, on July 1st

Published by under HST

For Ontario and British Columbia residents, we are going to have a uniform value-added tax HST on July 1st, 2010. By the government definition,

Generally, GST/HST registrants must charge and account for GST on taxable supplies (other than zero-rated supplies) of property and services made in Canada. However, where GST/HST registrants make taxable supplies (other than zero-rated supplies) in Canada, and those supplies are made in a participating province, they must charge and account for HST instead of GST.

This basically reads as more taxes will be added, transparently.

HST participating provinces by July 1, 2010 and their HST rates are:

Nova Scotia 13%
New Brunswick 13%
New Foundland 13%
Ontario 13%
BC 12%

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