This is a simple consumer warning or PSA if you like.
Be very cautious, or even better, NEVER use UPS (United Parcel Service) for the shipment of parcels to International destinations. There are a variety of good reasons not to use them for this but the most notable reason and first thing to be aware of is their sneaky practice of holding your parcel, essentially for ransom, in order to clear International customs. This is actually a brilliant tactic that the company has learned how to exploit but it is also downright sneaky and likely borderline illegal. Here’s what happens, let’s say you send a parcel from the USA to Canada. When the package gets to Canada it will be held at customs where the Government will run some kind of inspection on the paperwork and may require some form of taxation or compensation for import duties, tariffs, or other fees. Generally, for a simple gift from one person to another, this is a moot point and there will be little if any, fees to be paid.
But here’s where things get interesting. UPS by default will act as your BROKER AGENT! This means that they Will act for you as the agent to make sure that your parcel clears and the fees are paid. Guess what though… they will charge you for this “service”, oh, and they will charge you BIGTIME!
Where this gets even more interesting and downright dirty is that when you send a parcel you HAVE THE RIGHT to act as your own learning agent and you can SELF CLEAR! This means that essentially when the parcel hits the border, you will simply sign off on the official government paper and pay the government fee yourself.
On a typical parcel, let’s say a small birthday gift that you send that has a value of $50, you will likely pay about $25-$35 for the UPS courier fee – oh, and guess what, this will take at least a week to get to the destination. The brokerage / handling fee charged you by UPS will be about $30, oh and this is a beautiful part of it, UPS does not send the parcel to destination until the fee has been paid. So, YES, the will hold your parcel for ransom until you pay your $30 or whatever the fee is.
What’s downright disgusting and disturbing (and should be illegal) is that when a person uses UPS or their third party agents (like a UPS Store) to send a package, they are not informed that they have the option to “Self-CLEAR” a package when it is sent Internationally. Then, by default, guess what… UPS acts as your agent and bills you an insane fee.
So, beware and if ever you need to send a package Internationally, try to always use the postal service and you will avoid this huge headache.