Purchasing items from United States is not the cheapest deal for us living in Finland. That’s the main reason why I’ve ordered so unfrequently stuff from US sellers lately.
I’ll give you now a quite good example about how expensive purchasing from US can be but keep in mind that this concerns only us Finnish customers. In your country things could be quite different.
Our example case is Hello! Store USA. First I was excited when this web store was launched because it sells original items from Hello! Project Official Store. That means a lot of nice goodies you can’t get easily if you are living outside Japan. Such as tour programs, DVDs, official collector’s photo sets and t-shirts to name few. And all that even with reasonable price tags. I guess hundreds of us western fans were excited to have this new H!P store online.
My first (and also the last until this day) purchase from Hello! Store USA had some Berryz Kobo & Buono! photo sets. The total cost of this purchase was quite decent although the shipping from US to Europe was and is still not so cheap. Before I got my parcel to my hands came the surprise I wasn’t prepared for. I had to get my purchase from Customs office of Helsinki and there I had to pay some taxes before I got the parcel out. So when those taxes were added to the total (with shipping) the grand total was almost two times higher than the original price of the items. Well, you can imagine how much that sucked.
After that not so nice experience I’ve not ordered anything from the United States. Unlike purchases from Japan amost all items which are coming from US go through Finnish Customs and two different taxes must be paid before you get your stuff out of Customs. This is kind of “funny” thing because I purchase very often items from Japan and Hong Kong and it’s rare that those items come through Customs. So it seems that it’s cheaper for me to buy things from Japan than stuff from US.
Price formation – Bowling Shirt case
Item: Buono! – Rock’n Buono 3 – Bowling Shirt – Miyabi Natsuyaki (Large) Price: $58.00
Oversize item shipping to Europe: $33.00
Customs (for clothing) 12% + VAT (Value Added Tax) 23%
As you can see, Value Added Tax for clothing in Finland is 23% and that’s why the total goes as high as $122.85. Meaning that if I purchase this desired Bowlig Shirt from Hello! Store USA I must pay over two times higher price of it than shirt’s original price is. Am I bying it then? I don’t think so.
As Hello! Store USA is an US based shop it’s of course more affordable place to purchase things for US citizens than for us living in Europe.
What I am doing now is checkin Yahoo Japan Auction pages regularly to see if someome there is selling this nice piece of clothing. No luck yet.