What's the most infuriating part of cross-border shopping?
These days, Canadian shoppers have their cardigans and chinos in a bunch.
Yes, now that U.S. retailer J. Crew has opened its first Canadian store and – gasp! – it’s charging more than it does in its U.S. locations, consumers north of the border are pissed.
But all preppy needling aside, the J. Crew kerfuffle is just the latest in a long line of injustices against the Canadian cross-border shopper.
That would be the cross-border shopper that, compared to his American counterpart, continues to get royally screwed.
Certainly, in the “Buy Canadian” era (or, wait, is that over already?), it’s tough to drum up sympathy for the Canuck shopper that flees to spend money in the U.S.
*Bing: What cross-border malls offer the best deals for Canadians?
Though let’s cut a little slack where it’s due. Almost across the board, the Canadian cross-border shopper is given the short end.
1) Legally, Canadians can bring back zero dollars of U.S. merchandise if they’ve been abroad for less than 24 hours. Right now, there’s a bill before Congress that would allow Americans to bring back $1,000 worth of Canadian merchandise, duty-free, after just a few hours of cross-border shopping.
2) Even after 24 hours, Canadians can only immediately bring home $50 worth of goods.
3) The maximum exemption for Canadian cross-border shoppers (a puny $750 worth of merchandise after a weeklong stay in the U.S.) hasn’t changed in more than 15 years.
4) U.S. retailers operating in Canada can gouge local shoppers. “There are two reasons prices are higher in Canada,” Ambarish Chandra of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management told the Star. “It is more expensive. Retailers here have to pay higher taxes and have somewhat higher costs. But a larger part of it is because they can get away with it.”
Indeed, the laundry list expands when you toss border wait times into the mix, but using the above, we ask: what is the worst part about cross-border shopping for Canadians?
By Jason Buckland, MSN Money
Posted by: Debbie | Aug 24, 2021 7:44:36 PM
I won't shop at the US retailers in Canada for that very reason. Our family of 4 makes the trip to Montana 3-4 times a year to buy stuff that we need. We always stay 48 hours and our family of 4 can bring home $450/person. Even with the cost of 2 nights hotel and the gas and meals, we save a fortune. I adore Canada, but until the morons actually charge a fair price here, I won't buy it.
(Example: I needed a Cotton Candy machine for my business. I paid $779 in the US, and here, the local company wanted to charge me $1800 for the identical machine. HELL NO!)
Posted by: Donna | Aug 25, 2021 11:01:35 AM
Here's another example of being gouged in Canada. We checked the price on a Zero Clearance wood-burning fireplace in Vancouver - $740. We went to visit a cousin in Minot, ND and got the same fireplace for $169. The money we saved paid for our trip so we had a free holiday. Go figure!!!
Posted by: Deb | Aug 25, 2021 11:20:42 AM
The part about cross-border shopping I hate the most is the interrogation you sometimes get from the U.S. Border guards. Some are good - they are reasonable and respectful while doing their jobs. Others - not so much. However, as a Canadian, it seems we have little to no recourse to complain about the bad ones - we just have to take our chances and if we pick the wrong line, bend over and take it. Either that or stay in Canada and pay much higher prices. Nice choice.
Posted by: PETE | Aug 26, 2021 5:42:15 PM
New Balance cross trainers in Canada $89.95 at three different stores in Victoria B.C.. Sandpoint ID. while on vacation, $39.99. I bought two pair. I am sure there are a million stories exactly like this one. Canada has 30 million consumers, the U.S.A. has 300 million. With the influx of Americian based big retailers, there must be a pile of cash to be made here in Canada because of the profit margins to be made. They would not open up for any other reason that I could think of. Profit is not a dirty word, but there are limits to what any consumer will accept. Grossly over inflating the price of products, here in Canada, will continue to incourage consumers to shop in the U.S. and force Canadian based companies into backruptcy. I have my limits too.
Posted by: FrankTalker | Aug 29, 2021 12:48:55 AM
The assertion that you can legally bring back ZERO dollars worth of merchandise if outside Canada for less that 24 hours is a little misleading. You can bring back as much as you want but you are liable for sales tax (same as if you bought at a Canadian retailer) and possibly duty.
The silver lining is that few border guards are willing to go through the trouble of making you come inside to pay these taxes if they are in small amounts ($7 on a $50 purchase) so they will often just wave you through, especially at peak hours.
Posted by: Ryan | Aug 29, 2021 1:15:02 AM
Everyone should get a Nexus pass. $50 for 5-years is definitely worth it to get through the border quicker. I only use it on the way down, as the lines to get back into Canada usually aren't that bad when I cross.
And remember -- border guards will usually let you through with $300 or more when you've only been down in the US for a few hours. If it's more than that, you just pay the taxes -- no biggie.
I recently bought a dining room table and 4 chairs for $700 at Macy's. The same set in Vancouver is $1500. I mentioned the price difference and the fact that our dollar's value has risen to the manager at the Vancouver store, and he told me that because of that, he should be selling the set for more. What the hell?
Posted by: nhalden | Aug 29, 2021 9:34:26 AM
whine, whine, try presenting a $US in a CANADIAN store as legal currency only to be charged at least 10c in the dollar, whereas a Canadian can present C$'s AND get C$ change in the US just like it is legal tender which it is NOT and evrything is 2/3 the price!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted by: jbernard | Aug 29, 2021 10:16:35 AM
My Husband and I spent about 5-6 months in Florida. We are allowed $750. each to spend in that time. The same allowance as one would get for a week. We buy most of our clothes in the USA and shop for family there. The prices are so reasonable. A pair of Shorts for $7.00. Where would you get that in Canada. A mini Blizzard at Dairiy Queen in US is 1.99 and in Canada 2.99 and our Dollar is valued higher right now? Whats up with that? Canada, I do love thee, but when will they stop goughing its citizens.
Posted by: mahen | Aug 29, 2021 10:39:32 AM
I fully agree with the comments above. I will not buy from use retailers in canada. They are gouging the canadians
Posted by: Kartar Baweja | Aug 29, 2021 10:43:08 AM
The tax here in Ontario is 13% whereas the tax across the border ranges from 5 to 8%. On a large ticket items, this converts to a substantial saving. Ontario Premier, who thinks that HST is creating jobs should park his car on QEW to Buffallo and see how many thousands of people are going across the border every week to spend their Canadian dollars. All this business is lost from the Canadian retailers and probably from Canadian producers/manufacturers. Is this really creating jobs? The only jobs I think HST may be creating are the ones employed in collecting this job-killer tax.
Secondly, the greedy retailers are not helping the situation by gouging the consumers. From the comments above, why should one have to pay more money, in some cases more that double, for the same merchandise here than across the border. The retailers are forcing the customers to look at alternates. Ones who cannot make trips to U.S. are doing lot of online shopping.
Posted by: MGF | Aug 29, 2021 12:03:59 PM
Canadians get RIPPED OFF! It is ridiculous the kind of money we have to spend. I went across the border and bought an Estee Lauder lipstick for $12.50. That same lipstick at the Bay (or any other department store) is $34. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?????? WHY are we gouged????
Posted by: Mon | Aug 29, 2021 12:36:06 PM
I know what you all mean. But isnt it in exchanged for the higher taxes we pay here, we are getting better, better services like health care, schools, etc.? The US has been going to China for cheaper goods and services to resale it to their consumers (and to us, Canadian) but look at their economy now. I just believe that we have to support our own local industries and buy what we have here. I know its going to be painful at first but at the end of the day we are able to help create more jobs and be a part of improving Canadian economy. Just my thoughts on the subject.
Posted by: susan smith | Aug 29, 2021 1:03:43 PM
Canada is a different country than the USA! If you want a country that has very little in the way of good social programs and citizens that have an "It's all about ME ME attitude" then by all means move there. We pay higher taxes because or population is smaller so fewer people carry the tax burden. Our wages are generally higher and our standard of living much better, so suck it up people.
Posted by: hee haw | Aug 29, 2021 1:29:58 PM
less people = less expenses stooooopid
Posted by: Joe | Aug 29, 2021 1:36:37 PM
Just to clarify a point..
YOU CAN BRING BACK AS MUCH GROCERY/HOUSEHOLD PRODUCTS/MEDICINE
AS YOU WANT AND THIS SHOULD NOT BE ADDED TO YOUR EXEMPTION.
THE CUSTOM AGENTS PLAY ON OUR FEARS AND STUPIDITY, AS LONG AS THE ITEMS ARE
NOT TAXABLE IN THE US, THEY ARE NOT SUBJECT TO DUTIES OR TAXES IN CANADA. IF THE ITEM IS MADE IN THE US, IT IS NOT SUBJECT TO TAX.
and for all of you which believe that are taxes are well spent and we have great social program...it is a load of B..S.. Look at out infrastructure, the state of our social programs.
I manufacture products in Canada and sell all over the world.I can make them in China at 1/2 the cost.
My social charges are 3 times those of the US, I pay 4 times the rent i can pay in the US. I chose to stay here for quality of life...but recently i have seen things deteriorate and politician spending my money to give it to useless programs & companies.
We are spriralling towards oblivion and our politician are not making thing easier.
Posted by: ana | Aug 29, 2021 1:41:19 PM
For me its not worth the time or aggrevation to get across the border. Even in my own town the business people what you to shop locally, but there is nothing in this town to buy clothes anyway and for groceries I try to buy most when it is on sale. No frills here is pretty good for having good sales. But other than a couple of dollar stores and a few odes and ends they don't have a real good clothing store here, and for wal-mart, they keep trying to sell the same stuff over and over. Sometimes its nicer and different to go to Giant Tiger for some different things, but for going across the border, no I don't and probably never will.
Posted by: Dave Bailey | Aug 29, 2021 1:44:13 PM
The cross border shopping benefits are well known. There are more fundamental issues that we should be concerned about.
Canada is a net exporter of oil. Most of it goes to the USA. Neither Canada or the US are members of OPEC. Last I heard, the tar sand extraction was profitable at $50/barrel. Why is OUR oil marketed to Canadians at OPEC prices?
Ontario Hydro wants investigating. I have a house in Myrtle Beach, hydro supplied by a small local power company at roughly 60% less than here.
Canadian corn, wheat etc, is sold at same prices as Chicago commodities. The breakfast cereal that my wife and I eat costs twice as much in Peterborough!
Posted by: ana | Aug 29, 2021 1:55:01 PM
The problem with us is we don't do anything, we sit and yack about hst and taxes but never do anything. The natives say they will block something and they get the hst off from paying!! B.C. just got rid of the HST from what I heard now why can't we do the same thing??? Why are we stupid people being taxed so much is because we don't rally and say we aren't going to take it anymore!
Posted by: Dave Bailey | Aug 29, 2021 2:11:47 PM
Maybe it's about time we started marching. The French don't let the government push them around.
Posted by: Trixie | Aug 29, 2021 2:25:01 PM
I just came back from the USA.
I agree with most comments here that everything I saw or ate was much cheaper than Canada. I ended up tipping more in restaurants because the taxes felt almost non-existent (compared to home.) I also agree that things are expensive here because we pay for way too many social programs that don't work anyway. To answer the question, there is NO negatives to cross-border shopping. I have no problems at customs either. My family just doesn't give attitude and we are fine.