A Money Coach in Canada

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Well now, this is an interesting development.  Visa Canada is partnering with a very savvy company in the States called Borderlinx. It provides Canadians with a US shipping address, so that we can order at any online store in the States and ship it to the Borderlinx address.  Borderlinx will then ship it up to us in Canada.

Living in Yellowknife, this holds very promising possibilities!  In fact, it holds possibilities for anyone without easy access to the likes of Banana Republic (my clothing store of choice),  Restoration Hardware, Zappos shoes and a whole lot of other shops.  These are just two of the stores which only ship to US addresses via online shopping.

If it wasn’t for Visa’s involvement I would have assumed this was a fly-by-night operation – I pay for the goods, they collect them, and resell them or something.  So I contacted Visa’s eCommerce rep and got the following responses from Stephanie Wallat:


Q:  Does VISA have any estimate of how many Canadian online shoppers want to purchase from US online vendors, but can’t because the vendor doesn’t ship to Canada?  (ie. how big of a problem is borderlinx solving for us)?

According to research by Burak Jacobs on on behalf of Visa in October 2008, the main barrier to shopping at US sites is “Sites that do not ship to Canada” -(38%) . The next reason was shipping costs at 25%.

The same research showed that 62% of respondents indicated they are shopping at US sites – what we don’t know, however, is how many more would, if the sites they targeted would ship to Canada.

With that many shoppers facing the barrier of shipping, this gap presented an opportunity for Visa to provide more value to its cardholders by offering a solution like Borderlinx .

Q: If I had discovered Borderlinx on my own, my guard would be up.  I’ve always assumed there was Some Reason the US Vendor didn’t ship, other than their inconvenience, such as international trade agreements/tariffs etc.   The fact that VISA is partnering gives Borderlinx credibility to me – enough so that I’ll personally try using it if the price/exchange rate is favourable enough to compensate for the shipping/taxes etc.  Can VISA confirm that US online vendors don’t ship to Canada purely for their own logistical reasons, rather than because doing so violates anything per above?

We can’t speak on behalf of retailers, but from what we understand in talking to US retailers, it is more a case of logistics than compliance (although in some cases,  it may be that the merchant’s goods are not accepted in Canada   – the Borderlinx website provides some examples of prohibited goods).

Shipping outside of the US can involve considerable effort, especially for the smaller retailers. To be successful, retailers need to understand the new market, have the internal resources and organizational structure to support cross border, be able to handle the fulfillment/logistics, know the government/regulatory/legal requirements of each market, etc.

Visa is working with third parties like Borderlinx to fill the cross border gap and enable its cardholders to shop anywhere in the world.

Q: Do Visa guarantees about damages of goods purchased apply to items that go through Borderlinx?  (I’m actually unclear about those guarantees, but I think VISA replaces items that break or get damaged, if purchased by visa?)

In general, if a Visa cardholder makes an online purchase that arrives damaged, the first step is to contact the merchant.  The Visa E-promise acts as another avenue for dispute resolution should attempts to deal directly with the merchant fail.

Borderlinx inspects packages and will alert a customer if the package is damaged (details below).
Carriers selected by Borderlinx insure deliveries  against damage up to $100. Borderlinx is working to provide its customers with additional coverage, and will be able to provide more information about that soon.

From the Borderlinx site:
If your goods are damaged when they are received by Borderlinx, the email advising you of a new delivery to your Borderlinx address will explain that goods were received damaged and – as far as possible – describe the damage. You should then contact the retailer directly to arrange an exchange/refund and let us know what you wish to do through the Customer Service page.

If you see a ‘Damaged’ icon against your delivery, you will not be able to have it shipped (ensuring that you don’t choose to receive damaged goods inadvertently). If you still want to receive your goods, please contact Borderlinx Customer Service so that we can arrange shipment.”


This money coach plans to test this out in the fall, and I’ll let you know how it goes.  It will take some careful calculations, factoring in the exchange rate, the tarrifs, and the shop prices but I’m really pleased to have at least the option available to me.

About the Author

Imagine if Canadians were known for being all over their money. Engaged. Proactive. Getting out of debt. Savvy. Saving. Generous. Nancy wants to help. Nancy started her own journey with money over 15 years ago, and formed her company “Your Money by Design” in 2004 to help others along the same path. It’s not the usual financial advising/investment stuff. It’s about taking control of day-to-day finances –managing monthly cashflow effectively, spending appropriately, getting out of debt, saving. If you're ready to take control over your finances, pop by her business site, YourMoneybyDesign.com


  1. Rahel

    Oh, please do let me know. This is the bane of my online shopping existence, and I send so much stuff to my friend’s house in the US that one of these days he’s going to start charging me for storage!


    Aug 17, 2009
  2. OK, this is awesome.
    .-= Megan´s last blog ..Reader-submitted cookies =-.


    Aug 17, 2009
  3. Montagnard

    Sorry for intrusion. Some more questions 🙂
    1- How to pay for the merchandize? Of course it will be VISA or Mastercard. Will the charge be in USD or CAD? If in USD then a Canadian CAD VISA/Mastercard will add a 2.5% foreign transaction fee, in addition to less favorable foreign currency conversion rate. AMEx charges 3%, more riff-off.
    2- How about GST and courier fee for handling payment of GST to the Canadian Customs. If you use serice like this one then GST is for the invoice amount or real value; unlike when the merchandise is reshipped by a fiend in the US without a declared value of less than purchase price.
    BTW, there are other similar services in existence other than this one. Or you can rent a UPS Store mailbox anywhere in the US. Just go to http://www.upsstore.com and search for a UPS Store. Call that store to rent a mailbox with street address. They will fax you a form that nneds to be filled out and faxed back with copies of your IDs. The issue I faced in using such a service is the billing address of the credit card and the shipping address. Most discount online merchants other than Amazon won’t ship to a different billing address. I have found a workaround by using Vanilla Prepaid Master Card which is sold at Shoppers Drug Mart. It works like a regular credit card. You can register a US address at their website. However they do charge 2.5% for USD transactions. And once is a while Canadian Customs slam a fat GST bill when they too many shipments coming in to the same address.

    My two cents! BTW, you look cute in glasses!


    Aug 19, 2009
  4. One Torontonian


    Its interesting, but wouldn’t it diminish your savings (or part of savings) from buying in USD and paying shipping twice?

    I used to shop at half.com but when I moved to Canada, I learned that they do not entertain Canadian Consumers.

    BTW, do you know if they can ship the item and mark it as “GIFT” 🙂


    Aug 19, 2009
  5. One Torontonian

    BTW, do you know if they Borderlinx can ship the item and mark it as “GIFT”


    Aug 19, 2009
  6. Looby

    Ooh I’ve been waiting for a follow up from your teaser on your earlier post! This does sound promising- I really hate finding great items online only to find out they are not available to me.
    I look forward to hearing how it works for you.


    Aug 19, 2009
  7. Jayson from NCC

    I can certainly see the utility of this for people in more remote areas, like the Territories. However, the price appears to be rather prohibitive right off the bat.

    Non-express shipping from Borderlinx to Canada for a 1 kilogram package is a whopping $26.50 – in USD!

    That’s a pretty hefty premium to pay, and can more than outweigh any savings you may have.

    If you’re ordering high value, low weight items, it may be less of an issue… except that they only offer a maximum of $100 shipping insurance, meaning you’re taking your chances on anything worth more than that, or you’re paying a premium of over 25% on the value of the shipment, just to ship it.

    This is on top of the merchant shipping fees, of course.

    Last large “US Only” purchase I made was $102, weighed over 5kg, and had a shipping cost of $15.

    To have BL forward this on to me would cost an additional $46.50, bringing the total up to $160 USD (over $200 CAD with exchange at that time).

    I could have had a local merchant special-order the items from his distributor, and charge me full retail price, and still paid less than that.

    Of course, I have an advantage here, living close to the border – but so does 75% of the Canadian population.

    I have a US mailing address, similar to UPSStore. Costs $10 a year and $2.50 per package. They email me when things arrive (like BL does). Then I drive down to Blaine (taking all of 15 minutes) and pick them up.

    So yes, it’s a neat idea for sure… but also hardly new. Freight Forwarders have been around for a dogs age.

    I just can’t see the money-smarts in using such a service. The price is frankly atrocious – I’ve gotten 1kg packages mailed from the UK for less than $26.50, direct from the merchant.


    Aug 19, 2009
  8. Clearly, a lot of interest in this!
    @Montagnard -all good points, esp. re: visa address v billing address! It appears that borderlinx is already doing a lot of business between US and Europe (Canada is only a second target market for them) so presumably retailers haven’t balked re: the address. I’ll poke around on their site re: gst, but I think they handle that in advance (ie. no courier.)
    @One Torontonian Hmmm. I strongly suspect it would be a “no” to the Gift idea. That would circumvent the gst – wishful thinking, sigh.
    @Jayson Agreed on all of the above. It’s only worth it if the matrix of price differential plus exchange rate is favourable (not inconceivable) and then we have to decide if we want it enough to cough up the fees. As you pointed out, the weight of the goods is a signficant factor. In my case, I’m particularly interested in clothing and linens so it may not be so prohibitive. Like anything else, it’s supply and demand: How much do I/we want a particular item that we can’t get in Canada, and how much of a premium are we willing to pay?


    Aug 22, 2009
  9. Hi there,

    My name is Cédric Rainotte and I’m working as Head of Marketing at Borderlinx. With all those great comments, let me bring you some explanations:

    @One Torontonian: It is illegal for sellers to ship an item and mark it as “GIFT”, and could result in huge problems with US Border Control, your border control, you, the seller and Borderlinx.

    @Jayson from NCC: Let’s just highlight the advantages of using Borderlinx. For all you Visa card holders if you register before December 31, 2009 Borderlinx will waive the $30 registration fee and give you a 15% discount on your Borderlinx shipping fees until the December 31 deadline.
    Shipping charges- customers can consolidate their shipments. 1kg costs $26.50, BUT 10kgs cost only $86.50. Your account will show you all the duties, taxes and shipping charges due. It is only one off payment; Borderlinx will pay the taxes and duties to the authorities on your behalf.

    A lot of new services are coming soon like a new export Hub in UK, a CostCalulator Apps for iPhone addict, a great coupons area,… So stay tune and follow us on Twitter (@Borderlinx)
    If you’re looking for some shopping idea, take also a look at our blog on http://blog.borerlinx.com

    Warm regards,



    nancyzimmerman Reply:

    Hey Ced – thanks a lot for popping by! As you can see, there’s definitely interest in your service!


    Aug 24, 2009
  10. Dan J. Sullivan

    Thank you VISA

    All summer I have been told rather haughtily by many Big and Tall outfits that :”We do not ship to Canada”.

    I buy a lot from our neighbors to the south.

    Bully for VISA



    Aug 28, 2009
  11. Jesse

    Forwarding costs are way too high. I do not find this a practical solution.


    Aug 29, 2009
  12. Michael

    Does this solution also solve the problem of U.S. merchants not accepting Credit Cards with a Canadian BILLING address? I added a second billing address (U.S.) to my MasterCard and it still won’t go through because the automated software seems to only check the Primary address on file, which is my Canadian home addess…


    Aug 30, 2009


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