We occasionally hear visitors to our showrooms commenting that our prices "appear" to be higher than European online shopping sites. So I thought I'd spend a few minutes and spill the beans on offshore online shopping in order to clear up this (not-so-common) misconception.
First and foremost when browsing these online shops, you must remember that the retail price (in Euros) is only a part of the equation, no pun intended. When you make a purchase from an offshore e-commerce site, there are always additional charges that must be taken into account when tallying the total cost: handling, shipping, import duties and taxes.
But first of all, there is conversion of the currency to consider. If you are paying in Euros but banking in Canadian Dollars, you can figure on adding 40% to 50% to the price in Euros for conversion. So, a dress that retails for 120 E. actually costs you $165.00 (at 40%). Don't forget that the shipping/handling fees must also be converted - so count on at least $40.00 to get your dress shipped parcel post - which can take six weeks to arrive at your door! Expect to pay more for expedited air mail.
Oh! and don't forget that upon arriving at the Canadian border, your purchase is subject to import duty (up to 20% depending on the item category and country of origin), as well as the 5% federal portion of the HST; both payable upon delivery. Let's just go with a best case scenario and say a total of 20% will be charged - which brings your price up to $187.00. Then add the $40.00 shipping and your total cost is now at least $227.00!
Our price for a comparable (often identical!) dress is $200.00 including HST.
Hopefully, your dress arrives and you are thrilled...but what if your offshore purchase doesn't fit, is the wrong colour, or not the quality you expected? Sure hope you carefully read the return policy (assuming it can be translated)before you placed your order! Some sites specifiy a time limit for returns which are based on delivery times within Europe. So, by the time you've received your dress here in Canada, the deadline for returns may have already passed! If you are able to return the dress, you will be responsible for shipping charges as well as attaching appropriate customs forms. Bear in mind too, that you won't get your refund for a few weeks, until after the store has received the dress; and they may deduct a percentage of the price as a restock fee.
So, let's review....you've spent some time surfing European sites to find a dress you like, ordered and paid for it, waited up to six weeks to receive it, and been unhappy with it when it finally arrived <sob!>. After possibly exchanging a few impassioned e-mails with the euro-site regarding their strict returns policy, you finally got the go-ahead to send the dress back! You packed it up and trekked to the post office, paid for return shipping, and waited (again!) to get your refund. To add insult to injury, this exercise in frustration will likely have set you back just over $100.00 (shipping both ways, and duty/hst)...and you still have no dirndl ! Sadly, that "bargain" was no bargain, after all.
At Trachten-Quelle, we try as much as possible to avoid having our online customers experience the above scenario by providing detailed photos and thorough descriptions of our products, including colours and patterns, fabric content, care instructions. We gladly respond to questions, and provide measurements and/or additional photos if necessary. We want our customers to have no doubts about the quality, size/fit or colour of the item they are purchasing. That said, our returns policy is fair and flexible, although our product return rate is less than 2% ...and we're hoping to improve on that!
We always encourage shoppers in Kitchener and surrounding areas to visit our showrooms so they can see for themselves the quality, fit, colour and details of each dress; try a few on, and find the one that's "perfect"! The same opportunities are afforded at our off-site sales events, which happen Spring and Fall every year.
Hopefully, I've helped some of you compare "apples to apples" in the weird, weird world of offshore online shopping!