Ask Lifehacker: How Can I Buy From Companies That Ban Mail Forwaders?

Dear Lifehacker, How can everyday Australians import US-only products without using mail-forwarders, given that many of them are blacklisted? I’d like to I get the Nexus S shipped to Australia from Best Buy without using mail forwarders such as PriceUSA, Shipito and Comgateway. Thanks, Dilan

Dear Dilan,

Using mail forwarders (often also referred to as drop shippers) is a good way of dealing with online stores that won’t ship to international addresses, and is a tactic that we have often recommended in the past when shopping online. However, it occasionally comes unstuck if the retailer explicitly bans using those services. Best Buy is one of the businesses that takes that approach, offering this none-too-friendly advice to customers:

Best Buy does not ship to known freight forwarders, and orders to such will be canceled.

There’s a couple of obvious strategies you can adopt in this case, though none of them are guaranteed. Obviously if you have friends or family in the US (or wherever the store is), you can ask them to order the goods and then post them to you, and send them payment via PayPal, or by offering a similar service in kind for Australia-only options. (Best Buy lets you order online and pick up from a store, which is a related option if you’ll be visiting the US yourself or know someone planning a trip there.)

Failing that, the other obvious choice is to keep hunting online until you find a retailer that does support mail forwarders. A useful place to search is eBay, where there’s often brand-new goods on offer — just make sure you check the feedback for a given seller carefully and make sure they can ship overseas. You might miss out on the discount available at your first-choice store, but discounts are illusory if you can’t actually buy the product. I’m sure our readers will have additional thoughts and strategies to share in the comments.


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