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.



  • While having very distinct similarities, drop shippers and “mail forwarders” (as mentioned in this article) are not the same thing.

    I’ve always wondered why companies specifically refuse to sell to forwarding companies. It’s the forwarding company that takes on the responsibility of the international sending, so how exactly (aside from making additional sales) does it affect the original seller??

  • You’ll find the vendor will have imposed restrictions on where the company can sell their products, as each region will have exclusive distributors. If a company sells to a known forwarder then the vendor may choose a different company for the next product.

  • Hi Lifehackers,

    ‘’ works with Best Buy and I have never had any problems with them.

    Another option to using friends or family is to sign up for a Virtual Office solution that gives you access to an address and they will forward the packages on your behalf. Mind you this is an expensive option typically.

  • For a cash-conscious like me, i will normally search popular websites like Amazon beforehand. But i wont buy from them straightaway, search via google using the specific name of the product and check out at least 10 different websites that pop-up. As the retail price is always similar amongst, compare for the Shipping cost!!

  • I used a concierge service in the US that sends a representative to the store I want to buy from like Apple, Coach, or Sacks Fifth Ave. I pay a commission fee but it is worth it, you can do the same here at Get My US Mail Company

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!