Hi Lifehacker, Like many cashing in on the strength of the Australian dollar I have been making a lot of offshore purchases of late. The problem is the exorbitant shipping costs charged from the US, and the fact that many US retailers won’t ship offshore. So I have been looking at using a mail forwarding service, but there are a ton of options out there. Do you have recommendations on which way to go? Cheers, Shop Happy
Dear Shop Happy,
The topic of mail forwarding is one we've often visited at Lifehacker, especially given the dollar's continuing strength, and there are a lot of options out there. Ones we have covered in the past include ComGateway, HopShopGo, PriceUSA and WorldPurchases.
I haven't personally used any of these sites (since I get to travel to the US quite regularly for work, I concentrate on getting goods shipped to US hotels, though that brings its own challenges). As such, I don't want to make a specific recommendation for an individual service.
The two key factors you need to bear in mind are the overall delivery charges, and whether the company in question supports the retailer you want to use. (Some will only work with a specific subset of stores.) As with most online shopping excursions, buying multiple goods may work out "cheaper" in terms of spreading the cost over a large number of items, but beware of ordering extra goods just to take advantage of that (a classic false economy).
One other important thing to remember is that some online stores have a blanket policy of not shipping goods to known mail forwarders. We've covered this issue in some detail before. If this happens, you'll either have to use a mail forwarder which the store in question hasn't noticed (which can be hard to work out in advance), or pursue a different strategy such as using a visiting relative or overseas friend.
If readers want to share their experience with individual forwarding companies, we're all ears in the comments.
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