Opinion: My ill-fated YouShop experience

Attempt to dodge high prices doesn't go to plan.

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I’d been meaning to try NZ Post’s YouShop service for a while, so when my foundation ran out in November I thought I’d see if I could get it cheaper from the US.

I must admit I did minimal research into how YouShop’s delivery prices were calculated so will take all the blame for my experience. But perhaps it will encourage others to consider a few factors before they buy.

So here’s what happened:

Sephora in the States was selling the foundation I wanted on its website for $49. In NZ it costs $89 to buy from the manufacturer’s ‘.co.nz’ website. Shipping was free because I threw in a nail polish to get me over the $50 free-shipping mark.

I assumed the cost of sending it back to NZ would be nowhere near the $40 difference and I’d be saving a heap. So I had my order sent to YouShop’s warehouse in Oregon.

I was feeling quite smug until I got the email from YouShop saying my parcel had arrived and it was time for me to arrange delivery back to NZ. That delivery was going to cost me $31.50.

All up, the parcel and delivery cost about $NZ110 – I’d saved nothing.

But YouShop’s website was telling me there would be “a discount applied” if I sent multiple parcels.

Well, you don’t have to ask me twice.

There was this handbag I should have bought when I was in the States earlier this year.

I hadn’t been able to stop thinking about it since, but I didn’t want to pay the $323.50 it was selling for when I used the NZ settings of J Crew’s website.

However, when I pretended I was in America and had it to sent to YouShop’s Oregon address the handbag was a much more reasonable $US115.60.

Cue much bragging to my partner about what a clever shopper I was – until I again got the email to say it had arrived at YouShop’s warehouse.

This time the cost to get it to NZ was $112.25. I’d assumed it would be closer to $40, given that’s what J Crew charges to send a parcel to NZ.

Taking in the exchange rate, the bag had now cost me about $260. It was still a saving of about $60 on the original price but had I known it was going to cost that much I probably wouldn’t have bought it.

My discount for sending an extra parcel was $6.

Of course, it all made sense once my parcels arrived. Both boxes were huge compared to what was inside them.

Unless you know exactly how the retailer is going to package your item it’s impossible to calculate costs.

I had a look around YouShop’s site for an explanation of how it calculates the shipping costs and found this statement: “YouShop didn’t set out to replace conventional international shipping – we’re here to help get Kiwis the things they want to buy from the US, UK and EU stores that don’t ship to New Zealand. If the merchant offers direct shipping to New Zealand, it may well be cheaper (and sometimes faster) than using YouShop because of the merchant’s commercial agreements with their shipping company.”

That explanation sums up how I’ll be approaching the service in the future. I no longer see it as a way to get around the high prices we pay in NZ. Perhaps I’d give it another try if there was something I really wanted that the seller wouldn’t ship to NZ.

by Kate Newton, Head of Online Content at Consumer NZ

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