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Buyer Beware! There be hidden charges ahead!

I have been meaning to post about this topic for a while, but it wasn’t until I heard a horror story from one of my friends that I realized just how important this information is for brides, grooms, planners and even those organizing showers for the happy couple!

You would have to be living pretty far off the grid if you didn’t know that technology now gives us the ability to buy almost anything online. With the number of online purchases drastically increasing each year, it’s not surprising that more people are turning to online stores for solutions to their wedding day needs. And it’s not just for stationery!

It’s honestly not a surprise to me that people find the “order your stationery online, hassle free” route pretty attractive. However, as rosy as these options may look, it’s very important to do some research before you order anything online.

A common question that I get asked by clients is if my custom (or even my design collection) pricing can compare to the prices that the big online stores offer. The answer is actually a bit harder to work out than a simple “yes” or “no”.

At first glance, the answer would be “no”. But when you start going a bit deeper into online orders, you will realize that there are many additional hidden costs when buying online. Using the sticker price to calculate your final price can burn an unsuspecting customer out of hundreds of dollars.

Here’s an example of what I mean.

Let’s say you have found the perfect necklace online for your friend’s birthday. The label says $30.00 and you go “take my money!!” You then add it to your cart to find that the shipping is going to be an additional $30.00. Drat! Already it has doubled the price that you wanted to pay for it, but you are still willing to get it.

You complete your checkout and find that your statement is ACTUALLY $111.00 total!

How did this happen?

Many people here in beautiful Canada forget that our CAD (Canadian Dollar) is not on par with the USD (US Dollar). As the exchange rate fluctuates between our countries, we consumers need to pay the difference. This can add on  30%+ of the cost, if the rates stay the way the markets are today. It’s also important to note that if you purchase a USD order with a CAD credit card, you will be charged an additional 2.5% for giving the credit card company the pleasure of taking your money. This exchange rate also applies to shipping, but more of that below.

Before ordering anything online, I make sure that I know which dollar I am dealing with. If the site specifically says “Canada” or is a .ca, it’s safe to assume the purchase is in CAD. On sites that are not so apparent, try looking to find where their home office is located. If it is in the USA, be prepared to add the foreign exchange rate to your order.

Once you place your order and are choosing your shipping method, it’s not only important to add the exchange rate price to the shipping total, but it’s important to be aware that items coming from across the border may be subject to import duty and other taxes.

In many cases, the amount of duty placed on an order is not apparent until the item is delivered to your door. Many times it will be a charge that the delivery person will charge you before surrendering the package. So, how do you factor this into your total price? My rule of thumb is to take what my final shipping charge is (factoring in the exchange) and doubling it. It’s not exact, but it will give you a general idea of what to expect.

Yikes! Adding all of that to the the basic item price drastically increases the amount that comes out of your wallet!

While consumers cannot change the rates that we are subjected to, we can change our online purchase habits. If you are able to purchase your wedding supplies from a Canadian company, you could save more than what you think you will be saving if you order from a company from the United States.

Another perfect reason to buy local!

If you are looking for pre-made designs that don’t have to cross the border to get to you, check out my stationery design collection found {here}. These designs can be customized to fit your special day, and you don’t have to worry about foreign exchange if you are from Canada! A real win-win, if you ask me!

If you have any other tips, tricks or horror stories, let me know in the comment section below!

Cheers,
-a

About Anika

Anika is a graphic designer who firmly believes that print is not dead! In addition to being a Certified Graphic Designer, she is an avid coffee drinker, paper connoisseur, and authority on all things Disney.

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