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Subject: CoolStuffInc -- still the best option for Canadians rss

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James Cowling
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Just want to say, yet again, how much I like ordering from CSI.

I live in Vancouver, BC, so I have ample local suppliers and several Canadian mailorder houses available to me.

However, nobody has been able to beat CSI's price and selection. I preordered Wrath of Ashardalon, and ordered a half-dozen other items at the same time. Everything shipped on the day my preorder was released, on the 15th, and I had everything in my hands last night, on the 23rd.

Think on that: 7 days from Florida to British Columbia, including customs. And even though I have to pay for shipping, the overall cost was lower than if I'd ordered from any number of other outlets. My previous order from them took nine days to arrive.

So in a recent thread praising Starlit Citadel, I had decided that I would give them a shot. But after this most recent CSI order, I thought that perhaps I should do a bit of pricing analysis first before jumping in.

Here is the list of games in my proposed order:

Innovation
Space Alert
Egizia
Roll through the Ages
Dominion Seaside, Alchemy and Prosperity
Munchkin 2, 3, 4 and 5

All were in stock at a majority of the following retailers:

Starlit Citadel, Meeplemart.com, Germangames.com, Thought Hammer and CoolStuffInc.

Here were the totals:

Starlit Citadel: $348.82 (incl. HST, free shipping)
Meeplemart: $312.42 (incl. HST, $14.00 shipping)
German Games: $322.62 (incl. HST, $13.00 shipping)
Thought Hammer: $296.77 (no HST, $58.40 shipping)
CoolStuffInc: $293.29 (no HST, $58.40 shipping)
Local shop: $441.16 (incl. HST, no shipping cost)

None of these include any discounts as part of a savings club (I save 3% right now with CSI, which was not included).

And of the five shops listed, CSI was the only one which actually had everything on my list in stock, plus everything in my price survey that was not in stock at a majority of the above shops (such as Villa Paletti and Hive Carbon).

So, sure, I could keep this portion of my money in the community, but I have to conclude that when we're talking about a difference of roughly 15%, this not-inconsiderable sum is better off in my own pocket.

I have yet to get hit with HST on any of my cross-border shipments, but let's suppose that this changes; my order from CSI, after discount, would come to $313.58, only a little over a dollar more than the Meeplemart price and still beating the other Canadian outlets.

In the end, I'm sticking with CSI. They're unbeatable on price and selection, my customer service experience with them has been great, and while it's certainly not as fast to get an in-stock order from them as I would from a Canadian outlet, my recent experiences with one-week turnaround is a small price to pay -- particularly as no other outlet surveyed can compete with them on ready-to-ship stock.
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Manchuwok
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I have to agree. Although it's way better than this even if you take advantage of free shipping to a US border town, and pay a $4 or $5 fee to pick it up from a receiving company.

I can't afford to shop in Canada any more.

solidonelove wrote:
Just want to say, yet again, how much I like ordering from CSI.

I live in Vancouver, BC, so I have ample local suppliers and several Canadian mailorder houses available to me.

However, nobody has been able to beat CSI's price and selection. I preordered Wrath of Ashardalon, and ordered a half-dozen other items at the same time. Everything shipped on the day my preorder was released, on the 15th, and I had everything in my hands last night, on the 23rd.

Think on that: 7 days from Florida to British Columbia, including customs. And even though I have to pay for shipping, the overall cost was lower than if I'd ordered from any number of other outlets. My previous order from them took nine days to arrive.

So in a recent thread praising Starlit Citadel, I had decided that I would give them a shot. But after this most recent CSI order, I thought that perhaps I should do a bit of pricing analysis first before jumping in.

Here is the list of games in my proposed order:

Innovation
Space Alert
Egizia
Roll through the Ages
Dominion Seaside, Alchemy and Prosperity
Munchkin 2, 3, 4 and 5

All were in stock at a majority of the following retailers:

Starlit Citadel, Meeplemart.com, Germangames.com, Thought Hammer and CoolStuffInc.

Here were the totals:

Starlit Citadel: $348.82 (incl. HST, free shipping)
Meeplemart: $312.42 (incl. HST, $14.00 shipping)
German Games: $322.62 (incl. HST, $13.00 shipping)
Thought Hammer: $296.77 (no HST, $58.40 shipping)
CoolStuffInc: $293.29 (no HST, $58.40 shipping)
Local shop: $441.16 (incl. HST, no shipping cost)

None of these include any discounts as part of a savings club (I save 3% right now with CSI, which was not included).

And of the five shops listed, CSI was the only one which actually had everything on my list in stock, plus everything in my price survey that was not in stock at a majority of the above shops (such as Villa Paletti and Hive Carbon).

So, sure, I could keep this portion of my money in the community, but I have to conclude that when we're talking about a difference of roughly 15%, this not-inconsiderable sum is better off in my own pocket.

I have yet to get hit with HST on any of my cross-border shipments, but let's suppose that this changes; my order from CSI, after discount, would come to $313.58, only a little over a dollar more than the Meeplemart price and still beating the other Canadian outlets.

In the end, I'm sticking with CSI. They're unbeatable on price and selection, my customer service experience with them has been great, and while it's certainly not as fast to get an in-stock order from them as I would from a Canadian outlet, my recent experiences with one-week turnaround is a small price to pay -- particularly as no other outlet surveyed can compete with them on ready-to-ship stock.
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Added to OLGS geeklist:

http://boardgamegeek.com/listitem/983935?commentid=1974874#c...
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Grant Stewart
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I've used Fun Games Cafe and been very satisfied. Let me take a look at your order and compare the prices.

Edit:
I can't tell if you want munchkin #1 with the other munchkins or not so the price for that is not on this list but given at the end.

$309 for everything and shipping is free over the $200 mark. If you need the first munchkin it is an additional $25. This doesn't include any tax added in.
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Steve Duff
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solidonelove wrote:

Here were the totals:

Meeplemart: $312.42 (incl. HST, $14.00 shipping)
CoolStuffInc: $293.29 (no HST, $58.40 shipping)

I have yet to get hit with HST on any of my cross-border shipments, but let's suppose that this changes; my order from CSI, after discount, would come to $313.58, only a little over a dollar more than the Meeplemart price and still beating the other Canadian outlets.


I get $293.29 + 12% = $328.48, not $313.58. Which is $16 *more* than Meeplemart. If you get lucky, you save the same amount (perhaps, did you include the $5 postal fee in your calcuations?).

Which means that you have to have a better than 50% ratio on getting lucky at the border for this to work. I've ordered dozens and dozens of parcels from the US over the past 25 years, barely 1 in 10 get through without being charged the $5 + GST (now HST).

I find it hard to fathom how you're getting such high ratios through, is CSI not writing up the parcel contents properly?
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Matt Vollick
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I didn't see if you factored duty and or taxes in when it crossed the border.

If a $300 package arrives at my place from the US I would expect to pay the taxes and depending on the product duty as well.

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Vast Aire
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I've ordered games from many American online stores multiple times and never been charged the $5 or any GST/HST.

I haven't order from CSI though. I'll have to try them out if I can find anyone local to me to split on shipping. If anyone reads this geekmail me!
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James Cowling
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:

I get $293.29 + 12% = $328.48, not $313.58. Which is $16 *more* than Meeplemart. If you get lucky, you save the same amount (perhaps, did you include the $5 postal fee in your calcuations?).


Remember to remove the shipping before adding the tax. $313.58 is the correct figure.

And Matt: I have never been charged any tariff, any $5 fee, or any tax at the border even though every package has had the actual price clearly labelled, and even on the rare occasions when my packages have sat in Customs for a week.
 
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Matt Vollick
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solidonelove wrote:


Remember to remove the shipping before adding the tax. $313.58 is the correct figure.

And Matt: I have never been charged any tariff, any $5 fee, or any tax at the border even though every package has had the actual price clearly labelled, and even on the rare occasions when my packages have sat in Customs for a week.


I'd check the customs slip carefully the next time you order from CSI. I don't know how you're not getting charged the $5. That's the cost for CP to do submit the customs paperwork (UPS charges $40ish but that's another story).

I've heard of people getting half their packages through customs without getting dinged with taxes but not 10 out of 10.

If you're not getting charged taxes when you obviously should be then I wouldn't declare it's the best option for Canadians. Maybe your customs officials in BC are a little more relaxed than their Ontarian cousins.

...and I bolded the best reason to purchase from within Canada in your post above.
 
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Steve Duff
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solidonelove wrote:
Remember to remove the shipping before adding the tax. $313.58 is the correct figure.


I've often had to pay on the full amount including shipping. I've never been able to find a definitive reference on whether shipping is supposed to be exempt or not.

The $5 is the handling fee for collecting the GST, so if you weren't being dinged on that, you wouldn't see the fee. But, if you do get charged, you do have to add the $5 as well.

Note also the math varies here from province to province, as the Ontario shipping is lower for the Canadian companies, and the HST is higher for CSI.

For us normal folks who don't have the laziest Canada Post employees in the world who let everything pass, like you guys do.
 
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James Cowling
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Vollick1979 wrote:

...and I bolded the best reason to purchase from within Canada in your post above.


I figure a week in customs is about as long as it would take for a domestic supplier to get the products in from my list that they don't have in stock. None of them had everything.
 
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Steve Duff
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I wonder if we're getting some sort of "It's board games, it must be for kids, let it through" thing. All my previous experience was with things like dvds, electronics, software, etc.

7 to 10 days is also quite short, I commonly had to wait 2 to 3 weeks from order to delivery, several times as long as 6 weeks. The better the deal I could find the worse it would be, as some items clearly set off their "suspicion" detectors, and I'm sure they searched long and hard to prove the sender was undervaluing.
 
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When I order from the US, I always have them ship USPS and I have never been charged taxes or customs yet.
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Oliver Paul
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Sama here in Iceland. Most of the big online sellers (Amazon and the such) don't ship board games here, and the local stores (there are basically only 2 in the whole of the country) are so expensive.

I've noticed that ordering a game from CSI, paying shipping, 25,5% VAT, 10% customs, a $3 postage fee, and (on shipments over $220) a customs form fee of $25... CSI is still around 30-50% cheaper than having one of the local stores special order it.

I realize that they have overhead and all sorts of costs, but I'm assuming that they get better prices from the wholesalers and also reduced shipping costs per unit, because of bulk.

In the end, a $40 game from CSI costs me around $75-80, while it would cost closer to $100-120 here in stores. When you buy as many games as I do, that's quite a bit...

So thank you CSI!
 
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Mike Kollross
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solidonelove wrote:
UnknownParkerBrother wrote:

I get $293.29 + 12% = $328.48, not $313.58. Which is $16 *more* than Meeplemart. If you get lucky, you save the same amount (perhaps, did you include the $5 postal fee in your calcuations?).


Remember to remove the shipping before adding the tax. $313.58 is the correct figure.

And Matt: I have never been charged any tariff, any $5 fee, or any tax at the border even though every package has had the actual price clearly labelled, and even on the rare occasions when my packages have sat in Customs for a week.


Then you've been very lucky. I've been charged several times. The $5 fee for them to open my parcel to check it is obsurd. Its a money grab.
 
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Paul DeStefano
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I'll need to keep this in mind next time I order some Canadians.
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Mike Kollross
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Geosphere wrote:
I'll need to keep this in mind next time I order some Canadians.


Just don't get them wet or feed them after midnight.
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I'm a total newbie when it comes to ordering online, and specifically internationally... I'm actually waiting on an order from CSI right now... expecting it next week sometime(shipped on Tuesday I think). I guess what I'm curious about was if the $5 fee got charged at the post office on pickup, or how I resolved that if I get dinged. I'm in Alberta, Canada...
 
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MK-Ultra71 wrote:
Then you've been very lucky. I've been charged several times. The $5 fee for them to open my parcel to check it is obsurd. Its a money grab.


Don't whine too much. UPS will charge you THIRTY dollars "brokerage fee" on any package. I think $5 is fairly reasonable, all things considered.
 
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manchuwok wrote:
I have to agree. Although it's way better than this even if you take advantage of free shipping to a US border town, and pay a $4 or $5 fee to pick it up from a receiving company.


This is what I do.
http://mbistore.com
$10 annual fee, plus $2.50 per package held.
You get an actual street address, NOT a box number. So places that won't ship to PO boxes can still ship here.

As it's in the US, you can get that free shipping. It also ships a LOT faster. I just placed a CSI order Monday morning. FedEx says it will arrive next monday.

The real trick here is that I drive down to Blaine, get my package, and then go GROCERY SHOPPING. In addition to the great US farm subsidies ($2 jug of milk, $5 for a kilo of cheese, $6 for organic Washington State whole chickens, $1 bread, $2 laundry detergent...)
Then I load up on cheap cheap gas (works out to about 75 cents a litre).

Going back across, I declare that I got $250 in groceries and games. They wave me through, every time. Approximately $2500 in merch, spread over 20-odd crossings in the last 2 years, and I've never been taxed on it once.

Make it official. Get Nexus. When filling the Nexus form, you pay duty and tax according to the largest part of your trip.
If 50.1% of your purchases are non-taxable (i.e. GROCERIES), then you pay no tax or duty on the whole lot. Officially and legally.
Not only that, but you cross the border in the fast lane.

It's the only way to go.

For big purchases, I go with CSI (or MiniMarket sometimes). For odd purchases here and there, I go with my FLGS (Craving For A Game) because Buck is awesome.
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James Cowling
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Alas, I'm one of those urban 40-somethings who don't drive.

Although with what I'd save on shipping and cheese, it might save me money....
 
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Steve Lefort
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This is an interesting post.

However, you forgot 1 thing James; Exchange rate.
Canadian sellers are in Canadian dollars. US sellers are in US dollars. This could dramatically affect the numbers.
I am also curious as to how you paid. Assuming you paid with credit card, you (usually) have to add an additional "surcharge" of 2.5% over the current exchange rate. If you paid via Paypal, you probably paid an even higher exchange rate.

Let's assume the dollar was at par: so, if you used your credit card to pay, you have to add 2.5% to your total to get your actual Canadian dollar cost. ($300.62 Canadian). You still come in at a difference of $11.80 savings over Meeplemart, which is aprox. a 3.7% savings. (I'm not sure where you got 15%).

At this point, I guess it boils down to 3 other factors;

Shipping time: Meeplemart to Vancouver 4-6 days vs 7-9 days

HST Risk: If you do end up having to pay HST (which you legally should be) you will have to add another 12% to your order, excluding shipping, plus a $5 fee giving you a total of $334.51 Cdn. An additional $22.09 over the same order from Meeplemart.

Stock: If Meeplemart does not have it and they do, well, it's an obvious choice. But fortunately that can work both ways. :-)

It's incredible how close our economies have become and how HST has effected Canadian sales.

Thanks for the post!
Steve
 
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Matthew Lutz
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But unlike CSI & Starlit Meeplemart doesn't do preorders.

Which saddens me, cause now I have to check every single day to see if the Lord of the Rings LCG is available yet.
cry
 
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Steve Lefort wrote:
Let's assume the dollar was at par: so, if you used your credit card to pay, you have to add 2.5% to your total to get your actual Canadian dollar cost.

Ummm, no. CC interchange fees are absorbed by the retailer, or factored into the price directly regardless of payment method. I can't imagine where you got the idea that price paid varies by the payment method.

Quote:
HST Risk: If you do end up having to pay HST (which you legally should be)


I ship to Blaine, Washington. I then buy duty-free groceries exceeding the value of my package. Returning by Nexus, I declare all items. Because 50.1% of my declaration is duty and tax free, the entire declaration is duty and tax free.

Legally
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James Cowling
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Yup, what Jayson said. Same with PayPal -- it is the seller that absorbs the cost. And as Jayson said, there are perfectly legal ways to get around paying HST. One is the cross-border grocery method. Another is for Customs to not ask for it; one is not required to volunteer such a payment.

As for Meeplemart, I keep trying, gamely (pardon the pun), but they have never had everything I wanted to order. Their in-stock selection is worse than the average brick-and-mortar shop. Like, substantially worse. Maybe they're able to provide good pricing through just-in-time distribution rather than by buying in bulk, but that doesn't really matter to me -- in-stock availability is often more important to me than price. I made an order through Funagain recently for just such a reason (paid no HST on that order, too) even though the final price came out to just slightly under retail.

I have found a place right on the border where I can have my order shipped that is walking distance from the Peace Arch, so I am likely to start walking my orders across, saving myself an additional 20 percent (minus twelve bucks a year for 'membership' and two bucks per shipment), and thereby obviating any possible reason to ever order from a Canadian shop.

As for the exchange rate, with the Canadian dollar stronger than the US dollar right now, that just makes it a super double bonus to order from them.
 
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