Friday, March 7, 2014

Nothing is Less Expensive in Canada, Except Health Care

Canadians know that they pay more than Americans for nearly everything - clothes, electronics, taxes, milk, eggs, cars, liquor, and gasoline.  Why?  My opinion is that the restrictions on cross border shipments and unique labeling including French and the even-more-dreaded metric measurements means that all logistics are within Canada.  This means that business cannot take advantage of the low cost systems 100 miles (160 km) to the South.  The monopolies and organized farmers don't help either.

Whatever the reason, Canadians know that even with a devalued dollar, it is cheaper to buy in the USA.  This seems to have spawned a whole range of workarounds for Canadians:

  1. The tried and true cross border shopping involves wearing your oldest clothes across the border, then buying lots of stuff, putting it on, putting the old clothes in the trash at the US mall, and telling the Canada Customs dude that "you have nothing to declare".  If you cannot wear it, hide it in your child's diaper bag or similar innocent spot.
  2. Shop US internet stores and ship to the many depots in Buffalo, Ogdensburg, and other US border cities.  For a small fee, they hold the package, then you drive across the border and pick up your goods, employing subterfuge as in 1. to cross back to canada.  
  3. Do the cross border shopping but swear you were in the US for a week to get maximum exemption.  This has fallen from favor (favour) since we learned that the US is sharing information with the Canadian government.  It is rumored that this intelligence deal involves Canada never sending Bieber to the US ever again.  Let's ask Richard Snowden when he gets back from Crimea?
  4. Get your relative or friend in the USA to buy the goods and send them to you as a "gift" and hope that the Canada Customs people are on a break drinking double-double Tim Hortons Coffee when your package is inspected.  Ask your friend to halve the price you paid when filling out the customs forms helps too.
  5. Buy something on Ebay and beg the seller to call it a gift when doing the forms.
  6. Buy goods as in 1. or 2. but declare your stuff and pay all taxes and duties.  Your Canadian friends will ridicule you and probably kick you out of the Margaret Atwood - Farley Mowat Book Club for this.  The only thing less Canadian than this is disliking hockey and curling.

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