International Orders


Hi there!

I was wondering if there would be a chance STS shipping via USPS instead of UPS for International Orders. UPS is totally ripping us in Customs' Duties costs (here in Greece, anyway...) and are very expensive in handling the Import Paperwork. According to my calculations, I would have to spend approximately another $200 for UPS Handling/Customs' Duties/Taxes, whereas Greek Postal Services are more lenient customs-wise even though it takes 2-4 weeks for a package to arrive - and they would only charge approximately $100 for Taxes & Duties.

STS sure sounds intriguing and solves one of my main problems.... Sometimes I have to travel a lot and bringing my iPod with me loaded with STS-Gym would definitely help me keep to my workout schedule!

I second this request. Custom Duties and UPS handling of customs are a rip-off. French also let through many packages (but I don't think this will happen with STS).
I usually end up avoiding buying on because of custom duties, but then I have to miss on pre-orders.

Case #1: I ordered the High Step and a few DVDs directly from Cathe and ended up paying $180 in Customs' Duties and spent about 3 hours at Customs handling the paperwork myself since UPS wanted another $80 to handle it for me!
Case #2: I ordered about 30 Cathe DVDs from Collage Video and had them sent in bundles of 2-3 DVDs per package so they won't get stuck at Customs... Can you believe that the total I paid for separate shipping costs (for about 11 shipments) was far less than what I would have to pay for Customs' Duties???


I support this request also having been charged very high brokerage fees by UPS. I am in the UK. I think a few others feel the same as there is a similar recent thread in the Ask Cathe forum.
I live in Spain and I would like the international shipping by USPS. UPS charges extremely high brokerage fees for collecting VAT and import duties (sometimes more than the shipping cost or the price of the DVDs I ordered itself).

Mariángeles the spanish Turbo Kick junkie
This is something we’re seriously considering, but there are problems in doing this and we would like some feedback from our International customers on this. Here are some problems you should be aware of:

#1 Import taxes and brokerage fees are supposed to be collected by your country's postal service just as UPS does. In reality this is quite often not done by most countries postal services for various reasons. It is really unfair to UPS and like carriers that this done, but nevertheless this is the case. Please keep in mind that some postal services do collect these fees all the time. Others collect these fees on some packages and not on others – who knows why? Some postal services have a minimum amount that they don’t bother to collect on. So, with STS there is no guarantee that you will not have to pay import taxes and brokerage fees no matter how we ship. It’s really a gamble that you might win or lose. Because of the price of STS I would imagine some people who normally don’t have to pay these fees will this time.

#2 The postal service will be much slower than UPS. This means you will be waiting for your order to arrive while everyone in the USA is using theirs. Instead of a few days it may take several weeks for your order to arrive. We know from past experience that International customers become very upset with these sometimes long delivery times. So the question is are you willing to wait?

#3 Postal service tracking is not on the same level as UPS. This means if there is a problem with the delivery of your order we will be limited in being able to help you quickly. This can be frustrating for both the customer and us.

We would like some feedback on these problems and based on your responses we will consider changing the shipping method.
Regarding point #1 above, UPS charges brokerage fees considerably higher than what the post office charges (speaking from Canada). When I receive a package requiring fees from Canada Post, they charge applicable taxes (PST & GST) and a 'service charge' of approximately $5.00. Very reasonable, in my opinion. UPS, on the other hand, charges applicable taxes plus a WHOPPING 'brokerage fee' (which, by the way, they try to pass off as a required government fee). If a package comes from the U.S. to Canada via UPS, I often end up paying MORE in shipping/brokerage charges than the value of the item ordered. If anything is "unfair" it is this GOUGING by UPS.

Okay, rant over. Ah! I feel much better now.

>We would like some feedback on these problems and based on
>your responses we will consider changing the shipping method.


I started a thread about International shipping and USPS in the Ask Cathe forum. I'd be glad to give you some feedback on your points here:

>#1 Import taxes and brokerage fees are supposed to be
>collected by your country's postal service just as UPS does.
>In reality this is quite often not done by most countries
>postal services for various reasons. It is really unfair to UPS and like carriers that this done, but nevertheless this is the case.

It is not THAT UPS charges brokerage and customs fees that I object to, it is the WAY they charge them that is the problem. I have lived abroad for the past 15 years in Japan and Sweden and am quite willing to pay customs duties and VAT (the law is the law and fair is fair), but whereas the post office doesn't charge brokerage fees (Japan) or charges minimal ones (i.e. $5 in Sweden) and only levies them on the value of the item in the package, UPS charges $20 to $25 to collect the fee, and then charges additional tax on the price we pay them for shipping (in the case of STS $29) and then on their own brokerage fee (that $25 I just mentioned) and then again on the tax they just collected (I know this sounds bizarre, but there it is). I once bought some DVDs and qualified for "free" UPS shipping from the US to Sweden. UPS were going to charge me $65 in customs and fees for something that only cost $49. Since duty is only 2% and VAT is 25% in Sweden, that would have cost roughly $13.25 plus $5 brokerage had my package been sent USPS. The UPS woman agreed to lower it slightly after I convinced her to open my package and see for herself that I had indeed been given "free" shipping, but through some glitch or other she charged my credit card twice and after the hassle I had to have one of the charges refunded I swore I'd never deal with UPS ever again!

>#2 The postal service will be much slower than UPS. This means
>you will be waiting for your order to arrive while everyone in
>the USA is using theirs. Instead of a few days it may take
>several weeks for your order to arrive. We know from past
>experience that International customers become very upset with
>these sometimes long delivery times. So the question is are
>you willing to wait?

To avoid UPS, *I* am certainly willing to wait. Their charges are exhorbitant, and their compentence questionable in my experience. The Japanese and Swedish post offices are very efficient. I have had one or two packages go missing over the years, but many, many, many arrive extremely quickly (1 to 2 weeks on average for parcel post, and oftentimes in as few as 3 or 4 days). The post office only charges a few dollars for insurance anyway. I don't know how many of your international customers have been complaining to you over problems, but you are not necessarily saving them any frustration by using UPS!! Why don't you give them the option of choosing USPS or UPS, whichever they prefer? It seems unfair that Canadian residents are given that option but residents of other countries aren't. (While I haven't had problems with Canada Post personally, most Canadians will tell you that it's reputation is not exactly stellar... On the other hand, we could all learn a thing or two from that model of efficiency which is the postal service in Japan:)).

>#3 Postal service tracking is not on the same level as UPS.
>This means if there is a problem with the delivery of your
>order we will be limited in being able to help you quickly.
>This can be frustrating for both the customer and us.

I know there are some customers who literally check the tracking of their package every few hours and are really waiting with baited breath. For those customers, maybe UPS's superior tracking makes their high shipping charge, exhorbitant brokerage fee, and creative duty formulas all worthwhile. For me, if I'm willing to give SNM $200 months in advance for a product and I don't even know when it will be released, I'm not going to grumble over the extra week or two the post office will take for delivery. I'm not asking you to stop offering the UPS option, just to allow those who request it to have their packages shipped USPS.

It would also be a good idea to warn people about the considerable EXTRA charges they can expect if UPS rather than USPS is used to ship their package. It was a rude shock to me to learn that UPS wanted $65 (rather than the $20 I expected and the post office would have charged) before they would surrender my package.

I really hope you will provide us with a USPS shipping option.

I'm really glad we got an answer from SNM Videos directly! Thanks!

Now, regarding the three points...

#1 Greek Postal Services (and I believe most Postal Services in Europe (e.g. Royal Mail)) do not charge brokerage fees, since all we get is a notice with which we go to the Post Office, pay the Taxes and get the package. Usually, each country has a limit of $value they allow without paying having to pay taxes (in Greece it is around 50 Euros or $70). Since the Post Office handles and stores the packages, the taxes and storage fees are much less than Customs. And sometimes, as you mention, an expensive package sent via USPS may not be held at Customs at all - it has to do with the package contents. In any case, the Taxes we would have to pay if we receive the STS DVDs by Post will be nothing compared to what we will have to pay to UPS, and I have no problem paying reasonable Taxes set by the Postal Services and not by a privately owned company such as UPS.

#2 Postal delivery may take anything from 10 days to 4 weeks, which in my opinion is not that long a wait if we can save money. I had to spend a whole day at customs (and missed a day's work) a couple of months ago to get the High Step and a few DVDs I ordered from Cathe's website, so I could save the $90 UPS would charge me for just handling the paperwork. Of course, I paid $160 for taxes... :-(

#3 I had no trouble with Tracking Numbers in the past, both at USPS' site and at Greek Postal Services site. As long as there's a Tracking Number, that's all we need. I have been ordering from the States for many years now, and never had a problem with the exception of the Holiday Season and maybe August, when due to traffic overload and summer holidays, shipments tend to take a few more days to get delivered.

I hope my points make some sense and I would love to see the USPS option in the future. I am really thrilled about the STS series, and if it weren't for UPS I would have already place my pre-order already :D

I also appreciate you taking the time to consider this. In response to your questions
1. I realise that import tax and brokerage fees can be charged by all carriers. In the UK the post office charges this also so I have never avoided these fees and I don't expect to with STS or any other purchase. My complaint with UPS is that these fees are considerably higher than other companies. For the 4DS, I was charged £11 brokerage fee and £10.61 estimated import tax for a dvd that only cost £30. The import tax was estimated because they charge it on the cost of the dvd and the shipping cost and they didn't know what the shipping cost was. It was well-overestimated but I can't claim the difference back because UK customs won't consider claims for <£7. Around the same time I ordered >$400 of sensory integration equipment from Southpaw Enterprises and their carrier charged a lower brokerage fee than UPS and accurate import tax.
2. I don't mind the delay in shipping to avoid the higher cost, especially as it also reduces the actual cost of the shipping considerably.
3. I have often ordered by post from Advanced Workouts and had no problems - I think this is a risk I would be prepared to take.

Finally, I wondered if you have considered using a European Distributor - for example Amazon as a way of sending your dvds to Europe. Obviously this wouldn't work for presales etc but at the moment the presale is no use to me because I will lose any advantage in the cost of shipping etc via UPS anyway.

1. I realize French Post will collect Custom Duties. However, their handling fee is much more reasonable than the UPS rip-off. Moreover, with UPS, I get delivered at my office, and if I'm not available at the very same minute to pay the duties, the delivery guy would take off and come back the following day.I am often out of the office or in meetings, and this has resulted in delays of up to one week, as it is impossible to agree delivery times with the UPS back-office. When the French Post delivery person does not reach me, I get an invitation to collect the package at the nearest post office, a 5 minute walk, and a much more flexible solution.
Also, French Post sometimes let through some packages which are above the minimum limit for VAT. I do not think this is unfair to UPS, due to the outrageous amounts of "handling fees and brokerage" that they charge.
I am not trying to avoid paying the VAT, just to avoid the brokerage fees.

2. Yes, postal service will be much slower. But due to the way UPS handles the delivery and collection of custom fee, I think that for me the delay would be much smaller than the one we see on paper comparing service description (see point 1). I am willing to wait some days more.

3. I do not mind not having the tracking number.I never had problems with USPS packages

Maybe, you should offer the customer the choice of shipping method for international orders, like other sites do. The customers will be free to choose its preferred method. I've had the best experience (delivery times and costs) with "Priority Mail International". Sometimes packages arrive 5 days.

Finally, keep in mind that in the past year I've avoided as much as possible ordering from, and this solely to avoid the UPS handling fees. From the posts above, I gather I'm not the only one. You would keep many customers in allowing a choice of shipping method.
I have experienced all orders over $150 they usually will collect import duty on. UPS will demand their TIP for delivering. I simply am not considering this one. Its simply too expensive to purchase when you add on import duty and their TIP. Unless it is sold individually else where, where I know it will slip in under the radar. Its definetly NO.
Hi there, i'd like to pipe up and give my thoughts on internataional shipping. I live in Dublin, Ireland and I've received parcels from Cathe via UPS and also other fitness providers from the US via USPS First Class mail (i think that was the method). In Ireland it appears to me that it is only parcels sent via UPS that get stopped in customs. I know i have only been charged customs when parcels are sent UPS and these charges have been quite considerable.

2. I wouldn't mind the extra delay as long as they were sent in order of purchase and not left until the very end which i would consider unfair. I would like if Cathe and SNM could offer us the choice of either USPS or UPS just like those in US are offered overnight shipping and other options therefore those who would like them asap and wouldn't mind taking the chance go with this option.

3. I know tracking isn't the same but I would like to take the chance of not getting caught by customs and duties. I have found the service of USPS to be excellent and although i wasn't able to track the parcel i usually got it very quickly. Usually providers just emailed me to let me know that the order had shipped and that was the extent of what i heard until it arrived usually within a week.

thanks for letting us give you our thoughts on this issue and i do hope that you will consider providing international customers with a choice of shipping method.
Thought I'd throw in my 2 cents. USPS first class air mail has been fantastic! It takes between 5 -10 working days for parcles to arrive in Australia. UPS doesn't come straight to my post office, I have to go and collect packages from the railway station, however, I get the package very very quickly. If I had to choose between the two, USPS does it for me, because packages are delivered to my post box.

I am not ordering STS, but when I order international, I always prefer USPS. Slower but far more reliable and reasonable to deal with the Post Office here.

~* Vrinda *~
I like to add my views too. I purchased lots of stuff (dvds, books, sports equipment) from and others. Most use USPS and I have never have problem on getting the shipment and never have to pay extra. Sometimes the cost of the products goes up to US$500 per order. The longest I ever had to wait was 15 days and that is very rare.

Recently my shipment from through UPS cost me quite a additional sum when they arrived here. A few weeks later I ordered P90X from Ultimatefitness Gear and although they charge me a higher shipping cost, they used USPS and I did not have to pay any extra when it came. My niece works in UPS here and she confirmed that UPS are the most expensive courier in town.
Hello SNM,

I was wondering if you had an update on what you were going to do about international orders and the usps?

I think the problem for most people internationally is that they will be paying three ways. Let me explain.

1) For example When I ordered the intensity series a few years ago, yourselves SNM charged me shipping $24.99 at the time(which goes without saying).

2)It was then shipped by UPS (the brown vans ) who charged me their fee to handle the dvds (around $34 in dollars).

3) UPS also collected the customs charge fee from me which was around $40 in us dollars.

Therefore the total was around $99 in dollars =£50 in british pounds.

I agree that I may have to pay shipping and perhaps a customs charge anyway, but if you shipped by the USPS it would cut out one of the charges, and I would be able to be charged less.

I would like to order the STS system, but the three way charge is causing me a great deal of hesitation, and it will probably be double with this new series, depending on inflation and the kind of packaging the dvds have. Though as I have said before I accept some of the charges, but going with the UPS will be too much.

So I am holding off at the moment until I hear from you.




Our Newsletter

Get awesome content delivered straight to your inbox.