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A Shipment to My Daughter

Messages Supporting My Criticism of UPS
Part 2: 2006-Present

Copyright* © 2006-2008, 2012, 2017, 2019 by David E. Ross

I have received many messages of support for my criticism against UPS. Some have even cited additional experiences similar to what my daughter experienced, not only for shipments from the U.S. to Canada but to other nations as well.

In some cases, I quote those messages (without editing). In others, I merely describe them. The messages are in chronological order with the latest at the bottom of this page.

Messages Supporting My Criticism of UPS — Part 1: 2000-2005

RapierCut seems to agree with me, that those victimized by UPS acting as a customs broker should not merely mutter to themselves. Instead, they must make the appropriate government agency know what is happening.

From: <>
Subject: UPS Ransom of Package
Date: Thu, 9 Mar 2006 18:44:55 EST


I wanted to pass along a possible solution to UPS problems relating to UPS "holding" packages across the Canadian border and demanding payment of "custom broker" fees as happened to you years ago. This happened to me in February 2006.

I was returning a coat I bought for $50.00 online to the Canadian company (let's call them "XXX") that sold it to me. UPS brought the coat to the door of XXX in Canada but refused to deliver it unless they were paid $40.00. UPS did not say what for. XXX refused to pay and contacted me. I called UPS and spoke with several different persons. UPS told me that the charges (which were not disclosed to me or authorized by me when I shipped the coat) were required by Canadian law (false) for the services of a customs broker. I asked who the broker was and they said "UPS." UPS told me that the charges were required because a customs broker was required under Canadian law (also false) to handle the "smooth" shipment through Canadian customs and that the fees could not be "waived" by UPS (also false). I told UPS that I would not pay the charges and to return the coat to me. UPS then refused unless I paid the shipping cost to ship it back to me. I refused this as well. UPS said then that the package would be deemed "abandoned." I said it was not abandoned. UPS also told me that many other persons had to pay large amounts for such customs fees and that this was a widespread practice of UPS and that I was "lucky" that the fee was so low.

I am an attorney in California so I decided to research the issue. This is what I found out and may help others to know:

1. The Canadian Border Services Agency regulates customs brokers and licenses them. The Canadian Border Services Agency has an informative website that confirms what I am saying below. A good place to start is at the following link:


2. Customs brokers are NEVER required by Canadian law. You can hire one or not it is entirely your own choice.

3. Customs brokers are REQUIRED by Canadian law to have you (the owner of the shipment) sign a very specific written form BEFORE they can act as your customs broker. If they don't comply, they are violating Canadian law. See the link below:


4. The fees of customs brokers are not set by Canadian law.

5. If a customs broker violates the requirement to get the shipment owner's signature on the required written form (different form than the usual shipment form used), or if the customs broker engages in fraud (such as lying about the Canadian government charging the custom's broker fees or that custom's brokers are required--when they never are) in order to obtain a fee that they are not authorized to collect by your written agreement with them they can have their custom's broker's license suspended.

If this has happened to you, send your complaint against UPS' customs broker (UPS Shipping Solutions, Inc.) to the address below and ask that they investigate the matter for possible suspension of UPS' customs broker's license based upon their violations of Canadian law.

All correspondence relating to the administration of the Customs Brokers Licensing Regulations should be addressed to:

Revenue Canada
Customs, Excise and Taxation
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0L5
Attention: Director, Inspection and Control Division, Commercial Operations Branch

Best of luck to you.

From: <>
Subject: If you are waging a war…
Date: Fri, 28 Apr 2006 00:26:31 -0400

Hi David. My name is Eric.

I am from Ontario, Canada, and I think UPS basically Sucks too. I have had the same kind of experiences as you and many of your writers have experienced, and I truly despise corporate abuses of the common consumer as a general principle. I make a variety of cross-border purchases here-and-there, but now due to my personal experiences with UPS and their outrageous fees (which should be criminal), I will no longer buy anything from anyone who ships UPS! I actually had to buy something somewhere else recently as a result, and have once refused a shipment which was reflexively sent to me via UPS after I specifically told the retailer not to do so.

That shipper ended up eating my brokerage fees after I refused the shipment and turned UPS away! You should have seen the driver's face when his demand for brokerage fees was met with, "Nevermind. We'll broker it ourselves."

"Oh?" he said, looking up, trying not to look stunned. "With who?"

"Ourselves. We'll drive to Fort Erie and take care of it. Goodbye."

In the end, however, the shipper coughed up the fees to save *me* as *their* customer, and UPS was then only too happy to re-deliver my package for them.

How long, I wonder, will it be before UPS shippers sending cross-border packages will notice that their Canadian customers stop ordering from them - or in my case, get them to pay double - before they look for another courier?

Couldn't happen TOO soon, in my opinion. Naturally, cries for "I feed my family by working for UPS and you want me to lose my job?!" I find to be completely beside the point and obtusely ignorant of the problem at hand. No, I don't want you to lose your job, you bonehead - I want UPS to smarten up and stop raping their customers for ridiculous fees so they can STAY in business and save me all the hassle of avoiding them!!

Take care.

Apparently, the specific issue with undisclosed customs brokerage fees is not limited to shipments to Canada.

Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2006 13:15:55 +0100 (BST)
From: <>
Subject: UPS sucks in UK too

Dear David,

Firstly, I'd like to say that I found your site very enlightening. Had I not discovered it, I would have thought that my experience with UPS might be an isolated incident.

My story is similar to that on your webpage. I bought an electrical item from the US from an eBay merchant. He shipped it to my address in the UK via UPS. Stated goods value was 200 USD, and I paid 60 USD shipping to the merchant.

Yesterday I received a message on my voice-mail from UPS that informed me that they needed information from me urgently for customs clearing. I was given a number to ring back on and told the sequence of numbers to dial to get through their automated phone menu system. I followed their instructions, but nobody seemed to be answering the line I was connected to.

Eventually I was able to leave a message for the original caller to get in touch with me, which he did. He told me that there was VAT to pay, and I asked him for a quote: 23.59 GBP (44.45 USD). VAT in the UK is 17.5 percent. 17.5 percent of 200 USD is not 23.59 GBP (35 USD)! (Am I missing something here? I pay VAT on shipping too?) I thought maybe the customs brokerage fee was hidden in this, so I asked if there were any further fees to pay. I was told there were no further fees to pay, absolutely none whatsoever; I only owe 23.59 GBP, no more, no less. Sadly, I don't have this in writing.

Incidentally, at this point I estimated I've wasted about three hours of my time with repeated attempts to contact this guy. Nobody else at UPS seems to be able, or is willing, to deal with my call.

I wasn't present at the time when the first delivery attempt was made this morning, so I phoned to arrange a time for delivery.

I'm told that the VAT to pay is now 34.59 GBP! Obviously I told this guy that his colleague in customs clearing had quoted me a significantly lower amount. I'm told that there is ALWAYS a customs brokerage fee to pay. I live near London, where I assume there's a customs office, and UPS's HQ in the UK is only minutes away -- so perhaps I could have arranged customs clearing myself with little inconvenience.

I will be charged an EXTRA 11 GBP (20.73 USD) in customs brokerage fees. I expected to pay VAT, but I thought I had already paid all the shipping charges. This is after UPS had told me previously that there were no further charges to pay!

I see no option but to pay their ransom for my package.

I have complained to UPS, and someone offered to call me back within the hour (which they have failed to do).

Angry? I'm livid!

What can I do about this? Has anyone emailed you in the past with any information that might help me? I don't even know who I can complain to in the UK about this. I assume the FTC only handle complaints from US consumers. I'm kind of hoping that maybe another British person might have written to you in the past, and maybe I can learn from their experience. At the very least, I can report to you that UPS are no better over here in the UK. And my package hasn't even arrived yet; judging from their service so far, I wouldn't be surprised if it's pancaked when it gets here.

This is the first and last time I use UPS, and I will be telling my friends and family not to use them.

Thanks for letting me vent my frustration!

Best regards,

(GBP = UK £)

Although the following message does not explicitly support my complaint, it is indeed another complaint. Thus, I added it to this page.

Date: Wed, 1 Nov 2006 16:30:33 -0800
From: Steven <>
Subject: Another UPS rip off scheme

UPS (by all accounts of their e-mails and/or telephone calls) is deliberately changing the recipients delivery address to a nearby UPS Store (i.e.; rather than spend more time than something like the 30 to 60 seconds they prefer to deliver pkgs to places like gated communities) whereby the community's resident's office (not at my address, but at another address) is besieged by the UPS drivers who try to drop off the pkgs to that office (instead of delivering it nearby to the actual residential address for which the pkg is addressed).

As many residential gated community office's are refusing to accept pkg deliveries (and rightly so as it is not being delivered to either the recipient's address or to the recipient, and instead places both burdens of delivery notifications as well as temporary storage upon the gated community's office personnel).

Basically, it is clear that UPS is doing this on a large scale (wherever possible and/or wherever the driver prefers to not take any noticeable time to perform the delivery. And as such, millions of dollars and thousands of hours of pkg delivery time and labor are being avoided by UPS simply ignoring the UPS policy that only the shipper or recipient are allowed to submit a change of address for pkgs in transit.

I've been complaining to UPS and yet despite their hollow promises this won't continue, it always does. This last shipment (again sent to the UPS Store instead of my address) has two different versions that UPS is telling the shipper and then me. UPS reportedly tells my shipper that my pkg is lost as it went to a Doctor's office and was signed for, but they must put a tracer on it because the Dr's office says they don;t have the pkg. But when I look online and track my pkg, it clearly say the pkg was re-routed to my nearby UPS Store and signed for at that location (by one of the UPS Store's personnel).

UPS seems to be unable to even coordinate their responses to match that of the one's they give to the shipper and the recipient. Not that UPS (I'm sure) actually cares about anything but chiseling out every bit of effort they think they can get away with by breaking their own policy rules.

Of note, UPS today tried telling me that since my pkg was now at the UPS Store (having been signed for by that location;s personnel) that there was no way UPS would now deliver it to me unless the shipper contacted UPS and paid for a Call Tag to be issued. Needless to say my shipper won't do this as it will cost them something like $6 to do it and for what, just so UPS can further rip us off?

I'm trying to find places to blog or post my story, if only to share my displeasure at knowing I'm being ripped off and there's nothing I can do about it (or so it seems). Our stories need to be posted. Looks like I may need to set up my own website to do it.


To summarize, if there is any problem with access to the address on a package, UPS does not deliver it to that address. Instead, contrary to their own policy, UPS delivers packages to the nearest UPS Store. Once a package has been rerouted to a UPS Store, the shipper is then required to pay extra to have the package delivered to the address where the shipper already paid to have it delivered. While Steven only complains about this happening within a gated community, I can easily picture this also happening at an apartment or condominium building where the main door to the lobby is secured.

Further, UPS will tell the addressee one story about why he did not receive his package while the UPS package-tracking Web site tells a quite different story.

Apparently, Steven (directly above) is not the only one having problems with UPS delivering of packages to his home. Here, Chris describes how an entire block of apartments in Houston, Texas, is now black-listed by UPS. Chris also describes how the UPS Web site is untruthful about why packages are not being delivered: The Web site indicates that the address is faulty when the truth is that the UPS driver is afraid to even go to the apartment complex's office. And UPS supports their driver's refusal to make deliveries there!

Date: Thu, 30 Nov 2006 10:54:08 -0600
From: <>
Subject: I support your boycott of UPS

Hi David,

I just wanted to send you an email saying that I support your boycott of UPS. I agree, the fee they charge Canadians for shipping from the US is clearly just a cash grab and should be illegal.

I am boycotting them for a different reason. My mother sent my daughter a package for her 13th birthday. My mom sent the package early enough so my daughter would receive the package before her birthday.

My mom sent me the tracking number so we would know when it was to be delivered, but when the day came, there was a message on the UPS tracking website saying the apartment number was missing or incorrect. I called and they did in fact have the right/complete address and the message on teh website was a lie. Unfortunately, 2 months ago the driver was robbed at our apartment complex and now refuses to deliver to our entire apartment complex, and UPS supports his decision. My only option was to pick up my daughter's package at their location across town, 45 minutes away.

I live in Houston, Texas. I do not live in the nicest part of town, but it's not the worst part of town either. I figure one could get robbed anywhere in Houston. I feel bad that the guy got robbed, but there isn't much I can do about that. I don't think the robber lives in our complex, why punish an entire community of people for the action of a guy who doesn't even live here?

Thinking that the hundreds of residents in my apartment complex might want to maintain a working relationship with UPS, I decide to suggest that the driver drop off packages at the office of the apartments. The office is on a main road, and is always occupied by employees. Maybe the driver would feel safer doing that rather than going to each individual apartment. This was not acceptable. UPS refused my compromise.

So I told them to send the package back to my mom, giver her a refund, and tell her to send it by Fed-Ex or the US Postal Service. They said they would give her a refund but did not comment on the Fed-Ex or USPS comment.

I am planning on starting some kind of campaign against UPS for their refusal to deliver packages to my apartment complex. I think there may be others affected by this policy. I did ask UPS if there were other communities that UPS refuses to deliver to, and the guy actually said, "I can't comment on that." I laughed. If I can find others that have been affected, maybe we can file a class action lawsuit or something. I have already filed a complaint at the FTC, thanks for the suggestion. I will also file a complaint at the Better Business Bureau. Maybe I can get some exposure in the media. Who knows.

Take care,

It seems that residential deliveries being "black-listed" by UPS — as reported by by Steven and Chris immediately above — is becoming a widespread problem. Marty reports a similar problem, resulting from UPS losing a shipment to him.

Date: Wed, 07 Feb 2007 20:16:08 -0600
From: MartyW <marty.dw@xxx>
Subject: Why I Hate UPS

Thanks for your UPS web site. It's given me some ideas. I found it when I searched "I hate UPS" on Yahoo.

My story is similar to Chris's [11/30/06] — but with a different twist. About 5 years ago, UPS lost a package coming to my house. I know what happened because the delivered it several weeks later. In the meantime, we had the shipper send a replacement shipment. So when the second package arrived, we returned to the shipper. What we found out several years later was that UPS had to pay about $700 for the "loss". Had we known about it, we would have informed them

Because of their screw-up, they will not deliver anything to my house without a personal signature. This is difficult when my wife & I both work. Pickup is a pain because it's at least 1 hour round trip.

It got better for a while because the driver decided to ignore the requirement. I understand he could have been fired over that, or if a package was lost, the cost would come out of his paycheck. Lately the problem has returned. I assume we have a new driver.

I've called them many times to complain very loudly. I get one of 2 stories: 1.) Someone from the local office will call me. They never do; or 2.) The guy last night told me flat out there was nothing I could do. I did nothing and they just say "TOUGH".

I've never encountered such "we don't give a fig about our customers" arrogance. I'm tired of begging suppliers to use someone other than UPS. I'm changing my tune: if they won't guarantee that they will not use UPS, I will not order from them. It will be a pain because many web sited don't disclose their shipper. Or if they do, it's on the very last screen. But I HATE UPS!

Surely UPS has a corporate level customer relations group. I'm going to find them! I'll let you know if I get any satisfaction.


Obviously, UPS operates under the slogan: "The customer is always wrong!"

Graham was the source of my information about the class actions lawsuits filed against UPS in Ontario and Quebec by the Merchant Law Group.

Date: Sat, 24 Feb 2007 22:24:02 -0500
From: "Graham" <>
Subject: RE: Fighting back against UPS

The thread below [snipped] is lengthy but may be of further interest to you. Early last year UPS voluntarily issued me a refund cheque for the brokerage fee they had misleadingly charged. I've even got a picture of me grinning with the cheque if you want it!

I've checked the UPS site again today, and evidently no adjustments have been made since my incident to prevent similar problems for subsequent customers. A year later, UPS continues to disgust me.

My reason for revisiting the issue is that I inadvertently fell victim to UPS' brokerage scam AGAIN. A US Ebay vendor thought they were doing me a favour by "upgrading" my chosen USPS shipping method to UPS (even after a phone call trying to reinforce my request for USPS service). I paid the vendor $30USD to ship a US$160 item via USPS. The item arrived via UPS with a CAD$66 (aprox. Us$55) brokerage COD. The US$85 total cost of shipping was 425% higher than UPS' US$20 quote to ship the item.

Comments to Ebay fall on deaf ears. An Ebay support representative recommended I submit my concerns about UPS' deceptive practices to their Trust & Safety department, which in turn provided insulting and defensive replies. They informed me that Ebay currently has no policy to ensure vendors ship items via a buyer's chosen shipping method, even if specified in the invoice.

Ebay regularly punishes, suspends, or deletes accounts of those who violate any of their numerous policies. I believe a simple Ebay policy enforcing that quoted shipping rates (or embedded shipping calculators) *fully* and *obviously* (i.e. no evasive disclaimer jargon) disclose a reasonably accurate door-to-door shipping cost would quickly and effectively put an end to UPS' deceptive and fraudulent brokerage fee practices.

Lastly, I wonder what has happened to all the unclaimed merchandise UPS has surely "acquired" through default of payment after this decade (or more!) of blatant extortion and piracy?

The snipped portion of Graham's message was an exchange of messages between him and UPS. He did get a refund from UPS, but it took nearly two months. Further, this refund was an isolated instance. On its Web site, UPS still does not clearly indicate the fees they charge recipients of international shipments. Most merchants remain unaware of such fees.

As Graham describes — and as I have personally experienced — it's sometimes difficult or impossible to get merchants to ship by means other than UPS. It's unfortunate that Ebay fails to recognize the abuses perpetuated by UPS.

While some UPS employees send me E-mail to harrangue me for criticizing their employer, other current and past UPS employees confirm my complaint. "Ted" provides some interesting inside information.

Date: Mon, 5 Mar 2007 13:09:29 -0500
From: "Ted" <>
Subject: UPS Brokerage Fees

Hello David,

It was with much interest that I recently stumbled across your website concerning UPS brokerage fees. I just wanted to reassure you that your concerns are definately not without merit.

David, I was a UPS driver for 11 years based in Montreal, Quebec and I feel that I am more than qualified to comment on this issue (along with many other questionable business tactics practiced by UPS which would take about 30 pages to discuss so I'll stick to the topic at hand.)

Unfortunately, 99% of US based UPS employess don't understand your concern since brokerage fees are not levied on US bound shipments nearly as frequently as those entering Canada. The reason is quite simple — US Customs allow for a maximum value of $200 US on all shipments before they are taxable; whereas Canadian Customs only allow for a maximum of $20 Canadian (roughly $17 US). Needless to say, its a sizeable difference and a loophole that UPS definately abuses. I can tell you that it was not unusual for me to deliver packages with a declared value of $20-30 Canadian; with UPS adding brokerage fees that exceeded the declared value. Was it embarassing for me to look customers in the eye when telling them they had to pay $30 in brokerage fees for a $20 item? Absolutely; to the point where I started advising customers that they would be better off using USPS for low value shipments. (For example : Canada Post charges a flat $5 brokerage fee on all shipments with a declared value of $20 CDN or more)

Based on my experiences; UPS will never change their stance on this matter for two basic reasons:

1) Being the biggest shipping company in the world; they are simply to arrogant to care what you; the customer; think. The bottom line at UPS has been and always will be profitability and I can tell you for a fact that the most profitable department in UPS Canada has always been the brokerage department. It's a cash cow for the company and they know it. When dealing with UPS its important to know that their number 1 priority is not you; the customer. This may have been true 10 years ago but unfortunately I can assure you that it's not anymore. The number 1 priority for UPS today is maintaining their record profits in order to keep their shareholders happy; which in turn guarantees job security for the Corporate Executives at the top who draw 7 digit annual salaries.

2) The customers are to blame as well. By this I mean if more customers refused to pay these exhorbant charges that UPS levies; and in turn refused their shipments; only then would UPS be willing to soften their stance. Why? The answer is quite simple : it would cost UPS money to ship items back to the shipper which in turn would affect their profitablity. In many instances I have seen customers refuse shipments because of excessive brokerage fees only to see those very items sit in our warehouse and be loaded back in my truck 2 weeks later with COD tags pulled because UPS already recognizes that it will cost them money to RTS these packages. Unless customers are willing to take a collective stand against what amounts to monetary blackmail; UPS will never change their stance on overpriced Brokerage Fees. David, you saw something unjust and you took a stand against it and I applaud you for that; it's unfortunate that more people don't follow your lead.

If there is any way that I can be of further assistance to you; please do not hesitate to contact me. All I ask is that you keep my name private and off of your website; although you do have my permission to use this e-mail on your website should you see fit so long as you leave my name out of it.

Best of Luck!

Per his request for anonymity, I changed his name to "Ted" in the above message. However, I do keep the originals of all UPS messages that I receive.

Not satisfied with defrauding those who ship from the U.S to Canada, UPS is also pulling its fraud on shipments from U.S. military forces to their families back home.

Date: Fri, 11 May 2007 23:52:57 EDT
From: <>
Subject: UPS

Hi, I just read your UPS sucks website and I couldn't agree more. Just quickly wanted to tell you what happened.

My husband is deployed in Kuwait and needed to get me a 10th Anniversary gift on time so he used UPS instead of regular US mail, which is what we always use. So, he sends me the box and it takes some time but I receive it.

The UPS guy left it on my steps. I opened it, loved my gifts and all was well.

However, some 3 weeks later I get a letter from UPS stating that I owe them $25.11 for duty and brokerage fees that they paid on MY behalf. I ignored the letter, asked my husband what it was about. He assured me it was a mistake and we went on with life.

Then 2 weeks later I get another notice stating that "My account" with UPS has a balance that needs to be paid. Oh, talk about pissed off. My account???? I never opened an account with UPS. They have no right to have an account in my name to collect fees for a package that was sent TO me. I called them and they were rude as hell and I told them I was not going to pay the fee, that if they wanted the fee they should have collected it at the time of shipment or notified me at the time of delivery that such a fee existed and I would have rejected the package. But, that since I already have the package they could "go scratch" because now they have no way to collect the money. I told them to go after my husband. They told me that this is between me and my husband and that the fees had to be paid. I asked her if UPS shipped a package COD, would they leave it on someone's steps and hope to collect money later?? She assured me they would not. So, I said well, what's the difference here?? The difference is, they screwed up and left the box!! Oh well…too bad so sad! I told her to prove the box had been received and call me when she can prove it (since they left it laying on the gorund outside my door in the rain)!

So, do you have any idea what will happen if I don;t pay this?? I spoke to my husband and he told me that when he went ot the UPS office in Kuwait, the man asked him to write his name, my name and the contents of the box on a piece of paper. The man filled out all the paperwork and my husband signed nothing. They gave a him a shipping quote and he paid it and left. Nothing was ever mentioned about a duty or brokerage fee and he was never told that I would have to pay it on my end nor was he given the opportunity ti pay it on his end first…if he had, he would have walked out because the total would have been $65 for a not so big box that would have cost $10.00 USPS.

They are so shady and they do that on purpose because once it't shipped, you are screwed until you pay the fees because they have your box…in this case they messed up and the joke's on them.

Thanks for your time.
Christine S

Date: Wed, 30 May 2007 02:57:17 -0400 (EDT)
From: <>
Subject: thanks for UPS sucks

Dear Mr. Ross,

Thanks very much for your "UPS sucks" page. I think they suck too. It is comforting to know I am not alone in being frustrated by their brokerage gouge.

When living in Calgary, I followed steps as advised in the CBC article about doing my own brokerage. The shipper, of course was happy to mark my package as requested. When it arrived, UPS told me that the package had crossed the border in Vancouver and I would have to do the brokerage there (an 8 hour drive). I paid in frustration (and a bit of shame) and called UPS to complain, to, as I'm sure you can imagine, no avail.

Since then, I have asked shippers to avoid UPS at all costs and go with USPS or Purolator, who seem to roll in all fees to the cost of shipping upfront.

Now, when I advise my friends and students to not use UPS, I will point them to your great and informative website.

Also, I didn't know I could make a complaint to the FTC online, and I will definitely do so.

I am always researching ways to send packages properly to Canada through USPS (or other) in a way that is reliable (trackable) and cheap. Slow is okay. Here's another sort of thing to avoid:

The last person who sent me something USPS elected to send in by Global Priority post… the most expensive way!

I had specified to send by USPS standard ground, but apparently that is not the right terminology. If you don't mention it already on your site, it may be worth mentioning to folks that they should go to the USPS site and research the proper, exact terminology for the type of service to Canada they want. Then they can avoid the mistake I made: paying $62 instead of $23 or less (kind cancels out not paying brokerage).

Of course maybe this all goes without saying and I was just slack in my research :) live and learn.


Where Peter refers to "Global Priority post" and "USPS standard ground", I think he means Global Express Guaranteed and Priority Mail International respectively. However, Global Express Guaranteed will take packages weighing as much as 70 lbb (31.75 kg) while Priority Mail International has a limit of 66 lbb (30 kg). There are additional differences between the two services other than the speed at which an item travels. (From the rates he quoted, I believe his package weighed between 6 and 7 lbb (between 2.7 and 3.2 kg), which would have made either service available.)

In response to Peter's suggestion, I added a link on my main "A Shipment to My Daughter" page to the U.S. Postal Service's "Index of Countries and Localities".

In Canada, even businesses are getting the message — and then sending me messages.

Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2007 13:09:40 -0400 (Atlantic time)
From: EF <>
Subject: UPS fees

Hello Everyone,

I had the same kind of BAD experiences with UPS. However, in my case I think they took it one step further. Not only that they charged an outrageous fee, but they messed up the customs work also. So basically, they charged me a high fee for wrongly classifying the imported merchandise. It took some long conversations with their brokers and some work in my behalf to show them the correct classification. In top of that they couldn't deliver my package because it went back to the warehouse when they redid the paperwork. So I had to drive to their place and wait in line for 45 minutes, to pay all the brokerage fees and taxes. Two weeks later I receive an invoice for the erroneous duties fees they calculated in the first place, again I had to call them and the best answer they could came with "In our system it shows that…"

Needless to say, it was the last time I used them and now if my business partners refuse to ship by USPS, Fed Ex or DHL I just stop doing business with them. Fed Ex is also outrageously expensive; however if you use their express service you don't pay any brokerage fees and they are extremely fast. DHL also charges brokerage fees, but they have more common sense when it comes in setting those fees.

I have over 1000$ in freight expenses each month and I'm very happy I'm not paying one cent to UPS. I also try to convince other to switch.

Also, I find it ludicrous that UPS employees have the nerve to defend their company on this forum on the grounds that it pays them good wages and benefits. I'm very happy for them, I just whish they will put the effort and justify those good wages.

Finally, yes they are a huge company for a reason: they do an excellent job in domestic (US only) shipping; there they are fast, reliable and efficient. Internationally though they lag in both quality and price when compared with FedEx and DHL.

And another message about UPS failing to deliver …

Date: Thu, 12 Jul 2007 16:06:20 -0700 (PDT)
From: <>
Subject: Thanks for your "problems with UPS" website

I have had a ongoing problem with the scoundrels at my local UPS distribution center. The driver that delivers to my address fails to notice my door for a delivery, then lies that I was contacted. I waited for over 10 days for a delivery, finally calling the shipper and finding out that UPS returned my item to them. After I received the tracking number I ran a history and found out the center forced the system by stating they had contacted me. I had never been contacted, nor any attempt to deliver was made. Oh well, I ended up having to pay the shipper again to send my item. To make matters worse, they only ship by UPS.

Your website helps by just knowing that I am not the only one with these problems

Thanks again

I thanked Charles for his kind words. I also told him that more and more about people — both businesses and consumers — now refuse to do any business with suppliers that insist on using UPS. Finally, I advised him that, if he too decided to stop doing business with such suppliers, he should let them know why.

pie chart, 41% for antenna, 8% for taxes, 51% for UPS

The pie chart at the right clearly illustrates what Rob paid for a radio antenna for his motorcycle. Note that all three slices on the right side of the pie — 51% of the total — were money paid to UPS. The taxes would have been 6% instead of 8% except the Canadian federal government includes the brokerage fee when computing the GST (goods and services tax, a national sales tax). The GST is paid on all purchases, domestic and imported. Again, there were no customs duties; as Rob states, motorcycle parts imported into Canada from the U.S. are duty-free.

Date: Sun, 29 Jul 2007 22:51:20 -0700
From: <>
Subject: ups still at it

Hi David,

Just went over your UPS sucks web site. Found it very interesting, mainly because I have had a similar experience with them.

First off, I'm a resident of Canada, not born here, but not from the US either. I recently retired from a service arm of the provincial government of BC, and bought a Harley Davidson to enjoy the sunny weather.

I needed some antenna for the motorcycle (stock kept hitting the garage door), and after doing the "due diligence" thing, purchased some from a company in Ohio. The antenna were a total of $40 US plus shipping ($13.36). With NAFTA, American made motorcycle parts are duty free. would seem that UPS is still making the same "mistakes".............except they have become even more insidious. I was charged a $20 "brokerage fee" a further $9.55 fee for the right to collect the brokerage fee. (They refer to it as a COD fee....I refer to it as larceny.........a charge for a charge that they arbitrarily add.) I should point out that according to their own tracking, the parcel spent less than a minute in brokerage. And lest we forget..........Goods and Services Tax (GST) on the brokerage fee.

Long story short:
Sierra Electronics got...........$40.00
Canadian Government.............$ 4.39 (2.61 + 1.78)
Provincial Government............$ 3.05
UPS................................$42.91 (13.36 + 29.55)
unexplained UPS charge.......$ 5.66

And the brokerage fee is arbitrary. If the antenna would have been 2 dollars less, the brokerage fee would have been $7.50.

It would seem that the big winner in all of this was UPS. Anyone who would defend this company, doesn't live in Canada, nor shop online in the States. They also have s*** for brains. (Sorry about that...........venting).

Thanks for having the site up..............too bad I didn't see it before I did my shopping, but needless to say, how a company ships now determines whether I shop there or not.

Again thanks for your efforts............I understand the frustration.

port moody, bc

Merchants beware! Note the text in bold near the end of Rob's message (emphasis that I added).

"Seth" (a pseudonym) started to have an experience very similar to that of Rob (immediately above). However, he resolved his situation by clearing customs himself.

Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2007 21:21:54 -0400
From: <>
Subject: More UPS horror stories

Hi David,

Let me tell you about the great deal I just got buying from a U.S. merchant with our Canadian dollar now close to par. All said and told the value of my goods were USD 188.98 [$188.98US], plus USD 12.26 shipping to Montréal via a courier drives [driving] brown trucks. My box was shipped on October 3rd.

On October 4th I noticed via the tracking website that a hold was placed on the package for some unclear reason. I immediately called UPS and was told that the items would have to clear customs first. I could do it myself, or UPS could do it for me (for a modest fee of *about* $29). Figured it might be a good idea to save the hassle and pony up the CAD 29.00 [$29.00Cdn].

We're now late in the day on October 11th. I stayed home to receive my package but turns out it was delayed… there goes a day's work. The least of what will quickly become a big hassle. I called to find out what was going on, and to confirm the *approximate* fee of $29.

"'Seth', your package will be delivered tomorrow. The cost will be $70.89." WHAT??????

It works out to $26.37 in taxes (which I can't complain about) and $44.56 in brokerage fees:
+ $ 29.00 for "entry preparation"
+ $ 5.85 for a "disbursement fee" where I pay 22% of the value of the taxes because UPS advanced the money to the Canadian Border Services Agency (this is an equivalent APR of 3700.00 % give or take a few hundred per cent).
+ $ 4.25 for a "COD fee" because the driver has to collect money from me
+ $ 2.09 for taxes [levied on the brokerage fees]
+ $ 3.37 that 2 reps and a supervisor weren't able to account for

After three phone calls totaling close to 3 hours a very patient supervisor suggested "you can still clear the package yourself if you like" (after a rep told me this was impossible as I needed to make that decision last week). All I had to do was pick up some documents at the UPS depot 10 minutes from my house, drive 5 minutes to the CBSA [Canada Border Services Agency] office, drive 5 minutes back to UPS and present them with the stamped documents, and collect my package. UPS would even prepare the documents for me. (I'll still need to pay the $26.37 in taxes.)

I'll let you know tomorrow how this turns out. I can't believe they charge $44.56 to clear goods worth just under $190. And I can't believe that they're allowed to.

Thought you'd find that fun to read,

I asked "Seth" to let me know the final result.

Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2007 18:13:11 -0400
From: <>
Subject: RE: More UPS horror stories

It's all done! I called to confirm that the custom's paperwork was available (on my cell phone so I could easily record the call, and got the rep's names and employee ID just for good measure). Went to the depot, waited in line a few minutes, got the paperwork, went to the CBSA office, went back, and got my package. Took about an hour.

My advice to everyone is to record your calls and always get employee names and IDs. Of course, the laws in your jurisdiction may require you to obtain the other party's consent.

Good luck to everyone else in UPS-hell.


Note that "Seth's" transaction took place when $1.00Cdn was $1.02US. If you are reading this in the United States, everything that "Seth" would have to pay UPS if he had not cleared customs himself would have been 2% greater in U.S. dollars than the amounts he indicates.

Jim confirms that the problem is not restricted to shipments to Canada.

Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2007 04:44:16 -0700 (PDT)
From: <>
Subject: ups sucks

Hi David,

I agree that ups sucks -- we live in Greece and they always make sure we pay duty on something from the States! USPS never does.

All the best, Jim

Date: Fri, 14 Dec 2007 10:22:27 -0800
From: Nancy <>
Subject: UPS International Shipping

Thank you so much for your website regarding UPS International Shipping. I wish I had read your e-mail before I used UPS International Shipping. Uncless we, the consumers, stand up and fight, the problem will get worse and worse and more people will fall into the trap.

Here's my story: I went to UPS Customer Center (12/11/07) to send a package which weighs about 5 lb. The package contains, photos, catalogue, dried cranberries, cinnamon almonds, candies and baby outfits. The package is worth about $40.00 (US). I paid $128.00 for UPS World Wide Saver as I expected. But the shocker came when I got a call from my mother-in-law on 12/13/07 that she had to pay 40 euros ($58 US Dollars) upon receiving. The content was not even worth that much. I was and still am livid. You are absolutely right, there's a scam going on at UPS outside of U.S. I've used FedEx, USPS, and DHL before and had never ran into this kind of problems. I will never use UPS to ship outside U.S. After checking out your website, I am even more shocked to find out there are more victims like me. Please keep your website going and spread the word so less people will fall into this trap.


As with others with similar stories, I advised Nancy to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Her own specific complaint might not be resolved, but an ongoing stream of complaints to the FTC will establish a record that could lead to an investigation and enforcement action against UPS.

Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2008 15:22:12 -0800
From: <>
Subject: UPS Brokerage fees

Hi David -

I just wanted to say that I support you 100%! UPS is unfortunately hard to avoid because they are embedded with so many companies that ship goods to Canada. My wife and I try to use other couriers, but often there is no choice.

I just thought I'd share with you our most recent purchase experience (it literally got delivered today). I think this really sends home the point of how ridiculous the brokerage fee is.

We ordered a small electronics part - total value for duty purposes $29.94. Of course, a small shipping charge was tacked on to that total when the order was made.

The COD amount paid on delivery was $21.55. Of that amount, $3.60 was actual GST (Goods and Services Tax), $17.10 was the brokerage fee, and $0.85 was the GST *on the brokerage fee*! So though we only owed $3.60 in taxes for the actual goods ordered, we had to pay $21.55 to receive our goods. [Emphasis added, D. Ross]

We wrote a very angry letter directly to UPS about this, and will do everything to avoid using them again. I hope your message continues to get out to the public, and this unethical practice by UPS gets changed.

Vancouver, BC

I advised MM (1) to cancel any purchase when the vendor insists on shipping via UPS and (2) tell UPS that he will clear customs himself. MM responded:

Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2008 19:02:52 -0800
From: <>
Subject: RE: UPS Brokerage fees

Thanks for the advice David -

For this one, we just paid it because the part is actually for something at work. However, we also had a shipment that came a couple of weeks ago, and we had to pay a COD of about $120 on what was actually a birthday gift for my wife from her parents valued at just under $200. When she complained about the charge to the driver, he said if we refused the COD, it would be sent back to the originator, because we could not clear customs on our own. So this means that the driver also applied pressure to force our hand to pay these exorbitant brokerage fees.

We are going to join the class-action vs. UPS in BC [a lawsuit that was eventually dismissed].

Again thanks for your page — it was very informative. We will make as many people aware of it as possible.

Warning: The experience of MM demonstrates that gifts should not be shipped from the U.S. to Canada via UPS. The recipient will have to pay — perhaps dearly — to receive the gift. That's no gift.

Date: Wed, 12 Nov 2008 13:30:11 -0500
From: Joseph <>
Subject: UPS sucks the big one

David, thanks for putting up the page re UPS — it lead me to join the class action suit happening.

I shipped less than $900.00 CAD worth of parts for my boat from the US to the marina where the boat is in Toronto. The parts and the shipping were all prepaid on my credit card when the order was originally placed — I thought I was done paying all I had to pay. Then, a week after I received the parts, apparently UPS had sent a bill to the marina (not to me!) for $198.96 in various charges I never heard of (and have never incurred using US or Canada Postal Service in the past). [Emphasis in the original, D. Ross]

The marina can not figure out how UPS managed to mix my personal business in with the account the marina has with UPS and of course I needed to reimburse the marina.

Did UPS do anything fraudulent putting my personal business through the marina's account?? I certainly did not know the marina's UPS account number, did not give it to UPS, nevertheless the whole thing makes me look like I was attempting to use the marina's UPS account under false pretenses. I have nothing to do with the marina, I am not an employee of the marina, I simply keep a boat there and had the parts shipped to the marina's address which all the boaters routinely do all the time. The marina encourages the boaters to use it's address and the admin staff regularly receives packages for us.

Well, I can tell you this; I am never ever using UPS again!!

Best regards,

From: Brad <>
Subject: Support
Date: Sun, 30 Nov 2008 20:10:38 -0700

Hello, I wish I would have read this sooner. I just received 2 parcels from California for Christmas and was charged 78 dollars each to get them on top of the 43 dollars when I purchased them online. The only option of delivery was ups. Never again. If it has to come by ups, I will just try somewhere else.

From: Christine <>
Subject: UPS Problems
Date: Fri, 9 Mar 2012 13:57:15 -0500

I am now experiencing problems with UPS. I just bought a handmade cabinet and had it shipped. The shipper declared the value at $300, and paid the extra money for that.

The shipment itself cost $226, got the package, didn't look damaged. Opened it up, the cabinet is completely smashed, nails poking through, doors all broke, hinges snapped off.

UPS has denied the claim b/c the box it was placed in didn't have the proper "rating" for the item that was shipped. Regardless that is was completely surrounded by bubble wrap & 2" of Styrofoam. My issue is they accepted the extra money for the additional declared value, shouldn't they have some responsibility to check if the packaging is acceptable when they take that extra fee. So now I'm out a cabinet, and $526 which I paid. I can't asked the man who sold me the cabinet to cough up the money, it's not his fault. I will NEVER use UPS again.

While UPS now seems to provide more information about customs brokerage fees, they are still treating package recipients badly.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. [The more it changes, the more it is the same thing.]

From: Rick <>
Subject: UPS Sucks
Date: Fri, 14 Jul 2017 12:37:36 -0700

Hi David,

Came across your post about UPS. I had the same issues a number of years ago and made it a policy to never order anything from the US if they were going to ship by UPS. I would even call the companies and tell them that they were losing the sale for that reason. Some of them would gladly ship by Fedex or USPS. Others would say it was policy to use UPS exclusively. I would tell them it was my policy not to deal with companies that ripped off their customers and that by using UPS they were one.

Recently my adult daughter ordered some posters and T-shirts to sell at her shows. (She is a singer just starting out.) The $50 in posters arrived with a COD $30 brokerage fee. The T-shirts showed up with $130 feed. We paid the $30 because the order was custom and the vendor would not give a credit but I got so pissed about the $130 that I started digging.

Turns out you don't have to tell them not deliver before they send it out. When the driver comes to the door you can tell them you want to "clear own" or "self clear" and then go to the nearest "Inland Office" to pay the duty and taxes yourself. You need the tracking and the commercial invoice from the shipper. I am going to get a copy of that when the driver comes to the door. Otherwise you have to call UPS with the tracking number and get the brokerage department to send a copy of the commercial invoice to you. (They can absorb the extra cost of coming to the house, being turned away and then having to come back to deliver after we go pay the fees.)

This is the section that details it
Canada Border Services Agency - self clearing procedure
- See the section "Accounting for your own shipment"

This is a class action in Ontario that is still in progress. UPS appealed the certification of the class action all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada and got shot down, now they are appealing the partial summary judgement. I registered to be part of the suit.

I am still annoyed by having to go pay the fees. In this day and age the Government should allow citizens to pay online and exchange documents electronically. I will be calling my MP to discuss.

Attached file has links to a bunch of other posts of people speaking out.


The attachment to Rick's E-mail message contained a list of Web links to other criticisms of UPS. Some of those links were seven years old but still current. However, some duplicated information already on my Web pages. Since I strive to keep all links current, the list would become a significant burden on me. Thus, I have not included it here. I have archived Rick's E-mail message, so I can send the list to anyone who requests it.

Here is a situation very much like my daughter's. Once again, UPS charged for a customs broker on a shipment from the U.S. that entered Canada duty free. UPS's abuse has not changed in 21 years.

From: David B. <>
Subject: UPS customs brokerage fees
Date: 7/21/2019 6:55 PM

Dear Mr. Ross,

I just ran across your webpage on the above topic. My son moved to Canada and earlier this month I shipped him a camera via UPS and insured it. The fee to ship was $63. No mention was made of an additional brokerage fee. UPS telephoned me while the package was in Washington State to ask me the "purpose of the export," because apparently their clerk had entered "other." I told them it was used merchandise for personal use. They then delivered the camera and charged him $103 CAD or nearly $80 for a customs brokerage fee. There was no customs duty, tax, or government fee of any kind due on this shipment. [Emphasis added]

I had a 45 minute telephone conversation with UPS, during which I was transferred from the US to Canada, back to the US, and then back to Canada during which they (1) told me that $5 of the charge is to collect the charge from the customer, (2) pretended that they had paid a customs duty on my behalf and were seeking to be reimbursed, (3) pretended they had called my son to tell him about the charge and the ability to self-clear. The latter two statements are demonstrably false. I also pointed out how little work they had done for this undisclosed fee and unauthorized service, particularly since I had had to tell them how to fill out the customs form. The last person I spoke to (in Canada) offered to cut the charge in half but ultimately said when the charge went through he would conduct an investigation and refund it. The charge went through but no refund.

I am calling my credit card company to dispute the charge and I had planned to file complaints with the NY attorney general and the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs if necessary. Thank you for the link to the FTC complaint form.

The preliminary issue that bothers me is that where UPS contracts to deliver a package in a foreign country, that necessarily includes getting it through customs. I thought that was what I was paying for. How can there be an additional, undisclosed, charge for this? Neither the shipping receipt nor the UPS website that permits you to compute shipping costs mentions a "customs brokerage fee." As far as Iím concerned itís a complete scam comparable to bandits seizing the package and offering it for ransom. I had respected UPS until this.

Thank you again for your web-post and Iíd be grateful if you have any advice. Were you able to obtain a refund?

Of course, not all the messages I receive are supportive. I do receive messages that criticize me for complaining about UPS.

* My copyright does not apply to quoted E-mail messages that I received from others. Although I do not have a copyright on such messages, however, I do assert the right to publish any message I receive unless the sender explicitly requests within the message that I do not publish it.

Last updated 22 July 2019

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