Thursday, October 4, 2012
Gifts & International Postage
I'm pretty sure that everyone loves giving and receiving presents. I know that I get so much joy from trying to find the perfect present that someone will love, and I'm always thrilled when someone gives me a gift.
We've lived away from our family and friends now for about 7 years, so most of the presents that we give are posted or ordered online for delivery to the recipient. There's lots of presents that you can organise online - flowers, magazine subscriptions, gift vouchers - even groceries. But often you see the "perfect" present for someone in real life, not online - and then you've got to post it off. Depending on the size and weight of the present, postage can often be crippling. It can sometimes cost more than the lovely present you're sending.
Here in Germany, international postage is actually quite reasonable. Early last year it seemed that they almost halved their international postage rates, much to my delight! One of the big problems with posting presents to people who live within Germany (from anywhere outside of the EU) is their very low free-tariff customs rate - anything declared to cost over about $50 will attract attention from customs. Then I get a note in my letterbox instructing me to go to the customs office in the next big town and start the negotiation process with a customs officer of how much I have to pay to get hold of the present that's been sent to me. Yes, I have to pay to get a present.
It really depends on who's behind the counter at the Zoll (customs) as to how much you've got to pay, but you're pretty much always going to have to pay. And they want to unwrap it all and have a look at it to make sure you're not telling them stories. That kind of takes away from the lovely surprise aspect of the gift!
I know that international postage from a lot of other counties can be incredibly expensive, so I've been poking around to see what's a good option for Christmas this year - and I think www.play.com and www.bookdepository.com are a great idea.
I've been using www.play.com since we moved to Germany and I think they're great. They have cheap books, DVDs, computer games, CDs, downloads, clothing, toys etc. And the best bit is that they deliver all over Europe and the UK for free.
The amazing www.bookdepository.com sell cheap books and offer free world wide delivery to over 100 countries. With www.bookdepository.com you can order from anywhere in the world and have it delivered to anywhere in the world - I tried it by ordering a book from here in Germany (and paying on a German credit card) and having it delivered to Mum in Australia. It worked without any problems at all.
Once you've registered with www.bookdepository.com, they offer a free "Wish List" option where you can add the books you'd like, and make the wish list available to be seen by any of your friends and family so they can pick books off the list for you. And who doesn't love books?
So, give it a try if you want to send some lovely books as presents and don't want to have to worry about getting to a post office, paying for postage, dealing with the grumpy Frauen behind the counter (maybe that's just me?), and filling out customs forms.