Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Why I don't buy yarn online

Ok, I've made it. Settled down with the reactions, and then immediately caught a headcold. Ugly headcold - sneezing, dribbling, runny nose, watery eyes, can't-breathe-except-through-my-mouth headcold. Ugh. Luckily, because I elected to stay home for the worst of it, it's passed relatively quickly. Hooray 2010.

During my quarantine on Monday, I decided to track down my yarn order with Lion Brand Yarn which I placed in early December, in order to take advantage of their free shipping to buy a big lot of yarn in one colour for a sweater I'm making for a friend. It was a struggle to figure out what was going on - phone calls, emails, more phone calls, no replies, getting hung up on... I was ticked off. So you know what I did? I logged on to my Twitter account and sent a direct message to @LionBrandYarn. And you know what? I got a reply immediately, and within an hour or so, I got a phonecall from customer service. How 'bout dat?

Anyway, I received my yarn yesterday, and am waiting to find out how much duty I have to pay on the order.

Nice, huh? That Amazing yarn is, well... amazing. :)

Here's the reality for Canadian shoppers: shipping costs suck. Doesn't matter where it's coming from, yer gonna pay big bucks for the shipping. If Lion Brand hadn't offered free shipping, I would have paid $21.75 for my box of yarn. In fact, if I order one ball of yarn from them, the shipping is $11.75. For ONE ball. Where's the incentive there? Is that really what it costs to ship a ball of yarn? If it is, no wonder so many other businesses don't ship to Canada.

Don't forget: that doesn't include the duty. If it's coming from outside the country, you are likely going to pay some duty. How much? I dunno. I've never been able to figure out what the magical formula is. Somewhere between 4 percent and whatever-percent. Unfortunately, Canadian customs is not particularly forthright at helping you figure that out, probably to discourage people from buying outside of Canada. Well, that angle seems to work, at least for me.

This is what really stops me from ordering yarn online from anywhere. Shipping costs are such a substantial amount of money that it negates any savings I might be getting from a sale, and if I'm paying duty, well... what's the point? There are plenty of sites that have some pretty decent shipping deals, and have brokered the duty fees so that you have a predictable price to pay. But really, in the end, I could easily drive into the city for the cost of all those fees, and get the opportunity to personally see the colours and feel the textures, do some other shopping, and visit friends all on the same day. Sure, my yarn selection might be less, but I know I'll find something I like. I buy a bunch, and work through it. When I'm on vacation somewhere, I also buy yarn, usually something local or unique, as well as a few skeins of some basic supplies.

Now, I know there are plenty of other Canadian shoppers out there that have no problem with shipping, and who have found some great deals out there. If you have, please, pray tell! I'm quite happy to continue in my current course, but any suggestions are welcome. If I were to order online, these are the guidelines I would follow:

  • Buy Canadian. If you're going to have to pay for the shipping, you may as well support a fellow Canuck! And you won't have to pay the duty.
  • Buy unique. Make the costs worth it! Handspun, local, silk, organic... why put all that effort and money in if it's not special?
  • Support a small business. I like Etsy. The artists there are talented and have excellent quality.

Anyway, I've got a sufficient supply to hunker down in this winter cold and knit myself some warmth. Oh, and by the way, I'm feeling a little sensitive tonight, with all the knocks from Americans about our Canadian cold. I feel the need to share that, yes, the cold comes from the Arctic, but the SNOWSTORMS I experienced growing up in Winnipeg, Canada, come on a regular basis from Colorado, which, last I checked, is in the United States. It's winter, people. It's supposed to be cold. There is absolutely no point in blaming another country for your discomfort. It's just the way it is. Move on, ok?

Tantrum over.

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