Sponsored by Shipporter
Last year I was given the opportunity to check out the new Shipporter service and share the results with you. If you’ve ever lusted after homewares and furniture from American brands like Jonathan Adler and Restoration Hardware (and, until recently Pottery Barn and West Elm, but we have them here in Sydney now!), you may have considered using a service like this. Maybe the shipping cost was too high or they didn’t actually offer shipping to Australia. I’ve often fallen in love with rugs from American stores that they won’t ship here, even though they’ll ship smaller, lighter items.
Shipporter claims to offer you the opportunity to buy almost anything, any size, from any USA, China or UK/Europe website, even if they say they don’t ship to Australia. Tempting, right? Especially when our dollar is strong. You just need a little patience while you wait for your item to arrive by sea. I decided to try it out for myself by ordering this Jonathan Adler chair (US$650) for my bedroom back in December. The shipping cost through Shipporter was $191.
You place your order and Shipporter take care of the rest. So, here’s what happened in my experience.
The chair (approximately 0.3 cubic metres when packaged with a chargeable weight of a rather heavy 58 kilograms!) was ordered from Jonathan Adler on 21 December 2012. However, JA don’t deal with third party shipping companies. Not a problem though! Shipporter then used a US-based assisted buying service to make the purchase on my behalf and had the order shipped to its export warehouse in Los Angeles at its cost (if the US supplier/seller offers free domestic shipping, which most do, then there’s no additional cost). Through the assisted buying service, Australians can shop at any US, UK/Europe website even if the seller/merchant doesn’t offer international shipping (which JA doesn’t).
The chair arrived at Shipporter’s warehouse on 16 January (possibly delayed by the Christmas rush/holiday period) and was shipped to Australia a week later on 23 January 2013, which was the next available sailing date. Around 6 weeks later, it arrived at my door on 5 March.
But then I opened the package and the chair was broken! Agh! I contacted Shipporter and they informed me it was insured, and not to worry, and that they would try and arrange either a replacement in the first instance (all orders are automatically insured up to a value of $50,000. If an item is found to be damaged on arrival then a claims process is made through Shipporter’s insurer). But JA were out of stock of this chair for 3 months (anyone get the impression if anything could go wrong with this delivery, it would?!). So Shipporter agreed to get it repaired instead. The chair was collected from my home by courier and taken to a local mender (at first I was asked to take it myself but the chair wouldn’t fit in our impractical car).
It was almost 2 more months before I received my chair back from the mender on 1 May, although it was only expected to take 2 weeks (Apparently the courier company lost it at some point. See what I mean about anything that could going wrong?!). But I did get it back, fixed and looking perfect.
My honest verdict
It took me more than four months to get my chair, which was a long time! However, a lot of things went wrong along the way which were out of Shipporter’s control and, in fairness, they had a solution to every problem and ensured I got my delivery, and that the broken chair was fixed for me. Had it not arrived broken, I would have had it in my home in 6 weeks, which I think is pretty damn good from the States.
The shipping cost of $191 was reasonable, but not super cheap. It equates to about a third of the cost of the chair. so I think to get the best value out of this service you need to look at the cost of the item, how it compares to what you can buy here in Australia, how much you really want the specific item and whether the exchange rate makes something a good deal. If you play it right, I think using Shipporter is a very good option, especially as you can get ANYTHING you want from ANY store.
It’s also really easy to use this service. The website explains everything really clearly and you’re kept informed by email along the way. Shipporter looks after customs clearance, shipping by sea and delivery to your door.
I can see this service being great for things like rugs, heavy kitchen appliances, even sofas!
Have you used a service like this? What was your experience?