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Buying from the US

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Hi all

I am still looking to purchase a solar scope, browisng around the Web, it is obvious that the prices in the US are a fraction to those on this side of the Atlantic.  Even taking the cost of shipping and import taxes, about 25% here in Ireland, this will still work out cheaper.  I understand that the biggest headache could be if there is a problem with the scope, then it will have to be shipped back and returned, probably more import taxes to be paid.  It is a gamble, but is it worth taking?  Anyone gone down this road?

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If you can justify the pros and cons and be comfortable with it then do what you think suits. I looked into this when looking for a basic Lunt, the price differences natively compared to USA is ridiculous, even if you add local sales tax, import duties and shipping to the USA prices. Sometimes it's better to buy locally, other times not.

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My work experience of import/export of items for repair is that it is often easier to pay the taxes, rather than handle the paper trail.
Or even just supply new parts rather than repair.
This is on parts with £1K+ price tag. In other words the region of a solar scope cost.

Buying locally:
If you buy a scope with for example a poor etalon and discover this early, you can easily go back to retailer for exchange or refund with the law on your side.
If something falls off after 6 months, you have an easy repair path - back to the retailer with again the warranty and law on your side.
Though in practice retailers don't argue within the warranty period.

Buying from overseas.:
Any defect involves returning the scope, or agreeing with the overseas seller that just a part can be sent.

No easy answers. I don't know the astro retailer situation in Ireland.
The 'jump on a ferry' method of dealing with a UK retailer now potentially involves import/export hassle for you.

I haven't looked recently at the warranty terms on a US purchase.
Historically US retailers have offered shorter warranties than UK/EU retailers. Also more 'get out' clauses.
I used to see 3 months on a lot of items!

No easy answers. If the overseas purchase works out, you can get a case of champagne with the money saved.
If it doesn't.........

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Personally i always try and buy local.  Yeah there are some items that i can get cheaper from FLO then i can here in the States, but if there is an issue it is easier just to and more convenient to ship back to someplace here in the continental US then to ship it across the pond.  

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Personally I find that astro equipment is complex enough to warrant paying more to have a good relationship with a UK vendor. I have often found that the wrong item code has been applied and thus additional and incorrect duties have to be paid. Then there is VAT and then there is a handling fee for collecting the duty. 

You can send things back to the US without taxes as long as you mark it zero value for repair, but then you cannot get insurance in my experience for something that is broken.

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I have bought items from the US in the past, always from private sellers, asking nicely a seller will normally put a lower value on the item and therefore avoiding import duties, I have never bought from a dealer.  It's when you see the same item for sale in the US at €1000, or more. cheaper it's hard not to be tempted.

Buying from the EU, there are no taxes, buying from the UK, I don't have to pay UK taxes, but import taxes are added.

Having an item travel 5000 kilometres, some delivery companies are not the gentlest, would make you nervous.  I guess the extra cost is worth the peace of mind.

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7 hours ago, Lumos said:

mark it zero value for repair, but then you cannot get insurance

A problem I have seen. Some years back a colleague sent a repaired item to the US from the UK.
There was a threshold on cost where you went from one wheelbarrow of paperwork to two wheelbarrows.
So he declared it below the threshold.
That was a parcel the carrier happened to lose, so paid out the low value.

Another issue is that you need to read the small print on carrier insurance.
Some years ago TNT used to consider anything for repair as worth nothing more than a few ££ per ton scrap value.
A UK customer was sending us a £5K item for a (known by us to be <£500) repair. The TNT truck burnt out on a motorway - losing the entire load.
TNT paid our customer something like £50. The customer then had to pay us £5K for the new equipment.
Carriers will happily take your parcel, and the insurance money, but not pay out.

Not forgetting of course a telescope contains glass that many carriers won't pay out on.
They don't discriminate between a chandelier, set of goblets, or telescope with lens in a cell.

In my work, for around 20 years we have always relied on our company insurance on parcels, not carrier insurance.
The carriers have too many 'get out of paying' clauses and entire departments dedicated to avoiding paying.

A company sending tens to hundreds of parcels daily may have some leverage over a carrier.
But you as an individual, no chance.

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I very recently took the very same risk, and bought a Stellarvue refractor directly from SV in California to me here in West Cork. Luckily it arrived in perfect condition and it's a peach. The costs, which perhaps you know as you have done your own research) were:

USD cost of (scope + shipping) (I exchanged my EUR to USD using Revolut, and used Revolut to make the USD payment - all went fine)

VAT on import (23%)

Customs (4.2%)

Customs clearing fee (2.5% of Customs value IIRC)

Luckily all is fine so no need to return anything.

Cheers, Magnus

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