Sometimes, things start out poorly, but work out in the end. Take my adventure with Tigerdirect.ca, for example. I thought they were the only Canadian source for Taiyo Yuden brand DVD+R discs. This brand is generally regarded as the best you can get, both for initial quality and archival use. Because they’re sought after by a small group who know about them, their prices are generally higher than more easily available discs.
Tigerdirect.ca asks $129 for 100 8x DVD+R blanks. A $1.30 for a blank discs isn’t exorbitant, but it is a premium over others selling for $30-$50 per hundred. If you want volume, you can save by ordering 300 for $330. I was planning on ordering 100 when I noticed they ship from the United States using UPS. A hard-learned general rule I follow is to never use UPS when ordering from outside of Canada.
While all couriers charge tax and duty much of the time, UPS adds on a ridiculously high brokerage fee. You never know how much it’ll be, but you’re not getting your package until you pay. I once ordered the Windows NT Resource Kit. Three large books and a number of CDs came in the package. It was $180, and UPS added about $75 in brokerage fees. No other courier does this.
Tigerdirect.ca does state they charge no further fees or duty, and while this is good to know, it’s UPS I’m concerned about. I wrote Tigerdirect.ca a message asking for clarification. Three days later I hadn’t heard back so I called. While on hold, I read their web site and stumbled upon this priceless gem on their international orders page.
Please be aware that many products’ warranties do not provide coverage outside the US, and some products may not be exported under any circumstances due to manufacturers’ restrictions or US law. TigerDirect.ca makes no representations regarding warranty coverage, compatibility, or serviceability for products that are used outside the US.
Please be aware that you can bite my ass. Lovely of them to hide this on the international orders page, isn’t it? If I go to a web site with a .ca domain, and the address they give is in Markham Ontario, I don’t consider an order placed with them as international. Even if they ship from the US, I expect a full warranty unless clearly told otherwise in advance. Certainly many companies consider the United States and Canada a single territory as far as warranty services go, but this notice tells me some companies work differently.
After spending twenty minutes on hold, I hung up the phone, and wrote a brief message to Tigerdirect.ca with details about what I thought of them.
Certain that there must be another Canadian source for Taiyo Yuden DVDs, I did what I should’ve done a long time ago. I used Google to search for “Taiyo Yuden” Canada. Blankmedia.ca popped right up. They’ve got the same 8x DVD+R blanks, in spindles of 100, for $52. There were others, but Blankmedia.ca was among the least expensive and I got a good feeling from the information included on their web page. You bet I ordered from them!
I received a response from Tigerdirect.ca about my first message.
We are currently experiencing a high volume of inquiries. Your email has been forwarded to an account manager and you will receive a reply as soon as possible.
Thank you in Advance for your patience, Customer Service
Nothing warms my heart like an automated put-off, three days later. The best part is this message arrived at about the same time my order from Blankmedia.ca was delivered. Tigerdirect.ca can indeed rest assured that I am quite patient. Why wouldn’t I be? I have the DVDs I wanted, and paid significantly less than half their price for the same product.
I did receive an e‑mail reply to my query about the extra fees about a week after the automated response. The sales rep told me to place my order with him by phone and he’d make sure no extra fees were charged. The answer I was expecting was along the lines of, “Oh no, UPS doesn’t charge anything to the receiver with the type of shipping we use.” Instead I’m told to call him directly to make sure … the implication being that if I just order the regular way, I would be subject to the charges. I expect no reply to my message calling them to the carpet for offering grey-market goods without being upfront about it. I am really not interested in dealing with this kind of organization.