Buying camping gear from REI in the US vs. buying in Germany

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REI is having a 20% off 1 item sale until Nov 19 with a code. Shipping to Germany is free from $150.  Even with the 19% VAT and approx. 6% duties, you'll still save 15-20% over buying a comparable item in Germany, so it's a good chance to save money on 1 expensive camping gear you've been wanting. But you'll have to spend the time to go pickup the package from the Zollamt.

 

Camping gear in Germany used to be extremely expensive, so I would previously buy them from REI and ship them here. REI used to charge a lot for international shipping, but now it's free from $150. However, German prices seem to have been going down in the past couple years, probably due to the growth of internet shopping.  In the past you could save 100-200 Euro per high priced item by importing from REI, like ultralight tents and high insulation down sleeping bags, but it seems like lately the difference in price has come down to 50-80 Euro. So now it should usually be more convenient buying stuff locally in Germany while having warranty here. But the Nov 20% sale is always a good chance to save on that 1 item you wish you could have.

 

At least Germany is not like Australia where prices for camping gear are doubled. But in Australia you could take advantage of the $1000 AUD tax free threshold for imports, for example in a situation where you had to replace your entire backpacking gear that you've lost.

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As I have family/friends or myself going back and forth (I'm going in a month), I do sometimes buy stuff in the US be it on Amazon, eBay, REI or any other website when it comes to great deals or items only available in the US. I buy big name items that have great warranties like Osprey and Patagonia because I can always fall back on those, as opposed to the limited warranties for German products.

 

But thanks for the heads-up on the coupon deadline.

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I got something from REI recently.  I noticed that the Zollamt opened the package for inspection, probably because REI did not itemize the products on their commercial invoice, nor did they add the HS Tariff code. REI lumped them all together into a single line. <_<  Luckily, the customs agent kind of got the Taric codes right so I didn't get charged an incorrectly high amount of import duties.  However, I was surprised how much the duties were.  Tents and clothing were 12%.  I was kind of expecting 6%, but I looked it up on the EU site and it's correct.  I also noticed that textiles and clothing have an additional 25% duty for stuff coming from USA that was slapped on this year, probably due to the trade dispute.

 

REI sent it by USPS priority. Normally stuff that comes by USPS has to be picked up and paid for at the Zollamt, but for some reason it was delivered by a DHL driver and I paid the duties to the driver, although the sticker on the box says Deutsche Post. DHL charged 6€ for the service.  If you pickup at the Zollamt there is no extra fee.

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did you really save enough, after paying the zoll, also factoring in currency conversion and fees, to make ordering from the US worthwhile?

 

If you want to shop in Germany, can recommend bergfreunde.de for outdoor gear - they sell quality equipment and offer daily "super sales" as well as ongoing discounts in their outlet.  They also offer great service.  

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I was expecting to save $100 on the tent but after the unexpected fees it came out only $50. It was on a Black Friday sale and I also wanted to use a small amount of the old REI membership credits before they expired.

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thanks for the details @thomash2  Most times when I've considered having things shipped from the US, the savings/hassle ratio was just not on and I sorta gave up on the idea completely a couple of years ago.

 

I have to admit, I'm surprised the savings were so low even with a black friday sale and your personal discounts, though indeed, that new 25% trade war tax sounds painful.  Still, savings none-the-less, and you didn't even have to visit the zollamt - bravo!

 

 

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Yeah I don't get things shipped... only carried by family/friends or myself. German customs are very zealous and the customs office from where we have to pick up the stuff is really in the ass of the world.

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8 minutes ago, kaffeemitmilch said:

the customs office from where we have to pick up the stuff is really in the ass of the world

 

totally :lol:

 

it's like they hired a former torture specialist to identify the most painful locations evah

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I guess it depends which city you live in. Where I am, the Zollamt is pretty central, so it's a good opportunity to burn some calories by taking a bicycle there in 25 minutes each way, and although they are not extremely friendly, they were not hostile either, and were willing to help a little tiny bit in English.  I visited Cologne once and their Zollamt is in the farmland. I can't remember how long it took to ride my bicycle there, possible 1 hour each way. There wasn't an U-bahn or RE going there, only local buses that took 2 transfers for I think 1.5 hours each way.

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