// Internet Duct Tape

Shopping Online – How to Shop Online in Canada

Posted in Lifehacks, Technology by engtech on December 03, 2006

I’ve been shopping online now for several years, and I’m still surprised that some people have never tried it. It is a more relaxing way to buy gifts than braving the crowds. There are more interesting gifts available from “niche” stories. You don’t have to run around the city trying to find somewhere that has the item in stock. You can find special prices and deals that are only available on the web.

If it wasn’t for online shopping I’d be another one of those guys buying gifts in a gas station on December 24th.

How To Pay

There are 2-3 ways to buy merchandise online.

  • Credit Card
  • PayPal – Escrow site owned by EBay.
  • Google Checkout – This is Google’s competition for PayPal. I’ve never tried it.

You are more likely to have your credit card information stolen in a restaurant or gas station than online. If you are worried about safety with credit cards online, I strongly recommend having a credit card with a $1000 limit that you use only for online purchases. Using a card dedicated for only purchases guarantees that you’ll notice any suspicious activity.

PayPal and Google Checkout act as intermediaries — they are the ones who have your financial information, not the companies you are doing business with. You can connect your PayPal account to a credit card or to your banking account. If it is connected to your bank account you are using an e-check and it can take between 4 to 10 business days to clear before the order is even processed.

Use your credit card, it’s less hassle. PrivacyRights.org and the Better Business Bureau say that the safest way to shop online is with a credit card.

Secure Transactions

Shopping online is safe and secure provided you follow these recommendations:

  • Check the web address is really the site you are trying to access. The same goes for online banking.
  • Check that it is using secure HTTP (It says https:// instead of http:// in the address bar).
  • Check that the “lock symbol” shows up in the lower right hand corner of your web browser.
  • No company will ever ask you for password, banking or credit card information over email.


Most stores offer free shipping once your item is over a certain limit. It’s usually worth it to find a cheap item to add to your order to get free shipping.

Getting items shipped to your work address is a nice alternative to driving around the city picking them up at a UPS, FEDEX or Canada Post depot.

Most online stores are very efficient at shipping items in time for Christmas and will tell you before you place the order if it will arrive before December 25th. Usually the cut-off date is between December 18th-22nd.

Brokerage Fees

This is a pain. When shipping from the U.S. to Canada the item has to clear customs, and this is done through a third party brokerage company. These fees are *NOT* included in the quoted online shipping cost. Here is the UPS chart for the cost of brokerage fees.

I try to use Canadian stores instead of US stores to avoid this hassle. But because of the strong Canadian dollar it may be cheaper to buy from the US and ship to Canada, even with brokerage fees.

Small List of Canadian Stores


You can usually find online deals and coupons for online stores at sites like redflagdeals.com.

Gift Suggestions

Looking for something to get for the geek in your life? Check out my Gift Guide for Geeks.

Other Guides

9 Responses

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  1. Lord Chatterly said, on December 03, 2006 at 7:25 am

    Very informative and useful article

  2. foolswisdom said, on December 04, 2006 at 12:44 am

    I did not know that you are a fellow Canuck.

    Thanks for a few new online shops for me to check out!

  3. engtech said, on December 04, 2006 at 11:12 am

    I would have thought the gratuitous use of the letter “u” would have given me away.

  4. jaybird said, on December 04, 2006 at 10:22 pm

    Do you know if you can buy from Amazon.com and get them to ship to Canada? It would be worth it for the price difference on some books.

    I have a friend who runs a book store and he explained the reason why the prices are different and haven’t re-adjusted based on the currency fluctuation is because they have to do a separate print run for Canada.

  5. engtech said, on December 05, 2006 at 3:57 am


    We are currently able to ship books, CDs, DVDs, VHS videos, music cassettes, and vinyl records to Canadian addresses. There is a good likelihood that your packages will be subject to the customs fees and import duties of Canada. See both International Shipping Restrictions and Customs Information for more details.

    The total shipping charge will be displayed on the last page of the order form, before you submit your order. Here is the equation we use to calculate the total shipping cost:

    (Highest Applicable Per-Shipment Cost) + (Number of Items x Per-Item Cost) = Total Shipping Fee

  6. jaybird said, on December 07, 2006 at 8:08 pm

    Now I just need a formula calculator that compares US ship rates vs Canadian ship rates. And then I will rule the world, one DVD at a time.

  7. engtech said, on February 13, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    Friedbeef Tech lists some suggested websites for shopping online:


  8. […] Tips for Shopping Online in Canada […]

  9. […] Tips for Shopping Online in Canada […]

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