The internet won’t stay US-centric

I like working with tools and unfortunately New Zealanders get absolutely reamed with the price and availability of tools here. So I often look overseas for sources. In doing so I discovered Harbor Freight, a large United States online discount tool supplier. Their site was so poor, in terms of working out what freight would be to New Zealand, I sent them an email basically asking:

What is the price of shipping x to Wellington and are there benefits in multiple purchases?

The answer I got was typical boilerplate rubbish

PLEASE READ ALL INFORMATION BELOW.

INTERNATIONAL SHIPMENTS

1. All items must be in stock. (orders are done manually no
backorders)
2. All items must be stocked in our warehouse (no drop ships)
3. No single item/entire order weighing 150 pounds or truck/gas
items can be shipped out of the country.
(A freight forwarder is suggested)

Method of Shipping:

1. FedEx

The weight or overall dimensions determine shipping costs which ever is
greater.

These charges do not include any brokerage, taxes or duties that may be
applicable on your end.

Normal delivery time:

7-10 working days (This includes the processing time)

Normal payment type:

Payment may be received by credit card or money transfer (for orders
more than $500.00 wire transfer only).

The shipping charge for orders that have been processed is
non-refundable.

The following information is needed to be able to give our international
customers a fast and accurate response.
It does take approx. 72 hours for the customer to receive a shipping
quote.

Name
Address
City
Country
Postal Code (if they have one)
Phone #, Fax # and e-mail address (if available)
List of all item numbers

All requests can be given to Tine for quotes and processing.
tvao@harborfreight.com
805/388-3000
ext 5530

Thanks for nothing Harbor Freight. Obviously you’re only interested in US customers so I won’t waste my time contacting you again.

This experience led me to think; as the USA’s purchasing power declines an opportunity will arise to become the global drop shipper of hobby and home garage tools around the world with clever distributed warehouses to increase freight efficiency and thus drop costs.

This is exactly what Hobby King does. They’ve got warehouses in the USA, Germany and Hong Kong. If you look at the world north-south then they’ve got most of the globe covered in terms of cheap shipping. Additionally, their site is so simple to find out exactly how much something is going to cost to get delivered I’ve now ordered off them twice in a month after finding them. They’re also my first call to check hobby prices after a quick run of the NZ hobby stores now.

Admittedly hobby supplies are considerably lighter than tooling generally is but Hobby King has affordable freight ┬áinto the 5-10kg range which is about the weight of the item I wanted from Harbor Freight. One company got the sale and a repeat, the other didn’t.

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