Borderlinx overcharges its customers with inaccurate cost calculator

I have been using various shipping services to purchase items from US web sites. The three most popular shipping services in Singapore are vPost, Comgateway, and Borderlinx.

I had a nasty shock with Borderlinx recently when I purchased some camera equipment from Amazon. After the items were sent to Borderlinx’s US warehouse, I received an email informing me of the shipping charges to be paid.

It was much higher than I expected – 55% higher to be exact. This is how I derived the figure:

Borderlinx has a total cost calculator on their web site to help customers estimate their shipping charges, by entering the volume and weight of the product. I did just that using the product information from Amazon:

I entered the above information into Borderlinx’s cost calculator:

I clicked “Calculate”, and the web site spat out the following estimated cost:

Which I had thought was a reasonable cost to ship a camera bag by standard air freight. Unfortunately, the actual shipping cost I had to fork out was more expensive:

The actual shipping cost is USD56.67, way off from their initial estimate of USD36.72. It’s also the first time that a customer sees the “fuel surcharge”. It doesn’t seem to be in the cost calculator.

Borderlinx is currently running a promotion of 20% discount, which compensates for the “extra charges”. But it’s little consolation for the 55% inflation of the initial estimate.

I can understand some slight differences but 55% is really too much.

Another woe to relate:

I had also purchased a camera tripod. Amazon didn’t provide the product dimensions, only the weight was listed as 2.7kg. Borderlinx applied their “volumetric weight” formula, and arrived at a figure of 17.63kg instead – 653% higher than expected. Another unpleasant surprise.

I was charged USD99.24 to ship a product that costs only USD40. Again, I can understand the need to take both weight and size into account, but this is simply too much.

I emailed customer service about their excessive shipping charges. The emails were very polite but they didn’t explain the discrepancy between the calculated and actual costs. Neither did they agree to any discount.

Different personnel answered my emails and I had to refer them back to my previous emails and explain my situation all over again.

I was really tempted to simply abandon the goods in the Borderlinx warehouse, but in the end, went ahead with the shipping.

Borderlinx, please fix your cost calculator and be upfront with your customers. Don’t lure them in with promises of cheap shipping, and then charge a bomb when their goods are already stuck in your warehouse.

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About Hun Boon

A little bit of this, a little bit of that.
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54 Responses to Borderlinx overcharges its customers with inaccurate cost calculator

  1. Jack Onyango says:

    Borderlinx robbery is getting out of hand, even when using their own volumetric weight calculations. Apart from the fuel surcharge, they have unbelievably high charges now for ‘duty’ and ‘customs clearance’ since they have decided to cancel cash on delivery.

    In 2009 and 2010, I shipped 10kg volumetric weight (less that 5kg actual weight) for about $160 to Nairobi, Kenya. This year, some items that have an actual weight of less than one kilo are being quoted at 5kg volumetric weight with an estimated shipping cost of $303!

    In 2009, they boxed small items in larger boxes to increase volumetric weight. I bet they will do/have done the same this time to get their $303. The really annoying bit is we have no options in Kenya but to submit to this robbery!

  2. Jack Onyango says:

    They also get you with insurance and Express shipping.

    A Christmas Mugging BY EasyShop/Borderlinx:
    http://easyshophell.blogspot.com/2010/02/christmas-mugging.html

  3. Hun Boon says:

    Jack,

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

    I would advise not to continue using Borderlinx until they decide to shape up and improve on their customer service. If we patronise a dishonest company, we are the ones to suffer. At least in Singapore, there are a couple of alternatives to Borderlinx, such as vPost and Comgateway.

  4. madhur says:

    Heard similar feedback from another user. Unfortunately too late to rectify my error 😦
    I had signed up for a Borderlinx account and have just shopped for some apparel. I shudder at the thought of this happening. Anyways, its a small package and hopefully a small price to pay for the learning. Agree not to patronize this dishonest company.

  5. Kristy says:

    I’m a regular customer at amazon, and I’m sorry to say that amazon’s product details, more specifically the shipping weight is almost always an underestimate. Plus the physical weight of what you purchased all wrapped/boxed up is gonna be heavier. Same argument goes for the product dimensions. Perhaps you should have inflated those amazon figures when using Borderlinx’s calculator.

  6. weight guru says:

    The weight that airlines use is the larger of 2 weights: 1. The dead (actual weight) or 2. Volumetric weight – the size of the package (dimensions). The volumetric weight is the size of the box not the item inside it as the box is what takes up room in the aircraft. At the time of assessing shipping cost, most customers do not know the size of the box that will be used by the merchant which makes it difficult to be precise. This is especially difficult for fragile items such as cameras which have a lot of ‘casing’ to protect the item from damage.

    • Hun Boon says:

      Hi, thanks for the info. This means that any shipping calculation tool is inherently inaccurate and misleading. By not meeting the expectations of their customers, Borderlinx is setting themselves up for failure.

      It would be better if Borderlinx could provide a repacking service for a nominal fee for instances where there is a large discrepancy between shipping weight of the product and the final volumetric weight. Customers will then pay a fairer price.

      But it seems to me that Borderlinx is very happy to maximise their profits at the expense of their customers.

      • weight guru says:

        I have suggested making it clearer on the calculator that this is not 100% accurate and how volumetric is charged. It’s in the notes but down the bottom. Repacking of any description would be great.

      • John says:

        Erm, no. It is very clear that the shipping calculation uses whatever package size your item ships in. That is common sense. You’re the one who took Amazon’s product dimensions to mean shipping dimensions.

    • Hun Boon says:

      If we look from the perspective of the customer, a disclaimer that the calculator is not 100% accurate is not helpful.

      How much extra weight should they factor in then? 10%? 20%? Understandably, Borderlinx can’t tell them. But if it’s 100% or 653% more, then the shipping calculator becomes useless. It becomes misleading and dishonest.

      Borderlinx should offer a repacking service for a reasonable price. Crucially, they should see this service as a way to increase customer satisfaction, and not another source of revenue.

  7. Sean says:

    If anyone is considering using Borderlinx, don’t.

    They are very stubborn in not allowing repacking (to protect their profits).

    Merchants such as Amazon sometimes use huge shipping boxes for small items and you would get “slaughtered” by Borderlinx’s forwarding charges. At least CGW and Vpost now offer to repack. Not Borderlinx.

    They are also not very transparent in revealing the package dimensions unless you ask for them.

    • Hun Boon says:

      Thanks Sean for sharing your experience. When I raised the issue of overcharging with Borderlinx, they simply asked me to use their 20% discount code. Now, that is not fair. What’s the point of giving customers a 20% discount when they have overcharged by a few hundred percent?

      Customers should vote with their wallets and give their business to other companies who play fair.

  8. Angry shopper says:

    I’ve also just been stung by Borderlinx. I used them a couple of years ago simply because the merchant would not ship to uk. The cost then was not great, but ok. Now I have fallen foul to their promise of the more you shop the cheaper it will be spiel. I have done some shopping with 4 different merchants for christmas goods, didn’t buy anything huge, mainly small toys and clothes. One of the packages was refused by borderlinx and has been sent back to the supplier (with no explanation why) and they are charging me £250 to ship the rest. I cannot believe it is going to cost me more than the goods, and that I have fallen for this scam :o(

    • Hun Boon says:

      Hi, thanks for sharing your experience. Can I ask what was the item that was returned? Was it an item that’s on their prohibited list? In any case, it’s bad service not to provide you with any explanation.

  9. John says:

    You’re totally wrong on this one. Product dimensions is not shipping dimensions. Borderlinx uses volumetric weight where it is higher. No one said your product was going to be shipped at whatever size.

    • Hun Boon says:

      I used the shipping dimensions of the items, not the product dimensions. Of course, Amazon could have put it into a big box and that’s what Borderlinx is charging for.

      My point is that the shipping calculator on Borderlinx web site is so inaccurate as to be useless. And by not offering a repacking service, Borderlinx is taking advantage of its customers. So I highly recommend using other services instead.

    • Nikhil says:

      Hi John

      A service offering like this is not meant to be rocket science, where consumers feel helpless (firstly because they have to grapple with the complexities like product dimensions and Shipping dimensions and volumetric weight)…..its fine for engineers and the like to feel comfortable with all those nuances of weight estimating, but simple folks need simple solutions…..if its not simple or transparent enough…..then the service offering is a NOGO………..I buy, i ask for estimate, i receive estimate (+/- 5-10%) and i get billed, i receive goods………..if they dont strive to offer a simpler and product service to consumers, then whats the point of being in the market, when other shippers offer what consumers want……….they’ve been around for a while now………consumers have been complaining for the last 2 years………its enough time for them to fix things….sadly this is not the case .

  10. castiel says:

    Borderlinx is confirmed to be a scam. I ordered several items and to my horror they charge shipping for each item individually instead of as a single consolidated package. Comgateway charge for everything one time. Now my shipping cost is ten times as much. So next, I asked for a return and they say i need to pay them $35 just for UPS to pick up from borderlinx. I was like what?!
    Nevermind, I paid up and then they became silent on customer service. Payment made, items at their location suddenly lost and returns not made…
    Can someone tell me Borderlinx is not a scam….

  11. Fiona says:

    These are the facts. Ordered 8 pieces of clothing items (light wear) worth 90 pounds. Items delivered to Borderlinx and they said the weight was 8kg and including some crazy import tax calculation, wanted to charge me 210 pounds for shipping from UK to Thailand.

    I asked them to send the item back to the shop as the shop provides free returns. There’s even a free returns label provided. Just to return, Borderlinx would charge 20 pounds for ‘admin fee’. To send my items to another UK address (which would have been free had I sent it from shop to the UK address), it would cost 35 pounds.

    So basically, the company presents itself very well at the start, but they charge some exorbitant shipping fee. If you don’t want to ship, they charge you exorbitantly for returning to shop or to send within UK. You are left with little choice. I paid 35 pounds to send the clothes to my friend’s address. It took them 7 days to send the items, with numerous reminders from me. The weight stated on the DHL package when it arrived at my friend’s house was 0.5kg! How did 0.5kg become 8kg?

    So just be careful, nothing is transparent and they have you hostage once your items are in their hands. It’s actually quite a perfect scam. If you don’t pay up, they have your items for free to be auctioned off. If you don’t ship overseas, they still get a huge profit from sending your item from UK to UK. If you choose to ship overseas, you’re paying a crazy amount of money to do so.

    My advice: Avoid them like the plague!

  12. Peche says:

    Unfortunately there are some things they cannot manage that are out of their hands. The volumetric weight is just one – the actual “space” that a package takes up in the aeroplane itself. The best thing for them to do would be to offer a repacking service like some of their competitors – even with a surcharge for this i’m sure it would work out a lot more competitive.

    • Hun Boon says:

      I agree that a repacking service is definitely the way to go, with the caveat that the repacking fee must be reasonable. This service should be seen as a value-add for the customer, and not another way to squeeze more money from the customer.

  13. gayatree87 says:

    Email then and inform them of the discrepancy. I did it and they reduced the shipping cost. It is worth a shot.

    • Hun Boon says:

      I tried that, but Borderlinx refused to reduce my shipping cost. As I explained in the blog post, the volumetric weight they calculated was over 600% of the shipping weight.

  14. Irene says:

    Should have read ur blog earlier. I m also a victim. 😦 No choice, gonna pay this time. First and Last… no more borderlinx! 😦

  15. Andy Teh says:

    I’ve used Borderlinx about 4 or 5 times in the last 6 months. I buy input devices – keyboards, trackballs, etc. – from US sellers and get Borderlinx, or some other freight forwarder, to ship to Malaysia. My experience with their service has been top-notch, and certainly far better than vPOST. Given a choice, I’d choose Borderlinx any day. However, their pricing is about 10 or 20% higher than vPOST if discount codes are excluded from the equation. I usually weigh the pros and cons when choosing the freight forwarder for my items. The more precious stuff (e.g., one-of-a-kind items) will be shipped via Borderlinx – a little more expensive but extremely reliable and fast (about 4 or 5 business days) by DHL. In 90% of cases, I check with the seller about the dimensions of the shipment box and, quite surprisingly, most of them give the information before I decide to purchase. In this way, I know exactly what my total shipping costs will be before I commit to buy. Sellers who offer free shipping within the US are great value because that means I only have to pay the freight forwarder to get the stuff half way around the world. The Borderlinc shipping calculator is merely a guide. If you want the exact cost, you could use their online chat service to get a more accurate quotation (provided you have all the relevant measurements of the package).

  16. aaron says:

    Should have read ur blog earlier. I m also a victim.

    bought shoes from amazon and the shipping to international direct is even much cheaper than bounce it off borderlinx.

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  18. Shamsul Abdullah says:

    Hey guys,

    I have read all your comments above. We get stuck when it comes to volumetric weight and the charges that comes with it. On the plus point is they use DHL courier a very efficient one and one knows on the dot when the parcel will reach you. Other couriers – ooops sorry – dont know when you will get it , sometimes their tracking number stinks.

    One more issue, dont group your things together as you may have to pay the duty and tax charges prior to youe shipping. Check with the courier whether the money you have paid in advance was actually paid. If it wasn’t ask Borderlinx for the refund. Get a copy of the delivery note from DHL there is a coloum where it will indicate duty has been paid or not.

    I had this hassle of getting the refund and it took me a month to get the refund after countless email and wasted chat with the CS people. Some of these CS people dont know what they are telling you. I dont know what kind of system they have. But nevertheless through perseverance I managed to get a refund.

    So the lesson to be learnt is dont get all you items together to post. Make sure the cost does not exceed the amount that is duty free in your country.

    Perhaps I should start a repacking service as my brother is in the US. I have been thinking hard on this. Just pay a nominal sum for the service. Any takers.

    • Hun Boon says:

      Yup, we pay 7% tax in Singapore if the amount (including shipping charge) exceeds $400. So by playing around with different combinations, I find that I could save up to $20+ dollars on the shipping cost.

      But as so many have pointed out, this is a false sense of savings because we get ripped off by how they determine the volumetric weight!

  19. I had a T-shirt weighs 0.6 lbs, and USA-borderlinx placed it in a cardboard box, and the T-shirt’ weighs becomes 3.7 lbs!!!!

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  21. Nikhil says:

    All said & done, if Borderlinx doesnt have a transparent way of ensuring that Shipping costs are in line with Customers expectations, or a transparent way of educating customers as to what to expect, then the whole business model is a big failure. I tried to get them to explain to me an effecient way of estimating volumentric weight prior to me having to ship the item to them, but they refused to give me a practical estimation…they were non commital and point blank told me that there’s no real way.

    I picked up goods worth US$110 and ended up paying a shipping costs of US$130, so by this point, i might as well have picked them up in Singapore (ever though its exhorbitant here in SG), it still much cheaper than the Borderlinx way.

    We should make it our goal to educate consumer not to use Borderlinx, before its too late and they get Shocked out of their wits with the eventual Shipping costs.

  22. I was contemplating on whether to bank my Citibank Globe Shopper promo with Borderlinx or not, but it seems it would be more sensible to stick with ComGateway which I’ve used for a while with little problems – even had no problem importing a carton of lithium batteries before. Thanks for putting up this post!

  23. Eleena says:

    Comgateway is better. It has a repacking service. Borderlinx charges a huge shipping sum for 3 handbags I ordered. Then I argued on the invoice and gave the actual value of the products. My mistake was I didnt realize that the merchant invoice was only 5 kg but Borderlinx charges me with 12 kg by the time I complaint I already paid and Borderlinx mentioned some kind of volumetric costs when I think it should be consistent with my merchant invoice since there is no repacking service. Borderlinx is a total ripped-off!!!

  24. Ripped says:

    Yes, Comgateway is reasonable with the charges. I have been with BL for many yrs and they ripped my off with their shipping charges. I ordered something similar (shirt of the same brand with a different design) and tried out CGW’s services and the charges with 60% lowers.

    BL squeezed and shipped the shirts in a small DHL bag and CGW shipped the similar items in the original box and the huge difference in charges.

    I emailed them on this and they replied they used volumetric measurements for the shirts. I replied that the charges are way to high for the such a small bag and they replied again saying that even a pencil has volumetric…..I stopped using their services. They can stuff the pencil up into their A$$…..

  25. Joe says:

    I had the exact same problems:
    Order a this keyboard from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Wireless-Keyboard-Multi-Touch-920-003070/dp/B005DKZTMG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354454367&sr=8-1&keywords=k400 (which cannot be shipped to Europe, because of warranty policy)
    (Why didn’t a but the keyboard in Europe? Because Logitech only sells f*cked up layout in Europe.)
    Amazon Price: $22.99 (keyboard) + $11.23 (shipping to Borderlinx)
    According to Amazon: Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.2 x 15.8 inches ; Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds.

    I enabled repackaging at Borderlinx before arrival, but they charged USD 79.09 for forwarding it to Europe#%(&#
    That is more than 3 times the price of the product!
    Later I found that repackaging does not apply to “electronics”. So I guess that a keyboard falls in this category.

    So I have now order by keyboard (new state) via eBay for only $55.98 (inclucding shipping), from the US. Compare that total price of $55.98 (product+shipping) to the $79.09 that Borderlinx charges for just forwarding it.

    I’ll leave the Amazon keyboard at Borderlinx, because they will charge extra costs for returning it to Amazon, which is almost as high as the product by itself. If Borderlinx asks me about the keyboard, I’ll tell them to burn it down!!!

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  27. Khalid says:

    As somebody said do not to ship with WorldShip1 & Borderlinx until they decide to shape up and improve on their customers services.

  28. bharathvn says:

    They really SUCKS! They charge in way of wrong weight mentioned and cost calculator never matches

  29. Christine Chiu says:

    For further explanation than ranting out, you guys should really read there FAQ’s. Also, since it’s air freight, you guys should also be aware or at least try to do some research on how air transportation industries calculate or charge shipping, not just go on about ordering stuff online and then complain in the end about how high the charge is. First off, when the package arrives on your side, you should try to check the dimensions if it’s right, if the item is fragile or needs special handling and how will it end up to you when they try to repack it to a smaller package. I am not against you guys or with you guys, not even to Borderlinx, Comgateway, Vpost or whatever shipping company. The fact is, some people just really need to learn how to read first and understand how it’s worked. Else, you can always contact customer service for any questions, before ordering the item.

    It’s called Common sense people. For God’s sake!

    • Hun Boon says:

      It doesn’t sound like you’ve tried such services before, but Borderlinx charges us before sending the package to us. When the costing is significantly higher than estimates with their shipping calculator, it’s a recipe for unhappy customers.

      By the way, Borderlinx does not provide a repacking service. Some other companies e.g. Comgateway do offer it, but not for every order – they decide to make it available for your particular shipment.

      At the end of the day, Amazon’s freight charges are most reasonable compared to such 3rd party shippers. It’s a real pity they don’t ship worldwide – that’s the only reason people turn to companies like Borderlinx.

    • Nikhil says:

      Hahaha, what’s common sense is that if a product proposition is not easy to use or understand, then it’s a non starter, when you have thousands of unhappy customers, then maybe it’s time for the company to listen to the consumers and not have the consumers waste their time trying to justify using a bad product / service …. It’s easier for customers to simply ditch borderlinx and move on to the next company which designs services that are more transparent to customer…. It’s obvious u work for borderlinx …. Remember this is matter of choice and for want of a Better service most of us have decided never to deal with borderlinx again…. So Christine if you ever decide to start a company and operate it like Borderlinx does then u can be sure that u won’t succeed….. How’s that for common sense!! And yeah I have continue to buy thousands of $$ of stuff online since my experience with Borderlinx, (just never again with borderlinx) How’s that for common sense!!

  30. Sheik says:

    Guys, reading this blog has made me very nervous. Because, unknowingly I have done shopping of jacket from the merchant in US, which would soon be delivered at BL Dayton Office. The product cost including shipping to BL Office is USD 140. The size of package dispatched from merchant is 19 inches x 24 inches Bag & the weight is 1.5 lbs. My worry is how much BL would charge to me for shipping it to Qatar. Could anybody advice the approximate calculation for shipping to Qatar.

  31. RC says:

    Yeah just got shocked by Borderlinx’s volumetric shipping rates. Have to pay USD246 for an item that only cost USD50. Be warned!

  32. Elena says:

    I wish I read this before. I ordered something from Amazon…the shipping cost with Borderlinx was supposed to be 50 USD (according to their calculator). Well now they received the goods and the charges are 110 USD. Plus, I was supposed to get a 40% discount as they are doing a promotion with Citibank but I never got it!

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