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Restrictive Sales Practices on the Web?

Cliff posted more than 11 years ago | from the it's-not-who-you-are-but-where-you-live dept.

The Internet 736

Ed Almos asks: "I don't know about other Slashdot readers, who happen to live outside the US, but I'm in Hungary, and am finding it more and more difficult to purchase goods and services over the web. The sites are there, the money is in my account, but the sites won't sell me anything! Can someone come up with a logical reason for these policies? Last time I checked I was using the WORLD Wide Web, and there seems little point wasting bandwidth to post your website to the world when only those living in the USA can buy and/or use the product. Then again, is this yet another example of the Internet and the rest of the world becoming more and more centered on the continental USA? The final irony? I'm originally from Maine. These folk won't even sell to one of their own!"

"Here are a few examples:

IBM, Apple and Dell operate web stores that sell almost their entire range of kit, they only ship to the USA. Power Notebooks have the same policy but cite different reasons (see below). Some manufacturers have local country websites but these offer a restricted range compared to the main site.

Apple has their new iTunes system. As I am outside the USA they will not let me logon to the system.

Amazon.com are willing to sell me books but nothing else.

The reasons for this policy range from the (almost) reasonable to the downright silly. Amazon cite difficulties with warranty returns as their reason and while most of the rest won't tell me why they don't want my business Power Notebooks told me that recent anti-terrorist legislation stops them from exporting equipment. Quite why they cannot export a notebook originally manufactured in the Far East is beyond me.

Getting the kit to me in Hungary is no problem either. FedEx and UPS have local offices and if that fails there is always the Hungarian Postal Service. Shipping time from the USA can be as short as two working days, I know this because my company obtains spares from the USA for our products."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Hungary is a beautiful country (4, Funny)

ObviousGuy (578567) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405127)

Get off the web and learn how to paint. The countryside is beckoning.

The reason is (1, Informative)

GnarlyNome (660878) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405293)

Fraud from that area of the world is very bad
if you defraud them here they can make life miserable for you

phirst p0st!!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6405132)

fp!!!! woooowooo!!!!

did I get it?

Re:phirst p0st!!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6405146)

No, You were close. Always remember these two things.

1. If you get second place, you're still a loser.

2. If you win a gold medal in the special olympics, You're still a retard.

Re:phirst p0st!!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6405162)

Offtopic? I'll give you offtopic.

She married and had 13 children. Her husband died. She married again and had 7 more children.
Again, her husband died. But, she remarried and this time had 5 more children. Alas, she finally died.

Standing before her coffin, the preacher prayed for her. He thanked the Lord, for this very loving woman and said, "Lord, they're finally together."
One mourner leaned over and asked her friend, "Do you think he means her first, second or third husband?"

The friend replied, "I think he means her legs"

Didn't you know? (0, Troll)

craigtay (638170) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405134)

The US owns the world.. aparently.. Anything that sounds like it doesn't come from the USA scares us.

Re:Didn't you know? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6405199)

Who the fuck modded this informative? Someone that won a gold medal in the special olympics?

Re:Didn't you know? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6405253)

This post, although not politically correct, is extremely hillarious.

Re:Didn't you know? (0, Offtopic)

eht (8912) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405301)

if it's funny it should get +1 funny, not +1 informative

Re:Didn't you know? (-1)

Mr. Troll (202208) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405289)

Cram it with wallnuts ugly.

"Can't be bothered..." (4, Insightful)

Speare (84249) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405136)

It costs money and time and expertise to establish a world-wide shipping channel. You have to know a lot more about international trade law, and liabilities in cases of returns/exchanges/credits are much more complex.

Most small companies can't be bothered to grow that kind of capability, as the short-sighted shareholders (public or private) won't accept the large up-front cost in that kind of expansion.

Re:"Can't be bothered..." (2, Funny)

JamMasterJGorilla (629611) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405160)

Uh, check the postal success in countries outside the US and you'll get a good understanding of why they won't ship to you. It took 3 months for me to ship a package the size of a standard brick from Turkey, and it wasn't even heroin packed inside of camel dung.....

Dell, Apple, IBM happy to be called 'Smalltime' (1)

Hecatonchires (231908) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405256)

Yes, these minute companies with their pitiful earnings and small employee lists.

He wasn't only talking about shipping, he was talking about companies that offer services over the web as well.

Re:"Can't be bothered..." (2, Informative)

retto (668183) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405265)

It is a pain in the ass to ship something overseas. A friend of mine tried to get some stuff shipped to him in India, and when the package arrived (no minor miracle in its own right) it had been opened and anything of value had been removed.

There is also the issue of licensing. We've had people call in from Canada and tried to buy our product, but do to a license agreement we had with another company, we aren't allowed to ship the product outside the US.

small companies. (-1, Troll)

twitter (104583) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405268)

Most small companies can't be bothered to grow that kind of capability,

Small, like IBM, Apple, Dell. I tried to buy IBM, but GW would not let me, the pig. My daddy is going to buy me the UK Socialist Party. Then I'll finish putting the bag over this internet thingy and continue to service (rape) my captive audience (fellow countrymen). We can't have all your money running abroad, now can we. Just give it to me instead.

Since when is .com global? (-1, Flamebait)

Mindtoy (241030) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405137)

I always thought .com was a US TLD. I guess I'd be frustrated too if I was looking for kiddie porn and all of the .co.uk sites wouldn't ship to the US :)

Fraud (5, Interesting)

Detritus (11846) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405138)

I don't know if it is a problem in Hungary, but some countries get blacklisted due to credit card fraud.

Re:Fraud (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6405223)

Also, differences in laws can be very costly to companies (for example, the ass-backward EU and their mandated product warrenties).

I think there is a difference in the people's attitudes about product warrenties in some of the former eastern block countries. A coworker of mine is married to a Ukranian, and she was telling us one day about how American style warrenties would not work there. To a Ukranian, a 3 year warrenty means that in 2 years, 11.5 months you bring your product back in for a replacement no matter what.

Re:Fraud (5, Interesting)

rossz (67331) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405264)

American Express pulled out of Hungary a few years ago due to credit card fraud. They only recently returned. I understand our own F.B.I. sent a team over to Hungary to help train the rendõrség (police).

Re:Fraud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6405269)

Definitely. There's a company I used to do a lot of business with that said they can't do business outside the country when credit cards are involved because the rate of fraudulent transactions is so high.

Also, I remember seeing some news program feature on a 15yr old girl from, IIRC, Romania, that made $1000's a week ordering products from the US with stolen credit cards and reselling it locally.

Sounds like a market opportunity to me (4, Insightful)

El (94934) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405139)

If US companies are too silly to ship to your country, why not start your own e-commerce site? Lease a warehouse in the US, have them ship to that, and then fly it over daily and fulfill your own orders...

Re:Sounds like a market opportunity to me (1)

twistedcubic (577194) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405193)

Or, since he's from Maine, he could send the money to a friend there who could buy the stuff for him and ship it to Hungary. He could give the friend a reasonable tip as well. I guess this won't work if he wants to buy lots and lots of stuff on the web. Maybe try Ebay?

Re:Sounds like a market opportunity to me (1)

Eneff (96967) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405211)

At that point, it's called an import-export business... and there is plenty of money to be made for those willing to put in the time to learn all the forms.

Re:Sounds like a market opportunity to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6405215)

That's going way the hell overboard if all he wants is a fucking laptop.

Re:Sounds like a market opportunity to me (5, Informative)

follower-fillet (140975) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405286)

Someone's already doing it:

http://www.myus.com/ [myus.com]

(I have not used them, just remembered seeing a company that does it, and a Google search revealed this one.)

tarrifs, trade restrictions, VAT, etc (4, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405140)

I'd imagine that a lot of small companies don't want to deal with this sort of thing. Why a larger company wouldn't, I don't know.

Re:tarrifs, trade restrictions, VAT, etc (2, Funny)

daviddennis (10926) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405217)

In a beautiful irony, I work for a company called International Laser Group, which remanufacturers laser toner cartridges.

We once dabbled in international commerce (thus the name) but haven't done so in years due to the shipping charges and hassle.

D

Funny (1)

scrote-ma-hote (547370) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405143)

It seems as if Hungary isn't doing too well out of this. I live in New Zealand and have recently bought a Dell Laptop (although granted, they have a NZ subsidary), and I've bought several items (not just books) from Amazon with no problems, among others.

I have however heard that some places blacklist NZ credit cards for some reason. I haven't struck it, but there we go.

Re:Funny (1)

sirsnork (530512) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405239)

Amazon don't sell electrical goods outside the US. Everything else as far as I know is avaliable... I recently tried to buy a Neuros from Amazon to get shipped to NZ and it was a non starter

What the hell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6405145)

again, is this yet another example of the Internet and the rest of the world becoming more and more centered on the continental USA?

Um, considering the internet was started in the USA, and has since then spread to the world, I think the poster is backwards.

Re:What the hell? (1)

jamonterrell (517500) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405176)

No the poster has it exactly right. He too was started in the USA and has since spread to the world. :b

Re:What the hell? (0, Troll)

EvilCabbage (589836) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405296)

I bet you still think the war with Iraq did the rest of the world a massive favour too, right?

C'mon, break out of the box a little.

BECOMING more US Centric? (5, Insightful)

Gojira Shipi-Taro (465802) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405147)

You do know that the US is where DARPAnet began, right? that little network that was the precursor of the internet?

Do you propose that companies that aren't prepared to undertake the expense and risk involved in doing business with every last country on the planet not be able to do business on the web?

I'm sorry but I don't see the basis for complaint in the original poster's musings. It costs MONEY to, for instance do business in Hungary, handle transactions and currancy conversions, and deal with fraud. If a particular market doesn't offer enough profit to justify the expense, that market simply isn't worth doing business with.

I'm a little suprised that Hungary is on the list of "not worth it", but perhaps that's not universal.

The web is planet wide. Not every company on the planet is obligated to do planet wide business to participate.

your point? (0)

twitter (104583) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405292)

You do know that the US is where DARPAnet began, right? that little network that was the precursor of the internet?

And you remember that little thing called the www invented at CERN? The idea was to have a simple, human readable and specified interface that was manchine and nationality independent so that everyone in the world could use it.

Things that make you go Huh? (-1, Troll)

grennis (344262) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405148)

You have to add items to your "shopping cart" and then make use of the "check out" button.

In other words, it might help if you explain exactly what your problem is. Or is this just Slashdot trying to shed the "U.S. Centric" rap?

Re:Things that make you go Huh? (1)

scrote-ma-hote (547370) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405168)

What are you talking about? He's claiming that he's some websites wont let him purchase items from him, as they won't ship to Hungary. He then wonders what the point of allowing people to reach these sites is, if they only post to the states. I don't think he's stupid, like you are trying to point out.

Re:Things that make you go Huh? (2, Informative)

djupedal (584558) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405254)

Does that mean these sites should post a disclaimer listing the countries they don't ship to...oh, wait...

U.S. SALES ONLY [apple.com]
The Apple Store sells and ships products only within the continental United States, Alaska, and Hawaii. No shipments can be made to APO or FPO addresses, United States territories, or addresses outside the United States. You may not export any products purchased at the Apple Store.

Shipping and taxes. (4, Informative)

Christopher Thomas (11717) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405150)

The reason, as far as I can figure out - shipping costs, and paying appropriate taxes.

Even between the US and Canada, anything being shipped across the border gets taxes and a brokerage fee tacked on, and extra postage. Handling all of that for a wide range of countries, automatically, would be a logistical nightmare.

A simpler approach would be to set up a branch office in the target country and sell locally.

other possible reasons (4, Interesting)

lingqi (577227) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405245)

maybe also because of price differences? - I don't speak for hungary, but the below situation is my understanding of some tricky thing that goes on between danmark and germany:

danmark has 25% VAT, and germany 13% (VAT = sales tax); to equalize final prices, car manufactures price the cars so that the final price (after the VAT) is about the same in both countries.

a lot of germans used to go over to danmark, buy a car, go back to germany (get a refund on that 25% on the way out of danmark) and pay the VAT for germany. pocket a good chunck of change.

manufactures were not happy about it, so that changed in a zippy (lobbied some legislation, IIRC).

so, for example apple products are 30% more expensive in japan than the US. I can't imagine them being happy about me shipping a powerbook over here.

on the other hand, amazon japan seem to be all for shipping things to the US, though - any maybe to other countries like hungary too; so maybe give them a try.

they wont sell to you... (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405151)

because it's a world wide webthat has been balkanised into ecnomic spheres.

the itunes music server is a case in point. Until Europe gets on board with the Stationer's Cartel we call modern American copyright law, iTMS won't be selling jack to the EU.

He who pays the fiddler calls the tune.... It's all political and completely corrupt and deeply bound up with the factthat government exists to protect and project the intersts of the rich and powerful. Always has, always will. In our time, gummint protects and projects the interests of corporate cartels that are based in certain economic superstates, Oceania (USA/NAFTA), Eurasia (EU & Russia), and EastAsia (china/Japan). That's how it works.

The parent articles whinging about it is sad, as it indicates the depth of the problem...

RS

Don't you have friends? (1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6405153)

If you're from Maine, surely you have friends/family still living in the US-- why don't you have them buy your shit and ship it to you, and you send them a check or something?

Sheesh!

Restrictive Sales Practices on Web - So true !! (5, Informative)

$exyNerdie (683214) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405156)


So true !!

But wait, I can't buy Yopy 3700 Linux PDA [about.com] in US.
(The Yopy 3700 is developed in South Korea and is currently available in France, Austria and the UK for a MSRP of $499 US.)

The FDA (1)

The Jonas (623192) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405282)

You also can't buy a lot of other things [fda.gov] in the USA. Granted, some of them I do not ever want.

gee i wonder (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405164)

In the good old USA, you're dealing with a consistent set of laws (the UCC) that govern sales, you have known agreements with credit card vendors, merchant banks, you can easily do address verification, etc.

Comparison (1)

Carrion Creeper (673888) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405165)

Now try looking at a similar sample of mail-order catalogs. Will they ship out of the US? (I have no idea) Also, did they simply use different excuses pre 9/11?

It may be that everyone is looking for an excuse not to ship because there is more profit margin/ less potential legal hassle in the local market.

iTunes is no surprise. Apple of late has only been negotiating about US distribution. Did you think that distribution laws and contracts could be set up in all countries simultaneously with no extra effort? IANAL, but even I know better. The five major labels cover many countries, but local laws differ. One country at a time.

Here's some reasons (5, Informative)

flowerp (512865) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405166)

Credit card clearinghouses charge more money to US companies for clearing international credit card transactions. Hence a lot of US retailers do not accept foreign credit cards for online orders.

Fraud is more likely to occur on international shipments where the receiver is harder to track down.

Foreign people's credit information/scores are not easily available to US companies (this applies to financing options).

Music businesses may not yet have acquired the rights to distribute the music outside of the US. Local monopolies hamper global distribution.

There are issues with international shipping and customs. Customs may confiscate or return shipments. Export restrictions may prevent exporting certain technologies and goods. ...extend this list at will...

Let me sum it up in one word... (4, Interesting)

sting3r (519844) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405170)

FRAUD.

Hungary is one of about ten countries worldwide that are responsible for a whopping 55% of credit card / bank / wire fraud. Serving the few legitimate customers in these ten countries often takes a back seat to preventing $3000 laptops from disappearing into the ether.

Sad but true. Even in the U.S., where our large cities are cesspools of scams and larcenies, the authorities have a better handle on the situation (mostly because the police forces here are rarely in cahoots with organized crime).

Re:Let me sum it up in one word... (1)

twistedcubic (577194) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405249)

Where did you get the 55% statstic from?

From Maine, you say? (1, Funny)

Hercynium (237328) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405171)

<voice dialect="Old Man Sitting In A Rocking Chair On The Porch Of The Packie On A Small Town's Only Street">
Well, theyah's yah prahblem... The site sez yah cahn't get theyah frahm heah...
</voice>

On second thought, I'm from Massachusetts... Ever since you became your own state, we just regard Maine as another country... or worse yet, part of Canadah. j/k ;-) (if you can't be intellegent, at least try to be funny, that's what they say, right?)

Chargebacks (5, Informative)

mikeophile (647318) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405173)

The chargeback levels from some countries are enormous. When a country accounts for only 2% of your business but makes up 20% of your chargeback, it doesn't take a business genius to decide that country's purchases aren't worth it.

Re:Chargebacks (1)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405275)

I've bought things from many foreign countries using USPS money orders. If people in these countries can also buy such a money order I'd be willing to accept it as payment. Anyone know if they can?

Can't buy G4 and G5 based Macs.... (1, Informative)

Dr Reducto (665121) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405177)

If you live outside the USA, it is harder to get any G4 or 5 because of the 1994 law that makes computers capable of 1 gigaflops or more classified as supercomputers. This means that you are restricted in exporting them, because they are classified as munitions-grade, which is because of their code-cracking abilities. So don't try to bring a Powerbook on your next trip to China, or you risk being prosecuted for illicit cryptographic export.

Re:Can't buy G4 and G5 based Macs.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6405241)

Bullshit. The law was overturned in 1994 because that is when the Sony PlayStation became powerful enough to be classified as a "supercomputer" under that law. When a childs toy was affected by that law, they finally saw the writing on the wall and got rid of it.

Re:Can't buy G4 and G5 based Macs.... (1)

eht (8912) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405290)

Just about every modern cpu manufactured today for desktop or server machines can easily do 1 gigaflop, this is just a "Mac's are great post"

How it got modded above -10 I haven't a clue, hopefully this will get cleaned up in the meta mods as this person does not deserve the karma

I think he was watching too many Apple comercials, the one where they compare the cpu to a supercomputer and have it surrounded by tanks

Sorry Apple, but you have never made the top 500 list and most likely never will, move along

Re:Can't buy G4 and G5 based Macs.... (4, Insightful)

Baumi (148744) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405298)

It used to be like that [cnn.com] when the G4 came out, but the policy has long since been revised [geek.com] .

To get this back on topic: AFAIK, all of Apple's online stores (it has them for various countries) only sell to people living in the respective countries, and I'm afraid the feeling in Cupertino is that the Mac market share in Hungary is too small to warrant a localized online store with all the additional costs. (Call center, etc.)
And the ITMS is, as you probably know, all tangled up in complicated European licensing issues - there's no European equivalent for the RIAA and even within single countries, the labels can't seem to agree on a common policy.

Will Amazon.com sell you DVDs? They should - there isn't that much of a warranty issue with them and I can get them overe here in Germany without any problem.

(BTW, if you're in the market for US-DVDs and Amazon won't sell them to you, try play.com or dvdboxoffice.com )

As for the earlier post that mentioned Hungary's countryside: I sure hope it's beautiful; I'll be visting Budapest a month from now. :-)

Deal with it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6405178)

Companies aren't required to sell you anything. If something is a pain in the ass and not very profitable, then they won't do it. Instead of wasting their time with the time consuming paperwork of customs, VAT, and tariffs, they can increase their margins more by spending their money on other things. Its a fact of life, and your bitching about it isn't going to help. Deal with it.

Perhaps you should go to localized sites (5, Informative)

Heartz (562803) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405179)

Dell does ship to Hungary. Just visit their local Hungarian site [dell.com] .

Your best bet is to look for a localized site so that it's not only easier for you to return the product but also save on postage.

Therefore (2, Insightful)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405183)

Last time I checked I was using the WORLD Wide Web, and there seems little point wasting bandwidth to post your website to the world when only those living in the USA can buy and/or use the product.

So they should only put their website up on the USA Wide Web? I'd like to know how to access that.

If i find site that won't ship to me, i'll be unhappy, and maybe try to convince them otherwise, but i'm not going to demand that they leave and go make their own damn web.

Brokers? (4, Interesting)

femto (459605) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405185)

I also run into this problem from Australia.

Is anyone aware of any brokers who specialise in buying stuff from US web sites, shipping it to a US addess, then forwarding it to an international address?

The real reason (5, Funny)

waikerie (124232) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405186)

No one in the US can find Hungary on a map.

Re:The real reason (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405252)

I am so tired of hearing how stupid Americans are. Get over it. Hell, I even went to public schools.

What a tired, idiotic stereotype.

It's not a stereotype, it's a statistic (1)

xintegerx (557455) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405284)

If National Geographic found that 90% of Americans can't find it on a map, then it's a statistic. Not a stereotype. A stereotype is when you assume things about an INDIVIDUAL based on observations OR commonly repeated false statements based on the GROUP that they are from. Judging an individual based upon your perception of the group and not on his own merit is acting upon a stereotype.

Re:The real reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6405294)

You know, that wasn't worth saying.

Re:The real reason (5, Insightful)

dJCL (183345) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405280)

The parent is modded funny, and the best part is that the comment could be true. How many out there can find Hungary on a map? Do you have much of an idea of where it is? I've gotten the impression in the past that many in the US do not have an impression of the rest of the world(Just watch "Talking to Americans" on CBC some time, if you get the jokes )

So... Do you know where Hungary is? Can you find it on a map? Without Google?

I had a general idea when I started reading the story, and when I thought of this comment I was able to place it exactly in my head, and could even tell you nearby countries...(no hints for you!)


Enjoy!

You're blaming the wrong country (2, Insightful)

IronTek (153138) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405187)

I know, I know...what a crime it is that most places only ship to the US because that's where 99.8%* of the potential market that would actually buy the widget you want is, but instead of blaming websites for selling to their largest market, shouldn't you be complaining that there aren't enough Hungary-based web sites that well sell you stuff locally. ...How did this make the front page?

*Please note that 42.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot, including mine.

Why not try hungarian sites? (2, Insightful)

Apreche (239272) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405191)

Why are you visiting american websites? Aren't there any Hungarian internet stores to buy from? If not, opening one up could prove profitable.

Since Hungary is more in the European region (5, Informative)

admbws (600017) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405202)

It would probably be better to buy things from either European or Hungarian resellers. Instead of Amazon.com, use Amazon.co.uk [amazon.co.uk] . Instead of Dell.com, use Dell.hu [www.dell.hu] IBM, again, use IBM.hu [www.ibm.hu] instead of IBM.com. Simple really.

Fraud and accountability (4, Interesting)

G27 Radio (78394) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405203)

I work for a webhosting company. We've had a couple instances where people have set up accounts via credit card, then we later were notified that the owners of the cards had no knowledge their cards were being used.

In each instance the cards and billing info were from overseas. None yet from within the US. I'm guessing that credit card fraud is a little more common in other coutries.

For us it's not a really big deal. We shut off the accounts and refund the money. However, if we were actually shipping a physical product I'm not sure we'd be as willing to deal with customers from overseas.

EU VAT taxes (1)

hermango (619774) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405204)

The EU just required that VAT taxes be paid on everything purchased on the Web, including from oversease, so I suspect that rather than go through all the war and whipass in dealing with the EU they just flip you off as a customer. So, call up Brussels and bitch! But don't expect anything to change, unless you expect it to get worse, then it will change.

testing (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6405205)

never mind if this actually gets through, I'm just testing because I'm having trouble posting stuff...

Credit card companies (5, Interesting)

drgroove (631550) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405208)

Credit card companies are one of the major stop gaps to allowing truly online, global commerce from happening.

No major credit card company will validate a credit card from one country to the next. Hence, if I live in Canada, and want to purchase a product from a company in the UK, Visa (or Mastercard, Discover, American Express, etc) won't do a check on my credit card for the company in the UK to ensure that I'm the cardholder, that my address & postal code match, etc.

If credit card companies would allow cross-border validation to occur, online commerce would see an enormous increase in activity. Unfortunately, fraudulent purchases would be one of those increases, hence why the credit card companies won't budge. If there is a solution to the fraud issue (.NET? Liberty Alliance?), then convincing the credit card co's/banks/financial institutions to allow cross-border validation would be much easier...

Re:Credit card companies (1)

Buran (150348) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405288)

Er.... I have a European VW stereo installed in my VW Golf because the European model has better sound and some more features and is made by Blaupunkt, a more reputable company than the original OEM manufacturer, at least to me.

I bought it online from a UK seller using a US Mastercard.

While I was in Canada, I bought a number of items using my Bank of America VISA check card. No problems there.

Seems to me like cross-border validation is working fine.

Re:Credit card companies (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6405309)

Bullcrap. I have used my US credit cards in England, Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Spain, Jamaica, the Caymen Islands, Mexico, and Canada. No problems ever. One time they did call to verify some charges, but that was resolved quickly.

Channel conflict (4, Informative)

ChartBoy (626444) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405212)

IBM, Apple, and Dell probably have a channel for selling their products in Hungary, with agreements not to compete with those distributors. The distributors may not have a web presence, but that would be the Hungarian distributors' problem, not the manufacturers'.

Yah, it's a pain (1)

putaro (235078) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405216)

I live overseas as well (Japan) and it's difficult getting things shipped directly. We have a PO Box in the US and things are forwarded to us. It's a little pricey but it works out well. This page [mail-forwa...dvisor.com] has a list of companies that do package forwarding as a business. I don't use any of them, caveat emptor!

Re:Yah, it's a pain (1)

BlueTrin (683373) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405229)

What do you use ? How could I set up a PO Box in the US and forward things to me ?

Credit Card Fraud (1)

wisconsin (155623) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405221)

The web store I work for used to accept orders from any country. About a year ago we started getting lots of credit card fraud from foreign countries. Now we only accept orders from the US and Canada.

Not really (1)

supersam (466783) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405222)

I don't think there are any restrictive sales practices being used over the web by vendors. US has had a head start over the other countries as far as setting up shops on the web is concerned. So, naturally one would see a lot more US centric stores on the web than say a country like Hungary. But then, its upto the other countries to get their acts together.

You say that the local country websites have limited range to offer. So, isn't that more of problem with those local manufacturers then?

I'm from India and I've generally had no problems with buying stuff over the web... though I haven't bought laptops yet.

Can you say.... (3, Insightful)

djupedal (584558) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405225)

EU taxes?

Hightened security on shipping?

Cost to verify overseas c'cards?

Cost of refused delivery?

Cost of RMAs?

Import duties?

English only packaging?

...need more, let me know. I've been around this tree over and over, for years now.

I'll sell to you. (1)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405226)

If you are willing to pay I'll buy you anything you want and send it to you. I've worked in exporting before so I kind of know the business. Nothing like an expert.. especially to your location.. but for a lil $ I'd be willing to figure it out. ;)

Liability... (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405227)

You know all those little laws that are all the rage today? Laws that will make putting chips into ink cartridges illegal, laws that make reverse engineering your own property illegal. And all those lawsuits, lawsuits demanding the record companies sell their music online, lawsuits telling MS it's not up to them whether to bundle a web-browser with their OS or not, lawsuits blaming McDonald's for your fat ass...

Add that shit up.

You can have it one way or the other. In a free market, they'll sell anything to anyone willing and able to pay for it. Put up all these hurdles, and you'll cause this sort of thing to happen. Do you think Apple doesn't want to sell music to the rest of the world? Do you think IBM, Dell, Amazon, etc, don't want to sell to you?

International currency, taxes, etc - blah (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405228)

Well, I know that whenever I deal with buying stuff from another country (even the US, I'm Canadian, but it's not as bad as Europe) - dealing with freight, insurance, currency conversion, tax conversion, etc can be a nightmare. Slap on the weird new VAT (Value-Added-Tax) rules that Europe has recently applied to the internet, and doing business overseas is a real pain.

Don't take it as a directed insult, think of it more in the business sense:
They're not ignoring you, just not including you due to costs and hassle.


I am surprised at the hassle you have getting computer hardware such as laptops though. Do you have any friends/family that can receive the item and ship it over for you?

Too many hassles (2, Insightful)

ngkabra (245586) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405230)

I live in India, so I can feel the OP's pain.

However, there are a number of problems due to which a company would be reluctant to ship to any random country:

1) Local laws: the laws in each country could be different. Its too much work to figure out whether you are satisfying all the local laws, before you can ship there.

2) Fraud: as someone else pointed out above, chances of credit card fraud are much higher.
Here in India, we don't really have anything akin to the US social security number (nothing that works, anyway). So lots of people just stop paying bills (credit card, cell-phone, personal loan) before they move to a different city. And there's not much that can be done about it.
If this is a problem a local company faces, imagine what would happen to a company that doesn't even have an office here.

3) Lost in the mail: Often, items shipped internationally get lost somewhere en-route and never reach the recipient. If it is not stolen or damaged along the way, it might get stuck in customs clearance. Sending it through a reliable channel like Fedex cost a godawful lot of money.
And often, customers are going to blame the company if the goods don't reach.

4) Lack of interest: with all the above problems, it is rare that there is an item that is not available locally and easily, but at the same time is popular enough to justify going through all the trouble.

navin.

cutting out their local suppliers (1)

FrenZon (65408) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405232)

One of the many reasons is that it would cut into their overseas offices' profits.

Example: The Creative Nomad Zen costs US$299, and even after shipping, customs handling and local tax, I could ship it here for around AU$500. Yet locally, the RRP is ~AU$850 - if I was Creative Australia, I'd be asking head office to stop letting such things get shipped to my 'zone'.

Palm had an arrangement like this for a while, but weren't too strict on enforcing it, and I know Garmin had big restrictions on the sale of their GPS units, which people very vocally complained about.

As I said, this is just one reason of many, but it's the one I've heard most often.

Apple Store in Hungary (1)

kongjie (639414) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405233)

>http://store.apple.hu/ [apple.hu]

Won't they sell you anything? I can't read Hungarian so I can't tell.

As far as everyone else is concerned, when there is enough profit in selling to people like you (people from Maine living in Hungary who want products from American online stores), it will happen. WWW is just a name; on-line stores have no obligation to be global. It's frustrating (I lived for a year in China and understand what it's like not to be able to get very simple things that make your life a lot easier but for some reason can't be found), but it's going to be a matter of some more time.

Twizzlers (-1)

blackgasmask (631716) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405235)

Two weeks ago I was buying a pallet of twizzlers licorice candy (red) at cub foods. The manager wanted $423.99 for it. I informed him that I had just bought just such a pallet of twizzlers the previous week at a competing store for $220.99. I also told him that some day I would be able to buy a shipping carton of twizzlers over the Internet for $399. He turned with a twinkle in his eye that caught me off my usual guard, laughed and said, "LOL restrictive sales practices on the web?"

Hungarian Post (1)

rossz (67331) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405247)

I have extensive experience with the Hungarian Post. I would NEVER send anything of value through it. The postal workers are so poorly paid and overworked that some supplement their meager incomes with "lost packages". Last Christmas, our entire shipment to Aunt Zsuzsi was lost this way. I no longer complain about the quality of the U.S. Postal never. I now realize how good it is compared to most of the rest of the world.

BTW, what district do you live in, or are you outside of Budapest?

Would dead-tree mail-order be different? (1)

ameoba (173803) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405248)

Do you think that if you were to try calling up Sears and ordering from their catalog they'd ship to Hungary? Do you think major Hungarian web-merchants would ship to the USA?

I doubt it.

Export restrictions to a NATO country? (1)

Charles Dodgeson (248492) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405255)

Nagy meglepetes, hogy meg vannok "export restrinction"ek, 2003-ban.

But I'll continue in English.

I have very suprised to learn that export restrictions still apply, considering that Hungary has been a member of NATO for a number of years (and will be an EU member in one year). When I first lived there (1988), things were different, and we simply avoided silly US export restrictions by buying from Taiwan.

My guess is that Hungary simply isn't a large enough market for many on-line retailers to find it worth while to make the proper arrangements for Hungarian customs. Once Hungary is part of the EU, that problem will go away.

Word Wide Web != Word Wide Shopping (4, Insightful)

mjhans (55639) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405261)

Why does it mean that just because a site is on the web it must provide all its services to the entire world? The web is worldwide, not the services of each specific site.

That's like complaining that the front page of the New York Times on the web isn't world-centric (hint: it's not even US-centric, it focuses on New York)

Personal insight... (4, Insightful)

silverhalide (584408) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405262)

Having been in a small mail order business for quite a while, I can tell you why US companies hate shipping internationally:

It's a pain in the ass.

An international package takes at least 3 times the paperwork to fulfill. There's a 4-part customs form, customs declarations, and not to mention ungodly postage. It also screws up shipping calculations. In the US, you can safely charge a flat rate fee for shipping and that's that. You can even run actual shipping rates through the current USPS And FedEx rate tables. Now, bump it up to international shipping. You HAVE To insure everything that goes international, since the package is handed off between organizations many times if you use the US Post Office. UPS and FedEx are ungodly expensive internationally and hardly pay to use. Not to mention that many international customers don't have English as their first language making correspondance that much more difficult.

Now what about your return policy? I sure as hell don't want to be sending a call tag for $100 to get a computer shipped back to me because they didn't like it and it's broken. It's just impossible to provide the same level of customer service to someone not in the same country as you.

So if you were wondering, that's why US Companies hate shipping abroad. Canada and Mexico are a little easier since they have more relaxed borders, but still a pain in the butt.

Fraud & Chargebacks Kill (5, Informative)

esconsult1 (203878) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405271)

As a merchant, i've stopped selling my software product to certain Eastern European countries because of the fraud problem.

At one point the level of chargebacks almost drove me out of business. Imaging you selling so many copies and then a month or so later almost all of them get charged back!!

It leaves a pretty bad taste in the mouth.

Now, my friends and family in Jamaica will ask me to purchase stuff for them and ship it. I am glad to do it. The submitter better find some friends here that can do it for her/him.

Until the day comes around when the laws and financial instutions play catch up in those countries, we will always be reluctant to do business overseas.

Don't Worry, Be Happy (3, Funny)

PingXao (153057) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405276)

Department of Homeland Security Chief Patriot Tom Ridge just announced a new push aimed at thwarting economic aid to you-know-who. This glorious new program will result in all financial transactions being monitored and recorded and archived forever. In this way credit card fraud will be stopped. In fact, it's going to be called the War On Credit Card Fraud And Money Laundering. Once appropriate policies are in place in the U.S., other nations of the world will also adopt the same standards. Or else. Recent action by the OECD and the FATF in blacklisting offshore tax havens was just the opening salvo in the War.

So, be Happy! Soon, thanks to the efforts of the patriots at the Department of Homeland Security, the entire WORLD-Wide-Web will be safe for you to reliably conduct credit card transactions. More importantly, it will be safe for merchants to collect their payments and banks to earn their interest. (You didn't really think anyone cared about you, did you?)

Apple (1)

teknokracy (660401) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405279)

The Apple web store at apple.com ships to the US, the Apple web store at apple.ca ships to Canada, the Apple web store at apple.co.jp ships to Japan... and so on...

In other parts of the world... (2, Interesting)

PeeCee (678651) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405285)

I've always had the same problem (down here in Chile). However, I've come to understand that the situation is somewhat more complex than one would imagine; it's not just a matter of putting a stamp on the box and sending it overseas. There's taxes, credit card companies, governments, taxes, customs, taxes, etc.

Fortunately, a few local companies (it's been mostly airlines here) have realized this is good business and so have created the service for anyone to use. You pay with your card, set the shipping address to some US P.O. box they give you (usually in Miami) and once it gets there (transparently for the vendor) they take care of getting it to your house, charging you for all the taxes involved, checking all relevant regulations, etc (obviously you pay a little more for the service but There Ain't No Such Thing As Free Shipping). This is extremely understandable and is, I believe, the way to go (except for the LARGEST companies - I'm sure, say, Amazon could afford to ship here).

(What DOES remain a problem is when they definitely do NOT take any sort of international credit cards. I mean, you HAVE to pay some way! Hello, this is not a fraudulent country!)

Not a conspiracy (1)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405297)

It just isn't cost effective.

Processing foreign credit card transactions costs 2-7% more. Chargeback rates for overseas transactions, particularly to Eastern Europe and Asia are 400-1000% higher.

Additionally, plenty of countries have product liability and merchantability laws that vary greatly from the United States. It just isn't worth hiring international lawyers to sell some books or a pc.

iTunes Music Store (2, Interesting)

Mikey-San (582838) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405303)

Don't blame Apple for this one (even if you aren't, sorry). Apple wants to expand overseas with its music service, but at the moment, the big 5 record labels either aren't interested or won't do it for some More Ominous Reason(tm) like distribution control fears or something else stupid. :-/

Welcome to the real world (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6405304)

Believe it or not there actually are differences between the differnt countries in the world. Companies that don't sell to a foreign market usually do so because they have either found it to be more costly than profitable or they haven't found a reason to expand into that market. Comapnies are usually trying to make money and if it costs more to setup your company to do business in some foreign company then more than likely you aren't going to. Its not as simple as just telling UPS to ship to some country. There are lots of hurdles to doing business in a foreign country. Logistically, financially, and legally. And if anything the amount of small business transactions has improved tremendously. 10 years ago the average consumer wouldn't have bought a damn thing from some other country, even with mail order. The fact that we dont have universal commerce between all countries shouldn't surprise anyone.

The Question is: (1)

greg987123 (677841) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405306)

"The final irony? I'm originally from Maine. These folk won't even sell to one of their own!"
Is this actually irony [slashdot.org] ?

dont be dumb (1)

leprechaun92 (312890) | more than 11 years ago | (#6405308)

Why not just ship it to someone you know in the states, and then have them ship it to you.

It would seem that this is the obvious choice, but thats just me...

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