Dear America, I Want to Buy Your Sh*t

Dear America,

Yes, you.

I want to buy your shit. 

Seriously. That's it. I want to take the Canadian dollars I have earned from my long, hard hours of hunting moose and applying Avril Lavigne's eyeliner, and exchange them for beautiful, cheap American goods. It's consumerism at its finest, and oh boy, do I want to partake.

Just look how happy this woman is in her cheap American nirvana.

There's just one problem: I can't. You won't let me. And I have no idea why.

Is it our money? Because I'll be the first to admit that our Canadian currency is a little strange. Yes, we make our money in Rainbow Brite colours, and not the aggressively monochromatic green you insist on. And yes, it's weird and plastic and it has a purposeless see-through window in it that you can peer through when you want the world to look shiny and distorted but you don't have the money for drugs. And yeah, okay, we got rid of our $1 and $2 bills and traded them in for ridiculous coins with birds and polar bears on them. 

But really, deep down, our money isn't so different. It's a little, flat bendy thing with a number and a picture of a grumpy white man on it that derives its value from words and magic. And if I'm giving you currency with some kind of value, does it really matter if it's an American dollar or a Medieval ducat?

I swear, this is real money.

Besides, it's the year 2014. Canadians speak English, French, and the international language of MasterCard. If your store is set up to handle credit cards or PayPal, it shouldn't matter if I live in Los Angeles or the nation of Mauritania. And, in fairness to you, it doesn't. You're perfectly willing to take my sweet, sweet digital Canadian money. You just won't ship me my item. 

The true north may be strong, but it sure as hell isn't free.

Yeah. Let me say that again. You will happily accept my filthy, maple-syrup-stained money, presumably out of the goodness of your heart. You'll do that, just for me. What you will not do is put my item in a box, slap on some postage and stick it in the mail. Apparently, that's just far more than you can possibly handle. You've also gone to the trouble of making sure that there's absolutely no way for Canadians to get around your shipping restrictions, since you won't ship to post boxes. Fucking why? Are you taking the moral high ground over paranoid, tin-foil-hatted lunatics who won't give out their home addresses? Is there a Nike black market out there that only operates through the use of the noble P.O. box? Are you attempting to bolster Canadian-American relations by forcing Canucks to befriend Americans for the sole purpose of exploiting their sweet, sweet shippable addresses?

This is you.

And what makes this especially baffling is the fact that other, tinier retailers have figured out how to successfully do business with the great white north. I can jump on Etsy, right now, and have a toothless woman from rural Nebraska send me a vial of human placenta. Why can't a multinational corporation send me a pair of shoes? To make things worse, you all offer shipping to the various American territories, which means you've apparently decided that it's more trouble to send a truck to Alberta than it is to strap a package to the back of a dolphin and send that sucker to the Virgin Islands.

Your international shipping team, I presume.

But let me illustrate my frustrations with a real-world example. A little while ago, I tried to buy my younger brother a pair of pants for his birthday.

These pants, to be exact.

For the uninitiated and/or fat people among you, those are a pair of white running tights. Apparently they make running better somehow. I don't understand it either. In any case, my brother had wanted the Nike version of these pants, and they absolutely had to be white; he needed them to wear underneath his white football pants, and football teams are notoriously unreceptive to players making changes to the uniform.

Well, most of the time.

There was just one problem: after a long, hard day of throwing pennies at the 3rd world orphans who manufacture his sneakers, the CEO of Nike had apparently decided that these particular pants would only be available to Canadians in black. Well, no matter, I thought. I'll go on the internet and find what I need. It'll be easy.


All I needed was those pants, in that colour, in an extra-large. So I checked Ebay. Nope. Checked Canada's adorable little version of Amazon. Of course not. Checked the manufacturer website. Ha, no shipping to Canada. Checked the websites of every major sports retailer I could find. If they had it in stock, they sure as hell didn't ship to Canada. The closest I came to finding these pants was a dubious Chinese website that promised to send them to me for $3 per pair, so long as I put in a minimum order of 5,000. 

Just slightly more than I need.

Just before I had resigned myself to sewing my own pair out of women's nylons and a shower curtain, I managed to find a pair of similar UnderArmour pants on an American sporting goods website that had all the tacky 90s charm of a 13-year-old girl's MySpace page, and immediately decided to trust them with my credit card number. To my slight surprise, the pants actually showed up three weeks later. So all's well that ends well - my brother can play football in the least practical colour imaginable, and an American retailer out there is ever-so-slightly richer. 

Because I'm serious, America. You've got some great shit. 

So let me buy it.

1 comment

  1. Being on the little-guy side of this, shipping occasional interlibrary loans to Canada, I enjoyed your post, but thought, really, it can't be that hard. So, I asked my resident expert- my husband who worked as shipping manager for a major sports apparel distributor with a heavy internet presence (until they moved their warehouses to another state).He said that, yes, they would ship to Canada, but it was more trouble than most of their other international destinations. They couldn't use their usual automated shipping methods, but had to manually apply special labeling for Canadian customs to keep it from getting hung up on the way in. They had to use UPS rather than their usual FedEx as UPS could deliver there more easily (at the library, we were warned to only use regular post because couriers usually get hung up.) As for post boxes, they often get flagged for fraud potential. Doesn't really make sense when you've already got the money. If the product goes to someone who's hiding their identity, so what? But there you are. Looks like the main reason is Canada just requires a personal touch big businesses don't always want to invest in.


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