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How to Get the Best Online Bargains

A guide to better virtual buying.

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Ask for Special Treatment

Looking for a gift Walmart doesn’t sell? Try Etsy, where a million active shops from 20 countries showcase artists and their work. “A ton of sellers do custom orders, engraved items or unique creations,” says Etsy Canada lead Erin Green, who once had an illustrator draw a portrait of her whole family, dog included.

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Outwit Other Shoppers

If you’re shopping on eBay or another auction site, bid strategic atypical amounts, such as $11.02 to trump $11. If you’re serious about an item, place your final bid about 10 seconds before the auction closes to outrace any consumers also watching closely.

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Consider Your Duty

Check with the Canada Border Services Agency to see if what you’re ordering from outside the country is exempt from duty fees-all photography equipment, for example. And remember that American- and Mexican-made goods are duty-free; you just have to pay sales taxes. Any purchase above $20 coming into the country is eligible. If you’re not in
a hurry, ask the company if it’ll ship your items by United States Postal Service instead of UPS-you’ll save on brokerage fees. But shopping
Canadian or checking online behemoths’ Canadian sites before placing an order with an American retailer will help keep hefty charges at bay and avoid customs delays at the border.