Maybe you know this problem?

Today I wanted to buy a dress online. I was looking around, browsing different webshops, screening pictures looking for inspiration and then. Finally. I found it…






Absolutely gorgeous! By Self-Portrait – the hottest it-brand for ready-to-wear dresses right now. I was so exited. But… Unfortunately, the webshop was American. And I live in Europe, which makes a possible return very expensive for me. Let me explain.

When we trade (sell and buy) across boarders, countries and continents we keep the ecosystem of all businesses alive. International trade is at the heart of the global economy and is responsible for much of the development and prosperity of the modern industrialised world. Each country control the trades by laws, legislations. The transactions and handling has a prize: taxes and fees. This is where worldwide webshopping sometimes becomes difficult. When all the taxes, fees and the struggles of freight, logistics and packaging is considered, it really seems like the purchase is NOT worth the trouble.

To give you an concrete example:

1. Buy the dress

Before I do anything, I always check the return-policies (typically in the webshop footer). Then I proceed to purchase.

Price for dress: 480 $


2. Shipment

Do the shop offer free shipping? In my case the webshop offered free shipping for purchases over 100 $ – so I was lucky.

If not, what are the shipping expenses for your country?


3. On the way

When UPS or any other company handles your freight, expenses are also added.


4. Import expenses

You pay the currier taxes and fees. In my case I had to pay a fee of 25 % of both the price and shipping fee (which was free), so 120 $. And I also had to pay a customs fee of 12 % (because my purchase exceeded 170 $), so extra 57,6 $.

In total: 177,6 $.


5. Receive the package

Now I have my dress in my home. I try it on, and it does not fit!


6. Return the dress

So, by reading the return policies I learned that it is only within USA returns are free. For me to return the dress to the webshop I have to fill out the correct forms (maybe you have to print them from the webshop yourself), buy a right-sized package at the Post Office for 5 $, and then pay approximately 45 $ for shipment.


*Tip: you may find services that offers you a shipping address in the country you buy from. It can save up to 30% by using e.g.: as a currier.


7. Money back

Notice how many days you have for returning your dress. In my case I have 30 days. But if the dress was bought on sale the shop would not take it back. Notice how many days you have to decide before your return. Shipment might take a week, and the webshop might use up to 3 business days before they receive and register the item. Then, it might take 3 business days before the money are transferred to your banking account.

Notice in this period the currency might have changed a bit, so don’t expect the amount to be exactly the same.


My wrong purchase ended up costing me 1/3 of the price of the dress.

That is additional 33 % of 480 $ = 158,4 $.


So ladies. Don’t stop shopping, but keep your head in the game. One solutions to this problem may be, to not buy from cross-continent webshops unless you are 100 % sure that the dress will fit, the color be right etc. Or, maybe you are lucky enough to find a webshop that offers free return shipment in the whole world (but that is too expensive for the webshops…). Or, the product might be so exclusive and one-of-a-kind that you don’t care about the additional taxes and fees.


P.S.: Of cause, you can also shop Self-portrait dresses online from other webshops. I only used this as an example, and because the dress is sooo lovely!