Buying from Amazon: What the cheapest way?

Hey everybody!

Yesterday was Prime Day and they had WD Elements Hard drives for an amazing price. I wanted to buy but didn’t because I didn’t want to pay an unknown amount to customs.

Today I stumbled upon preispirat.ch and it says:

  • Amazon und die Post regeln die Zollkonformitäten automatisch ab, sofern die Lieferung direkt in die Schweiz möglich ist (ist normalerweise bei allen Deals hier der Fall)
  • Die deutsche MwSt. wird direkt beim Bezahlvorgang abgezogen und die Verzollung resp. die schweizerische MwSt. miteingerechnet
  • Es fallen für dich keine weiteren Kosten an (auch nicht nachträglich)

This article from NZZ says the same (it’s also linked on preispirat.ch, paywall).

But then on Amazon.de it says that there are fees for the Post (Postvorweisungstaxe, and also “Warenwertzuschlag von 3%” and “Import-Mehrwertsteuer auf Basis des Warenwerts”) and Einfuhrsteuer.

I checked sites like MeinEinkauf.de (they take 17.90 CHF) or grenzpaket.ch (they take much more), and others. So far MeinEinkauf.de seems like the best option, since I’m pretty sure just ordering from Amazon itself would be much more expensive.

Does anybody know a good way to order from amazon as cheaply as possible? How do you order from Amazon?

I’ve had good experiences ordering from Amazon.fr to Vaud.

Unfortunately, quite a lot of articles are not eligible to ship to Switzerland. But for those which are, there’s a clear breakdown of which fees cover shipping & customs. In my experience they were small.

Then I just received the package normally, without any trouble with customs.

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I dislike MeinEinkauf.de they took from a 129 EUR order another 57 EUR or so. I don’t recall why that was the case tho.

My I ask what it was and how much the price was?

I usually order books from amazon since it’s cheaper and you get back the MwSt on top of that. But I haven’t tried ordering electronics, for example, which is what prompted my question, as there was a deal for an external harddrive for 175 euro.

To my (maybe obsolete) knowledge all duty fees are included and automatically processed only if you order through AmazonGlobal. Otherwise you still have to pay the postman, and that triggers the Postvorweisungstaxe, which is quite expensive.

I occasionally buy Lego or camera accessories on Amazon. Way cheaper then anywhere else.

My I ask what it was and how much the price was?

I usually order books from amazon since it’s cheaper and you get back the MwSt on top of that. But I haven’t tried ordering electronics, for example, which is what prompted my question, as there was a deal for an external harddrive for 175 euro.

For example, I got the new fantastically expensive Lego Liebherr excavator for little over 300€, all duty and shipping fees included. Back then, in late 2019, it was way more expensive in Switzerland. Not sure what the price is now.

If things have not changed, then AmazonGlobal includes a fee for the shipment and processing of duty and tax fees. Whereas “regular” shipping is free but if your order is high enough for the Swiss authorities to collect VAT, then they will do so and that will trigger the dreaded “Postvorweisungstaxe”.

This is what Amazon writes:

Einfuhrsteuer (Mwst.) und Geringfügigkeitsgrenze: Die bei Amazon.de gekauften Artikel unterliegen der Einfuhrsteuer. Diese wird jedoch nur dann erhoben, wenn der Steuerbetrag mindestens 5 CHF beträgt (Geringfügigkeitsgrenze).

https://www.amazon.de/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=201910940&qid=1602858747&sr=1-1

Einfuhrsteuer (Mwst.) und Geringfügigkeitsgrenze: Die bei Amazon.de gekauften Artikel unterliegen der Einfuhrsteuer. Diese wird jedoch nur dann erhoben, wenn der Steuerbetrag mindestens 5 CHF beträgt (Geringfügigkeitsgrenze).

This is exactly what confused me. Wouldn’t your Lego sets takes be much more than 5 CHF? Why didn’t you pay anything? What am I misunderstanding?

Because my Lego excavator was shipped with AmazonGlobal and not with regular shipping.

All stamp, tax and VAT and whatever other fees are automatically settled by Amazon if you use AmazonGlobal. But not if you use regular shipping. It always depends on what options you have for shipping and what the final price is. Sometimes shipping with AmazonGlobal might be cheaper than other options, sometimes regular shipping is cheaper, and sometimes you don’t have a choice and Amazon allows only one option.

From what I read, it’s still like that, and Amazon says:

Sie haben die Möglichkeit, je nach Artikel zwischen Standardversand oder AmazonGlobal-Zustellungen zu wählen. Bitte beachten Sie, dass Artikel aus bestimmten Produktgruppen ausschließlich per AmazonGlobal-Zustellung in die Schweiz lieferbar sind.

And Amazon says about AmazonGlobal:

Die anfallenden Importgebühren werden von uns geschätzt, bei Versand der Bestellung erhoben und für die Zustellung hinterlegt

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Thanks for taking to time to answer!

Sounds very interesting. Whatever I put in the cart it never says that there are fees for it.

that’s why I’m still sceptical. I assume since they say it like that, that it is calculated into the price. Black Friday is just around the corner so might as well wait and try it out then :slight_smile:

Click on “Informationen anzeigen”, there where it says “Mehrwertsteuer”; you’ll see that it’s the 7.7% Swiss VAT.

You’ll also see that the price listed is not the same as in your basket, as it still contains German VAT when shown there.

On a side note: what credit card do you use? Sure that paying in CHF is good? Amazon probably won’t make you the best exchange rate.

Excellent remark. Especially since most CC will charge you a fee if you pay abroad, even in CHF.

I use Revolut but I haven’t checked the EUR price in the screenshot above, my bad!

Would you use something different?

As much as I hate Amazon and Bezos for how they treat their workers and the pollution they generate, I buy quite a few things from amazon.de simply because there is no way to buy it here (or for a reasonable price).

My experience has always been this:

  • Free shipping for orders over 39 EUR
  • Only the 7.7% Swiss VAT is charged (no extra), and the parcel is delivered by Swiss Post without any fees (it’s actually shipped from CH)
  • Returns are easy and free: always pick the “doesn’t match website description” and you get either a free prepaid return label to drop it off at Migros (it’s a DHL label), or you have to go to the post office, pay for return shipping, and they’ll credit you the amound your paid (and they use 1 CHF = 1 EUR half the time!)
  • I pay in EUR because when Amazon does the conversion it’s more expensive than with Transferwise (or spending my stash of EUR at N26)
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How do you ship it to a CH based address (for items apart from books)?

For many items, the CH address based shipping is not available. Whenever I change my address to a CH based one, I get an error message saying that this shipping is not available to this address.

Is there some workaround that you are using for this problem? Thanks.

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Only buy items which are marked “Verkauf und Versand durch Amazon.”. Still you will see some exceptions (for liquids etc.), but most items can be shipped without problems.

edit: some items may have several sellers available. In some cases, Amazon may have a higher price than a third party seller. Still, you can opt to choose Amazon and pay 1-2 EUR extra and have the item sold and delivered by Amazon.

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Yeah they barely ship anything to CH, it’s very inconvenient in that respect especially that they don’t let you filter out what doesn’t ship to you; you have to go on the product page to find out (or even worse, it only tells you after checking out, specifying your address etc)

I use this extension: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/amazon-shipping-filter/ that kinda works. But it’s still a major annoyance.

You can filter this out. Select Anbieter “amazon.de”. You’ll only get offers from Amazon and the vast majority will ship to Switzerland.

image

For some reason the Anbieter filter is not always available, but then you can select to filter only offers available for Amazon Prime and this works almost as good.

image

Get some practice and you’ll figure it out. For years, I’ve been buying almost exclusively from Amazon.

I wouldn’t say that the vast majority do ship here. I found it to be the opposite. But yes, buying from Amazon (I choose the filter for free shipping above X EUR, achieves the same thing) makes shipping and returns easier than dealing with third parties.

If you have a chance, let the stuff deliver to Germany (border), pick it up, stamp it (VAT) and take it over the border to Switzerland. If it is below the free limit CHF300.-, you don’t pay the Swiss VAT. Once you have a bundle of German Amazon VAT bills, send it back to Amazon to get the German VAT (19%) back. This works fine but the sender has to be Amazon itself and not a market seller on their platform.

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