Buying on eBay from Mauritius

Update: November 2012

Following the new measures announced in the budget 2013, limits for online purchases have been raised. For example, you don’t need a customs broker unless your item is valued over Rs30, 000. Also, new measures for calculation of VAT and Duty. Read more in this post here.

Update: 29th June 2011

I have an updated post about some measures being strictly taken into consideration at the Customs office. Please make sure that you also read the new article as well as this one.  Comments section on this article is closed. Please ask any questions on the new post.

You can read it here : http://www.yashvinblogs.com/ebay-mauritius-2/

Now, here goes the article :
I finally came up with this post since I have been asked practically the same questions for the last few days! Most of the people landed on my D5000 blog post in which I describe my first experience with eBay. So, this post will go mainly to Mauritians wishing to purchase something on ebay, some sort of eBay purchasing guide :P

Secure Payment

That’s the main concern of most…

  • Be re-assured, payment on ebay is totally secure!
  • You need to have a paypal account, linked with your credit card *yeah, u need one*.
    When you create your paypal account, you need to “connect” your credit card to that paypal account. Once set up, paypal will carry out a tiny transaction to check if you are actually authorized to use that card. Once this transaction has been done, you need to check your credit card statement (either through an ATM or internet banking) and type the transaction code on paypal so as to get your credit card and paypal linked together.
  • Whenever you buy something on ebay using paypal, you will be required to enter your paypal login and confirm before the transaction is carried out. All of these go over a secure SSL line, no need to worry…

Note : Paypal accounts in Mauritius CANNOT receive money, not yet, neither from other persons nor through “donations” done on web sites.

What if my item never reaches me?

eBay even thought of this possibility… That’s why the site is one of the most reliable places to do your online shopping.

eBay Buyer Protection, everything is in the name…

In case you don’t receive the advertised item or the item does not reach you, the first thing you should to is : Contact the seller.
The item may have been delayed somewhere. Most sellers with whom I dealt were great, helping as much as possible. Some may even propose to send another item meanwhile or reimburse you. If ever the seller does not revert back to you, eBay advises you to open a case on the Resolution Center. This will enable you to recover your full purchase, including the shipping cost.

However, always be sure that the item provides eBay Buyer Protection, displayed on the item’s page. Also, it may be advisable to insure your costly item for a few dollars, usually offered by Seller during the purchase.

Finding the right item

eBay contains thousands of items on sale through bidding or “buy now”. So, it might be a bit difficult for you to browse the virtual stores without having the slightest idea about what you wanna buy. For your first purchase, let’s simplify things, we will be talking about “Buy now” items only, no bidding…

Do you really have a $2000 budget? So, as we say in creole : “Pas faire gros liziers!”

Set the minimum/maximum amount you are ready to spend!

IMHO, one of the best features of ebay remains the search engine driving the site. It is free, do try it out!

It is useless spending time browsing items which cannot be shipped to Mauritius. Make sure that the results listed are available to Mauritius by selecting “Mauritius” in the advanced search options.

Finding the right seller…

Sellers on ebay rely a lot on feedback, positive ones. No one wants to deal with a seller with loads of negative feedback. On the other hand, top rated sellers are the ones usually offering a better service, fast shipping etc… And everyone wants to deal with those “top rated” eBay sellers, marked as below :

If you wanna find out negative feedback from a particular seller, you can use third party web sites to check this out. Head over to http://toolhaus.org/ and type in the seller name :

This is one of the best tools to check out more info about a seller. As you can see, there was only 34 negative feedback and 5898 positive ones registered over the last month. Now up to you to read the negative ones to see if they are really bad or the buyers were simply ‘stupid’. btw, I highly recommend CameraAuctions for your purchases. My D5000 and SB 600 flash both come from that shop :-)
Hi to the great people out there!

Shipping and tracking

I have been using ebay for less than 1year, purchasing items starting as low as $1 up to the most expensive one at $700…. The items have been shipped from different countries, including US, UK, Hong Kong and China.

Most of the US sellers out there use USPS (United States Postal Service) to ship the items. The commonly shipping methods available are :

  • USPS Express Mail - See details in above screenshot
    ULTRA FAST and Costly but takes only 3-5 days to travel to Mauritius
  • USPS First Class Mail
  • USPS Priority Mail

You can get more info about the 2 last shipping here. The items usually take 2-3 weeks to reach the island.

USPS Tracking page : http://www.usps.com/shipping/trackandconfirm.htm

Hong Kong post.

While purchasing my Tamron 70-300mm, I paid nearly $50 dollars for shipping. pff. Nevertheless, the parcel took over 3 weeks to reach Mauritius. At that price, it was much worthy to purchase the item from the US and pay for an USPS Express Mail for the same price!

Hong Kong post tracking page : http://app3.hongkongpost.com/CGI/mt/enquiry.jsp

And China?

lol, I don’t even worry about items shipped from there… It usually takes 4-6 weeks, no need to hurry :P

Free Shipping

It is sometimes tempting to look for items marked with “Free Shipping”… However, the item might take 3-5 weeks to reach you and no tracking is available for these “free shipping” items. So, be patient!

Collecting your parcel

Yay! You finally got a card from your postman, asking you to come over to the post office… Take your ID card and run to the nearest post office asap!

Depending on the type of item/price/size, it may be collected from the post office directly. In that case, just sign the necessary papers before going away with your parcel.

Now, if your parcel/item is quite bulky/expensive/important, the postmaster will handle you a card, which needs to be shown at the Parcel Office of Port Louis. All (if not most) personal purchases collected there will be charged a vat amount of 15%.

VAT Calculation :

Given that you have purchased the item for personal use and below Rs10,000 Rs 30, 000 (Read this updated post), you will be charged a vat amount of 15% on (The value of your purchase – Rs1000). Example : Your item costs Rs8000, you will be charged 15% vat on Rs7000 only.

Hence, do not forget to add the VAT amount in your estimations before buying an item.

Post office delivery charges

I do not know the exact amount, but you may be charged around Rs50-100. Unfortunately, I have no additional info on this part. I just paid it quietly :P

Purchases over Rs30,000 – Critical!

All items valued above Rs10,000 Rs30, 000 (Read this updated post) cannot be cleared out of the customs without hiring the service of a “Customs Broker”, a.k.a “Courtier Maritime”. These persons will thus be representing you and carrying out the necessary paper works so that you can get your item out of the customs. They will need some of your personal details to register you at the Mauritius Revenue Authority as an “importer”. Their fees might vary. I paid Rs1, 400 to the one I hired for my camera.

So, before confirming your purchase of over Rs10000 Rs30,000 , make sure that you add the custom’s broker fee to the purchase’ total amount.

Duty on certain items

No duty is applicable to camera equipment. However, items such as Bags have a duty of 30%!

So, if you bag costs Rs3000 on ebay, duties would be calculated on (3000-1000) = Rs2000. Make sure you add (30% + 15%) = 45%, which roughly comes around Rs3900… A few weeks ago, the MRA officer advised me to check the MRA web site for further details about the duty on applicable items. Need to find that list!

Some last words…

We are no more living in a remote island and the advances in technology are bridging the little gap which still exists. Online payments are becoming part of our everyday life, unlike some years ago. The price difference is indeed huge, I had the opportunity to compare prices of DSLR cameras a few months ago.

Shopping online through eBay might be the only solution to Mauritians if they need to access items either not available to Mauritius yet or simply, items at a more reasonable price. From what I learnt, transactions on Amazon and Google Checkout are not possible for us yet, but I am confident that in a few years time, we won’t really feel that we are thousand of kms away from the biggest stores of the world…

I end this long post with these words and hope that the content here really helped you to understand some basic things about eBay, especially if you are looking forward to your first purchase from within the paradise island of Mark Twain…

And finally, don’t forget that there’s a newer article (November 2012) with update info about the limits, etc. Read it here : http://www.yashvinblogs.com/ebay-mauritius-3/ 

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