tries to clone Shipbutu

Shipbuktu has been going along since 20 November last year, and in spite of a few complaints on this blog about slow service, they are the best way, short of flying there, to get your US-address only goods delivered to NZ.

Today* I notice that they now have competition – has launched.


They use the same trick of a virtual street address at a US logistics facility. Shipbuktu’s is in Los Angeles, while BuyUSA’s is in Boise, Idaho.

Shipbuktu receives your packages, you fill out customs details online, they repackage (and can reduce costs by doing so), and then send them via NZPost courier to NZ. They have shipments Monday to Friday, US time, and Shipbuktu say it takes 5-7 days to arrive after shipping.

BuyUSA do it is bulk – they consolidate your and others packages and freight them once per week to NZ, where they then on-courier the item to you. BuyUSA say that you should get your stuff normally within 7 days of being sent from Boise.

Shipbuktu charges $41 for 500g, $49 for 1Kg, $65.50 for 2Kg, $82 for 3Kg and $296 for 15 Kg.
BuyUSA charges $70 for up to 1 Kg, $77.50 for 2 Kg, $84.50 for 3 Kg and $204 for 15 Kg.

Those prices are each the top end of a range – i.e. the 2 Kg price is the “1-2Kg’ range price.

So it seems that BuyUSA is slower, but cheaper for really heavy stuff (like desktop computers), and Shipbuktu is faster, and cheaper for lighter stuff (like books). That makes sense given their different logistic models.

But BuyUSA are sailing a bit too close to the wind – cloning, it seems, the Shipbuktu faqs – under the fold is the evidence.

Here are some excerpts from BuyUSA’s faqs


How does BuyUSA work?

We offer our members a real US street address that is unique to them. We operate from a facility in Boise Idaho. When members have their items directed to their personal BuyUSA address in Boise, we receipt the goods on arrival, tell our members via e-mail that the item has arrived.



Is it legal to have a US street address? (Back to Top)

Yes it is. However, you should not hold yourself out as living in the USA so as to make yourself appear to be a resident of the USA. BuyUSA is designed to let you shop in the USA rather than get services usually reserved for residents of the USA.

and from Shipbuktu’s faq’s

Is it legal to have a US street address?

Yes it is. However, you should not hold yourself out as living there so as to make yourself appear to be a resident of the USA. Shipbuktu is designed to let you shop in the USA rather than get services usually reserved for residents of the USA.


How does Shipbuktu work?
We offer our members a real US street address that is unique to them. We operate from a facility in Los Angeles and when members have their items directed to their personal Shipbuktu address in Los Angeles, we receipt the goods on arrival, tell our members that the item has arrived and…

That’s a quick way to get a lawyer on you.

*actually yesterday, but WordPress was down so I could write but not post this

Published by Lance Wiggs


15 replies on “ tries to clone Shipbutu”

  1. Actually, Paul Ryan of Shipbuktu is one of the large and famous Ryan clan of lawyers (Kevin Ryan Q.C) so if has copied, they can probably expect a relatively quick claim…… Having said that I suspect that the BuyUsa team will have a problem with consolidated shipments being more than the customs limit meaning all packages inside the consolidated shipment will be subject to GST and maybe duty.


  2. Sorry It seems that a development version of the FAQ’s page was inadvertently published on our site.
    The offending text has now been removed. Thanks Lance for pointing it out.
    Mail/Package forwarding is not a new business concept.There are may websites in the U.S. that have offered this service for many years. Long before Shipbuktu came online. We sought inspiration and researched many of these sites including Shipbuktu.We are as much of a clone of Shipbuktu as they are of or
    The U.S. based services charge high ongoing membership fees and offer delivery only via Express Courier or USPS.
    These are still relatively expensive options for New Zealanders looking to import from the U.S.. The aim was to create a site specifically designed for New Zealanders, like Shipbuktu.But offering the ability for customers to consolidate multiple packages/purchases together into a single shipment to save shipping fees. Making services like magazine subscriptions and the shipping of small and lower value items like CD’s and DVD’s truly affordable.


  3. Hi Liam B

    The BuyUSA FAQ page explains how Duty and GST works and when customs fees will be payable. Our background is 15 years in the international logistics and customs brokerage business in New Zealand. We don’t have uber-brands like DHL or NZ Post doing our back end logistics. But judging by some of the comments on this site it may not be a bad thing. We will keep control of the shipment process in-house with careful oversight of our contractors and carriers.


  4. I’m about 6 weeks into the process of getting an Eames Lounger shipped over on Shipbuktu. They didn’t seemed to be geared up for big items (ha and I was testing them before doing an AirStream trailer!). Hasn’t been a great experience todate but I’m hoping they’ll save it with some customer service when the items arrive on shore. And Shipbuktu, if you’re reading this, a status update would be nice.


  5. I got a status update from Paul Ryan this afternoon. He tells me that NZPost (DHL) has been seriously dropping the ball over the last month, and Paul and Co are on the warpath to get business back on track.
    Watch this space, and hopefully there will be some sort of annoucement on the Shipbuktu website.


  6. BuyUSA – thanks for the comments, good to see your arrival and well done on changing the Faq so quickly.
    One suggestion is to put some indication of your background in international logistics on your website (in the about us section). It was the first place that I looked, as a business like this needs some credibilty to build trust.


  7. I always enjoy reading everyones comments. My experience is that i have used Shibuktu many times and despite having some delays as per my last blog on my initial items, i find the service easy to use.

    On the flipside, i have checked out the BuyUSA site and find it a little ‘scruffy’ and a dear i say amatuerish whereas the shipbuktu site seems to be well presented and that gives me a feeling of trust and professionalism and they seem to have some media background also.

    Although the services seem pretty much the same, lance’s comments on package size is very valid. Also, it seems as though BuyUSA charge a subscription fee?!? not too inviting i must say. However, i will use the buyusa service at some stage to make an acurate assessment.



  8. Hey Rod, prob suggest you don’t use airfreight service like Shipbucktu for bigger items as in my exprience it is always really expensive and most operators hate having bulky items in the hold. anyway, don’t the sbt guys say nothing more than the courier limit of 30kg by weight or size…?


  9. Interesting blog….wished I had read it a week or so again.

    Signed up with Shipbuktu to get a fishfinder from a US store who would not ship interationally, then had to do a GoogleCheckout and “Borrow” a US Phone number to have the USA address registered.

    Using track and trace it seems my parcel that arrived morning USA time had not been receipted into shipbuktu….but there is always tomorrow.

    Good on BuyUSA for the competition, here are my comments being a new user.

    1. BuyUSA – better FAQ’s, they mention GoogleCheckout AND provide a phone number to use with it.
    2. BuyUSA – Cheaper customs clearance ($40 vs $65).
    3. BuyUSA – Consolidation option
    4. Shipbuktu – better website
    5. Shipbuktu – no annual fee…..but $19.95 per year who cares.

    Overall as others have said I will try both. Remember these are light admin sites and there is unlikely to be much customer service (stil wailting on replies from Shipbuktu.

    Also ….can someone tell me why when googling shipbuktu there are all these links to sites without any shipbuktu story….viral marketing?


  10. Thanks for your feedback Alan.
    I have been following this thread for a while.
    Don’t like the title much.But,whatever.I get a few clicks every day to my site.So people must be reading this.
    BuyUSA has been running since September and we have had a consolidation shipment to New Zealand every week since launch. We endeavour to provide a professional service to our customers and answer all e-mail enquiries promptly.
    We have had some minor issues but have kept our customers informed as we work through the resolution.Most people are happy if you just keep them informed.
    The weak U.S. dollar and the lead up to the Christmas season are driving U.S. exports with many airlines experiencing cargo backlogs.The new year should see some slow down though while NZ goes on holiday for a while.


  11. I only just came across BuyUSA and other similar services and I think it is a good idea. I havent used them yet but will be doing so soon enough and I may just stop by then and let you know how things go.


  12. BuyUSA is a good concept, however, you need to be a little careful about one area they market as on – pricing.

    I completed separate online transactions with three merchants in the US, all of which I had sent to my BuyUSA address.

    The total costs to get these goods to me via BUY USA and the local US costs, has been NZD $491-00.

    Had I simply shipped these goods individually from each of the three merchants, directly to me in New Zealand,
    the costs would have been:
    Merchant 1 – USD $88-00
    Merchant 2 – USD $65-41
    Merchant 3 – USD $59-22
    A total of USD $212-63, or approx NZD $269-00.

    That means using BUY USA cost me an additional NZD $222-00, to get the goods to me.

    So be careful, as the real advantage BuyUSA has is that it enables you to purchase goods that merchants won’t export, but in terms of shipping costs, you could be better purchasing direct if you can.


  13. I notice that BuyUSA have recently dropped their prices considerably, and are much cheaper than Shipbuktu (around $10/kg vs $15/kg). They also now charge only $20 for one item of up to a kg, and subscription fee is now only $5/yr.

    I’ve just signed up, but not shipped anything yet. Anybody any comments about recent experiences?


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