As you may have figured out by now, online auctions kick ass. However, being a Canadian bidding on American items in American dollars can lead to inflated costs, especially with a U.S. dollar costing $1.50 these days (it may not be worth fuck all, but at least it's colourful!).
It is my belief that the actual postage, as well as packaging costs, if any, should be known in advance before the transaction is completed.
For instance, I have received several compact discs from the United States, with postage ranging from $1.74 to $6.00 (for USPS Priority Mail). The guy who sent me the CD via Priority Mail and paid $6.00 had actually quoted me $2.50 to ship to Canada, and if he actually paid $6.00 to ship the item, I feel kind of guilty, because the actual cost of the item wasn't even $6.00.
It is also my belief that if the shipping costs more than the item, that it just isn't worth the bother (unless it's an incredible deal).
However, in the heat of the moment when you're bidding on that jumbo size plaque mounted Salvador Dali print, people don't tend to think of the implications of SHIPPING.
I once bought a large item for $9.00, on which the shipping was almost $15.00. Although it was a must-have item, I may have held off or paid a bit more for the item from someone located within Canada (even though the seller is an excellent guy and we still correspond), had I known the shipping costs associated with the item.
Most eBay auctions state that the buyer pay actual shipping charges. Here are some links for you to find out what these charges might be:
CANADA POST - they offer several methods of delivering packages, outlined in PARCEL RATES TO THE U.S.A. and PARCEL RATES WITHIN CANADA. Keep in mind that many items can be shipped via SMALL PACKET rates if they are under 1 kg (that's 2.2046 pounds, for you American folks).
**see below for more on SMALL PACKET
eBay also has a community forum that covers issues of PACKAGING AND SHIPPING. I found it to be quite informative, and it also proves that there are a lot of concerns about shipping, and some informative commentary that actually changed the tone of this page to a more informative one.
Some other points to remember:
Shipping charges may also include shipping packaging. Although some people can be creative and thrifty when it comes to packaging, others may prefer to go out and buy a $3.00 box to ensure your item is protected and arrives in good condition.
**Buyers and sellers should determine the preferred method of shipping. Many American sellers prefer PRIORITY MAIL over SMALL PACKET for the sole reason that with PRIORITY MAIL, the shipping packaging is provided. However, many eBay sellers are also eBay buyers, and can appreciate the importance of keeping shipping fees low.
In closing, it all depends on what the buyer and seller agree to.