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Hi there and welcome to the Forum.
I can't help on what it's like to get German models in the US. I am aware of Reynaulds as they crop up in a lot of Google searches!
I am located in the UK, so my experience of buying direct from Germany may help, especially as the UK is not longer in the EU single market.

The process is as follows
  • You fill your shopping basket with goods which are priced in Euros.
  • The price includes German VAT (sales tax) which is about 19%.
  • At the checkout, the German VAT is removed.
  • A probably hefty shipping charge will be applied.
  • You pay in Euros - either by credit card or using or a money transfer service where you get an account which can send to IBAN type numbers.
  • Your shipment arrives in the US and enters customs for clearance.
  • US customs will apply import duties, sales taxes or whatever
  • The shipping agent or their local representative, will charge a fee for their services in clearing customs.
  • Once you've paid the shipping agent, the goods are delivered.

Any importer of German model railway gear will pay the same duties and apply the same sales taxes that you pay, so the extra cost to you is the shipping charge from Germany, the clearance charges, exchange rate fees.

Your potential gain from buying direct is:
* The main reason for me is a much wider range of goods, some goods which are not stocked at all and earlier access to new items.

* You get a US dollar / Euro exchange rate at the time you pay. Remember to factor in any exchange rate fee charge. An importer may have to charge a bit more to protect themselves from a sudden change in the exchange rate so it may actually balance out. An easy way to check is to compare the price of an item - remember to include US Sales taxes! - in US and Euros. Work out the exchange rate on that item and then look at what you'd get at a money exchange service.

After sales service becomes harder with distance but it's not impossible.

I hope this helps.

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