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The Curious State of USPS Shipping


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Something has gone haywire with pricing at USPS.  Maybe you've noticed it too.

On ebay, my bigger items (bigger in size and weight) have not sold.  I've had a lot of movement on small items.  I never really thought about it until yesterday, when someone bought a pong machine and shipping came in as $71 from Oregon to South Carolina using USPS Priority Mail!  The box wasn't oversized, and weighed 4.5 lbs.  WTH?  I checked usps.com to see if that was accurate, and it was. 

This is not normal.  Something like that just a few years ago would have been $20 or so for the same shipping. 

I checked other services.  USPS Ground and FedEx Home were about $25. 

The thing is, as a seller, I have no way to see this info ahead of time (what would shipping be to an east coast buyer?)  I suppose I could ask someone I know that lives over there to check my listings for me.    Does anyone have any ideas?  I don't want to make this political, so please no railing against this or that.  I'm just looking for solutions and alternatives.

In the meantime, I've switched my last few "big" items to use UPS Ground, which I've never used before. 

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This is an excellent topic @RickR!


6 minutes ago, RickR said:

Maybe you've noticed it too.

I've been doing a lot of eBay this past year, and I have noticed the same thing. It's not just the price increases, it's the inconsistency at times.



7 minutes ago, RickR said:

In the meantime, I've switched my last few "big" items to use UPS Ground, which I've never used before. 

I've done the same thing! Larger packages, say most anything that does not fit inside of a Flat Rate USPS Box, or any box larger than 18" x 18" I now choose to ship via UPS Ground. UPS was created with these parcel-sized boxes in mind, whereas USPS is first and foremost build around delivering letters.

Once upon a time I used FedEx almost exclusively. Those of you who received seasonal Atari I/O buttons may remember them being delivered in a FedEx mailer.

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I first noticed this within the first year I started to offer my services to the public. I got burned pretty badly on shipping a console back because when I first started, I including shipping in my pricing. When an Intellivision ended up costing me half of what the actual charges for the service did, I knew I couldn't keep doing it. From there I've always had to make return shipping be the only extra to charge that I can't quote up front because I have no way of knowing what it will be exactly. Sure, you can get quotes from USPS and the like, but that isn't always accurate and in the case of FedEX...it really isn't accurate. There is a reason I don't really like using FedEX and it has to do with their very inconsistent shipping charges.

However, in the past 2 years I've been going through PayPal for all my shipping. It was nice at first because I could select UPS or USPS and the pricing was very reasonable! Back in Oct of this year, PayPal switched to a new 3rd party shipper called ShipStation and they ONLY offer USPS for shipping. The good news is that the rates haven't really gotten crazy for me since this happened. In fact, I've questioned the last 2 or 3 I've sent back because the shipping was much less than I expected it to be and have experienced in the past. But.. those consoles made it home without issue and without any CODs in the process so... who knows?

So for now, I don't have any real complaints about USPS shipping when done through PayPal. If you go to an actual PO to ship something, it will always...ALWAYS cost more and I don't understand why that is but it does. 

Now, regarding FedEX... ugh. Okay so I have a FedEX account and have used it a few times. But there has been at least twice where I got shipping information together to get a quote and then went to the local Kinko's just down the street to ship something off. They look up the information and inform me that the online pricing isn't accurate and the cost is more than I initially paid for. The most extreme example of this was an item that I got quoted about $18 to ship online and got setup, and then when I took it to Kinko's and they scanned and looked it up, they informed me it should actually have been about $32..and not the $18. I was like..WTH? That isn't what is says online. They logged in..did the same thing I did and came up with the same $18 quote..and told me. It isn't correct... it is $32 sorry. I took the package back, had to file a refund request online (Took a month for that btw), and ended up shipping it UPS instead. I only went with FedEX initiall because my client insisted on it. When I told them what happened with the shipping rates they understood and were okay with UPS in the end. The second time if happened was the same scenario but for different amounts but just as crazy. So yeah I'm very hesitant to use FedEX these days.

UPS is okay in that I can get all the details together and pay for it ahead of time. However, the payment made isn't always exactly what it will be? Yeah.. see turns out the online estimate is just that an estimate and so what I've pre-paid ahead of time isn't known exactly until the item is delivered. So in those instances I've ended up sometimes paying a few bucks more and in one instance got like $2 refunded back. So I'm not a fan of services that I don't know exactly what that shipping should be since it makes it tough to know what to charge my clients for that return shipping. I can only go off what I'm quoted and paid for online and hope it comes out pretty close in the end.

BTW... the worst expense I've had to charge a client for return shipping was a 5200. The owner lived on an island in Maine. Well, the client took it to an actual PO to have shipped to me and it cost them about $25 to do that. However, when I went to setup the return shipping, it was nearly $60 because it now had to be delivered to their house on the island?! And that cost over 2x as much for the return trip?! The client paid it, but they have never sought my services again because of this and I can't blame them. They felt like they were mislead on the shipping because I (assumed) the return shipping would be about the same as it cost for them to send it. And in most cases that is true and it usually costs me even less by a few bucks. But in this case I had NO way of knowing that they lived on an island community and that island didn't have a local PO. 

For the record, most of my clients do NOT tell me their shipping address until after they have sent me their consoles at which point I see it on the return label on the box. I guess they don't feel secure enough to provide that to me beforehand?


See what I'm up to over at the Ivory Tower Collections: http://www.youtube.com/ivorytowercollections


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