Posts categorized “Shipping and Handling”.

Problem Sale What Would You Do?

Here is a not uncommon sales problem, one which could be a business killer on eBay. Elsewhere, not so much, just time consuming and annoying.

The problem

The story begins with a ho hum normal transaction. A $10 item is sold and paid for with Google Checkout. Shipping is included in the price, item is shipped within 24 hours, postage cost $1.64

Ten days later USPS returns the item as undeliverable.

Seller sends buyer a friendly email at the address provided by Google Checkout requesting confirmation of the shipping address, including the item description, venue and transaction date, explaining the package has been returned as undeliverable. Zero response from buyer.

48 hours later seller contacts buyer through the venue message system duplicating the first email and telling her that there has been no response from the Google Checkout email address.

48 hours later an email from the buyer arrives. A confused and confusing email.

“Adress  (redacted) Ihave already recevied fabric so should be in records   thanks”

  • Item sold was not fabric
  • It hasn’t been received, it is back where it started from 15 days earlier
  • The different address provided in the reply was in an abbreviated format only comprehensible to the buyer. USPS is quite definite, it is also undeliverable.
  • The telephone number on record at Google Checkout has no voice mail and is unanswered.
  • Cost of sale to date: $2.65 fees and postage, plus lots of time.

Possible solutions

  1. Send invoice for postage, ask for deliverable address, explain why there is a charge, use short words, big font.
  2. Refund purchase price less fees and postage. This may upset the customer.
  3. The bury head in sand gambit. Wait until buyer contacts to find out why item never arrived, then start over.

What would you do?

Y’all come back!

Definitive Guide to USPS 2012 Rate Increase

Postal rate increases for 2012 are coming January 22nd. See my post about the new 2012 Priority rates here.

This year the increase is not going to be all bad news for online sellers because USPS is doing some good things with both the Regional Rate Priority service they introduced in 2011 and discounts for shippers who use internet postage.

This is a plug:

If you are a micro-seller and not already subscribing to endicia (basic rate $9.95 month for PC higher for Mac) you may wish to rethink that policy. The savings of time, convenience and cash will be considerable as shown in the charts below. Yes, you can get the same postal rates using for $15.99 a month (60% more) plus the cost of your special labels for NetStamps, or ship packages paying for each batch at Click N Ship, but you will not have:

  • a customer database on your computer complete with space for phone numbers and emails
  • a printable shipping log
  • a complete record of all your postage costs for the year in one place
  • access to a variety of insurance options billed monthly
  • downloadable updates before you need them

First Class Commercial Rates vs Retail

As of January 22 USPS First-Class Parcel service will be split into two separate classes: First-Class Package Service® and First-Class Mail Parcel®. The First-Class Package Service offers commercial discounted rates, but requires an integrated postage label and the special Intelligent Mail parcel barcode (iMpb) introduced last year.

2012 commercial price increase is 8c per piece in all weight tranches except the heaviest, 13oz, which is a 2c increase. Delivery confirmation charge is now included for First-Class Package Service a savings of 19c (11c net). Click the small image to get the bigger one.

If you are not already using Priority Regional Flat Rate, why not?

I am absolutely amazed to see how few sellers are using Regional Rate, to clarify that, not one seller I have bought from since the service was introduced in 2011. Do you actually enjoy paying more than necessary? Regional Flat Rate is basically the same service as regular flat rate but priced and designed for commercial shippers, us.

  • If it fits it ships, but with weight limitations
  • some of the discounts are over 50%, highest savings on heavier items going short distances but still cheaper than regular Flat Rate to Zone 8, Alaska and Hawaii.
  • order boxes online delivered to you free of any charge
  • schedule free pick up by your regular mail carrier
  • no minimum for carrier pick up, one box is fine

You should note three things:

  1. You must use the Priority Regional Flat Rate boxes
  2. These boxes are not available at your local Post Office but must be ordered online.
  3. If you take one to the Post Office without an online printed label you will be charged $0.75c extra.

The chart below shows a comparison of box sizes with the current (pre 2012 increase) rates. I will update it as soon as exact information becomes available. Best estimates are that Box C, which will be available for order January 22nd, will cost an ‘average price’ of $30, figure average as Zone 5 from you. Click the small image to get the bigger one.

Determining Zones

You can download a USPS Zone Chart for your website here. Just input the first three digits of your zip code.

Redirection of Mail

I have saved the best news for last. If you get scammed you will be able to use the new Package Intercept service to get your package back before it is delivered. The service is available for any Domestic Express Mail, Priority Mail, First-Class Mail, First-Class Package Service, Parcel Select, and Package Services, letter, flat, or parcel measuring not more than 108 inches in length and girth combined, with a tracking barcode. There is a fee and I believe you may also have to pay the return postage at the same rate you paid outbound. Even so, it is better than losing the package and the payment.

USPS says

“Retail and commercial customers may request Package Intercept by submitting PS Form 1509, Application for Package Intercept, at the Post Office of mailing along with valid photo identification. Intercepted mailpieces are only redirected to sender.”

Y’all come back for the (much shorter) updates in Part 2!

Priority Postal Rate Increases January 22, 2012

The United States Postal Service has applied to increase rates for Priority and Express Mail effective January 22nd 2012. Shippers have become accustomed to those rates going up in mid-April so the announcement is an unwelcome surprise. Current USPS rates can be seen here.

New rates:

  • Flat Rate Priority mail, envelope, $5.15
  • Flat Rate Priority mail, legal envelope, $5.30
  • Flat Rate Priority mail, padded envelope, $5.30
  • Flat Rate Priority mail, small, $5.35.
  • Flat Rate Priority mail, medium, $11.35.
  • Flat Rate Priority mail, large, $15.45
  • Large APO/FPO/DPO box, $13.45
  • Flat Rate Overnight Express letters will increase to $18.95 from $13.25

There are discounts for online purchase and for shippers who are get commercial base pricing through services such as those discounts will amount to approximately 6.8% .

New shipping options coming soon

A new Flat Rate Overnight Express box will be introduced, $39.95 for up to #70.

A new, larger Priority Regional Rate Box C, measuring 12” x 12” x 15” will be added to the existing A & B sizes. Shippers should note, if any of the three Regional Rate Boxes is presented at the Post Office without a prepaid label, a 75-cent additional charge will be applied.

The new prices reflect an overall increase of roughly 4.6 percent, Priority is going up an average 3.1 percent and Express Mail prices increasing an average 3.3 percent. They are in addition to a previously announced 1-cent increase in first-class mail to 45 cents, also planned for Jan. 22.

The independent Postal Regulatory Commission will review the proposed increases before they take effect.

Y’all come back!


Happy New Year 2012 Shipping Increases

Fed-Ex announced increases effective January 2nd 2012

“FedEx Express will increase shipping rates by a net average of 3.9% for U.S. domestic, U.S. export and U.S. import services effective January 2, 2012. The full average rate increase of 5.9% will be partially offset by adjusting the fuel price threshold at which the fuel surcharge begins, reducing the fuel surcharge by two percentage points. The FedEx Ground and FedEx SmartPost pricing changes for 2012 will be announced later this year. FedEx Freight implemented a 6.75% general rate increase on September 6, 2011.”

Last January FedEx raised prices on Ground, Home Delivery® and SmartPost ® by a net average 4.9% partially offset by a decrease in fuel surcharges. This paid off in a 33% net income increase year over year (FedEx accounting year runs June 1st to May 31st)

UPS which reported a 5.1% profit increase in the most recent quarter followed in lockstep this week.

“United Parcel Service, Inc. announced Friday a net increase of 4.9 percent each for 2012 for its ground packages and on all air express and U.S. origin international shipments. The change in rates also includes a 1 to 2 percentage point reduction to the fuel surcharge. The company noted that the new rates will be effective from January 2, 2012.

The increase for ground shipment rates are based on a 5.9 percent rise in the base rate, less a 1 percent reduction to the fuel surcharge, while the hike in air express and international shipment rates originating in the U.S. is based on a 6.9 percent increase in the base rate, less a 2 percent reduction to the air and international services fuel surcharge.”

USPS filed price changes with US regulators in October, the price of a basic stamp for 1-oz letters will go up one cent while additional ounces remain unchanged at 20c. International letters will rise by 5c (to 85c) to Mexico or Canada and 7c (to $1.05) to other destinations. USPS said the overall average for its price increase would remain under the 2.1% rate of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index.

In previous years we have had Priority and Parcel rate increases announced in April.

I have pretty much held the line on shipping increases for the last three years but something has gotta give. A serious look at pricing and marketing strategy pertaining to free shipping will occur after the holidays.

Y’all come back!