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Author Topic: USPS out to kill hobby shipping  (Read 6482 times)
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They can still conduct a trace for Small Flat rate boxes... and I have SFR boxes return to me when they can't deliver it to the recipient. With First Class packages, I think it just goes to the other country's dead mail section and I don't ever see it back again.

That's been my experience.
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I'm not sure how you were able to do a trace on an Small Flat Rate (the only way possible is if you fill out the wrong customs form).  Basically if your tracking number starts with LJ or LC (SFR and First Class International use the same customs form) then it's not an actual tracking number but instead a Customs form number which is not scanned anymore once it leaves US soil.  If your tracking number starts with CP or CJ then you're using a different customs form designed for Medium Flat and up (along with weight based flat rate) and these numbers will continue to track through to the destination country and also provide a trace option.  Not trying to argue or anything but I've been burned by this a couple of times already and I don't want to see anyone else fall into the same trap.  I wish the PO did a better job advertising the restrictions with SFR but you have to really look at the fine print on their website to see it.
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No, not trying to start anything here smiley

Happens rarely, maybe 2-3x a year, a customer would fail to receive their package even after 4 weeks, so I call up USPS on the phone, asking them help in tracking the package. They'll give the usual answer... blah blah they don't track once it leaves the US, but I'll be insistent and then they'll ask me if I want to initiate or start a trace, they explained they'll ask the other country for information re: status of package. They said they'll send me a letter via postal mail of their findings, and what the receiving country said. 

Just like clockwork, within a few days my waiting customer will email me telling me they got the package. Coincidence? Maybe... or maybe the call from USPS made the other country's customs work faster? Who knows... I don't care at this point, my customer got the package.

Or after a few weeks, I'll get a mail from USPS saying they and the receiving country can't find the package, blah blah blah. So I consider it a loss. But after a month or two, I'll get the my package with a "Return to Sender/Undeliverable" stamp.  Either way, I'm happy. I got the contents of the package back and suffered no loss. (just wasted time).

UPS and Fedex for International shipping is another whole ball of wax. I rarely use them and avoid them as much as possible for International shipments.
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What I don't understand is the whining about "let's privatize it all" - unless I selected the wrong options, comparing a flat rate box from USPS vs FedEx vs UPS, shipped internationally (I went with Phoenix, AZ to Tokyo, Japan) - USPS won hands down, being about a third of what the other two were. Now, I can see being upset with the hike on it's suddenness and being unannounced, but I would bet if the USPS was dismantled or privatized, the costs to ship a package would be greater - not less.

Finally, how much do you think it would cost to have a letter delivered to some areas of the country where it can only be helicoptered or otherwise brought in currently, which the USPS does routinely? Heck, they probably wouldn't deliver it at all - I guess those people in such remote areas can all just go ---- themselves, huh?

There's also this little matter:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_One_of_the_United_States_Constitution#Section_8:_Powers_of_Congress
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Their pension costs are out of control. That's what's killing them.

The USPS pays into the FERS (Federal Employee Retirement System) like all federal agencies and USPS employees will receive retirement benefits identical to all other federal employees (*some exceptions, of course). Unlike other federal agencies, however, they're being forced to pay in at a higher rate, or more generally they're being required to generate a surplus in their retirement fund because the OPM (Office of Personnel Management, which manages FERS) has determined that the USPS is at risk of collapsing.

I also agree with cr0sh; if you dismantle the USPS it will just be replaced by other services (FedEx, UPS, etc.) at a higher cost.
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if you dismantle the USPS it will just be replaced by other services (FedEx, UPS, etc.) at a higher cost.

Cost is just one of many factors evaluated for delivery service. I for one don't mind paying more, if usps can provide certainty of service.

I guess that's why I don't use usps.
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I haven't used anything but USPS, since shipping rates for small volume customers are insane with UPS/FedEx. A box that costs $5 shipping anywhere in the US, costs $35 with UPS and $40 with FedEx, and the shipping time is longer. International shipping for a medium box was $49 with USPS, it was $150 with UPS and $190 with FedEx. Unless there is some trick I am missing.
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I haven't used anything but USPS, since shipping rates for small volume customers are insane with UPS/FedEx. A box that costs $5 shipping anywhere in the US, costs $35 with UPS and $40 with FedEx, and the shipping time is longer. International shipping for a medium box was $49 with USPS, it was $150 with UPS and $190 with FedEx. Unless there is some trick I am missing.

Glad to see lots of us are doing our parts to spread out arduino stuff around the country and globe. I'm also doing USPS alone unless customers provide their shipping labels or account numbers for other carriers.

What I wish USPS would have online:
Customs form for international first class. Load my address automatically.
Domestic first class stamp purchase.
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liudr,
USPS does have customs forms, with address book. My wife uses that feature a lot for my mailings.
Fills out forms, pre-pays, can even arrange for at-home pickup. If dropped at the actual Post Office, all they have to do is scan the barcode.
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liudr,
USPS does have customs forms, with address book. My wife uses that feature a lot for my mailings.
Fills out forms, pre-pays, can even arrange for at-home pickup. If dropped at the actual Post Office, all they have to do is scan the barcode.

Is it priority or international first class? I'm shipping first class and can't find electronic way to fill forms or pay.
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Hmm, I don't know.  I'll have to ask her when I get home. Just shipped a couple things to Germany, that's how we found out rates went from $17 to $24.
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liudr,
USPS does have customs forms, with address book. My wife uses that feature a lot for my mailings.
Fills out forms, pre-pays, can even arrange for at-home pickup. If dropped at the actual Post Office, all they have to do is scan the barcode.

Is it priority or international first class? I'm shipping first class and can't find electronic way to fill forms or pay.

I have filled out the customs forms online, but I always ship priority mail.
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I would switch to something like Stamps.com and send everything International First Class Mail and insure the package.  Through the Post Office, you can't insure International First Class but through Stamps.com you can.  The cost is based off item price and is usually only a few bucks.  So you can now ship something overseas, insured for usually around 7 bucks. 

I have always wondered about the insurance thing and if it is a good deal for small businesses.  When you are shipping items less than a couple hundred bucks, does insurance make any damn sense in the long run, assuming you are sending at least a few hundred packages a year?  The insurance isn't there for the insurance company to lose money.  It works in their favor.  Wouldn't self-insurance work in your favor too?  Charge the customer 1% for "insurance".  Put it in a jar (either literally or figuratively).  Compare your losses to your insurance gains.  I bet it works in your favor.  You can certainly check it against past results of you track that data.  Insurance makes sense for low-probability large losses to spread that risk.  It doesn't usually make sense for relatively common but small losses.

P.S.  Don't take insurance in blackjack either.
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I haven't used anything but USPS, since shipping rates for small volume customers are insane with UPS/FedEx. A box that costs $5 shipping anywhere in the US, costs $35 with UPS and $40 with FedEx, and the shipping time is longer. International shipping for a medium box was $49 with USPS, it was $150 with UPS and $190 with FedEx. Unless there is some trick I am missing.

Isn't that the truth, at least for domestic.   Here are rates from Digikey to where I am in Illinois.  First Class or Priority always takes 48 hours.  UPS and FedEx standard services takes 3-4 days and costs FOUR TIMES as much as first class and more than twice as much as priority mail.  A lot of my orders actually use the 8 oz shipping rate.  UPS and FedEx start making sense when the package gets heavy, but ICs are small and light.  A big assortment of resistors or caps might be a pound.





* DigikeyShipping.png (78.14 KB, 1114x661 - viewed 93 times.)
« Last Edit: January 31, 2013, 01:55:35 pm by JoeN » Logged

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