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Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun Mar 3 2013 16:52:30

USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers

By: Ina Steiner
Sponsored Link
A reader brought an interesting issue to my attention that's a result of the US Postal Service changes to Parcel Post that went into effect in January.

"As most of your readers know, the USPS has changed the name of Parcel Post to Standard Post if dropped off at the Post Office. If using a service like stamps.com they changed the name to Parcel Select.

"I was looking up a rate for a customer of mine for a 43 pound box going from a zip code in Missouri to a zip code in Maine on the USPS.com website. I looked up the rate for Standard Post and the rate was $34.64. I then went to print the label through stamps.com and the price I was being charged for Parcel Select same service different name was $38.04. Stamps.com was charging me $3.40 more than the Post Office would charge me if I dropped the box off at the counter."


The problem occurs because the USPS doesn't allow online postage providers to offer Standard Post - but they can offer what in many cases is a better alternative, Parcel Select.

However, once you get up to about 27 - 28 pounds, you'll want to start comparing Parcel Post and Standard Post to see which is cheaper, keeping in mind that you'll have to purchase Standard Post at your local post office.

This reader felt the online postage providers are not doing a good job of educating online sellers about this issue: "My point is, before the rate increase I would never spend one dime more printing any label on stamps.com than taking it to the Post Office - it was always cheaper or the same price to print it through stamps.com. That is no longer the case, and I am sure stamps.com has many customers who print many package labels Parcel Select now who think they are paying the same price as the Post Office would charge if they took it directly to the counter."

I'd be interested to know if other readers feel the same way. He feels online-postage customers "should decide for themselves if they want to pay extra on stamps.com or drive their 1 or 100 packages to the Post Office to save money."

I've already written about a related problem at eBay, which offers Parcel Select in its shipping calculator, but doesn't support Parcel Select through its shipping-label program. (It's supposed to become available to eBay sellers sometime this month.)

Are there other quirks you've discovered with the recent USPS changes? Feel free to share your shipping woes along with your tips for coping. And remember to heed this seller's advice about shipping heavier packages - those dollars can really add up!



Comments (28) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

Perminate Link for USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers   USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers
This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
       Web Site
Sun Mar 3 18:19:59 2013
Ah well, everybody’s getting desperate for revenue—including the post office. Still, even though the online providers of “stamps” will keep most/all of any discount for themselves, the online price should never be greater as no costly human resources are wasted by the PO providing such service. So, something strange is going on here with this particular fee being cheaper at the PO; maybe it is simply a “glitch”; maybe the PO is adopting the eBay strategy of targeting a “reduction” (or at least a no increase) of fees to the little people who are prepared to stand in the queue at the PO—who knows? Maybe the PO should try another of eBay’s disingenuous strategies: free postage to selected sellers, and if the parcel is successfully delivered, collect the final fee from the receiver—the way the majority of mail was sent in the US prior to 1856 … LOL

eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking ... http://bit.ly/11F2eas
Perminate Link for USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers   USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers
by: bitbybit This user has validated their user name.
       
Sun Mar 3 23:39:44 2013
Anything heavy like that would best be shipped at a much better rate with Fedex. IMO it is quicker, includes insurance up to $100, and tracking. It may not be available in certain locations or convenient to sellers but just a suggestion.
Perminate Link for USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers   USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers
by: comet This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Mar 4 01:48:38 2013
Sometimes the UPS and FEDEX services are cheaper for larger packages but not always a viable alternative.  I don't offer FEDEX unless I contact the buyer directly and make sure they don't mind waiting until I am going to be in a FEDEX drop off town.  Which would NOT be the one I live in!!!  

UPS is almost incomprehensible as to rates on their web site so I end up having to make at least two trips to the local hardware store to get rates and then  to drop off.    Then you have to hope and pray that the clerk's HANDWRITTEN UPS label is CORRECT--several times this has NOT been the case and they won't "allow" your label to be used!  

The Po has it's own annoyances not the least of which is that around here they are closed for most of the day!  And always after most other business get done so unless you can drop something in the box outside you are out of luck.

And when you DO wait in that PO line they often try and tell you that the "on line" PO price is wrong--not that you confused the "Purchase on line" cost but that the listed price on THEIR own site is==wrong.  

I can't see this improving any time soon.  Until Congress picks them up and shakes them until their mail bags rattle.  Absurd to have a branch of Govt that so many people depend on that is completely unreliable and doesn't even know what it is doing on a day to day basis.  Oh--I wasn't talking about the PO there now was I????  

Maybe Congress should pick ITSELF up and shake themselves  until THEIR teeth rattle.  
Perminate Link for USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers   USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers
by: Ebay Seller-Ebay Buyer This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Mar 4 01:53:26 2013
The huge spike in overseas shipping is what hurts my business the most. For overseas shipping, the post office has found a way to hurt U.S. sellers, Non U.S. buyers, Ebay and Amazon and most likely themselves as well.

Doubling rates for under 1 pound is horrible and a 50% increase between 1 and 4 pounds is almost as bad.  1 cd to Asia and Europe will double from $6 to $12 and a 12 inch vinyl record to Europe and Asia goes from $14 to $22.  

The post office thinks if people want things bad enough they'll pay the high shipping. This is true for rare, higher priced items, but most likely won't be true for lower priced items. So the post office most likely sees a huge drop off in overseas packages.  Each year I do less Ebay due to bad Ebay policy, but for 2013, It's the post office who knocks me off of ebay.
Perminate Link for USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers   USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers
by: mindelec This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Mar 4 04:18:35 2013
"The post office thinks if people want things bad enough they'll pay the high shipping. "

i doubt they thought that, but with a 50% increase they have to see a great decline in packages to see a negative difference.  otherwise it is more money for less work.

the problem for sellers comes in that there are limits to what people will pay for certain items.  rarely do i sell a $10 book overseas when shipping is $24 and even higher priced books have taken a hit.
Perminate Link for USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers   USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers
by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Mar 4 07:11:51 2013
I have already lost most of my International sales due to the increase in USPS rates of almost 300% in some cases. I am just a small seller, but if other sellers are losing the same amounts as I am, it is huge on the scale of overall sales and profits to both sellers and Ebay. I doubt it will affect the Post Office. They will still make the same revenue due to increases but will only have to move about 1/2 the mail through their system.  
Perminate Link for USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers   USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers
by: cosqueen This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Mar 4 08:11:39 2013
The USPS shot themselves in the foot by increasing international postage. My international business has declined by over 75% since I had to increase postage costs.  So, in fact they are LOSING business and discouraging international trade.  Everyone loses.... come on USPS think about this.  
Perminate Link for USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers   USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers
by: racecarguy This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Mar 4 09:42:57 2013
I agree that the USPS really messed up one of the few areas of their business that offered actual profit (something they are apparently not REAL familiar with...).
I used to ship a ton of diecast model cars over seas, but the recent ''indecent'' increase has slowed that to a crawl. (the heavier diecast went from $38 -barely acceptable- to $56!)
They KNOW that package shipping is their most viable profit center currently, so WHY would they Intentionally try to mess that up??
Perminate Link for USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers   USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers
by: Scotty This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Mar 4 11:46:49 2013
Ina....maybe you could do an article or commentary on the impact of the USPS International price increases and the corresponding significant decline in international sales (particularly on ebay).  I, for one, have had a 80%+ decline since the 27 Jan increase....and it was immediate.  I cannot be the only one this is affecting....with those type of declines, surely it will affect ebay revenue as prior to the increase, the international side was 60%+ of my business....now is is practically non-existent.  Just a thought....thanks for your efforts...
Perminate Link for USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers   USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers
This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow
       
Mon Mar 4 12:19:02 2013
I don't advertise that I will ship internationally, but I will occasionally get a question from someone about shipping to their country. As soon as I quote the price, I never hear from them again.  
Perminate Link for USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers   USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers
by: dans parts This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Mar 4 13:18:55 2013
My February International sales were 17 sales out of 110 total = 15%.  Normal is 20-30%.

17 sales last night (first ones for March), with ZERO International.

Part of the problem with the discrepancy on Parcel Post prices is that USPS considers Standard Post and Parcel Select as two DIFFERENT classes of mail, thus different prices.  And they have chosen to not make the one class of mail (Standard Post) available for online purchase.  That's where you get sticker shock.

FedEx is nice and reliable, but 35 miles (one-way) to a drop-off site?  Don't think so.  UPS is 8 miles, but MUCH more expensive, and like mentioned, their rate structure is so incomprehensible that I'm afraid to quote anyone a price for fear of being VERY wrong.

It was nice that someone has pointed out this price discrepancy for various weight packages.  I don't ship much by Parcel Post (or Standard, Select, etc), but now I'll know to be careful with prices.  And thanks to Ina for sharing, as always.

Dan
Perminate Link for USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers   USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers
This user has validated their user name. by: monkey
       
Mon Mar 4 14:07:38 2013
@JackSparrow

"I will occasionally get a question from someone about shipping to their country. As soon as I quote the price, I never hear from them again."

That's exactly right, Jack. I quit selling internationally because I wasted a lot of time researching shipping costs.

Also the lack of tracking international shipments economically, and the possibility that customs will lose or hold up the shipment ...

Perminate Link for USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers   USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers
by: james This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Mar 4 14:28:59 2013
Parcel select goes via third party shipper (usually fed ex) to the post office. Isps removed the parcel rate and raised standard rates to almost or exactly match priority rates.  Another step toward privitization.
Perminate Link for USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers   USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers
This user has validated their user name. by: Ina
       
Mon Mar 4 14:29:36 2013
@ Comet "The Po has it's own annoyances not the least of which is that around here they are closed for most of the day!"

Perhaps you should consider filing a complaint with the PRC, see this article from Kenneth, "Postal Service Complaint Department, Open for Business"

http://www.ecommercebytes.com/cab/abn/y11/m04/i04/s01


shortcut:

http://ebyt.es/13AOdvh
Perminate Link for USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers   USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers
by: tmooreseller This user has validated their user name.
       Web Site
Mon Mar 4 15:03:58 2013
It is not the USPS's fault for having to increase rates, it's Congress's. The do-nothing Congress failed to repeal the law requiring the USPS to contribute to a pension fund for nonexistent employees against the event they are hired. This law was passed during the Bush administration, so you can imagine how much damage has been done to the USPS's credibility. By law, the USPS must remain in operation even losing billions of dollars each year, and has no subsidy to keep it operational from the Federal government. So until that stupid law for a pension fund is rescinded, the USPS must do whatever it can to stay open. To compensate I have been forced to raise my prices. Guess what that does?
Perminate Link for USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers   USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers
by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Mar 4 15:55:19 2013
Don't know about this but perhaps a seller here can answer me a question.  I recently sent a 6 X 9" 3/4" thick package to the UK.  Though it weighed just 3 oz. I was charge $9.45 because the package was rigid.  Does this sound right?  I seldom if every ship outside of the US so this doesn't make sense to me.
Perminate Link for USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers   USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers
by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Mar 4 15:57:39 2013
@ tmooreseller that's correct...but the Congress is purposely trying to beat down the USPS so they can privatize it for their rich buddies!  Nothing is being done to stop this or to help the USPS!!!  People are stuck on it being the fault of the internet...it is NOT.  Any Ebay seller can tell you they still depend on USPS.
Perminate Link for USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers   USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers
This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless
       
Mon Mar 4 19:04:02 2013
USPS directs online complaints back to the Post Office in or nearest the complainant's zipcode so you might not want to use your real name when making the complaint.

As many of us have been saying for years, the problem is the Republican facist corporatist obstructionists in Congress who are attempting to starve the Postal Service into privatization to further enrich their puppet masters, the Wall Street banksters.
Perminate Link for USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers   USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers
by: dans parts This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Mar 4 20:49:32 2013
@Patricia

$9.45 is the correct (new) rate for 1st Class Package International to UK,  for a 3oz or 4oz package.

Before the rates changed on January 27, that package (at 3oz) would have cost $4.56.

That's why any of us will be lucky to retain any International sales.
Perminate Link for USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers   USPS Parcel Post Changes Could Be Costly for Online Sellers
by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.
       
Tue Mar 5 02:57:01 2013
13 years and this has finally pushed me to domestic only.
The heck with the forms, the heck with the non-existent tracking, the heck with impatient buyers, the heck with being tricked on the conversion.
The heck with it.
Mass Howler
And the heck with paying EXTRA for the privilidge.
Fuel the JET with that JD.
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