Sellers must now pay much more to ship large, lightweight packages due to a DIM Weight pricing change the USPS rolled out on June 23rd. But there’s one thing that is tripping up some sellers when they try to determine the cost of shipping such goods, and that’s the USPS’s own calculator on its website.
We heard from a reader who was shipping an item via Parcel Select in a box measuring 10″ x 10″ x 20″ inches and weighting 5 pounds. “The correct postage was $16.44, but eBay charged us and the customer $31.96.” He was aware of the DIM Weight pricing, but said he got the rate information from the USPS website.
Well, in this instance, both the reader and eBay were correct – sort of.
If you enter your box’s weight and dimensions on the USPS website, it will give you a rate for what it calls “USPS Retail Ground.” But some sellers are assuming that’s the equivalent of Parcel Select – it’s not. You can *not* mail a package via Parcel Select at your local post office!
If the seller brought his package to his local post office, the cost would be the price indicated on the USPS calculator (Retail Ground – no DIM Weight), but because he used eBay shipping labels, the cost was higher (Parcel Select – DIM Weight applied).
It’s easy to see why sellers may make that assumption. Online postage providers like Stamps.com and Pitney Bowes allow shippers to purchase USPS postage online – and not only that, they charge Commercial rates, which are almost always less expensive than USPS “retail” rates.
Some sellers may be tempted to use the USPS website to get a baseline estimate of postal rates for a particular shipment, but in this case – meaning Parcel Select boxes larger than a cubic foot (Length x Width x Height equaling over 1728 cubic inches) – that would be a mistake.
It’s a very rare instance of the USPS charging more for postage purchased online than in real life for virtually the same service.
So, to get this straight:
- USPS Retail Ground is only available at retail Post Office locations; Parcel Select is a comparable service, but is only available when buying postage online.
- If you are checking rates on the USPS website, it’s going to give you rates for Retail Ground, which does not charge DIM weight, so to get that rate, you would have to bring your box to the Post Office window.
Should you consider Priority Mail rather than Parcel Select? We would refer you back to the June article where Stamps.com’s Eric Nash offered examples of when you need to consider Parcel Select.
We’re grateful to the reader who shared his concerns about the postal rate discrepancy. Let us know if you’ve run into any other shipping anomalies with the June postal rate change.