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

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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!

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Readers Comments

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by: Ebay's Slow Death This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 5 02:57:18 2013


When dropping off packages at our little Post Office last week, I asked the Postmaster lady why International mail has gotten so expensive. She said because other counties are charging more to handle our mail.

I find it hard to believe all countries suddenly raised their handling rates. As usual, I am sure she is wrong.

Our postal system is disintegrating. Like tmooreseller and Ming said, it is because of that ridiculous law Congress passed to require the PO pension system to be funded ten years out, with just a few years to do it. I think the Republicans are trying to ruin the Post Office, so it will be forced to contract with a private, for-profit company. Sound familiar?

I feel sorry for foreign Buyers, who really want our Ebay items. I am embarrassed to quote foreign shipping now. It doesn't make much sense to pay way more for postage, than what the actual item costs.

I honestly don't understand why International Mail was raised so much. Our domestic package rates went up, but not that much.

The higher postage rates are hurting all of our businesses. But, I don't see any relief in sight.  

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by: PowerSeller2007 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 5 06:22:01 2013

  I only ship flat rate.  I have a lot of 2 oz items and now I stopped selling internationaj except for Canada. There should be 2 tier international rate based on USPS international rate to Canada & other international destination.
  But ebay took the money on the 100% jump in postage and never took care of the USPS changes and effect on the sellers.  I don't have the energy to fix and chase stupid ebay - USPS fiascos.  I always think why would any seller work too hard so that only ebay could further enrich themselves.  This is tantamount to 21st century slavery. In a month, I would complete duplication of all items to ebid and Bonanza.   Free at last!  Exodus NOW!

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by: PowerSeller2007 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 5 06:31:50 2013

One thing to ask about rate increases, Asian sellers sold items for 99 cents.  They send these parcels with tracking.  USPS deliver them to anywhere in the US. USPS subsidizes foreign competitors against US sellers.  Are foreigners running USPS these days?  USPS increases in US seller postage (domestic and international) are unjustified and stupid.  This is anti-American sellers.

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by: AngelaTC This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 5 10:30:27 2013

Making the USPS kick the cost of their retirement plan down the road doesn't fix the problem.  Most of us have to fund our own retirements as we go - we pay into Social Security, 401(k) and IRA plans as we go.  We don't wait until we are ready to retire, then wonder where they money is going to come from.

All pensions should be funded like this, instead of using the debt-slavery method.

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by: Justathought This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 5 13:25:25 2013

When sending international envelopes,
if you use Ebays Pittman-Bowes postage site it automatically bumps the lower costing international ''envelope'' to ''package'' doubling the cost of postage. (Ouch!.)
I thought I was losing my mind getting one USPS quote and then suddenly paying for another. (Surprise!)
The gal at the post office suggested using the official USPS website for those items.
Ebays site also bumps the first class envelopes to package also, not sure if it affects the cost there but it drives the post office batty since their labeled incorrectly.

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by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 5 13:45:59 2013

Thanks for the explanation Dans.  That's outrageous!  I took it to the post office and questioned the clerk when she said 9.45.  I imagine that's going to really hurt international sales.

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by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 5 13:47:36 2013

AngelaTC you don't seem to understand.  In 2006 congress required the USPS to pay all employee benefits 75 years in advance!...and to do it within 10 years!  Its crippling the post office since they are even paying for employees they have not yet hired!  NO other corporation has to do this!

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by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 6 15:10:24 2013

Yes, the post office is required to fund pensions of employees WHO ARE NOT EVEN BORN OR WORKING FOR THEM YET.
EDUCATE YOURSELF- 75 YEARS- almost a CENTURY in advance.
WHERE ELSE in ANY corp on the planet is this required?
That means that the US Postal Service must put aside the predicted retirement for all employees through 2088 within 10 years!
Even STEVE JOBS could not afford that.
Think about it.
This was a republican initiated rule that was initiated to bolster investors at Fedex, UPS; etc- they worked to minimize the USPS COMPETITION.
Fed Ex and UPS were NOT doing well so they talked our representatives into this ''pre-funded retirement fund'' to increase UPS and Fed Ex MARKETSHARE.
I ask: Do UPS or Fed Ex HAVE TO fund their ''retirement plans'' 75 years in advance- NO- they do employee funded/ matched contributions like every other corp????
MH  

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