Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Tue July 19 2016 22:21:15

Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China

By: Ina Steiner

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Online sellers concerned that they are paying more to send a package to US shoppers than their Chinese counterparts have an opportunity to weigh in on the issue of international postal rates.

The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) must review proposed UPU Terminal Dues rates for 2018 - 2021 and submit its view to the State Department, which oversees negotiations on international postal rates with other UN members. 

Terminal Dues are complicated and may not sound very exciting, but they are having an enormous impact on ecommerce in this country, and on small sellers in particular.

Shipping costs are huge issue for online sellers, and according to Pacific Standard magazine, "A comprehensive study by the research group Copenhagen Economics has found that the misalignment of terminal dues rates is leading online shoppers to order directly from countries with favorable UPU positions, rather than from suppliers closer to home  -  even if the price of the item itself is identical."

One expert believes the discount for the new proposed Terminal Dues rates for mail from Hong Kong, Singapore, and China will improve (from a US shipper's point of view) from the current level of about 70% to about 50% by 2021.

The PRC is seeking comments on both the general process and on specific rates, but you only have until 4:30 pm ET on July 21 (Thursday). Here's the docket on the PRC website. 

Your comments will be made publicly viewable on the PRC website, here are instructions on leaving a comment.

Look for more information in our coverage of UPU Terminal Dues in tomorrow (Wednesday's) Newsflash (available now).

Update 7/20/16: People have reported problems submitting a public comment on the PRC website. Here's one reader's description of the problem:

Following your directions I opened a temporary account this morning on the Postal Regulatory site. I completed the document and attempted to submit it. Three times I received the following error message:

Error
The website encountered an unexpected error. Please try again later.

Mary Hanks, Dockets Assistant at the PRC, said one common problem is if you have special characters in the file name - make sure it doesn't include a comma, for example. (Also keep in mind you must submit all contact information when filing.)

Anyone who continues to have problems can call her at the main number, 202-789-6800, or her direct line at 202-789-6845. Mary is extremely friendly and helpful, so don't give up.

UPDATE 7/21/16: See today's Letter to the Editor for detailed information on posting a comment on the PRC website.

Comments (48) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China   Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China

by: BsTs This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Wed Jul 20 09:26:40 2016

There is no getting around the injustice that China is imposing to us as sellers and workers in this country. I can't compete w/ the below wholesale product pricing from them along w/ the low cost of shipping said products here to the USA. It's unjust! but this is business and there is never any love when it comes to doing business....My business has steadily dissolved into nothing over the past 3 years and I rank among the unemployed w/ higher cost to try to maintain said business...Stress and money cost are high....There is no favoring the seller in eBay at least not the American seller  

Perminate Link for Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China   Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China

by: XebayX This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 20 09:29:17 2016

@go-figure
I'm not sure if your comment was directed at me, but I was simply stating a fact about who was at the helm at USPS when the deal was proposed and implemented. Sure, the buck stops at Hillary Clinton, but she didn't conceive the deal or propose it. The buck for that stops at Patrick Donahoe.

Perminate Link for Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China   Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China

by: edwatt This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 20 09:30:07 2016

@Rexford.  Actually there is a guy on Facebook trying to do what you suggest.  He has been at it for at least 2 years, maybe more but has been unable to get a serious following.
It you aren't familiar with him the name of the Facebook group is "Former ebay sellers"  His name Rich Vernadeau.  
Full discloser: I follow his page but have no direct association with him or his group.

Perminate Link for Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China   Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China

by: Barbbie This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 20 09:34:00 2016

I am wondering if any of the posters here read the article. Ebay does not set or negotiate the rates nor does the postmaster or his brother, the SECRETARY OF STATE does, now John Kerry, Previous rates that we are enjoying now were negotiated and agreed to by Hillary Clinton.
Easy way to comment - twitter, facebook, etc...Maybe if she gets some heat it will change? I am sure this was not done by accident but obviously this trying to post on the comment site is not working.
''Terminal Dues and Their Impact on Chinese Imports
The Universal Postal Union (UPU) is an international body that sets rates for cross-border deliveries known as terminal dues, and they're set to meet in Istanbul this fall to set those rates for the years 2018 - 2021. In the US, the Secretary of State, not the USPS, oversees the negotiations.''

Perminate Link for Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China   Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China

by: XebayX This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 20 10:06:19 2016

I think it is a stretch to declare that the posters here aren't intelligent enough to understand that the Secretary Of State is where the buck stops for going forward with proposals to the UPU.
I think it would be naive to assume that just because final approval for proposals that the US submits to the UPU come from the office of the Secretary of State, that the office crafts or devises the proposals put forth from the US to the UPU.
I agree that there should be a Social Media outrage about this issue, as well as other ''lobbying'' actions to benefit big business at the expense of US citizens and the US economy.

Perminate Link for Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China   Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China

by: gizmo This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 20 10:32:20 2016

Well , you know bilary & john D. are buddys. luncheons & all. I am so glad I do not deal with  deadbay any longer. I don't deal with china , or crooks.
The items I ship , are to USA primary , & I always use UPS , due to size , usually large parcels.
I am free of deadbay , preypig , & usps garbage. I am actually ahead of the game this year , mainly due to dumping the three crooks. Deadbay , preypig , & usps. Amen

Perminate Link for Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China   Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Wed Jul 20 11:08:14 2016

Thank you edwatt. Interesting information.

Perminate Link for Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China   Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China

This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Wed Jul 20 11:50:07 2016

Please see the update to this blog post above - people have reported problems submitting a comment on the PRC website, but the dockets department has provided us with their phone number. If you get stuck, they can help walk you through it. (Phone number above.)

Perminate Link for Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China   Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Wed Jul 20 14:21:15 2016

@go-figure

If you want to turn this blog into a political debate, then keep posting pro RepubliKKKan political commentary/propaganda without evidence.

Please supply independently verified facts and evidence that Clinton was responsible for these rate.

Perminate Link for Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China   Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Wed Jul 20 15:14:28 2016

Hillary Clinton in a back room postal rate deal?  Now that is a stretch. I'm guessing she'll be blamed for writing Melania's speech next. Or did she infiltrate the teleprompter?

Perminate Link for Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China   Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Wed Jul 20 15:34:54 2016

@gofigure

I'm NOT "partially correct", I am correct.  Ebay had NOTHING to do with the USPS rates.  

http://www.ecommercebytes.com/cab/abn/y15/m10/i09/s02>
http://www.ecommercebytes.com/cab/abn/y15/m06/i17/s01

If
you need more, just ask.

You are correct that the department of State was involved in this hot mess, but you speak as if this was a stand alone issue.  It is like way too many things that the DC politicians do, the lump things together.  Sometimes unrelated subjects into one thing.  Some items are good and some are bad.  This is part of a trade agreement that has many other facets to it.

You talk as if Hilary single handedly pass this.  She didn't.  There were many hands involved.  Certainly we can pick this decision apart as there is plenty of reason to do so.  I would be right there with many others voicing my opinion that this is NOT good for American sellers on all platforms.

There is plenty of blame to go around for this mess.  USPS is not innocent either.  Hilary didn't set these rates.

@barbbie  

To oversee a meeting doesn't translate into whomever is overseeing the meeting has the sole authority to decide what is passed or implemented.  If that were true, then there would be no need for the committee.  Why waste the time and money for all those people to get together if one person had the ability to override everyone and pass whatever they wanted.

***********************

So for those really concerned that Hilary Clinton did not pay attention or wrongly was involved in the rates USPS currently charges Asian countries, then this fall we have a different Secretary of State involve at the UPU meeting.

Whomever is at fault for this serious problem, hopefully the fall will bring some relief.    

Perminate Link for Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China   Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China

by: puppy This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jul 20 17:17:46 2016

MORE CLEAR INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO COMMENT: Everyone, I hit confusion in the process of trying to submit my own comment so I called Mary. She is extremely helpful and gave me clear easy step-by-step instructions on how to file a comment that I will now share with you all. If you are still stuck after my instructions, call Mary at above posted phone numbers. She is EAGER to help and have the public weigh in en-masse on this!

1.) Once you have successfully created a temporary account using this link: https://www.prc.gov/filingonline/account-app and by creating a username with all letters, this is how to proceed.

2.) Please understand there are two ways to weigh in. The less effective quick non-public way to leave a comment that will make it to Postal Regulatory Commission attorneys and analyst is to simply click the ''contact us'' white envelope in the upper right hand corner of the website. A form comes up where you can fill out name, contact info etc and your comment. Fill all the fields out. Your comment is not posted on the website, it is simply forwarded to the attorneys and analyst working on this docket. They don't share your info, but see the comments. Be sure to include Docket IM2016-1 in that comment.

If you wish to leave a more powerful formal comment that carries much more legal weight and becomes a permanent part of the record of this docket, then you create a business letter with your comment in a word processing program such as microsoft word, and you upload that file after you have created it (which I will clarify the steps for in a minute).

So to see examples of other formal legal comments the public has already left, and for a decent business letter template to model your own letter after, just look at this page and click on any individual comment to see it:

http://www.prc.gov/dockets/doclist/IM2016-1/Comments/ (so these are comments already submitted to help you craft yours, examples) .

PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT ALL INFO IN YOUR COMMENT LETTER GETS POSTED PUBLICLY THIS WAY, SO YOU MAY OPT TO LEAVE YOUR PHONE NUMBER OFF THE TEXT OF THE LETTER, ETC. It is important to input a working phone number and your real name/address while creating a temporary account and in any field where the website directly asks you for it. Mary said they don't share what you give them for personal info but sometimes do check to assure validly of identity of participants. Only your uploaded letter with your comment gets displayed publicly so choose your content there according to your privacy desires. But enough information must be included for it to stand as a legal document from a known citizen who can be verified.

3.) Once you have written and saved your comment in a word processing program such as microsoft word, you click the white ''file online'' cloud with an arrow inside it on the upper right hand corner of any page on this website.

You will see a screen that says ''Welcome to filing online, so-and-so name here, temporary account holder''. Underneath that are options; you click on ''create filing record''.

4.) Now you have a form to fill out. First field is the docket number, for which you must enter IM2016-1 .

authorized by: your name
filing party: don't worry about this field
document title: Comments of (First name Last name) of (business name) .
Click ''upload files from computer'' and select your comment letter file you made for upload.
Comments for the docket staff: can leave blank
Defer filing: check the box that says ''no deferral''
At the very bottom click the box ''submit filing record''

Then another page comes up where you MUST once again click ''submit'' or the comment does not go through. So you will have clicked a box that says ''submit'' twice of the system will not get your comment.

So PLEASE, if you care about this issue take a few minutes to write out a comment in a word processing program and upload it to be part of the legal record.

If you feel this is too much trouble, then please at least take a minute and use contact us option to submit some kind of comment that PRC Public Affairs Office will get and forward to the attorneys and analysts working on this docket. Be sure to reference Docket IM2016-1 in your comment

Your opinion MATTERS! If people submit comments en masse that has an effect. Don't let the user unfriendliness of this website discourage you from weighing in on this very important issue. The decision that comes from these proceedings will have huge impact on ecommerce through 2021!

Perminate Link for Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China   Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China

This user has validated their user name. by: Bidonmine

Wed Jul 20 18:13:43 2016

A simple comment.
Whatever the rates are, there should be a surcharge to make the price equal to what the USA domestic rate would be.

Perminate Link for Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China   Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China

by: sanddogg This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 21 10:11:45 2016

The present Administration is behind all of this. President Obama appointments. Allowing China to buy up American assets, at the same time giving them incentives to invade USA.  And some people wonder why Trump is becoming popular.

Perminate Link for Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China   Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China

This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Thu Jul 21 11:38:17 2016

Blaming one politician would be simplistic. UPU goes back to 1874, Terminal Dues go back to 1969. Congress took UPU representation away from the USPS and entrusted it to the State Department in 1998.

In the accompanying Newsflash article, there is a link to an article in the Pacific Standard which provides more background about Terminal Dues, it's a great read.

Perminate Link for Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China   Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China

This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Thu Jul 21 11:56:14 2016

Online sellers are leaving comments on the PRC website - see today's Letter to the Editor for a link, along with detailed instructions on how you can too!!

Perminate Link for Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China   Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China

by: epuise This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 21 14:06:46 2016

@Whatever (your post below mine)... ALL you are doing buying 1 cent junk is racking up a bigger deficit for the USPS, which means higher rates the next increase... so you, I & everybody else is paying for your i cent junk game... {your post} -> by: Whatever This user has validated their user name.
     
Wed Jul 20 03:32:59 2016
I've been playing the Chinese game for quite awhile now and I don't think I'm the only one. I buy all kinds of chinese crap for $.01. Try to buy the biggest junk you can find because it will arrive in a big shipping envelope (dah free) They always leave excellent feedback immediately when paid - ebay LOVES good feedback. And you get some little junk - I look for crafty things - I'm a St Judes volunteer and we do some childrens events and I donate the things to the kids for crafts. So for $.01 I get great feedback - a free shipping envelope - and some little thing. I keep thinking I will drive them bankrupt but apparently those Chinese idiots keep making crap and shipping it over. Pashaw - and ebay wants me to buy shipping envelopes - ha!

Perminate Link for Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China   Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China

by: epuise This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 21 14:09:50 2016

I just had a UK "buyer" cancel an 8 oz USA to UK item that "sold" for $5.00 and postage was $13.40, she wanted me to 'ship free like other sellers', so, my guess is that UK "buyer" buys from China a lot...

Perminate Link for Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China   Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China

by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 21 16:54:52 2016

We need to tevoltr..simple as that.

Perminate Link for Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China   Speak Now or Hold Your Peace on Low Postal Rates from China

by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 21 17:02:24 2016

Dont even try to act like ebay doesn't have any power over this...if ebay gave china the same rules, on snad theyd force china to pay return shipping...instead china does not have to pay return shipping.

It makes no sense that big companies who use china as a manufacturer or wholesaler would allow them to double dip and sell the same items even cheaper directly with free shipping than they charge wholesalers.

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