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Tue Feb 6 2018 22:18:20

Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer Feasible?

By: Ina Steiner

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Dear Ina,
I sell stamps on eBay, and about 60-80% of my sales are abroad in the $10-$50 range. I ship the stamps in a one-ounce envelope with Customs Tracking, which was $1.15 on PayPal until now.

Due to the inane and criminal price gouging recent PTT-enforced USPS rate changes, the cost to ship has suddenly jumped from $1.15 per such order to $13.30 on eBay or PayPal, and $14.00 at the USPS window.

And in order to comply with the eBay Seller Protection Program, I have to add Registered Mail at $15.75 to the $14.00, resulting in a final cost of $29.75 to ship just one stamp in a one-ounce letter.

Obviously this is no longer going to work.
Tom

---

Dear Ina,
The postage rate changes where we can no longer mail rigid items in first class international mail with a non-machineable surcharge, instead having to mail them at package rates has caused ALL my international sales to be cancelled by my buyers since the rate change. Used to be under $2.50 to mail a few plastic cards in an envelope and now cost $14 to mail as a package.
Robert

Note from the editor: This December 26, 2017 Stamps.com blog post explains the changes to First Class Mail International Flats: "Effective Sunday, January 21, 2018, First Class Mail International Large Envelope/Flat service for merchandise will NO LONGER be available from the USPS. First Class Mail International Flats will only be approved for use when sending documents. This change is occurring to comply with Universal Postal Union requirements."

Stamps.com created an alternative that, while more expensive than the old rates, is less expensive than USPS First Class Package International Service.

Sellers are also reporting problems with tracking of such items, which is so important especially for sellers on marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon. Stay tuned for more on this.

We'd love to hear from sellers who are affected by the postal changes.

Comments (25) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer   Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer

by: Studiolines This user has validated their user name.

Wed Feb 7 00:22:17 2018

Tom and Robert,

I am so sorry, I hope there is some resolution to restore your international business.

Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer   Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Wed Feb 7 11:31:20 2018

It's a shame that the USPS, which loses millions every year, cannot find a way to make shipping overseas more affordable for small sellers.  

Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer   Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer

by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Wed Feb 7 12:44:11 2018

united states does not want us shipping things out, they only want china shipping things in. Traitors of the highest order.


Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer   Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer

This user has validated their user name. by: Bill

Wed Feb 7 19:15:47 2018

International sales are pretty much gone for the stamp collector and post card/collector card trade.
Stamps and cards have to be sent in a non-machinable envelope since they need to be rigid and stamps.com solution does not fit the bill since the flats can not be rigid.
I believe this came about because the customs people do not want to have to deal with what they perceive as cheap customs/VAT charges on many items that are sent at the letter rate with the customs form attached.

The only thing to do is to send them at regular letter rate without the customs form and slap some postage on it. That is what I have been doing since the new rates went into affect.

I have not gotten any feedback on the few that I have shipped so far, so we shall see what happens.

Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer   Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Wed Feb 7 19:26:31 2018

International sales shipping FCP are pretty much gone for all sellers.  Not just stamps and cards.

Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer   Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer

by: Paul W This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 8 07:30:06 2018

I ship stamps and postcards as non-machinable (rigid) letters every day, both domestic and international.  No customs forms on international.  Claims of non-receipt are very rare.  It's only the larger items, too big for letter mail, that can no longer be cheaply sent, but that is (was) a small fraction of my international sales, so not a big impact on my business.

Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer   Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer

by: marty This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 8 08:08:11 2018

"need to be rigid and stamps.com solution does not fit the bill since the flats can not be rigid."

The rule about the rigidity was the USPS rule. Stamps.com does not have this requirement anywhere. Quoting from their promotion:
(with max. dimension of 12"h x 15"L and 3/4" of thickness)

Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer   Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer

by: marty This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 8 08:43:20 2018

I have tested the service and so far it is not satisfactory at all.

When you send a flat piece via stamps.com you send it to Lyndhurst, New Jersey to a company called R.R. Donnelley. It is sent to them via 1st class with NO TRACKING possibility. You get an international tracking number,

They then use GlobalPost International for shipping.
The GlobalPost then uses USPS for shipping the item to the destination address.

The claim in the newsletter ''Get better visibility with more tracking events'' is perhaps correct, the problem is that the most critical scan, that is the acceptance scan is not available. Basically the buyer  (nor the seller) has no idea what is happening to the package for 6 full days.

I sent a <1 oz envelope to an acquaintance in Slovakia, just to test the service. It was a Kraft envelope with one piece of paper inside. Normally it would cost $1.15 ( I think that's the latest rate), stamps.com charged around $5.50

Once the package gets into the system, there are lot of scans, however the most critical ones are lacking.

     The first scan is:
Jan 24, 2018, 12:45 pm
SHIPPING LABEL CREATEDRRD International Logistics U.S.A
XXXXX,VA

      The NEXT scan is:
Jan 30, 2018
08:16 am
Arrived Shipping Partner Facility, USPS Awaiting ItemRRD International Logistics U.S.A
Lyndhurst, NJ

It takes 6 days for the first info to appear. TOO LONG, plus once you mail it, you don;t get any proof of mailing. Notice that it arrived at the ''Partner''  USPS facility.

Then there are  several scans about processing etc scans from the same date 1/30 as it arrives in NY, e.g.

Jan 30, 2018 11:30 pm
Mail ConsignedRRD International Logistics U.S.A
New York, NY, US

Then the next one is one day later:
Jan 31, 2018
05:14 pm
In transit to USPS tracking#: UM089212746USRRD International Logistics U.S.A

There are several from Feb 1 (arriving, processing, transferring)
Feb 01, 2018 01:52 pm
ArrivedRRD International Logistics U.S.A
New York, United States

Then the last four are:
Feb 04, 2018
09:35 am
Foreign ReceiptRRD International Logistics U.S.A
Slovakia

Feb 03, 2018
06:14 pm
DepartedRRD International Logistics U.S.A
Vienna, Austria

Feb 03, 2018
02:12 pm
DepartedRRD International Logistics U.S.A
London, United Kingdom

Feb 01, 2018
07:26 pm
ORIGIN AIRLINE CARRIER DEPARTED/UPLIFTRRD International Logistics U.S.A
New York,US

On Fab 4 it arrived in Slovakia, still has not been delivered.

The prices for the envelopes up to 8 oz are about the midpoint between the old flat rates and new package rates. They are much cheaper for the envelopes above 8 oz,

Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer   Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer

by: marty This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 8 08:50:23 2018

Additional information regarding stamps.com flat rates.
As I indicated above, I tested the system on 1/24. Then on 1/26 I wanted to use stamps.com to print a label for a PACKAGE, it was over 8 oz, the cost was $22, the one that has the customs form etc.

The label that came out of the printer was again a 1st class label to Lyndhurst, New Jersey. This time there was a domestic tracking number. I decided to cancel the label, as I did not want to pay $22 for this type of service.

I also called CS and was told (this may have changed since then) conclusively, that once I sign up for their flat rate system, I will have to use the same system also for the packages ! The only way to be able to use the regular package labels (with the customs form) would be to cancel the flat rate 'privilege'.

I wrote them a sort of a complaint about changing the terms of service without notifying the customers about it, but got no answer.

Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer   Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer

by: IFindBugs This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 8 10:44:44 2018

I certainly do not like the new rules and I think it will do a huge amount of damage to the stamp and card market, etc.  However...

I have been sending stamps and cards/''covers'' to clients in countries all around the world for more than 40 years.  They are sent by normal airmail; the envelopes and stiffeners are selected to NOT be rigid, but still enough to fully protect the contents. There are no customs forms or declarations involved. No postal clerk has ever asked me what was in a normal letter. And in the case of normal letters, there is no need to hand them to a clerk anyway; they can just go into the outbound mail box.

In 40+ years, mailing many thousands of letters containing stamps, we have NEVER had a problem resulting from NOT using customs forms on normal airmail letters.  And on the receiving end, I have not had any reports in the last 20 years of clients getting ''jammed up'' by the receiving postal systems or customs offices.  (The only few times that clients have been ''jammed up'' have been when customs forms were used.  Canada and the UK post offices charge a huge fee to collect a few cents/dollars of customs duty.)

Unless the value is a few hundred dollars or more, we self-insure.

If the value is over a few hundred dollars, then we do use usually Registered Mail (which is then financially insured by our private stamp insurance company).  Depending upon the weight and/or stiffness, a customs form might be required, but again as ''documents''.  (Starting a few years ago overseas Registered Mail has actually become what the British call Recorded Delivery; in the receiving country it is usually treated as we would treat Certified Mail in the U.S., which is to say that it travels in the normal mailstream and is not secured in transit, but it does get a recipient signature.)

As long as we are dealing with known clients and have a DIRECT relationship with them, from sending hundreds of such letters, we only have one or two losses every 3-4 years.  The vast majority of our overseas buyers are paying us by DIRECT credit card (not via PayPal).  We do not allow payment PayPal use by overseas buyers unless we have a well-established relationship with the buyer.  Our buyers are serious and are willing to supply (via our secure website) credit card information to us.  We have never had somebody tell us that they would not do so (though perhaps a few simply did not order, but would we want them as buyers if they won't trust us that much?).

When we send to overseas clients, we get the clients' explicit agreement (unless we come to a different agreement) that THEY assume all risk of damage or loss.  Still it is a non-issue because the genuine losses are so rare.  (Note: There are certain countries to which we will not ship to NEW buyers at all unless they have paid with non-refundable payment: cash, cleared check, etc.)

The only times, in the distant past, when we had problems with losses were when we were selling on eBay.  We stopped selling on eBay and the losses stopped.  Also we stopped paying huge fees, and having constant headaches from both eBay and eBay buyers.

Folks...

1) The problem with losses is eBay (and what it allows buyers to get away with).  Tracking is not necessary if you are not dealing with crooks or irresponsible people.  An occasional genuine loss in the mail is not the end of the world; it is just a cost of doing business.

2) Grow up and put your big boy/girl panties on:  Not everything in life must be totally free of risk.  Figure out what level of risk you are willing to tolerate -- and afford -- and then SELF INSURE to that level.  If you sell higher-value material (which we also do) and you want insurance coverage above that self-insurance level, obtain a ''collectibles'' insurance policy.
Rather than be ''economically barred'' from selling such items to overseas buyers, understand the level of risk (especially dealing with eBay buyers) and consider the self-insured losses simply a (very aggravating) cost of doing business.

You have a deductible on your car insurance and on your homeowners/renters insurance.  Self-insurance is just a ''deductible''.  If you stop hyperventilating and do the math, you will quickly determine that self-insuring up to a couple/few hundreds dollars is a LOT cheaper than using the costly methods with tracking, etc., and cheaper than using eBay's buyer protection.

By the way, you do have to be smart about how you prepare your outgoing letters. 1) They should physically look like ORDINARY BUSINESS CORRESPONDENCE.  The point is that they should NOT look like personal correspondence such as a birthday or holiday card, because those DO get stolen regularly because they often contain cash.  Make it look like it is from Joe Bloe and Company, about insurance or something mundane.  2) The address and return address should be typed/printed NOT HANDWRITTEN. This is not just to avoid loss due to unreadability or non-returnability, but to look like business correspondence. 3) There should be a return address!!! (I can't tell you how many eBay packages I get with a virtually unreadable address and no return address -- of course they get lost.)  4) Select stiffeners that are thick enough to protect the items, but will not be rigid.  Stamps and cards/covers can flex a bit, that's okay. 5) Make sure that BOTH back flaps are firmly sealed; this is often overlooked.  6) Using fancy or older stamps for postage will increase the chance it is stolen from the mail (but I use them anyway with extremely low losses). 7) If your post office is not friendly, then just put these normal mail items in the outgoing mail slot IN THE POST OFFICE (NEVER-EVER in an outdoor box).

By the way, for several decades, I have used Collectibles Insurance for insurance on our inventory and mailings, etc.  They insure dealers (and collectors) of stamps, cards, and many, many other collectibles. They are a real company that I have trusted for several decades with the financial safety of my inventory, which is to say the financial safety/future of my family as well. You can find info at https://collectinsure.com/ -- I am just a customer; I don't benefit from mentioning them.  They are just good folks doing a good job.  There is another major company in the U.S. that insures stamp dealers; just doing my due diligence I have recently gotten a quote from that company also; the cost was about the same, but the terms were significantly less beneficial for our company.

Let's sell some stuff and make some money, folks!

Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer   Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer

by: spooky This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 8 10:51:59 2018

I agree this rate change is an absolute killer when it comes to small flat items like postcards and stamps. It is the end of the overseas market and in some cases a huge percentage of probably customers. The post office does not care - they have raised foreign costs at a much much faster rate than domestic as it is not regulated by the postal advisory board. Such a shame. The only alternative is to mail without tracking in a simple envelope but eBay will tank your ratings for not providing tracking. For some sellers this is an atomic bomb on their business.  

Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer   Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer

by: epuise This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 8 11:20:11 2018

Before they took away 'Surface Mail"...
25% of my sales were to International.
Now, it's 2-5%.
The Trade Deficit increases each year...
it's cheaper for a U.S. Seller to buy a Chinese product:
( ePacket )... than a U.S. to Canada shipment.
Our dollars go over there...
they seldom come back.
Result:
We fight over crumbs.
You want your income to go up, like it was ?
1) RAISE ePacket Rates to the SAME as USPS rates.
2) RAISE minimum wage to adj. for inflation $20.00
3) RAISE taxes on unearned (dividends) income.
4) RAISE taxes on ANY Corp. that doesn't 'make it here'.

Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer   Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer

by: marty This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 8 13:27:40 2018

Just an update about a flat envelope I mailed on January 24 to Slovakia, as I described above, it did arrive today, February 8. Basically two weeks. Not so bad if only one could get an acceptance scan.

Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer   Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer

by: timeaftertime This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 8 14:05:21 2018

I haven't ever used letter mail international -- but if the rates have been so ridiculously increased, is International First Class PARCEL a solution ?  

I sell to Canadian (and other international) customers and use a small BOX -- and still get the minimum charge ($7.00 - unless it's been changed) depending on the weight.  

And the eDelcon service (printing labels online) gives me full Door-to-Door tracking on the packages.  

Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer   Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer

by: marty This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 8 14:41:32 2018

Mailed another flat envelope via stamps.com.

On February 8, that's is all that is available, 10 days after I mailed it.

RRD International Logistics U.S.A
IN TRANSIT
Jan 29, 2018
08:15 am
SHIPPING LABEL CREATED
RRD International Logistics U.S.A
20109


PATHETIC...what kind of a fraud is this?

Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer   Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer

by: IFindBugs This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 8 17:28:08 2018

To: timeaftertime,

In regard to mailing stamps or post cards...

It is not that the ''letter'' rates have increased, it is that the selling venues expect (try to force -- because the selling venues expect the item to have tracking) shipping by other methods that have greatly increased in cost.

Tracking is not possible on a normal letter.

And, new postal regulations require that ''merchandise'' can no longer be sent in  normal letter.

A plain one-ounce letter (completely adequate to send a postage stamp to a stamp collector) from the U.S. to any other country is only $1.15.  However, according to the strict new regulations, that is no longer allowed for ''merchandise''. Instead much, much more expensive services (see others' comments above) are supposed to be used.

Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer   Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer

by: Michael in BC This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 8 18:00:56 2018

With respect to shipping stamps...........it can be argued successfully that a "stamp" is a document ........i.e. a receipt given to the purchaser who has provided payment for present or future postal services.

Similarly, postcards are "correspondence".  Correspondence is classed as a "document".

Documents are quite acceptable as "letter mail", and, at least in Canada (though I don't see why this would not apply in the US), I'm advised by my local PO that stamps and postcards can continue to be mailed at the letter rate.

Essentially, I'm told "if it's paper", it's letter mail.

Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer   Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer

by: timeaftertime This user has validated their user name.

Sat Feb 10 09:13:29 2018

@ IFindBugs -  I understand how letter mail works.  My suggestion was to consider mailing ''paper'' -- stamps, documents etc. -- as a ''PARCEL'' instead of an ''ENVELOPE.''

I am mailing four- and five-ounce packages via International First Class PARCEL for $7.00 which includes door-to-door tracking.  

If the over-the-top, ridiculous postage charges others have cited are accurate - I would think $7 is a bargain. I don't know, I don't use international letter mail. I like the tracking provided on parcels. NOTE you MUST use an online service to print these ''eDelcon'' labels, you can't buy the service at a post office.    

''Letter'' mail has never included tracking (even domestic and if I am not mistaken, you can't buy tracking on a LETTER within the US).  

Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer   Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer

by: timeaftertime This user has validated their user name.

Sat Feb 10 09:17:43 2018

@Marty - I would not blame Stamps.com , they only provide  you what they get from the USPS. I think many of their services are a direct link to USPS, so you get actual USPS information itself.  

Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer   Selling Stamps and Cards Internationally No Longer

by: timeaftertime This user has validated their user name.

Sat Feb 10 12:30:38 2018

@ Michael - You have a good point, however, I think the bottom line is that regardless of what kind of thing it is, if it is something you are sending to a customer who has purchased it, you are mailing MERCHANDISE.

Does your local PO understand that the "document" you are mailing is something you have sold and received payment for ?  

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