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USPS musings

ludzikludzik US (SoCal)Member Posts: 430
So from time to time I sell something on EBay.... I used to go and ship directly from the post office but as sometimes shipping cost seems to be the an issue, I started shipping from EBay as their prices are lower. What bugs me is that yesterday I took 4 pieces of mail to USPS, dropped them off at the counter (as I didn't want to play the "toss into the bin" game) and today 2 of them show scanned on the tracking number and 2 of them do not.... WTF? Come on, how hard is that?
The interesting this is that the items that are not scanned are the two bigger pieces that went out as parcel post... doesn't USPS scan those? Why is there a tracking number option then for them???? hmmmmmmm

Comments

  • LootefiskLootefisk Member Posts: 67
    Call USPS. I've had it happen that for some reason it won't show up online but has indeed been scanned.

    Sometimes it just takes a long time for scanning to show up. If you're worried I'd call.
  • wagnerml2wagnerml2 Belleville, IllinoisMember Posts: 1,376
    ^^ Agreed. I have had the same issues. The other problem is that on international shippments it will only show at the last domestic terminal (For me that is Des Moines, Ia) People get mad because it may show there for days or weeks.
  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,129
    just wait a day or two - they will show up when they get scanned en route.

    there is widespread inconsistency in how/when USPS scan packages as they work their way through the system - branch to branch as well as employee to employee within the branches.
  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,129
    Also, My parcel select packages almost never get scanned at point of dropoff. I think they only focus on scanning package types that they advertise full tracking on - Express/Priority, and don't bother with the NPS stuff - it's extra work after all. However, they pretty much always get scanned at the regional sorting and routing centers.
  • ludzikludzik US (SoCal)Member Posts: 430
    This is another thing that bugs me with USPS..... so it seems that based on what everyone has posted that they don't consistently scan the barcodes.... the irritating part is that they do charge for that service as it's part of a "package deal" (pun very much intended).

    As a business you either do something or you don't do it at all..... TRIPPLE UGH! At least I finally got my local USPS to agree to follow their rules and treat bubble envelopes with Poly's inside of them as large envelopes rather then packages :D
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950
    @ludzik why are you dropping them off? Schedule a free pickup to have them come to your door. As long as you have one Priority Mail, Express Mail or International package, they will pick up anything else you have (first class, parcel select, etc.).
  • ludzikludzik US (SoCal)Member Posts: 430
    USPS isn't that far away from me so it's not a an issue when it comes to dropping them off unless during pickup I get a guaranteed scan ?
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950
    edited May 2013
    ludzik said:

    USPS isn't that far away from me so it's not a an issue when it comes to dropping them off unless during pickup I get a guaranteed scan ?

    I guess, but even one medium package is enough for me to not even think about wanting to put it in the car and drive it over. That's about 20 minutes I could spend doing a billion other things. They offer it, it's free, Yahtzee.

    And yes, the carrier is supposed to scan on pickup, but many times it won't happen until they get back and it's scanned at your local office (or worse, the regional sorting facility).



  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,129
    ^ so, basically exactly the same as dropoff from a scanning perspective.
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950
    No, basically potentially the same as dropoff from a scanning perspective.
  • juggles7juggles7 United StatesMember Posts: 452
    I buy a lot of Lego sets at eBay, eventually selling them at other venues. Sometimes I will receive packages that have tracking numbers attached, but when you track these numbers, they don't show any activity, no acceptance at a post office, no delivery, no nothing. I think sometimes postal workers forget to scan them in, which is really bad. Dishonest buyers at ebay will falsely claim they didn't receive their package when the tracking information shows nothing. When a postal employee doesn't do their job, it's often a seller who has to pay the price.
  • graphitegraphite USMember Posts: 3,246
    ^ When the USPS revamped stuff a few months ago and changed "Parcel Post" to "Standard Post" and tracking became included with "Standard" they changed the way they do numbers on things too. Just because it has a bar code with a tracking number does not mean the sender paid for the online tracking. So that is why some packages show up with absolutely no tracking information. The number is still used internally for the USPS and they can get information from it if needed but only if you pay the $0.90 for tracking does it show up online. It used to be that the numbers were just for "delivery confirmation" and they wouldn't put it on every parcel.
  • ludzikludzik US (SoCal)Member Posts: 430
    Well, you're correct: not all packages get online tracking BUT I have packages that have tracking paid for that "Skip" several steps. I wouldn't care if they skipped middle steps but sometimes they miss the departure step and that is the most important one!
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    And once again we see why I ship via UPS and not USPS. :)

    I predict that we won't have a post office as we currently know it in 10 years, it simply will be run over by a combination of UPS and e-mail.

    I already don't receive anything I really care about via 1st class mail, and almost all packages come via UPS/FedEx.

    If the post office took a month off, I wouldn't care. I can't be alone in that line of thinking.
  • graphitegraphite USMember Posts: 3,246
    ^ you can get away with UPS and no USPS because you only ship sets. You can't do a parts business without USPS right now. I haven't had one shipment problem with USPS in the ~3-400 orders I've shipped since I started selling on BL.
  • ludzikludzik US (SoCal)Member Posts: 430
    @graphite: at the end of the day all my shipments arrive so I guess that I can say that I do not have a problem but to me the fact tracking is not performed as advertised there is a problem.
    Regarding UPS vs USPS it is the issue of what you're shipping. If its sets then its comparable... On the other hand shipping a poly bag or two points me to USPS as I do not want to make folks buy crazy amounts or pay through the nose on shipping...
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    graphite said:

    ^ you can get away with UPS and no USPS because you only ship sets. You can't do a parts business without USPS right now. I haven't had one shipment problem with USPS in the ~3-400 orders I've shipped since I started selling on BL.

    Fair enough, I don't ship parts or polybags, so that makes for a good point.
  • VaioVaio Member Posts: 22
    It's a hit or miss with USPS tracking once. I've had plenty of times they didn't scan it at drop off but it's always scanned prior to the final destination.
  • y2joshy2josh Member Posts: 2,002
    graphite said:

    ^ you can get away with UPS and no USPS because you only ship sets. You can't do a parts business without USPS right now. I haven't had one shipment problem with USPS in the ~3-400 orders I've shipped since I started selling on BL.

    Same here. The ONE time USPS lost a package I sent to Russia, their insurance covered the cost of the item AND they refunded me the cost of shipping. To be fair, I haven't done enough business with UPS to personally know if they would do something similar in the event of a lost package, but from what I've heard from others, you're basically out the shipping fee.

    And FedEx... well... FedEx sucks.
  • graphitegraphite USMember Posts: 3,246
    ^ I havent had trouble with Fedex either. I use them when I ship sets mainly because the drop off is more convenient for me than UPS.
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,950
    edited June 2013
    I must be missing something, because I find the USPS ok for most shipping. The prices are reasonable and the tracking is good enough, though it hasn't been that way in the past. The only time the cost is really prohibitive is when it's Priority Mail and traveling across 1/2 or more of the US, at which point you can drop to Parcel Select. As already mentioned, for First Class (anything 13oz or less), it can't be beat. And, they will pickup from your front door.

    I find FedEx to be the cheapest for really big boxes, but I hate having to drop them off at their place, which isn't very convenient.

    Every time I've tried to work with UPS, it's always more expensive than the others.
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 9,500
    I have found that of all the shippers, USPS has consistently gotten my packages to people with minimal damage, unlike FedEx.
    I guess UPS is great I'm guessing if you happen to have a business account with them, Otherwise I see very little difference, if not more expensive, than USPS prices.
    I have seen more boxes damaged (even dents and dings) with UPS and Fed Ex than with USPS.
    I'm sure everyone has had differing opinions but of all the many packages of various sizes I have taken to the PO over the years, very few have had an issue getting to their destination, nor have I had many issues with tracking information not showing up in the first 24 hours. Besides all that really matters is the electronic notification of the actual delivery over anything else. The only packages I got from USPS that were damaged were due to ignorant senders packing items poorly or using brown shipping paper.
  • y2joshy2josh Member Posts: 2,002

    I guess UPS is great I'm guessing if you happen to have a business account with them, Otherwise I see very little difference, if not more expensive, than USPS prices.

    For Joe Average, if you're shipping a package over four pounds (I believe that's what I figured the cut-off weight to be) to Zones 7 or 8, UPS actually DOES have lower rates. I still don't typically use them, given the drop in quality of service, but they actually can be cheaper in very specific instances.
  • ludzikludzik US (SoCal)Member Posts: 430
    Shipping will be the death of me ;) So I sold two items on eBay. One is 7+ oz (net) one is 8+ oz (net). I listed 3.99 charge for shipping for each item. By the time you add the cost of packing and tracking that's what it comes out to be (increased weight, etc). Anyways being the nice guy that I am I was going to offer discount for shipping both to the same place..... but here's the kicker... 19 oz shipped costs come up to be more than shipping 9 oz and 10 oz separately (the diff between 7 and 9, and 8 and 10 is packaging)!!! What gives? Have I lost my marbles??? Or is the system broken?

    Anyways, I'll ship both items separately because otherwise it costs more to ship them!
  • juggles7juggles7 United StatesMember Posts: 452
    Ludzik, first class mail is cheap but it's limited to 13 ounces and less. Once you go over that weight, you must choose between parcel select and priority, which, unlike first class, is based on weight AND the destination zip code; I mean how far the package has to travel. What's worse is that the parcel select and priority are based on increments of pounds (first class in ounces), so since your package weighs 19 ounces, over 16 ounces, you are paying the 2 pound rate. Coast-to-coast 2 lb. rate can be almost $10! So, yes, ship them separately. It's complicated and it's crazy. Could be mistaken, but I thought if you were using ebay to print your postage, that the tracking should be free. Always get the tracking; it's your only way to prove that you shipped.
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    UPS and FedEx have great rates if you have an account and can work out a discount with them.

    I recently did a trade here with another Brickset member. The stuff she was going to send me via USPS would have cost over $100 in shipping. Using my UPS account, it was less than half that, around $50, and that includes real tracking, real insurance, day certain delivery, etc.

    It isn't even a question, UPS beats USPS by a country mile for anyone shipping more than a few packages.

    For the casual shipper, yes, I get that it isn't so clear cut.
  • y2joshy2josh Member Posts: 2,002
    ^You're not making any effort AT ALL if you can't get USPS to beat UPS's rates to anywhere but Zone 8. And, again, even with Zone 8, I'd rather eat the extra cost then risk UPS's hit-and-miss service.
  • y2joshy2josh Member Posts: 2,002
    *Unless we're talking freight... in which case you're absolutely right.
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    y2josh said:

    ^You're not making any effort AT ALL if you can't get USPS to beat UPS's rates to anywhere but Zone 8. And, again, even with Zone 8, I'd rather eat the extra cost then risk UPS's hit-and-miss service.

    USPS damages just as many boxes as UPS does, I find FedEx does the best job of all, but I think it greatly depends on your local drivers, where I suspect most of the damage happens.

    As far as cost, rest assured that UPS beats USPS hands down for commercial accounts doing volume for larger boxes.

    Sure, for under 4lb small parcels, USPS can be quite reasonable, but shipping oversize or heavy boxes is really expensive via USPS.
  • y2joshy2josh Member Posts: 2,002
    ^I don't know. To be fair, most of what I ship is two or three pound action figures, or little 2 ounce tabletop game pieces, but even when I send out the occasional 15 pound statue, I find that UPS can't even come close to touching USPS's rates, except in Zone 8, where USPS's rates balloon up to crazy.

    But again, I can't speak to UPS's rates if you're shipping tons of heavy stuff... I just know they are outrageously expensive if you're dealing with a majority of five pound or less packages in your typical year.

    As to FedEx... we'll agree to disagree with them. Half the time, they can't even manage to deliver my stuff to the correct address, and the general sentiment (around here, at least), is that, with them, you're paying the most for the worst service.
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    ^ I suspect the FedEx thing is a local driver issue. If I could get them to match my UPS rates, I'd switch in a second, but they just don't have that together yet.

    As far as shipping rates go, yes, on light items, USPS is hard to beat, even Amazon uses USPS for light items, the cost is very reasonable. But they get insanely expensive as that goes up.

    Example...

    A 24x24x24" box, 50lbs, shipped from 75024 to 41048 (TX to KY), via USPS Standard Post would be $68.57.

    UPS Ground? Truth is, the price really does depend on your account and the deal you have. My price for that box is $33.60, however I can also tell you that it goes MUCH lower than that if you do enough volume.

    And UPS will have it there in 3 days, every time, with real tracking & real insurance.
  • y2joshy2josh Member Posts: 2,002
    With FedEx, I'm pretty certain it's a local driver issue, but that doesn't change the fact that their customer service is terrible and they've apparently made no move to rectify their poor service in this area. I hate buying from [email protected] because I never know if my items will show up or not.

    To UPS, as I said, I don't even come close to shipping anything that weighs fifty pounds... and I know they do hundredweight which saves you a ton of money... but my products and customer base simply don't mesh with UPS pricing. You literally need be sending near-freight level shipments most of the time for them to make sense. So for the vast majority, I still maintain that USPS is cheaper and more secure.
  • BrickarmorBrickarmor USAMember Posts: 1,257
    My FedEx driver is a ninja, I swear. I never hear the truck (unlike UPS, which my dogs immediately bark at), and numerous times I've gone to check tracking only to find it says "delivered." And voila, they're on my porch. I'm home the whole time and never hear a thing.
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    @y2josh - a 10lb box from 75024 to 41048 via USPS Standard Post is $18.45

    On my UPS account? $9.41

    For anything over 5lbs, UPS is about half the price of USPS across the board.
  • y2joshy2josh Member Posts: 2,002
    edited July 2013
    If you have an account with them, sure. But I still don't ship enough heavy items for that to make even a little financial sense.

    For me, using your example, UPS would charge me $18.33, while USPS would charge me $11.83 (for Priority) and typically offer better service all around. It's an easy choice for me as is, but I do acknowledge that someone shipping a ton of heavy stuff would be more likely to weigh the pros against the cons with UPS.
    madforLEGO
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    From 75024 to 41048, how are you getting Priority Mail for $11.83? Is that a flat rate box?

    I used a modular box for that example, 24x20x4", which would be closer to $25 via Priority.
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    UPS/FedEx has other advantages...

    I sold a $300 retired set a few months ago to someone at a hotel, they e-mailed me the day after I shipped it saying, "hey, I was expecting next day delivery, I see it shipped ground".

    I pointed out that they didn't pay for next day shipping, they took the "free" shipping.

    They said, "well, I won't be here to receive it then".

    I input an intercept with UPS, the next day they rerouted the box mid-shipment and directed it back to me. They charge for that service, but it is a nice service to have as an option. :)

    6 months ago I sold a 10189 Taj Mahal to someone in Arizona, shipped it with direct adult signature required and insured for $1,500. (in this case it was FedEx, but same thing, UPS would have done exactly the same thing).

    It was delivered and signed for by someone other than the buyer. A few days later I received a notice of complaint from PayPal, item not received. I opened a claim and two weeks later FedEx paid me back for the item.

    The US Postal Service would never do that, they would say, "well, it was signed for, so no insurance claim for you!".

    Just food for thought for everyone... One side does not fit all, so if USPS works for you, great. :) Just sharing that once you start shipping larger and heavier boxes, USPS is not the way to go if you do volume.
    Furrysaurus
  • y2joshy2josh Member Posts: 2,002
    edited July 2013
    As a general rule, for Priority and Express, I save 45% off the normal rate (which in reality is only like 11% off of the Commercial rate that any small business can get automatically) for shipping in bulk. And it's actually a 50% discount for Zones 1-4, though the shipping is already so low in those cases, the actual dollar amount saved is fairly small, but still adds up over thousands of shipments.

    The discount on standard shipping is actually very poor, and I'm not sure I've run across a shipment yet where Priority hasn't actually been cheaper as a result.
  • y2joshy2josh Member Posts: 2,002

    I input an intercept with UPS, the next day they rerouted the box mid-shipment and directed it back to me. They charge for that service, but it is a nice service to have as an option.

    This is actually an option with USPS as well... except for in the case of Parcel Select. To be fair, it is more of a hassle because you have to call them, but they don't charge anything for it (though you also don't get your original shipping back, either).

    To the signature thing... I honestly can't speak to it, as it's never come up. So you may be right on that, though I know USPS offers an option where the addressee has to show their ID before they sign for it... which is what I always use.
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    y2josh said:

    As a general rule, for Priority and Express, I save 45% off the normal rate (which in reality is only like 11% off of the Commercial rate that any small business can get automatically) for shipping in bulk. And it's actually a 50% discount for Zones 1-4, though the shipping is already so low in those cases, the actual dollar amount saved is fairly small, but still adds up over thousands of shipments.

    The discount on standard shipping is actually very poor, and I'm not sure I've run across a shipment yet where Priority hasn't actually been cheaper as a result.

    How do you get 45% off Priority and Express?
  • y2joshy2josh Member Posts: 2,002
    edited July 2013

    y2josh said:

    As a general rule, for Priority and Express, I save 45% off the normal rate (which in reality is only like 11% off of the Commercial rate that any small business can get automatically) for shipping in bulk. And it's actually a 50% discount for Zones 1-4, though the shipping is already so low in those cases, the actual dollar amount saved is fairly small, but still adds up over thousands of shipments.

    The discount on standard shipping is actually very poor, and I'm not sure I've run across a shipment yet where Priority hasn't actually been cheaper as a result.

    How do you get 45% off Priority and Express?
    Just call up USPS, tell them you have a commercial account with them and that you're thinking of going over to UPS or FedEx. They'll fix you up right away (or at least, they fixed me up right away... I'd been shipping basically exclusively with them for three-ish years at that point).

    Though, I did double check my rates given your astonishment, and I actually only get 25% off regular Express rates. It's still pretty nice, though.
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