For those who don't know, there is a reason that we have to charge so much for freight...
There are three posting firms in the USA:
UPS, 'The United Parcel Company', or whatever they want to call themselves these days, a private posting firm.
The United States Postal Service (who people enjoy shortening to USPS for added f un and confusion), run by the US Federal Government byt managed as a private agency.
Federal Excuse, err, Express, also known as FedEx.
None of them offer seamail (freight class) at all anymore. Both UPS and the USPS used to do this, but in the last few years, both have cut this servce. As to UPS,. I can't say, but the USPS did so to force the sheeple
in the US to pay extra freight to post out parcels using their Priority Mail and Express mail services.
You can't put tracking or delivery confirmation on 'First Class Mail' (FCM) parcels sent by the USPS to any
International destinations, nor can you insure FCM parcels to many of them. Add to this that they have bizarre and arbitrary rules for everything. They have rules for things that you didn't know they had things...
Take sending a package to the Netherlands... You can not insure a parcel to the Netherlands, unless you send it by Registered International services. I didn't think that Amsterdam was famous for its crime rate, but heck, what do I know, so add an extra US$1w for the Registered service on top of their ever-increasing and exorbitant rates.(They literally go up every six to twelve months
Of course, these extra services--everything is extra, including 'tracking', insurance, delivery confirmation, and probably having your parcel arrive at the correct address--cost a lot of money too. Beyond that, what people often refer to as tracking really isn't anything of the sort. In fact, more often than not, your parcel will show as 'in transit' when entering the delivery confirmation number even after
it reaches its destination.
And what do you do when the worst happens? You have to wait 30 days before filing any claims, and then it can take six to nine months for them to review them, and the decision on whether or not to pay is entirely up to them. Want to file a lawsuit? They're a Federal Agency. Good luck.
By the way, customs numbers are not traceable by any means whatsoever!
Oh yes, this applies to domestic packages too, so don't get your hopes too high. They have just as horrible a set of services for the folks stateside. The sad part is that for anything better than FCM, such as Priority or Express Mail they don't charge much more than UPS, and often the USPS prices are higher once you add in all the additional fees for broken and useless extra services that are included by any other, sane delivery service as part of the normal rate, costing more in the long-run.
And for those wondering about Media Mail (MM): There are new rules for MM, and only literature that contains no advertising of any kind
, or educational materials qualify. This excludes catalogues, many books, fliers, posters, handbills, and just about everything video-game related.
All MM parcels are subject to being opened and searched by some hammer-handed monkey who hates his job and takes out his frustration by zseizing
non-qualifying materials, not to be returned. This along with the new rules for FCM, are to force people to use higher-tiered services. (Thanks for all the fish.)
The average price to send a basic Priority Mail package that weighs as much as air to Canada is about $25, and forget sending one to Mexico. You can't insure those. In fact, there are countries that are listed as completely non-insurable destinations. For some added excitement, if you have nothing better to do than blow your brains out, or watch acrylic paint dry underwater check out all the rules and rates at http://www.usps.com
... next ...
UPS: They insure to everywhere, unless you are sending coins, jewelry, stamps, art or traditional collectibles of that kind. Then you have an insurance limit of US$100. That's it. Obviously, collectible video games are listed as 'electronics', so you can insure them at full value, so this isn't an issue, and makes them the desirable choice all-around.
The downside is that for International parcels you can expect to pay between $25 and $40 in postage, as a base rate
. Their base rate for domestic packages, which includes up-to-the-second tracking, which allows you to track your parcel each step of the way on its road to delivery and every time it changes hands, plus an automatic US$100 of insurance, is $14.
They also use dimensional weight
, which can be hard to explain. Essentially, while the weight of your parcel is calculated into the cost of freight, so is its size. If you send an empty box that is 100cm by 100cm by 100cm, the price is the same as if it has an average weight for its size. There is some magical, fifth-dimensional formula made by the Great Gazoo that you can use to figure this out, but you'll never know your actual cost until the parcel is at the depot, which is well after it is out of your hands.
The UPS depot is where they sort parcels on and off trucks, not a store where you can drop off parcels; UPS stores charge an extra 'service fee' for handling packages directly, otherwise you need an actual account with them before they'll do anything at all.
On the plus-size, you can insure packages for a stated cash value
, so if it is lost, damaged or winds up in a space-time vortex alongside a blue Police Box, they'll pay the full insured value.
FedEx...oh how can I hate thee. FedEx charges anywhere from the same price to twice as much or more for exactly the same services as UPS, and they operate in much the same manner, but they connected themselves in some conspiracy with the USPS like a venereal disease and are now semi-affiliated with them, handling part of the load of USPS services. Don't ask me how: I missed the day when i fell into another nightmare dimension.
Their tracking is sub-par compared to UPS, but still infinitely better than the USPS anti-tracking delivery confirmation numbers. They have a mixed track record... In my experience, UPS is better at getting parcels to their destination intact and without being infected by gremlins, but your mileage may vary. Some people swear by FedEx, including Amazon, but that's because FedEx will marry anybody with enough money to exclusively rent part of their warehouses and give them very inexpensive rates. Mac Mall is another one of their big spenders.
Customs: Every carrier has their own customs handling. UPS is by and far the easiest, as they just require an external bill of lading. I don't remember the FedEx rules, but god forbid you wasnt to send an Intentional parcel by the USPS. They have at least two, if not three of four different and incompatible forms, and you need to know
which one to use. If you stand in line to mail a parcel by them (UPS and FedEx will pick up from you directly as part of the service.), you must have the form already
completed before you get to the window.
That's right... You may have to go through the line two or three times: once to find out what form you need and actually get it, a second to send it, and possibly a third+fourth when you find out that something abut your package requires a different form. Sounds like fun, eh?
These forms must be filled by hand, and you must provide a phone number
for the recipient, or they won't accept them, and then you have to sign them in person, and finally they stamp them with a rubber postmark, just like they did in the 18
Of course, customs may add an extra duty fee, vig, VAT, or some other made-up fee on the receiving end, billed to the recipient. All packages may also be opened, rifled through, and possibly damaged or destroyed by customs as well, in case there is Plutonium hidden in those Famicom games.
So, between extremely high rates from-n the only three parcel services, Federal fuel taxes and surcharges, pricey packaging materials (Styrofoam is very expensive now thanks to the EPA), and the time (itself a valuable commodity), it's no small wonder that all parcels cost more to post than they should
, but there is no other option. there may be a few, small and obscure seamail outfits still in operation, with a three notable catches. First, you have to live somewhere on a coast with a major harbour; second, your parcel will go in a sea container with thousands of other parcels and will get bashed around; Third, estimated delivery time 3-4 months.
It's really sad, horrible, depressing and surely loses a lot of sales for USA firms who want to sell overseas, but the USA with it amazing deficit can't see past its eye sockets in figuring out that exports make up for a lot of tax revenue and they are losing out on all of this by making it so hard to post out such goods via their own agency. Fixing it is a no-brainier, but sadly, so is the US Congress.
I hope this helps to explain the high cost of postage, not only to International buyers, but also to folks in the USA. On the flip-side, ordering from Nippon is just as expensive, if nit more, and they have the same crazy rules. If you want insurance a/or tracking to the USA, you need to pay for EMS, which is almost as expensive as flying there for local pick-up. Well, maybe not that bad, but it's pretty high. I guess they need some way of getting back at the US for dropping bombs on their cities full of innocent people in place of a military target.
P.S. I hope I don't have any BBCode boo-boos.