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The Growing "cost of shipping" problem

Micom 2000

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I recently got a quote for the shipping of a less than 15 lbs. parcel by postal service to the US of over $30. A similar parcel and distance would also cost about the same in Canada. It seems clear the domestic postal services in both Canada and the US are homogenating their prices to commercial parcel services such as Fed-Ex and UPS. This has had an impact on many of us. And must have an impact on commercial sales in general which would effect the economy of both our countries.

On the other hand I have bought goods from Hong Kong sold on ebay where the shipping costs are not much more than a regular envelope here. It is obvious that the chinese government must be subsidizing shipping costs for exports. This of course boosts China's economy as a whole.
They it appears are wiser than us. Their economy is growing exponentially.

Many goods are trucked across and between our countries and usually these trucks do not have a full load. Because of present circumstances many trucking companies and individual truckers have simply quit. This has a trickle-down effect on local economies and we all become poorer.

One could see an entrepeneurial company taking full advantage of the expediting opportunities available in a time of high-cost shipping prices and where demand for shipping is high while profit margins are prohibitory because of the cost of shipping. For example filling the part-empty trucks with goods which could be off-loaded en-route and then be taken to other smaller centres of recipients. I'm reminded of the Fido networks which were based on individual BBS' all over the country and which countered the high cost of Internet service by such as Compuserve.

Of course many of us so used to rapid shipping might not be willing to accept slower shipping, but at this time when many of us are rejecting to even considering to buy that heavy IBM AT or fabulous monitor, it would be an alternative, and if you magnify that by the many genres in which shipping is a consideration because of price it could become a major industry. With the i-net, communication becomes simplified and I do believe it could be viable. The problem could be how does one get it started. In an early phase perhaps even the movement between cities or towns by members of such small groups as ours carrying parcels of accumulated wishes. Usually a strong need creates it's own fulfillment.

Foolishly speculative ? Perhaps. Impossibly so ? Fly me to the moon.

Lawrence
 

Lorne

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It seems clear the domestic postal services in both Canada and the US are homogenating their prices to commercial parcel services such as Fed-Ex and UPS.

It is obvious that the chinese government must be subsidizing shipping costs for exports. This of course boosts China's economy as a whole.
They it appears are wiser than us. Their economy is growing exponentially.

Many goods are trucked across and between our countries and usually these trucks do not have a full load.

Foolishly speculative ? Perhaps. Impossibly so ? Fly me to the moon.

Lawrence

None of us like increased shipping costs, but I think you are looking at things from a very different perspective.

I don't think the USPS and Canada Post are homgenizing their services. Instead, I think they're both suffering from the use of email rather than postal mail, along with increased fuel costs, which affect both ground and air shipments. USPS has been losing so much money that it has propsed closing many of their local offices. The postal service is still much less expensive than UPS or FedEx for international shipments, and is far less expensive in the US, than it is in Canada. (ie: 42 cents to mail a letter in the US, while it's what, almost a dollar in Canada?)

China bashing is in fashion now (and I try to avoid buying goods made in China too), but I don''t think China is subsidizing shiping costs - their economy is growing for reasons other than subsidizing shipping costs - they've been exporting for decades. Have you got anything to back up that statement about their subsidizing ?

A buddy of mine is a long haul truker. They would prefer driving their truck back home half empty, rather than completely empty. The only thing they hate worse is a dead head (ie: coming back with nothing). And they're not going to sit in one place for a week incurring expenses like food and lodging, trying to fill up the other half of their truck. In addition, more load = more fuel cost. They're going to get on the road, and go get the next trip, which will hopefully be a full load.
There have been too many truckers on the road, doing jobs for far less money than they should have been doing them for, so it's good thing that there's a little thinning out going on in the trucking industry. The same thing needs to, and will happen in other industries.
 

Mr.Amiga500

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Yes, I'd say shipping US to Canada has doubled in the last few months. The last time I bought a computer keyboard, it was $15 shipping. The one I bought last week was over $37 shipping. I don't think I'll be buying computer stuff from the US anymore.

It's disturbing when shipping is more than double the price of the actual thing you're buying.
 

Chuck(G)

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I'm not the only one who has purchased something from China off of eBay for $2 or less with free shipping. Try shipping anything to Beijing from the US for less than $1.00. I often order parts from a vendor in Thailand--they offer decent prices and have a good selection without the ridiculous charges of US distributors such as Mouser or Digi-Key.

When they ship to the US, they first drop-ship to Hongkong, and then have their agent ship from there. When I asked them about that, they said it was far cheaper to first ship Bangkok to Hongkong, then Hongkong to the US than it was to ship Bangkok to the US directly. That's going through not one, but two customs processes.

International post rates are set by the UPU and are essentially treaty arrangements and very infrequently renegotiated. This has lead in the past to all sorts of lopsided arrangements where it was cheaper to send a letter to a foreign city than to send one to another city within the same country.

IRCs must be cheap in Hongkong. Perhaps an enterprising person could revisit Charles Ponzi's original scheme and make a profitable go of it...

I just did a quick check. An IRC purchased in Canada costs CDN$4.00; the same IRC purchased in the US is USD$2.10. Charles Ponzi, where are you? :)

Edit: Oh, one other thing. The US has declared war on reasonable international postal rates by simply refusing to offer a service. After 2001, you could no longer send a "small packet" with a brief pro-forma customs declaration, although they're still sent by other countries to the USA. Now you pretty much have to fill out a commercial customs declaration if you send anything larger than a hairpin--and present the package and form in person during regular post office hours.

Nothing like fostering free trade, is there? :(
 
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Darshevo

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International sales were always a big part of my ebay business. I was selling stuff world wide before the advent of paypal (payment usually in the form of US cash wrapped in some form of paper and mailed to me by the buyer) I have steadily lost my international buyer base with the ever increasing cost of international postage. NOW if your item ships USPS priority you have to stand there for 45 minutes while the generally admittedly computer illiterate postal employee attempts to decipher my chicken scratch and type it into the computer to print the labels. Alternative is to buy postage online ahead of time (I type a fair bit faster than my local PO employees) and fill out the paperwork myself. Needless to say I no longer encourage out of country buyers, and in many cases tack a 5 to 10 dollar handling fee onto my international shipping costs to deter bidders outside the US

-Lance
 

Mike Chambers

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None of us like increased shipping costs, but I think you are looking at things from a very different perspective.

I don't think the USPS and Canada Post are homgenizing their services. Instead, I think they're both suffering from the use of email rather than postal mail, along with increased fuel costs, which affect both ground and air shipments. USPS has been losing so much money that it has propsed closing many of their local offices. The postal service is still much less expensive than UPS or FedEx for international shipments, and is far less expensive in the US, than it is in Canada. (ie: 42 cents to mail a letter in the US, while it's what, almost a dollar in Canada?)

China bashing is in fashion now (and I try to avoid buying goods made in China too), but I don''t think China is subsidizing shiping costs - their economy is growing for reasons other than subsidizing shipping costs - they've been exporting for decades. Have you got anything to back up that statement about their subsidizing ?

A buddy of mine is a long haul truker. They would prefer driving their truck back home half empty, rather than completely empty. The only thing they hate worse is a dead head (ie: coming back with nothing). And they're not going to sit in one place for a week incurring expenses like food and lodging, trying to fill up the other half of their truck. In addition, more load = more fuel cost. They're going to get on the road, and go get the next trip, which will hopefully be a full load.
There have been too many truckers on the road, doing jobs for far less money than they should have been doing them for, so it's good thing that there's a little thinning out going on in the trucking industry. The same thing needs to, and will happen in other industries.

good points here, but i don't think e-mail has anything to do (or at least extremely little) with the raised prices. e-mail can only replace paper letters. i can't e-mail you a laptop, a box of cookies, or a TV and so forth.
 

Unknown_K

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Well lets be realistic, there is a heck of alot of stuff coming to the US from HongKong so shipping is cheap. Shipping from the US to other countries is quite a bit because we no longer use ground shipping (even to Canada) so everything is an expensive airmail rate. As far as I know Canada still uses a cheaper land shipping unless they recently dicthed it.
 

Micom 2000

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I meant homogenizing their rates with commercial carriers, so that they don't compete with them too strongly. Free enterprise and all that.
I compared the rates for a same size and weight parcel from my location to New York CPS and New York to my location USPS and found the difference was CAN$32 CPS and US$41 USPS.

Altho I despise the present regime in China I wasn't China-bashing. On the contrary I was giving them kudos. For my part I'll go with their lower prices and shipping costs readily, They are the international Wallmarts ( whose policies and effects on small towns I don't like either, but still shop there.) For example a small 1 lb. parcel 4''x4"x1" cost me only a couple of dollars from Hong Kong while the same parcel shipped thru CPS would cost me CAN$118.77. Can there be any other reason than some sort of subsidizing. Or else the chinese have been incredibly good at bargaining their international postal rates. Possibly both reasons.

Reasonably priced postal services have been part and parcel of general government functions for possibly centuries like clearing roadways. At one time Canada had one of the best services in the world. Then the government started screwing around with it to reduce costs. The final blow came when a previous conservative regime turned it into a crown corporation, complete with corporate executives and cost/profit guidelines. Price-rates and good service have since then diverged at a rapid rate.

Bus express business hasn't declined even tho the passenger numbers may have on some routes. It's gravy for them because they travel that route anyway. The busses don't wait for either passengers or express parcels. Similarly partly empty trucks could pick up at centralized locations at little or no increase in fuel costs. Some extending of travel time because of loading just as when part loads are picked up now en route. Railway express was once a thriving service. The new demands for fast service and air-express gutted that. I can't see truckers turning down business if there were suitable centralized pickup locations and that increased competition would certainly decrease shipping costs in these hard times and perhaps force down prices and keep those truckers working.

Lawrence

None of us like increased shipping costs, but I think you are looking at things from a very different perspective.

I don't think the USPS and Canada Post are homgenizing their services. Instead, I think they're both suffering from the use of email rather than postal mail, along with increased fuel costs, which affect both ground and air shipments. USPS has been losing so much money that it has propsed closing many of their local offices. The postal service is still much less expensive than UPS or FedEx for international shipments, and is far less expensive in the US, than it is in Canada. (ie: 42 cents to mail a letter in the US, while it's what, almost a dollar in Canada?)


China bashing is in fashion now (and I try to avoid buying goods made in China too), but I don''t think China is subsidizing shiping costs - their economy is growing for reasons other than subsidizing shipping costs - they've been exporting for decades. Have you got anything to back up that statement about their subsidizing ?

A buddy of mine is a long haul truker. They would prefer driving their truck back home half empty, rather than completely empty. The only thing they hate worse is a dead head (ie: coming back with nothing). And they're not going to sit in one place for a week incurring expenses like food and lodging, trying to fill up the other half of their truck. In addition, more load = more fuel cost. They're going to get on the road, and go get the next trip, which will hopefully be a full load.
There have been too many truckers on the road, doing jobs for far less money than they should have been doing them for, so it's good thing that there's a little thinning out going on in the trucking industry. The same thing needs to, and will happen in other industries.
 
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Mr.Amiga500

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Not only price, but the speed of shipping from China is shocking. I once got a computer part shipped to Canada in 4 days! (regular mail, not express) Shipping from US to Canada usually takes 3 weeks.

It's pretty pathetic that something shipped half way around the world for $2 can take only 4 days, but a similar item shipped 100km across the border for $20 takes 3 weeks.
 

Lorne

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The time it takes for stuff to arrive really is nuts.
I put a package in the post to Tezza on Jan 19th, and he received it 8 days later, on the 27th.
I put a package in the post to a guy in Australia on Jan 22nd, and he received 6 days later, on the 28th.
Even that is nuts - 6 days to Australia, but 8 days to NZ?

I was going to say that the problem could be with Canada Customs (they've always been a PITA, based on my past experiences), but if stuff from Hong Kong can arrive quickly, why shouldn't stuff from the US arrive faster? It's travelling a shorter distance.
And stuff coming from Canada to the US, also seems to take a long time.
That stuff just boggles the mind.
Maybe we should ask our respective post offices "what's up with the delivery times between our two contries?"
 

Unknown_K

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If I was a betting man I would bet that little if anything coming from China is checked at customs at all. I never had any of the packages or letters opened as far as I know (probably because the customs people are looking for drugs only).
 

Micom 2000

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Just a little update on prices. USPS prices to ship to my location from anywhere in the States for the 18x14x7 13lb package is US$41.
CPS prices are calculated by state. For example to the neighboring state Minnesota for the same parcel it would cost Can$23.70 as opposed to Can$32 to NY.

Can domestic prices are based on the location. For example that parcel to Montreal would cost Can$17.31 and Halifax 21.09, which is not much less distant than NY. Strangely enough it is a bit cheaper to send that package by CPS to Florida than NY. Can$30.75.

I will certainly curtail any shipping from the US and do my buying and shipping in Canada. Shipping costs from here to the US while too high, is evidently about 25% cheaper than the opposite. US domestic costs appear to be comparible to Canadian both of which are still prohibitively high.

I've found that Bus Express here is generally faster and if they haven't changed their rates less expensive.

Lawrence
 

Chuck(G)

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Also note that the US offers domestic "flat rate" Priority Mail service, where if it fits in the box and weighs less than 70 lbs., it goes for one price. Destinations in Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico included.

I wish Canada Post and the US would come to some sort of agreement on a like international service.
 

Lorne

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Just a little update on prices. USPS prices to ship to my location from anywhere in the States for the 18x14x7 13lb package is US$41.

Lawrence

Yeah, it's nuts, but it's all based on weight now, with only a couple options for shipping internationally.
There used to be a Parcel Post (slower) option from the US to Canada, but that is no longer.
I guess with the USPS hemorrhaging money, they've stopped that service.
Maybe if we all used a stamp and quit paying our bills online/quit using email, they'd get back to even. (That's one of their reasons for their loss of income/money). It won't happen though.
Maybe we'll see CP costs increase to get closer inline with the USPS, now that it's a crown corporation (either that or the service will get even further reduced in order keep the postal costs low).
 

Unknown_K

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The problem with the post office is they staffed up (and purchased land for post office buildings) for a specific volume of mail (kept going up each year for decades since the population is always growing) and now that the volume of mail is dropping (email, texting, online bill paying) their costs are out of whack to volume. It is very hard to close post offices (the one by me was proposed to close even though it was very busy) but public bitching stopped that. Firing union members is also a bit difficult (postal workers). You also have issues about delivering mail and packages to small out of the way towns (middle america) that nobody else would bother with because there is no way to make money from it.
 

Lorne

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Also note that the US offers domestic "flat rate" Priority Mail service, where if it fits in the box and weighs less than 70 lbs., it goes for one price. Destinations in Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico included.

I wish Canada Post and the US would come to some sort of agreement on a like international service.

Yeah but their box sizes really suck.

Every time I try to ship something, it's like an inch larger than their box. Maybe they planned it that way, to get you into the next larger box size/next higher cost bracket.
Mind you, some people don't care. The guy I shipped something to in Australia could have had it sent First Class mail at $ 22, but he opted for the flat rate box at $ 41 (and that was for an item he paid $ 10 for). Go figure.

I'm with you on the Canada/US agreement.
We can do a free trade agreement, but we can't figure out postal mail costs?
 

Lorne

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If I was a betting man I would bet that little if anything coming from China is checked at customs at all. I never had any of the packages or letters opened as far as I know (probably because the customs people are looking for drugs only).

You'd win your bet.

Look at this.
My kid ordered something from Hong Kong that would have cost $ 2 here, and he got it for 99 cents including shipping, which was apparently zero. The HK post office didn't make anything on the deal, and neither did the USPS.
I've a sneaking suspicion that the writing in the box at the top right translates to "place stamp here". They didn't, and it never got run through any machine that would cancel the stamp after it's been used.
And then look at the customs form on the back. Not one single bit of writing on it.
You can bet packages from China or Hong Kong don't get checked - this one sure didn't - what's to check when the form isn't filled out?
No wonder he got free shipping. (sounds like a little scam going on over there - even the shipper must have known it wasn't going to cost them anything).

envelope-HK.jpg
 

Unknown_K

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I see stamps on quite a few packages/envelopes from China/HK but not all.

Ywa, I wonder how they can sell a card shipped for $3 like those post boards.
 

Mr.Amiga500

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Holy crap! The price of shipping is definitely going up. Small 8-bit computers now average $50 - $60 (my 800XL cost $25 to ship a couple months ago). There's one TI-99/4A listed at $106 shipping! Small CRT monitors are at least $80 to ship now. I bought a 1080 last year and it was $30 shipping. I was just going to bid on a rotary telephone when I saw $55 shipping... for a frigging telephone??

And all these monstrous prices are for ultra-slow shipping that takes a minimum 3 weeks to arrive (2 "business weeks"). Although a lot of that is due to ultra-slow Canada Customs, shipping from Europe is still way faster. I just ordered something from the UK (with tracking) and it arrived at Canada Customs after one day! (... and Canada Customs kept it for a week and a half.) Another item I bought from the US the same day took over a week before it even arrived at Canada Customs.
 
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