The comprehensive eBay shipping shortcuts thread
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Post Posted: Sat May 05, 2007 4:42 pm 
 

I've been asked a few times via PM over the past couple of months to expand on some of the "never go into a post office" thoughts I've posted here, so I'm choosing today to list all of the headache-reducing tips and tricks I know of in this one (soon-to-be) gigantic thread. And then BeyondTheBreach and BadMike will chime in and tell me what I'm doing wrong ...  :wink:

One warning before we begin: this thread will cover the USPS and U.S. shipping options only. Not only do I, personally, prefer not to ship internationally, but I know next to nothing about it. (Maybe BadMike or BtB could begin an international thread, as they know a lot more about that subject).

Okay, here we go:

Tip 1: Get free supplies.

The USPS will happily deliver an unlimited amount of free Priority Mail supplies to your doorstep. Practically anything is available: boxes, stickers, forms, etc. You'll need to open up an account on the USPS web-site, but that's free and only takes 45 seconds.

So, log onto www.usps.com and look for this link (warning: these links, of course, might move around if the USPS changes the layout of its site):

Image

Follow the links for Priority Mail and you'll eventually see a page that looks like this:

Image

Look at those prices! Free! Woot! At this point, using your USPS account, you can order whatever fits your needs. I usually get an order of "regular" boxes, an order of flat-rate boxes, an order of flat-rate envelopes, and some stickers. That keeps me going for about three months, in most cases.

Tip 2: Print your own postage.

This is the part that usually frightens people off, but it's really quite easy. There are a number of ways to print your own postage, but I've found PayPal to be the easiest (in terms of eBay shipping, that is). Every completed eBay listing has this link just waiting to be clicked:

Image

(Yes, I like Footballers Wives ... so sue me. :) ).

Following that link will send me to a page where the buyer's information is already filled in. If everything looks good, I'll click "okay," and be taken to a final step where I will pay for the postage directly from my PayPal account. After that, it's just a matter of hitting the "print" button ... and out comes a totally legal, totally valid, ready-to-go USPS label.

Postage labels can be printed on any sort of paper stock, but I've found that spending some extra money on adhesive labels is worth it. I'm sure there's about 500 places to get adhesive labels, but I'll just mention that I get mine from Label Universe (www.labeluniverse.com).

Now, if you're printing a label that's not connected to an eBay auction, or if you don't want to use your PayPal money to purchase the label, there are other home-printing options. The most obvious is the USPS site itself: with a credit card handy, you can print labels by filling in your address information, etc., and just following the instructions. There's also third-party services that are quite good: I use Endicia for non-eBay shipping (www.endicia.com).

It's worth noting that printing your own postage also provides free delivery confirmation for Priority Mail labels and a lower-cost confirmation number for Media Mail (14 cents, I think).

Tip 3: Have it picked up.

Okay, back to the USPS site. Again, you'll need an account, but it's worth it when you follow this link:

Image

Following that link will lead to a form where you will fill in the total number of packages you'd like picked up, how much they weigh, and where you'll leave them. When you're finished and click "okay," your closest USPS branch is electronically notified of your request ... and the rest is up to the carrier. You don't even have to be home when your carrier comes by!

In fact, I have a pickup request for today; here's what it looks like:

Image

In case you can't read it, it's for five packages with a total weight of 10 pounds, left by my front door. They are out there right now, just waiting to wing their way to my high bidders!

(Obscure USPS rule: carrier pickup requires that one package be either Priority Mail or Express Mail. This isn't much of a problem if you just time it so that one Priority package goes out with a group of Media Mail or Parcel Post, or whatever. I've even had my carriers tell me not to worry about it ... )

And that's basically my three steps to eBay shipping happiness. Note that at no time did I ever have to go into a post office or interact with a postal employee. That's the whole key for me: it's streamlined, it's simple, and it lets me do things other than stand in lines. Plus, the USPS actually prefers it this way: they are chronically understaffed and they are desperate to get people out of lines at the post office.

+++++

Executive summary:

1. Get a USPS account;

2. Get free supplies;

3. Print your own labels;

4. Have it all picked up.

5. Do something else with your time!  :D  :)  :lol:  :wink:  :)  :D  8O  :wink:

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Post Posted: Sat May 05, 2007 5:27 pm 
 

Should add that there is many options for mail pick up, you can leave the packages outside, have the mail carrier knock on the door and pick them up, etc. Also as I've had it happen before, if they forget to pick it up, 100% of the time someone comes around later that night to pick them up without having to call (2 or 3 times this has happened to me as I think the driver was new or the paper they get was tucked in with the mail and forgotten.)

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Post Posted: Sat May 05, 2007 5:55 pm 
 

Actually, some of the options are pretty humorous. I believe you can even leave your packages in your back yard.  :)

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Post Posted: Sat May 05, 2007 7:57 pm 
 

Xaxaxe wrote:They are out there right now, just waiting to wing their way to my high bidders!

... and there they go with the nice postal carrier. Bye, packages! Bring me good feedback!

See, I'm telling you, carrier pickup does work!  :)

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Post Posted: Sun May 06, 2007 12:32 am 
 

Xaxaxe wrote:... and there they go with the nice postal carrier. Bye, packages! Bring me good feedback!

See, I'm telling you, carrier pickup does work!  :)


Very nice!  I would only add that there are many more free package options than what are available on the website...I discovered this one day while trying to reorder some obscure type priority boxes.  I usually order over the telephone for this reason.  When you get your supplies in the mail, sometimes they have a list enclosed that lists pretty much all the priority supplie you can order if you wish; just keep it handy and refer to this if you wish something different. If you aren't interested in oddball boxes then the website will do you fine.
  Note that I cannot trust my present carrier enough to pick up my mail..hell, I don't even trust him to DELIVER my mail, which is why I have a PO Box.  But you can still put postage on at home, and drop it off at the local post office, you just have to hand it to a person if it's over a certain weight (can't remember it right now). Still should save you time and money....

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Post Posted: Sun May 06, 2007 11:50 am 
 

What's the USPS pick-up policy if you live in an apartment building or condo complex with a mailroom? That is, the postal carrier never comes to your door, and you put outgoing mail in a "blue box" on the street. Can you only get the free (or reduced) delivery confirmation with Priority/Media if they pick it up, or can you still drop it off yourself at the post office?

I'll take a look at their site, it might answer these questions.

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Post Posted: Sun May 06, 2007 1:20 pm 
 

Carrier pickup FAQ:

https://hdusps.esecurecare.net/cgi-bin/ ... VAi&xssl=1

I glanced at it; it does mention that residents of multi-story buildings should leave their packages on the ground floor.

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Post Posted: Sun May 06, 2007 1:40 pm 
 

Xaxaxe wrote:... and there they go with the nice postal carrier. Bye, packages! Bring me good feedback!

See, I'm telling you, carrier pickup does work!  :)


This might be a dumb question but do you ever send international? If yes, does your mail carrier pick those up too?


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Post Posted: Sun May 06, 2007 2:01 pm 
 

Kosh Vorlontay wrote:This might be a dumb question but do you ever send international? If yes, does your mail carrier pick those up too?


1. As little as possible (I've probably shipped overseas a total of five times in the last three years combined);

2. Yes, but you (the shipper) must be at home when the carrier arrives. I think this is to double-check that the correct forms are being used and that any signatures can be taken of, if they are necessary.

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Post Posted: Sun May 06, 2007 4:24 pm 
 

Interesting...I was reading the international shipping rate and it said that:

Priority Mail International — Flat-Rate Envelope (9.5" x 12.5")*
Destination Country               
 Canada and Mexico                        $9.00
 All Other Countries                        $11.00
*May contain items that may be sent as First-Class Mail International.
 The maximum weight is 4 lbs.

Priority Mail International — Flat-Rate Box*
Destination Country               
 Canada and Mexico                $23.00
 All Other Countries                $37.00
*Merchandise is permitted, but written communications having the nature of current and personal correspondence are not permitted.
 The maximum weight is 20 lbs. or the limit set by the individual country.

Now I must be blind but nowhere could I find the "or the limit set by the individual country." Has anyone else seen what the weight limits are going to be? 20 lbs for the Flat Rate box is fairly hefty, so I hope the future boxes will be a bit bigger!


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Post Posted: Sun May 06, 2007 4:53 pm 
 

I don't trust my mailperson to pick up my stuff either (she hates me, I'm certain)  And my "home" post office is run by rural ass-monkeys who make me take all my printed packages to the clerk window to be individually weighed and shook (because I MIGHT be cheating media mail with my 100+ packages each week) but by driving 25 minutes to civilization each week, my neighboring post office lets me leave my pre-posted mail on their loading dock (even international and large boxes) so that might be something to look into.

  

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Post Posted: Tue May 08, 2007 2:05 pm 
 

Well, I just got through with my first two days of shipping using printed out postage.  Some observations:

It's easy to do flat rate priority envelopes...they are perhaps the easiest and most cost effective (with the free delivery confirmation).  The money comes right out of your paypal account.

If you don't use adhesive labels, you have to use a lot of tape to get the slip on the package.  Adhesive labels are easier, but cost roughly 40 cents each.  Kind of makes up for the 50 cents you saved with delivery confirmation  8O I'm assuming the cost goes way down if you buy in bulk?  If not, I'll probably just just plain copy paper taped on the package in the future.

International packages are a ass pain, since you have to give so much information, plus you aren't allowed to use adhesive labels, plus you have to print out three copies of the label. However, starting Monday they are going to give a big rebate for using online postage for these so it might be worth the trouble.  I've found that international postage works best for one or two low cost items.

You have to have a good, reliable, adjusted correctly postage weight machine.  

It's a pain to do small packages (like a single paperback) so I went ahead and kept doing those by hand.

All in all, very helpful.  I can't see using this on all my packages, but it should help with about 80% of them.

Mike B.


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Post Posted: Tue May 08, 2007 2:28 pm 
 

Badmike wrote:Adhesive labels are easier, but cost roughly 40 cents each.  Kind of makes up for the 50 cents you saved with delivery confirmation  8O I'm assuming the cost goes way down if you buy in bulk?

Yeah, I buy mine in lots of 200 ... the price seems reasonable, although I've never stopped to break it down completely. But just think of all that tape I'm saving!  :)

Badmike wrote:You have to have a good, reliable, adjusted correctly postage weight machine.

Whoops! I totally forgot to mention this in the original post. But, yes, you must have some way to weigh any items that are going to use a home-printed label. The cost of the label, obviously, will be determined by the weight of the item and the method of shipment.

The good news is that a decent scale for home use is a one-time (and fairly cheap) investment. I have a 10-lb. digital scale that works just fine, and it was purchased for next to nothing during a big sale at Amazon. Other than my digital camera, I consider it to be the best eBay-related purchase I've ever made.

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Post Posted: Fri May 11, 2007 11:18 pm 
 

I just wanted to drop a note of thanks to Xaxaxe for this post.  I greatly appreciate the time you took to selflessly outline this, step-by-step.  The additional comments by other posters have only added to the value of the thread.

I have been dragging my feet for months about doing this and since this post have ordered my postal scales, ordered my first set of flat rate shipping boxes and will begin printing my own postage for future sales.

Does anyone have suggestions for the least expensive shipping boxes for non-priority delivery?

Well done!

Andy

  


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Post Posted: Fri May 11, 2007 11:51 pm 
 

Boreas wrote:I just wanted to drop a note of thanks to Xaxaxe for this post.

De nada.

Boreas wrote:Does anyone have suggestions for the least expensive shipping boxes for non-priority delivery?

How much online shopping do you do? Or, put another way, how often does Amazon or NobleKnight or your other favorite online retailers send stuff to your house? My point being: save those boxes!  8)

(Amazon's are particularly good; they are sturdy and the shipping labels (usually) peel right off)

If that doesn't work for you, all I can say is that you can probably find a better deal than Office Depot or Office Max. Their box prices are just insulting. I'm sure a couple of other sellers here can chime in with some better recommendations.

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Post Posted: Sat May 12, 2007 12:18 am 
 

How much online shopping do you do? Or, put another way, how often does Amazon or NobleKnight or your other favorite online retailers send stuff to your house? My point being: save those boxes!


Yes, I do save and reuse everthing I get but there are times when it is just not enough or the boxes I have just don't quite fit what I am sending.  I usually just waste some additional packing material to take up the void of the box, but that is wasteful.

Maybe it is cost prohibitive to have a few purchased boxes on hand to use in a pinch.  In the meantime, I will continue to scrounge them from friends and relatives.  One time I stopped the car on the way to my daughters piano lesson and snagged a load of nice, small boxes that were sitting by someone's recycling trays.  The kids were mildly embarrased but I had boxes for a while!!  I need to touch bases with a few local businesses that receive boxes often and simply break them down or discard them.  I am a big fan of reusing materials like that.

Andy[/quote]

  

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Post Posted: Sat May 12, 2007 12:43 am 
 

Xaxaxe wrote:How much online shopping do you do? Or, put another way, how often does Amazon or NobleKnight or your other favorite online retailers send stuff to your house? My point being: save those boxes!  8)

(Amazon's are particularly good; they are sturdy and the shipping labels (usually) peel right off)

If that doesn't work for you, all I can say is that you can probably find a better deal than Office Depot or Office Max. Their box prices are just insulting. I'm sure a couple of other sellers here can chime in with some better recommendations.


For boxes, check your local comic book shop, they get nice ones in.  Or buy bulk online. A box at Office Rippo costs $2 at least....

Mike B.


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Post Posted: Sat May 12, 2007 5:58 am 
 

I'll just throw this out there, but for those who sell a lot more frequently and may have packages to be picked up almost every day of the week, it is far better to try to arrange something with your postal carrier then to schedule a pickup everyday.

I've been lucky in that my carrier is a smart, friendly, helpful guy.  I simply leave a sign in my mailbox that I have something waiting at the door and he comes and gets it.

In recent months he has been beset by some physical probems (and is gearing up for retirement) and there have been lots of substitute drivers.  However, without fail, everyone has followed the simple instructions on my little sign that I Velcro to the inside mailbox lid:

"I have a package pickup waiting in the door.

Thank you."


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Post Posted: Sat May 12, 2007 8:36 am 
 

Beyondthebreach wrote:I'll just throw this out there, but for those who sell a lot more frequently and may have packages to be picked up almost every day of the week, it is far better to try to arrange something with your postal carrier then to schedule a pickup everyday.

I've been lucky in that my carrier is a smart, friendly, helpful guy.  I simply leave a sign in my mailbox that I have something waiting at the door and he comes and gets it.

In recent months he has been beset by some physical probems (and is gearing up for retirement) and there have been lots of substitute drivers.  However, without fail, everyone has followed the simple instructions on my little sign that I Velcro to the inside mailbox lid:

"I have a package pickup waiting in the door.

Thank you."


Wow!  A postal carrier that can READ and COMPREHEND!  Simply Amazing!  

We get ALL our mail by PO box now.  The home box is closed and locked shut.  It seems after three years our postal carriers were still getting our neighbors mail mixed up with ours.  You know, because our names were so similar....Badolato and Hajeebsheeshna..... 8O

A note "package pickup at the door" would be greeted with astonishment, derision, laughter (as the driver drove off) and a shaking of his head...

Mike B.


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Post Posted: Sat May 12, 2007 9:35 am 
 

Badmike wrote:
Wow!  A postal carrier that can READ and COMPREHEND!  Simply Amazing!  

A note "package pickup at the door" would be greeted with astonishment, derision, laughter (as the driver drove off) and a shaking of his head...

Mike B.


Are you sure your carrier doesn't commute to Georgia daily just to give me the pleasure of dealing with her?

As far as boxes, I use http://www.Uline.com to fill in when I don't have enough recycled boxes.

BUT (and 2 big buts get the prices down quite a bit)

I never buy anything not on sale, I wait for the sizes I need to be discounted (I buy a small box that about perfectly holds a box set or 3 hardcovers; and a medium size box that pretty easily holds around 25lbs - 30lbs  of stacked books.)

And, Uline has a delivery center around 40 miles from my house so freight is pretty affordable.

YMMV

  
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