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By now, everyone has probably heard of the upcoming increase in USPS postal rates. Starting May 14, 2007, a first-class mail stamp will cost $0.41.  That’s not all that is changing though. Here are some highlights that are specifically impacting me (and probably all Ebay sellers):

  • Flat rate boxes will increase from $8.10 to $9.15 (wow, this is a big jump!)
  • Delivery confirmation will increase from $0.50 to $0.65 for all priority mail (still free for electronic — good thing I do my shipping online)
  • Insurance will increase from $1.35 to $1.65 for the packages worth $0.01 to $50.00. Similar rate increases on higher amounts.

I also just found out today that the international shipping is being completely revamped.  For packages under 4 lbs, Economy Letter Post and Airmail Letter Post are being replaced by one service, First-Class Mail International.  For packages over 4 lbs, Economy Parcel Post, Airmail Parcel Post, and Global Priority Mail are all being replaced by one service — Priority Mail International. According to the USPS website, this new service will have the following features;

New Priority Mail International features:

  • 6–10 days
  • Insurance available. (This is a much needed addition)
  • Flat Rate Envelopes for letters and Flat Rate Boxes for packages. Unlike domestic flat rate packages, there are weight limits on this – 20 lbs for the flat rate box and 4 lbs for the envelope. Pricing is kind of expensive too. For Canada & Mexico, flat rate boxes are $23 and flat rate envelopes are $9. For all other countries, the prices are $37 and $11, respectively.
  • Available online; 5% discount

Personally, I think that this is a HUGE improvement. Now everyone will have the same shipping choices. I learned the hard way not to ship things via surface mail on Ebay — while Economy Post is supposed to only take 4-6 weeks by boat, I have found that it can take up to three months!! I shipped toothpaste to Taiwan on Feb 15, and it still hasn’t reached its destination.  The buyer got freaked out and requested a full refund of their payment, which they are entitled to up to 60 days after payment is made. So guess what? They just got toothpaste shipped to them for free (assuming that it will still get there), and I’m out $25.  So I’ve since switched my listings to require air mail shipping for international bidders.  But starting May 14, 2007, this will no longer be an issue.

Another benefit of this switch is that we will be able to use the same USPS priority mail boxes for shipping internationally. And I really like the 5% discount feature (available through USPS Click-n-Ship, not yet sure if it will be available through Pitney Bowes, the online postage company associated with Paypal). I already do all my domestic shipping online, so it won’t be that difficult to fill out the customs forms and pay for the international shipping online as well.

Of course, my first thought was how all these USPS price increases will impact Ebay. Sellers will have to be aware of the changes, so they charge the right amount. I can’t just charge a flat rate fee of $8.10 for shipping anymore. Maybe I should just start charging the new price now, to break myself of the habit. :) And international buyers may be less likely to bid on items if the shipping is more expensive. We shall see, I suppose. The insurance is wonderful though. I’m going to make it required on all my shipments abroad.

5 Responses to “USPS Rate Increases & the Impact on Ebay”

  1. stardo says:

    that’s why i only sell to domestic buyers. too many scams abroad. you have to be careful, that $25 could easily have wiped out whatever profit you made on all of the other FAR things you resold this year. it adds up.

  2. admin says:

    Eh, what kind of profit are you making on Ebay? $25 for a whole year? Geesh, you must think I’m stupid. When you make $1000, you can easily count $25 loss as part of doing business.

    And the guy received his toothpaste yesterday, and contacted me and repaid me already. So much for scams abroad. The honor system is still alive, and I prefer to think that I WON’T be screwed by everyone I do business with, thank you. Sure, there’s some inherent risk, but that’s why you do your research and minimize the risk as much as possible.

    And I don’t sell FAR things on Ebay. You’ve been reading too much Fatwallet. That would be a waste of my time…investing all my time watching the forums to snatch up a FAR item, waiting for rebates to process, then following up when I don’t receive them. And THEN sell it on Ebay? Nah, I only do the FAR things when I really need them (like the $120 worth of shipping labels from Staples a month ago).

    I think you know too little about Ebay personally. Sure, I do it as my hobby, and I make a little money from it, but there are plenty of people who make GOOD money (as much as people at Intel! gasp!) on Ebay. And they get to do it from their home. Don’t knock what you don’t know.

  3. stardo says:

    i’ve made a decent bit of money on ebay and have something along the lines of 150+ transactions with 100% positive feedback. in that time i’ve had 1 deal go sour but sucked it up and went about my business.

    there are a lot of people who make money on ebay, but in the end ebay is making a big chunk out of that. it is a website whose only value rests on its popularity. it’s like youtube with fees. it isn’t particularly novel, it is simply well-marketed. that’s my only qualm with it. it’s not even an auction website, technically. it is a bastardization of auctioning.

    my main qualm with ebay is its oppressiveness in the market. while it has made quite the market for all sorts of collectibles and material goods (a good thing), if another better auction site came along a year from now, it would not thrive simple due to the popularity of ebay. why do sellers sell on ebay? because that’s where the buyers are. ebay could raise its fees by $1 tomorrow and everyone would still use it, because that’s where all the buyers are.

    it’s not quite a monopoly, but it’s pretty darned close. remind me why google checkout is not a payment option on ebay?

    there are ways to minimize you risks selling on ebay to avoid scams and i’m confident you are aware of those methods.

    if you are making money on ebay, good money (i.e. more money than people at intel!) then why not start your own business? why not have your own website? there are also things to consider about making 50k+ on ebay and making 50k+ at intel – taxes, insurance, benefits, etc. another thing to consider is the long term viability of your earnings. where will i be 10 years from now working at intel vs. 10 years from now selling stuff on ebay? how marketable will i be with 5 years of experience working in industry or 5 years of experience selling stuff on the web, if things change and i need to get another job?

    lastly, you say it is a hobby, and that’s all fine and good. if you enjoy it, that’s great, it’s not all consuming, by all means keep on doing it. when it becomes a chore that you are making money on, then it’s a job. that’s when you need to make sure it’s worth actually doing.

    after all is said and done, i don’t really care what you do, i just like giving you something to think about, because it gives me something to think about as well.

  4. admin says:

    Yeah, I was referring to people like mom, in making more than Intel…and in that case, you would have to have a husband/wife to supplement you with insurance. Or purchase your own, which plenty of self-employed people do just fine. And for people like her, working in your pajamas from home is far superior to working for Intel. If I were you, this is where I would start a rant on corporations and beauracracy and all that, and how supporting yourself and being successful and absolutely LOVING what you’re doing (how many people at Intel truly love what they do??) is far more respectful in my eyes.

    None of the above applies to me, because it’s not my job. I just find it a profitable hobby. I only talk about my hobbies on my blog — I detest talking about work or school outside of their respective venues.

    Haha, and talking about monopolies, you don’t think Google is starting its own? You’re just rejecting one to support another.

  5. stardo says:

    i’m not particularly fond of google in all respects, but that is neither here nor there. =)

    and i’m not saying all corporations are evil or that some of the more evil ones, like ebay, are necessarily un-good. corporations are inherently made up of people who, to varying degrees, can be ethical or unscrupulous. the degree to which the people in an organization are ethical i think reflects as a whole on the corporation itself. ebay and google both have interesting business models, i’ll just say that.

    as for working at intel, i can’t speak for anyone else but i love what i do and will continue doing it until i no longer love it. at that point i will go do something i love. it doesn’t take much to please a computer geek. it just so happens that it is also a fine career for me, financially speaking. =)

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