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Monday, November 10, 2008

Shipping Charges

This has nothing directly to do with sterling silver but we get so many questions about the subject, perhaps it's worth a post. We ship almost everything we sell, so shipping is a very important subject to us as well. Following are the most frequent questions we receive and our responses.

Will you combine multiple purchases into a single shipment to reduce shipping cost?
Yes. We do this automatically unless directed otherwise. In fact, we recommend that you plan your purchases ahead of time to take advantage of this. Most sellers offer this form of reduced shipping cost.

Are you making a profit on shipping?
We do not try to make a profit on shipping. Because we generally quote a flat rate for shipping charges, we probably do not hit the shipping charge exactly. However, any gain or loss will be very small - less than 50 cents.

What's included in shipping charges?
We can only speak for ourselves, not for other sellers. Here's what we include:
- Estimated cost for USPS First Class or Priority Mail (if greater than 13 ounces)
- Estimated cost for USPS shipping insurance
- Estimated cost for a strong shipping container (25 to 50 cents usually)

Will you ship via a cheaper method to reduce cost?
The only cheaper method we know of is Parcel Post. The savings are so small, it's not worth it.

Will you allow local pickup?
We will but with the price of gas these days, it may be more cost efficient to pay for shipping.

We've noticed that some sellers seem to charge more than actual shipping costs. We won't criticize them but we will offer some comments regarding reasons for doing this:

  • Some sellers consider "handling" to be a cost to be passed on to the buyer. It does take time to pack items, drive to the Post Office, etc. However, we consider it just part of the cost of doing business and do not try to pass it on.

  • eBay does not charge a commission or fee on shipping charges like they do on the cost of the item being sold. Therefore, a seller might charge lower selling prices and higher shipping charges to avoid eBay fees. Of course, eBay frowns on this practice! FYI, PayPal charges the seller a commission on everything.

  • The seller may just want to make a little extra profit. That should not be a problem for you as long as you factor in shipping costs before buying the item, making sure the total cost is reasonable for you.

Now, we'll turn to a few pet peeves we have with some sellers:

  • Some sellers force the use of Priority Mail even when less expensive First Class would suffice. The reason could be that the Post Office provides free Priority Mail boxes and the seller is too cheap to buy other boxes.

  • Some sellers charge the Priority Mail Flat Rate box rate when standard Priority Mail would be cheaper. For example, a parcel weighing one pound costs $4.80 to ship by Priority Mail. The Priority Mail Flat Rate Box costs $9.80. The seller is either lazy or is planning to make a profit on this somehow.

  • A seller may have several concurrent items up for auction on eBay, each with unusually high shipping charges. I might like to bid on several and hope to win a few that can be combined for shipping. However, I can't depend upon winning multiple items so I have to bid less for each item so I won't get stuck with exorbitant shipping for just one item.

  • Some sellers force the use of UPS or FedEx when USPS might be cheaper.

If you want to know exactly what USPS charges are, visit The total amount will be influenced by:

  • Weight

  • Amount of insurance

  • First Class vs. Priority Mail

  • Distance (for Priority Mail over one pound)

You might ask, "What's a typical actual shipping cost?" Based on our experience, two or three dinner forks shipped together with total value of $100 will often cost between $4.00 and $5.00. Knives generally are a little higher because they are heavier. Once the parcel exceeds 13 ounces, First Class is no longer an option and Priority Mail will cause the cost to jump.

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