Thursday, August 8, 2013

shipping

I wrote about my listening experiences with DAC's (digital to analog converters) the other day, and how I couldn't hear the difference between the one I just purchased and another one that I already had. Despite not being able to hear a difference I decided to keep the newer (and more expensive) one and sell the old one.

Someone bought the old one.  He lives clear cross the country in Washington, DC. I went to the FedEx, UPS and USPS web sites to try and get an estimate of how much it would cost to ship the package by each service. The original package had been sent to me via USPS Priority Mail but the carton size was slightly different from the flat rate package sizes offered by USPS - by less than an inch in any of the dimensions.

I decided to take the package to the post office to get a quote.  "This is almost the same size as the medium flat rate box," the guy at the counter told me.  USPS has a great shipping deal - they will send that flat rate medium-sized box, with all you can stuff inside of it, for $12.35 anywhere in the U.S. Well, almost anything; it has a weight limit of 70 lbs but unless you are sending matter that's been condensed by a black hole I don't think anything the size of that box weighs more than 70 lbs.

The key word here was "almost." It wasn't the same size. But since the original package had come via Priority Mail I figure the company had gotten a good rate on it so I asked the clerk how much it would cost to send this particular box. About $23. So for just a small difference in size, there was a significant difference in cost.  I wanted to use the original box since the foam padding inside of it fit just right.

I took a medium flat rate box - which incidentally was free - home with me to see if I could fit the DAC inside of it and save some money. Using the original padding, the box bulged a bit. I didn't want any bulges and didn't know if the post office would accept it, so I just shaved the foam padding slightly and voila, it fit nice and snug. I sealed the box, paid for and printed the postage online via the USPS site, taped it on the box and took it to the post office.

On top of that, you get a discount if you do everything online so the postage turned out to be $11.30. That, plus a signature confirmation, brought the total to $13.50. Not only that but with Priority Mail it would be delivered from California to DC in two days.

Compared to the online pricing I got from UPS and FedEx, USPS Priority Shipping is a downright bargain! The cost is about half, it gets there in two instead of five days, and even the box is free. I also feel more secure taking it to the post office instead of a UPS or FedEx dropoff point because the post office seems so much more "official" and I've noticed the customer service is pretty darn good, too.

No wonder they are on the verge of bankruptcy...

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