I have been selling off my 60-years' collection for several years
now, basically on eBay. Based on my experience, I feel the most
advantageous service is United States Postal Service (USPS) "Priority
Mail". It does cost more and may or may not be faster than Parcel
Post service, but we definitely feel it is more protected by the USPS
workers, and it's not that much slower, if at all.
The free Priority Mail packaging is a great asset for any shipper.
There is one caveat: it is worth checking each item via the USPS Postal
Calculator, putting in both your zip code and the recipient's. Also,
it's a good idea to download for yourself the detailed prices and fees
for _all_ USPS services. We've saved a lot by having this handy. See
for example http://www.usps.com/prices/
If the distance is not too great, the Flat Rate envelope and box may
cost you more to send than just regular Priority Mail. Check it out.
If you're sending literature and recordings (which includes perforated
music rolls), Media Mail does take somewhat longer (probably the same
as Parcel Post) and you want to make sure it is thoroughly packed to
prevent damage. Media Mail _always_ costs less than the same item sent
as Parcel Post.
We did not realize until recently that the rate for a First Class "flat"
-- meaning something, for instance, in a 9" x 12" Kraft envelope --
costs a great deal more than just the usual First Class rate times the
number of first and subsequent ounces. A regular First Class item
(like a letter, what USPS calls "single-piece") goes for that figured
rate only up to 3.5 ounces. After that it jumps appreciably, something
USPS has never really publicized.
A few months back my wife took some items to the post office including
a small catalog, not very heavy, but over 4 ounces. When she told me
what it cost, I was dumbfounded, until I looked at the rate sheet and
said, "Oh, _that's_ what that means," and a postal clerk later told me
it quietly went into effect along with the new rates in May.
If you're selling or buying on eBay, be aware that eBay has new rules
affecting books, photo, records and some other items which limit
shipping and handling to $4.00! There may be others at different low
rates. That has killed my shipping them by our preferred and safer
Priority Mail which included insurance, which we regret. So we are
either selling with free shipping or else shipping at $3.95 with
insurance optional at $1.70, all of which we really do not like to do.
You may have other ways to get around this.
Free shipping also means that if there is an insurance claim (I think
out of hundreds of shipments we've had one claim in four years) you get
reimbursed for the entire transaction amount. It burns me that USPS,
UPS and all the other shippers who offer insurance do not reimburse for
shipping costs, even if you pay for it. What a rip-off!
Oh, one other thing along the same lines. Be wary of DHL -- we've had
a few shipments shipped _to_ us in Virginia and now in Florida, sent by
DHL, and every time we got from one to three phone calls from the driver
and it took days before they finally found us. In one case they finally
just dropped off the package at a post office to have USPS deliver it.
No wonder they are cutting way back on their services and essentially
withdrawing from delivering inside the USA.
DHL may be fine for overseas, but we don't 'go that route'. When we
purchase items we specify "Do _not_ ship by DHL". In one case when
the seller's rep said that was the only way, and they didn't care what
we said, we just told them to cancel the order. Something tells us a
lot of other folk have told them the same. This has nothing to do with
the fact they're not an American company; we didn't even know that
until some news stories a few months back.
I hope you glean something useful from all this shipping stuff. Be
wary of getting ripped off! The times they are a-changed, and not for
Good luck to you all, and Happy Thanksgiving and the Holidays coming up!