Help me ship!
December 4, 2013 3:47 PM   Subscribe

I have sold a small bunch of prints and have made the foolish choice to distribute them myself. I have questions about shipping from Canada and hope you might have some experiences...

The package is a 15x2x2 shipping tube, and it should be a few ounces.

The customers are mainly in the US, the UK, and Australia. I want the cheapest way to get this package to them.

I have just gotten the tubes and will be taking one to Canada Post in the next day or so, but some information right now would be very useful.

The prices I'm getting from Canada Post are in the order of $30-$50. That seems like a lot to me! Am I wrong? (the answers I've gotten from actual staff are varied and delivered with a lot of shrugging. I know I need to actually bring the package, but I was hoping for at least some kind of estimate...)

Alternatively, I live in Toronto and it is relatively easy to nip down to NY and send from the US. I have heard anecdotally that USPS has more reasonable rates than Canada Post. Has this been anyone's experience? I used the USPS calculator and it seems to be saying that it may cost around $15 to get to Australia.

Essentially if you have opinions about getting light, midsized packages out to the big wide world it would be nice to hear how you did it.

Optional question to answer:
Is there a way to show up at a post office with a couple dozen things to mail to different places and not seem like a giant jerk, like calling ahead or bringing cupcakes?
posted by robot-hugs to Work & Money (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Were you paid by PayPal? If yes it's very easy to buy and print your postage from there.

Your PO wants you to show up with lots of mail; you don't need to call ahead.

The USPS has much cheaper rates; geography and population density makes the US and Canada very different shipping markets.

What are you asking when you ask Canada Post? What does your filled tube weigh; accuracy is important here? To get a .4lb 15x2x2 tube sent locally I'm seeing $10.32 regular parcel, and to Great Britain it could go surface (warning: very, very slow, no meaningful insurance or tracking) for $7.31. There really isn't much for them to tell you about a theoretical parcel; you need to package one up exactly as you'll want to ship it, and go in with some addresses, for a good estimate. (Go in with a random US address, a random Australian address, and a postal code as far away from you as you can get...)

It might be cheaper to chuck the tubes and buy cardboard and large envelopes; if you can fit things through a little slot the PO uses, it goes as lettermail and that will slash the price -- but if they need to be in tubes, never mind.

The USPS gives out FREE shipping supplies -- unthinkable to us, I know -- for use with the 'USPS Priority' service. Small tube. Not sure of the logistics of acquisition from here; you'd presumably want to print out address labels that could be stuck on, and maybe call ahead to inquire re.: supply of correctly sized tubes.

You can get a wee discount at Canada Post if you sign up for VentureOne.
posted by kmennie at 4:19 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

USPS just gives out tubes? Why are they so great and Canada Post is so awful?

Follow up perhaps: if i ship internationally from Buffalo I imagine there's customs forms...but I live in Canada. I imagine a Canadian address on the declaration form would not be ok, right?
posted by robot-hugs at 4:33 PM on December 4, 2013

Population density = magical free boxes! If you ship out of Canada from Canada there will be Customs chits to scribble on too, but I don't think they'll care about the return address if you're shipping from the US to the US; they care if your item is crossing a border. You'll have already taken it across the border, so. EBaying [etc] Canadians heading to border post offices is pretty common.
posted by kmennie at 4:44 PM on December 4, 2013

Also, welcome to the wonderful world of shipping things to (and from) Australia. The prices are shocking, but keep in mind how very, very far away we are. It costs heaps in petrol and such just to get it over here. Have you checked out any 'pick and pack' services in the US? I don't know any specifically, but it would seem that the most cost effective option (pending you have the volume) would be to piggyback off another company who may have access to bulk discounts. Good luck!
posted by LongDrive at 6:59 PM on December 6, 2013

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