Shipping Globally Revisited
To have a mailer picked up, we just call our usual FedEx number and request an Express pick-up. Easy enough, and no charge for that service. I have yet to have any complaints from customers who have received mail via this service.
Not wishing to rest on our laurels, we also recently signed up with Pitney Bowes, which has some advantageous rates for Biblio and ABE booksellers. Like FedEx, Pitney Bowes has an inside and outside sales team; both have been very reliable in answering questions and doing follow-up work.
Like FedEx, Pitney Bowes charges for actual weight rather than rounding up to the nearest pound. Their quoted prices to us were less than FedEx; there seems to be a certain amount of flexibility in the prices quoted by both services, so some haggling is certainly in order.
Unlike FedEx, Pitney Bowes does not require a customs slip on packages. They also have an optional courier service, completely tracked, that is extremely competitive (more like regular priority mail rates) that can be used for more expensive material.
Pitney Bowes uses UPS to do the pick-ups of their packages (no charge to us); they supply bar-coded labels and pre-printed internal manifests. Like FedEx, they offer two classes of service (priority fast, and not quite priority fast). We're planning on working with them beginning next week.
We have not given up using Priority Mail flat rate envelopes; if we can safely ship something very heavy in a flat-rate envelope, chances are we will use it. However, for oversize packages, packages that do not need to go at the fastest speed, books requiring courier service, or books that are too heavy or too light, these alternative service companies fit the bill.
The USPS, Pitney Bowes and FedEx are covered by our package insurance service (check with yours to see what special kind of documentation you might need). Choices do make shipping a bit more complicated, but the savings and service to the customer are well worth the effort.
Renée Magriel Roberts can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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