I came across the new US Postal Service rates quite by accident last weekend, trying to send out a whole slew of packages including the Galanthus KAL kits. Frankly, I’m as shocked as everyone else by the enormous rate hikes and I lost more money than I care to think about because I wasn’t proactive about changing things on my Etsy site. I’ve never seen this big an increase before, but now that I’ve had time to think about it I want to share why I still think the USPS is the best option for small package shipping.
For years media folks have talked about completely privatizing our mail delivery. This would be a disaster in my opinion, making it prohibitively expensive for people like me to have online shops and sell to even the most local of customers. UPS and Fedex don’t have an affordable option to ship one or two skein orders, which is my Etsy bread and butter package size. If you need a price comparison for proof consider this: to ship a single skein from my house in Hillsboro to downtown Portland via UPS it would cost the customer $9, whereas via USPS it is $3 for a single skein no matter where in the country it goes. The cost via UPS goes up to $14 if the package is going from one US coast to another.
When it comes to Fedex, I don’t bother with a price comparison because they rely on the USPS to deliver their smaller goods anyway. If you want reliable, trackable delivery and a set arrival date you have to pay UPS through the nose.
Don’t get me started on the way Fedex and UPS leave things on your doorstep. Many mail carriers will do the same thing if your mail doesn’t fit your box, but at least with regular mail you always have the option to rent a (cheap-as-can-be) mailbox. Getting to a UPS or Fedex distribution center when you miss a signature delivery is a trek and a half, whereas the USPS has a local office for almost every zip code.
This rate increase really stinks for my international customers, and you have my deepest apologies. I want to buy yarn from dyers in Canada, Australia and the UK, but I often hesitate because the freight fees increase the cost of the yarn per skein by around 50%. While our US to Canada rates have doubled, going the other way still costs more.
So, yes, this adjustment is rather painful. But I am going to continue to hope that the USPS can get themselves in order if not profitability. They provide an affordable service that needs to change to meet current demand and I’d rather see them try than be shut down or be privatized into a UPS wannabe.