Monday, October 3, 2011

Why is shipping so hard?!

A couple posts back I showed you the coffee table I made and (finally) listed in my Etsy shop.  One of the reasons it took me so long to open my shop and list some things was because I wasn't sure how to figure out the shipping costs...especially for an 80 something pound coffee table!

I found out that the USPS won't ship something that big and most freight companies charge an arm and a leg to ship.  Well, did you know that Greyhound ships packages?  Pretty cool!  They have a website that is pretty user friendly and it tells you where they have stations and what the price will be and when the bus leaves, yadi-yadi-yada.
Anyway, I was pretty pumped to have sold the table and excited to be sending it to CA.  That excitement started to wain as I began the whole shipping process.  The trip to Budget Box and Bag this morning went pretty well. The gentleman there was very helpful.  He looked at the picture of my table and suggested a couple items to use to pack it.  He also mentioned that he has other customers who ship stuff via Greyhound and they've had much success.  Yeah!
Greyhound PackageXPRESS
Okay, so my packing supplies are purchased and I'm headed home to do the "handling" part of shipping and handling.  Let me just say I know why they charge for that!  It took me two hours and four hands to wrap that puppy up in bubble wrap, cardboard, packing tape and stretch wrap!  I was literally sweating by the time I was done!

But my spirit is still high!  (I forgot to mention a very important detail.  Remember the napkins I sold on my shop?  Well, I underestimated the shipping and ended up paying more than twice as much as what I charged the customer.  Well, I ate that cost and chalked it up to experience.)  I still have $100 left from the shipping amount I charged my customer.  Now it was time to take it to the bus station!  Hubby agreed to go with me (since this was my first time and I didn't know if they would help unload it and I wasn't sure where the bus station was).  I opted for the bus station in El Reno, which is a relatively small community.  My other choice was the downtown OKC bus station and the mere thought of going there made me urp up a little.  No thanks!  I don't do the downtown traffic and one-way streets!
Well, we arrive in El Reno and guess what?  They don't ship packages from there anymore!  REALLY?!  Ugh!  Looks like I'm headed downtown after all.  But that's okay...I still have my security blanket hubby to drive me. So off we go to downtown.

Once we get to the downtown area, Hubs is playing tour guide and pointing out all the buildings of downtown and we miss our exit!  So two extra miles out of our way we go but I'm not driving so it's okay.

We double back and hit downtown and there is TONS of road construction going on...nice.  Then hubby pipes up, "I'm pretty sure the bus station is somewhere in this area."  What?  You don't know where the bus station is?  Okay, full blown panic now!  Oh, wait.  There is a giant sign that says "BUS".  This is good.  But wait, it's not the new bus station.  But people are standing out front.  Maybe we are in the right place.  Where do we park? All these thoughts in about 3 seconds.  Now you see why I don't like to drive downtown.
I go inside and wait in line and when it's my turn, I ask and praise God, I'm in the right place!  My breathing is deeper now and my pulse has slowed slightly.  We go outside and load it on a carrier and they take in the back.  I go to the counter and he asks "Did you label it?"  What?  No I didn't label it.  I don't know what to label it with!  I thought that's what we would do here - together - you and me!  Seriously?

Pulse going up, breathing shallow!  "That's okay.  Let me get you a label."  Pulse going back down.  Oh, snap!  I put the receiver's address where I should have put my address!  "I think I messed this up."  Breathing is shallow, palms are sweating.  "It's okay, I'll go get you another label.  It's your first time."  Yeah, and maybe my last!

Okay, label is filled out correctly.  I hand it over and confirm the receiving bus station.  He asks what the package is and how much insurance.  He begins typing on the keyboard and this is where I think my breathing stops all together.  The moment of truth.  How much will it cost.  Remember I said I still had $100 left for shipping?  Will I come in under the mark?  Total to ship to San Fernando, CA - $104. 80.  Now I know I'm only over by about $5, which isn't bad, but I still underestimated my shipping.  Not to mention it took me a quarter tank of gas.

So I'm 0 for 2 on the shipping thing.  But I did learn a lot.  If you have never used Greyhound PackageXpress but are considering it, let me tell you what I learned.

  • The PackageXpress website is really very user friendly (except they still show El Reno as a shipping location!).
  • I weighed my table unwrapped and it came in 9 pounds less than what they weighed it at the station wrapped.  I'll just add 9 pounds to my next estimate.
  • Be sure to enter the value when you are getting your estimate online.  This will make a difference in how much it costs.
  • Allow about $10 for a fuel surcharge.  This should be about right.
  • If you do all of this you should be within just a few dollars of the actual shipping cost.
  • The beginning of the month is busier than any other time of the month (that's what the guy at Greyhound told me).  This will slow down the delivery of your package (it only gets on board if there is room in cargo after all the passenger's luggage is loaded.)  He told me weight makes it slower, too.  I don't know why but apparently it does.
I told my husband that he is officially hired as my shipping and receiving guy!  If he can't take me and my furniture to the bus station, we don't go that day!

And on top of all of that craziness, this afternoon a suspicious package was found about one block away from the station we were at and they evacuated downtown.  REALLY?!


  1. k' ... I am in LOVE with you and following, stalking and hopefully talking
    ALOT to you in the near future!!!

  2. oh, and adding you to my daily reads ... I will be scouring this post like my Bible for shipping ideas ... I have clients everywhere, yet this is always a stumbling block

  3. Good for you for getting through all that! I would like to build/transform furniture to sell, but with all that I hear about the nightmare of shipping anything large, I'll probably put that dream on hold and leave it for you adventurous gals :)
    -Jill @ Junky Vagabond