Shipping Guidelines For Newbie and Not-So-Newbie Traders
Keep in mind that these are only guidelines and that THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR GOOD COMMUNICATION.
- Pre-Shipping Guidelines
- Packaging Guidelines
- Shipping and Receiving Guidelines
- International Shipping Guidelines
- When posting an item that includes shipping, include Delivery Confirmation or tracking in that price
Delivery Confirmation isn’t only useful for the recipient,it’s also very useful to the seller/sender. How many disputes have we seen on these boards could have been avoided if the sender had only used Delivery Confirmation (hereafter referred to as DC)? Delivery Confirmation is not an expensive service to add to an item, whether in the US or Canada. All but the cheapest (less than $10) items should have delivery confirmation included in shipping cost.
If you choose not to ship an item with Delivery Confirmation or tracking, the seller take on the responsibility of getting the item to the recipient unless explicitly discussed as part of the trade. That’s right, if you’re the seller and the US Postal Service loses the package it is your responsibility unless you have discussed it beforehand with the buyer.
It has been brought to my attention that Delivery Confirmation can be obtained for free with the USPS here Free Delivery Confirmation Shipping Insurance should always be offered to the buyer or included in the price
As a seller, it is your responsibility to get the item in good shape to the buyer as such, shipping insurance is desirable but not necessary. If shipping insurance is not included in your quoted shipping price, it is necessary for you to make it clear to the buyer that this is the case AND you must offer it to the buyer (at their expense or yours, depending on the trade).
Should the buyer decline shipping insurance, the shipper is not excused from proper packaging practices. However, if the recipient refuses shipping insurance and a properly packaged item gets damaged/lost during shipping, the shipper is not responsible for damage.
Should an insured package damage get damaged/lost during shipping, it is necessary for the shipper and recipient to discuss who should pursue the matter with the shipping service. This should be handled on a case by case situation so as to ensure that the cost of damages is returned to the appropriate parties.
- For expensive items it is strongly recommended to use a courier that uses FULL TRACKING and INSURANCE
This may seem obvious, but I’ve seen threads about people sending fully hopped-upped R/Cs via the Postal Service and having it lost/damaged. When sending an expensive item, please remember its value and select shipping accordingly.
- The following are appropriate packing material for protecting delicate items: Bubble wrap, air bags, styrofoam shell
Note the absence of packing peanuts, packing peanuts are NEVER appropriate packaging material. Packing peanuts should only be used to fill excess volume in a box, or as secondary (read: not immediate) protection of items. Using only packaging peanuts to protect an item is unacceptable; items are shaken during transport and will often settle in the box leaving the item exposed to damage. Soft foam sheets may be sufficient if the item is sufficiently light and you wrap it thick enough. One more comment about bubble wrap, if you’ve popped all the little bubbles it is obviously not good any more.
- Wrap each item individually, if at all possible
If you are shipping someone two different items such as a radio and receiver wrap each item separately before putting them together in the same box. Yes, it will require a little more care and more packing materials but it will also provide much more protection for the items. Using bubble-wrap is generally considered to be the easiest way to go about this.
- Mailing envelopes are only good for paper and very light items that will not be damaged with rough handling
Shipping any R/C item in a mailer is unacceptable; no ifs, ands, or buts. The only items that may be shipped in padded mailers are hardware such as screws, nuts, and small tools.
- Pack items in the original packaging the store sold it to you when possible
The best example for this are Radios. Radios are packaged in the protective manner like they are for a reason. The radio and receiver both are usually expensive items and the last thing anyone wants is a $200 radio that won’t even control an R/C from radio shack.
- Double-boxing – (Almost) Never ship an item in only a “retail” box
Your engine box may be sturdy, but it is not designed to be shipped as is. You must always put the individually packaged items in a sturdy box suitable for shipping. That is, the box must be made of rugged cardboard in most cases and be rated for the appropriate weight of what’s inside. Never ship your engine in only its box, always put the retail box into another box for shipping.
- Box reuse – acceptable only if the box is undamaged
In theory, the boxes you receive items in are not meant to be reused. They can however be reused if they are undamaged when you receive them. Undamaged means that there are no tears/slashes anywhere on the box and that the boxes structural integrity is intact. A “slightly” crushed box should be recycled not reused.
- When reusing a box, tear off or cross out any other addresses or bar codes
This ensures that your package gets to the right destination! When crossing out a bar code, make absolutely sure that it cannot be read, this is important because, as you can imagine, UPS and Fedex handle an enormous amount of packages daily and don’t take the time to inspect every package for multiple bar codes when they get scanned at each transfer point.
- While on boxes, use an appropriate size
Most shipping companies (and Canada Post, unsure about the USPS) use a scheme called dimensional weight to determine what you’ll be charged for shipping. This method measures both the dimensions and the weight of boxes to determine cost. This means that using an overly big box will be more expensive than using a smaller one. On the other hand it is necessary to provide enough space to make sure there is enough packing material to protect your item. Use common sense when selecting a box, buy one if you don’t have one of the appropriate size.
- Also on boxes, use shipping (brown) paper to wrap the item if you ship in a box that belonged to something expensive!
It is unfortunate, but shipping items in a box that belongs to an expensive item increases the chances that it will get “mishandled” (read: stolen) along the way. If you are shipping in a box that belonged to something expensive, wrap the box in shipping paper before putting addresses/printouts on it. I usually find that for most small boxes, inverted paper grocery bags work just as well as shipping paper and are free.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Many courier companies (UPS, Fedex, etc) refuse paper-wrapped boxes. If you plan on using a courier, use a plain brown box rather than the original box
- Anti-static packing materials are usually denoted by a pink colour (although I’ve seen green before)
Use anti-static materials whenever shipping electronic items.
- Make sure your boxes are packed tight, there should be no rattling in the box when you seal it up
Use packing peanuts to make sure that everything is packed tight. There is a lot of shaking and rattling that happens in shipping, any rattling in the box is potentially exposing it to damage so packing the box tight is necessary. If you’re in a pinch, using lightly crumpled up newspaper works well as secondary packaging. Note that your box should not be deformed because it is excessively filled with material.
- As a rule of thumb, consider whether there would be any damage if your package was dropped from chest height (~4 to 5 ft)
If you’re confident your item(s) would emerge from this undamaged then your packaging is sufficient. If you are uncomfortable with this idea because you’re afraid your item will be damaged, rethink the packaging as it is insufficient.
- Prevent two hard surfaces from being in contact with each other
Put soft foam or bubble wrap to prevent damage caused by vibration and the items in your package.
- USE COMMON SENSE!
If you’re not sure, ask on the forums! Someone will generally have no problem giving you tips. If you’re really not sure of what you’re doing get the packaging done by a professional (Mail boxes etc. (aka. UPS Store) for example).
- Make sure you tell the shipping person exactly what you want
This may seem very obvious but make sure you tell them exactly what you want. For example, there is often a certain amount of insurance that is included at no cost when shipping an item. This insurance is not applied unless you request it, though. In addition there are often features that you may want that you must ask for. For example, most major couriers have an option to demand a signature when delivering an item (they won’t leave the package on the recipient’s front porch if they’re not home).
- Keep all receipts and DC or tracking numbers until the transaction is compete.
For obvious reason…
- It is considered good etiquette to let the recipient know when you’ve shipped and send them the DC/tracking number if available
- It is also considered good etiquette to let the sender know when you’ve received their item in good time/condition
- If an item is shipped by the US Postal Service, don’t have absolute shipping times, only typical times are quoted
So it is quite possible that a package takes a wrong truck and ends up taking 3 weeks to get to you even if the sender is only one state over. Just relax and wait a few days if a USPS shipped package seems to be taking long.
- When shipping from the US to Canada or vice-versa, the recipient should be aware of the customs and taxes applied to items.
When shipping to Canada, all items valued at over CDN $20 should, in theory, be taxed. In practice, it happens that some items are not taxed if they don’t exceed the $20 by too much. Nonetheless, on most items valued at over $20 expect the recipient to pay both federal and provincial sales taxes (declaring an item as a “gift” gives you a $60 limit, AFAIK).
When shipping to the US, I believe items under $200 pay no customs or taxes. I’ve never shipped anything pricier than that to the US, so I can’t really comment on this any further.
- Expect to pay brokerage fees if your item is taxed. These brokerage fees can be very expensive!
UPS Ground, Fedex Ground, and other couriers will charge the recipient VERY LARGE brokerage fees if they had to prepay the money for you at the border. I once got slapped with brokerage fees of $50 on a ~$200 item, the amount is proportional to the item’s value. The Postal Service (in Canada anyway) has a flat fee for brokerage of $5. In general, the US Postal Service is the best way to ship items into Canada from the US, for this reason.
- Fill out the customs forms accurately and correctly. You will often have to include a telephone number for both sender and recipient.
If something goes wrong at the border, you must leave tel. numbers so that they can call you and have things cleared up. In most cases, you only have to fill in a few basic questions about what you’re sending for customs forms. Note the country of origin of your item before shipping and the (rough) value of each item in your package as you’ll have to declare that.