For eBay sellers: a comprehensive guide to the major postage couriers available (and review)

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For eBay sellers: a comprehensive guide to the major postage couriers available (and review)

Postby spotify95 » Sep 14th, 2017, 21:12

So, I have finally managed to get around to doing this. It was a long time coming.

I have made together a guide to the major couriers that are in use in the UK, that most buyers/sellers will use when posting their goods. It is ideal for eBayers like myself, and for new/beginner sellers, who want to get the best price for posting their items.

This guide summarizes five major couriers: Royal Mail, Collect+, MyHermes, UPS and Parcelforce. Other couriers (such as DPD/Yodel etc) are not covered as they are not included in eBay's online postage printing service.

Without further ado, here is my guide to each of the couriers.

Royal Mail:
Reasonably fast for 2nd class (mostly 2 days, sometimes 3 days). Very fast for 1st Class (1 day, sometimes 2 days). Reasonably priced for small items below 1kg when sending via 1st Class. For 2nd Class, this limit is 2kg. Cheap for items with a thickness of less than 2.5cm as these come under a "Large Letter" (this includes some small items of clothing, and some thin items).
For medium sized items under 2kg (max. 61 x 46 x 46 cm), the price is OK (though there are cheaper alternatives). For 1st Class, this limit is 1kg.
Above 2kg (or 1kg first class) and the price increases exponentially, to the point whereby Parcel Force is cheaper (more on that later).
Signed For costs extra (amount dependent on service/weight). No tracking is provided, just a reference number which shows when the item was delivered.
Special Delivery is useful for items with very high value, and is tracked, but almighty expensive, so not a good option for the vast majority of items.
Reliability is very good, from both receiving and delivering parcels. Loss or damage is rare and any damage is usually down to insufficient packaging.
Note: Will not take any items with batteries in it (or other dangerous goods) and most Post Offices will ask for contents of item.

Collect Plus (Collect+):
Comparatively expensive for small items below 2kg, given the speed of service. For medium items below 2kg, the price is competitive on the Economy service (cheaper than Royal Mail). Items above 2kg (max. 10kg) are priced reasonably well with the Economy service, but there are cheaper alternatives. The Standard service is not cost effective for most items. Item price increases linearly with regards to item weight.
Economy Service takes 3-5 working days. Standard Service takes 2 days. No express option.
Both services come with full tracking, so you can always find the whereabouts of your parcel (and when it was delivered).
Signature costs extra, though I never used to bother with a signature, and all deliveries went well.
Reliability is good - although I have not received any deliveries from Collect+, the deliveries that I sent have all been delivered without damage or complaint. Used to use Collect+ for all battery lots as they will accept battery lots without any issues.

The cheapest of all couriers for items below 2kg, excluding large letters below 2.5cm thickness (small or medium sized). Price is competitive for items between 2kg-5kg. Above 5kg and there are likely better options, though the price is still reasonably good (price increases linearly with weight).
There is only one type of service offered to most customers, the Economy service, which takes 3-5 days (though is sometimes a bit quicker). So not the best in regards to speed. Comes with tracking so the whereabouts of the parcel can be checked quickly.
Signature costs extra, though it is still cheaper than the equivalent service provided by Royal Mail.
Reliability is hit and miss and can be quite poor. The service you will receive depends on who your local courier is. It is not recommended to send fragile items through MyHermes as they are likely to be broken. Outer packaging is likely to be imperfect upon delivery of most items. Ensure packaging materials are adequate before sending to avoid breakages.
Note(s): Lots of items are excluded from compensation so it really is advisable to package the items thoroughly, to avoid any damage in transit. Ideal for cheap, rock bottom economy jobs due to price. For items with any value, another courier may be better. Will accept batteries without a problem - now my 1st choice for sending batteries due to being substantially cheaper than Collect+.

The fastest of all couriers listed on eBay's online printing service - all services are next day, which is very quick.
Not the cheapest for items below 2kg, but are very competitively priced for 2-5kg items and are by far the cheapest for anything heavier. High initial cost but overall cost increases very slowly when item weight is increased (unlike Royal Mail!).
All items are tracked and signed for as standard - great for piece of mind. Delivery is almost always attempted next working day, due to this service being an express service.
Reliability is very good - although not in receipt of items shipped via UPS, I have posted almost all of my >2kg items via UPS and they have all been delivered on time with no damage. Very good service considering the shipping speed and price.
Note(s): Have not tested UPS when shipping batteries - not all types of batteries are likely to be accepted, though battery lots usually go via other, more cost effective couriers anyway. Delivery will only be attempted once, then the item is taken to your local Access Point, where you have to collect it from (bring some ID).

Parcel Force:
Very expensive for all items, especially items below 2kg in weight. For items above 2kg in weight, the price is still expensive, though it is cheaper than Royal Mail. When taking items above 2kg to the Post Office, Parcelforce is usually selected as default instead of Royal Mail (due to the latter having exponential price increases), though there are much cheaper options available (one of which is next day).
Compensation limit is reasonably high compared to other options, making Parcelforce OK for high value items (Parcelforce is cheaper than RM Special Delivery in most cases.)
The services offered are fast - the Standard Option, Parcelforce 48, is a 2 day service, whereas the Express Option, Parcelforce 24, is a 1 day service.
Items are tracked and signed for as standard, though this is to be expected with the high postage costs associated with Parcelforce.
Reliability is very good. I used to send my heavy items (>2kg) via Parcelforce, before I found out about Collect+/UPS. All deliveries were made on time with no damage or complaints.
Note(s): Parcelforce use the same tight rules/regulations as Royal Mail, so no batteries or dangerous goods. Expect to be asked for parcel contents.
Only recommended for high value items due to price considerations.

Pricing for sending parcels through each courier (correct as of 9/14/17):

Royal Mail 2nd Class: Large letter up to £2.14; Small Parcel £2.90 (£3.90 signed for); Medium Parcel <2kg £5.00 (signed for is extra); >2kg use Parcelforce
Royal Mail 1st Class: Large Letter up to £2.52; Small Parcel £3.40 (<1kg, £4.40 signed for), £5.50 (1-2kg, £6.50 signed for); Medium Parcel £5.75 <1kg, £8.95 1-2kg (signed for is extra); >2kg use Parcelforce or another service.
Collect+ Economy: £4.70 <2kg; £5.98 2-5kg; £8.08 5-10kg. Signature additional 80p.
Collect+ Standard: £5.35 <2kg; £7.06 2-5kg; £9.10 5-10kg. Signature extra 80p.
Hermes Economy: £2.75 small, £3.94 medium <2kg; £5.52 2-5kg; £7.32 5-10kg; £9.72 10-15kg. Signature extra 80p.
UPS Express: £5.35 small, £5.55 medium (<2kg); £5.65 2-5kg; £5.75 5-10kg; £6.49 10-15kg. Signature included.
Parcelforce 48: £11.99 <2kg; £12.98 2-5kg; £16.40 5-10kg; expensive above 10kg (but will take up to 30kg).
Parcelforce 24: More expensive than Parcelforce 48; prices start from £16.49. Use UPS instead unless the item is of high value.
Royal Mail Special Delivery: prices start from £6.45 (<100g) up to £41.20 (10-20kg). Includes £500 compensation (with greater compensation values available). Only use on very high value items.

Note: Prices above are taken from eBay's online postage service (Shutl) with the exception of Royal Mail and Parcelforce. Prices fro RM/PF are over the counter prices.
Printer is required to print off online postage labels.

Hopefully this guide (which took about 30 minutes to compose, and another 20-30 minutes to edit in the details) will be interesting and useful for eBay buyers and sellers alike.

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Re: For eBay sellers: a comprehensive guide to the major postage couriers available (and review)

Postby pinkteddyx64 » Sep 14th, 2017, 21:19

@spotify95 You might be interested to know that Parcel Force is a subsidiary of Royal Mail.

Imageeriously, life's too short to be worried about retards on an internet forum. :eek2: :eek3:
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Re: For eBay sellers: a comprehensive guide to the major postage couriers available (and review)

Postby spotify95 » Sep 14th, 2017, 21:29

pinkteddyx64 wrote:@Spotify95 You might be interested to know that Parcel Force is a subsidiary of Royal Mail.

Thank you for the confirmation - that explains why the policies regarding items through Royal Mail and Parcelforce are very similar. It also explains why Parcelforce services are available at a Post Office, alongside Royal Mail services.

However, it doesn't explain Parcelforce's high charges for parcels under 2kg, nor does it explain why Royal Mail is so expensive for items above 2kg.
I'd have thought that, if they wanted Parcelforce as the premium brand, and Royal Mail as the more basic brand, they'd have priced Royal Mail more competitively?

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