Friday, November 18, 2011

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Oh, my. After spending about eight hours over the last two days procuring boxes, tape, bubble wrap, etc to ship out all of the games that were picked up in the JVMF auction, I am *finally* at the point where I've gotten shipping quotes from UPS and USPS. Surprisingly, UPS cost slightly more and took slightly longer for all domestic packages, and was astronomical for international. At one point I just stopped trying to enter the data into the incredibly fussy web page for international destinations.

I'm being very careful to pack every game so that it will stand the best chance of arrival in one piece, which for me means a) the games are all wrapped in bubblewrap, and b) that the box is full so that items won't shift around. Since some boxes are significantly larger than the games by some measure, I was worried that I'd be spending too much on packing peanuts (I'm already at nearly $100 for boxes, bubble, peanuts), and then I got this really great idea.

I have a bunch of expansions for games that I try to consolidate and so have a ton of empty boxes sitting in my closet. I have put those boxes to good use by using them to fill up the shipping packages. The smaller ones (like the small Arkham Horror expansions) are great on the sides, and the larger square ones (like for Dominion expansions) are great on the top. I think the weight is comparable to peanuts, as the boxes are empty, and won't the people getting their games be surprised to find empty game boxes! Ha ha!

I'm also learning that international shipping is a bitch. A cold, heartless, expensive as hell bitch. UPS, assuming I was doing things correctly, was asking around 4x what the USPS was, although for much quicker delivery. Even so, a 7.5 pound box of games measuring 15"x12"x10" will cost over $60 to send to Australia. I know it's a long ways away, and I know fuel is ridiculous, but... Wow. I've asked the four international recipients to go ahead and figure out how they want their packages shipped as I just haven't done this much. I'm also learning that there will be customs forms to fill out with valuations of the games. Whee. And here I was seriously considering moving to Canada in 2004 when Bush was reelected. That would have been a seriously expensive trip.

I figure I've still got about another six hours to go to get all of these games out of the door, including back and forths with the recipients, addressing the packages, but I don't have an accurate scale (I'm standing on the bathroom scale with the box and subtracting my weight, but the scale is only accurate to 0.5 lbs, assuming it's accurate in the first place), so I'll still need to stand in line and I'll probably need to make three trips. Happily, the UPS store also does USPS, and will compare prices so just in case I'm a little off I will have some choices.

Of course, all of this is for a good cause, and of course I'm happy to get the games out of the house, in addition to raising the money, but doing this many games at once is no fun and I will need to take a more proactive approach to purging in the future. This last purge was, by necessity, rather large in scale, and while I was able to get about a quarter of the games out the door without any shipping at all (and thanks to Roger M for being willing to pick them up from me directly), it's a lot of games. A *lot* of games.

So now I just stop buying them, I guess.



Greg W said...

Probably too late to be helpful but in the past I've found that for domestic shipping FedEx is the cheapest if you can't use a flat rate Priority box.

Brian said...

I live in Canada and I trade a lot of games on Boardgamegeek, or at least I used to.

Because the great majority of people at BGG live in the USA, more often than not I find that my trade offers, no matter how generous, simply go ignored - even though the postage I have to pay, and the paperwork I have to do, is just as much.

I also find that many game sellers on BGG won't ship outside of the CONUS, so they can't be bothered to do the paperwork even when I'm paying the postage!

Dug said...

Got all of the boxes out this week, most of the recipients have acknowledged getting their games, so I'm a happy guy.

Brian, I did not find the paperwork onerous at all - you are basically filling out an extra address form. The shipping was expensive, though. The postage is considerable compared to the CONUS, however, and I can see people wanting to avoid paying $30-60 in a trade when there is probably someone in the US who will have the same game and do the same trade. So much for NAFTA.

I ended up using USPS for everything, and the rates were not too bad - no more than $20+ for a couple of the heavier shipments. UPS was slightly more expensive and the UPS store near me would have wanted the information all copied to their order forms and I wasn't going to do that 19 times.

Regardless, it's done. Next time I will be offering games for sale a handful at a time, no more of this 100 game purge business. I also learned that Excel spreadsheets are your friend - I could never have kept track of what was going where without one.