Shipping Stuff is Fickle

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One thing that has really changed in my lifetime is the cost and speediness of shipping stuff.  And I don’t really understand it very well.

I remember one of the first times I was in Europe, I sent a lot of letters to friends and family.  My grandmother got the letter more than a month after I was home.  I shipped a box of extra stuff home from an Italian post office.  It took something like 3 months.

Then a couple years ago, I bought some VIttoria tubular tires from eBay.   They were from Italy. I emailed the seller and he said it would be $50 to ship them to me.  There were 25 tires and they were super cheap, so I figured $2 a tire was okay.  That was on a Monday, late.  Wednesday morning there was a box sitting on my front porch with the tires.   The tires got there nearly faster than I could have gotten home.

Now, if you buy a bike part from one of those British bike shops, the shipping is free and the stuff gets to your house super fast, like less than a week.  I have no idea how much it would cost me to ship a box to England, but I’d think it would seem like a lot.  And they include free shipping on bike parts that are less than 50% the cost here in the US.  Strange.

Getting you bike around is crazy now too.  For the first 15 years I raced, bike flew free, just counted as luggage.  Then they went up to $25.  Now, it is nuts.  Some airlines charge $200 each way.  I try to fly Southwest as often as possible because it is “only” $75 each way.  That, and that you can cancel your flight and still have use of the money you paid to fly later.

I’d heard a ton of good things about BikeFlights.  I just used it a couple days ago, but not for a bike.  I shipped a box of stuff to LA.  It was super reasonable and really easy to navigate.   I think a bike usually costs less than $40, at least that is what I’ve heard.  Pretty good deal if you’re flying on one of those airlines that make you bend over if you happen to be travelling with a bike.  They use FedEx.

So, stuff costs a lot to ship around the country.  I say that, but online shopping is at an all time record.  Two day shipping with Amazon is “free” if you belong to Prime.  But, Amazon Prime costs $99 a year,  so you have to add that in.

It seems like businesses and people that ship a ton get a better deal than us that just take our stuff to UPS or the post office.  I remember Keith Walberg used to be able to ship a bike from where he worked for about 1/2 the price than what it would cost me to take it directly to UPS.

What got me thinking about this is yesterday I received a ton of boxes from Amazon.  I’d ordered some Nite Ize dog lights and they were back ordered or something.  They were on sale for $1.56 when they normally are $5-8.  Yesterday, something like 8 boxes showed up. Each one, other than one, had one light in it.  These lights are miniature and weigh nothing. I didn’t get it.  They all came from the same place and all were shipped at the same time.  It had to have cost more for the boxes and shipping than it did for the lights.

And the batteries for the lights.  I can order them on eBay from China for $5 for 100 when they cost $3.95 each here.  That includes shipping, which is sometimes pretty quick.  I don’t understand how they can even ship them here for that price?

Maybe I just need to learn more about the cost to ship packages.  I use USPS, UPS and Fed Ex. Like I said above, BikeFlights ships all size packages.  RIght now, I might just use them a few more times and compare costs.

Each box had one light ,except one, with 6. Weird.

Each box had one light ,except one, with 6. Weird.

 A pile of Nite Ize lights. The pink ones were the cheapest, but they really aren't that pink. Tucker can somehow chew them off his collar when he is bored. He goes through a lot of them if I am forgetful and don't take them off after he walks.

A pile of Nite Ize lights. The pink ones were the cheapest, but they really aren’t that pink. Tucker can somehow chew them off his collar when he is bored. He goes through a lot of them if I am forgetful and don’t take them off after he walks.




9 thoughts on “Shipping Stuff is Fickle

  1. Jon Paulos

    Glad to see you’re well enough to comment on things like this. I won’t disagree about the relative cost and speed to ship things. I bought some headset spacers last year on Ebay for next to nothing and realized when I opened the package that they’d shipped from China 6 days before. Amazing.

    The way your Nite Ize lights for Tucker showed up packaged in several different boxes is probably a result of the ERP system that the seller uses, not the freight cost. If they shipped on the same day as each other, the shipper incurred multiple costs to ship, when they could have incurred just one. Meaning they could be more efficient than they are, and they probably lost money on the sale to you.

    And it sounds like Tucker needs some chew toys….

  2. James

    Tie this back to your post regarding the destruction of our fragile atmosphere. Yes we all want it yesterday & at the cheapest price, but at what cost?

  3. janna

    that’s funny… why so many lights, does your dog eat them or what?

    I have a separate collar for my huskie when we go biking, it has one of those lights attached. They work great, paid 5 bucks for them…

  4. Steve Tilford Post author

    Janna-Yeah, Tucker has been chewing them if I leave it attached to the collar after he runs at night. He’s went through maybe 10 or so. When I saw them at Amazon for $1.50 each, I ordered 12. He’s not chewing them nearly as often as when he was a little younger, but he will if he’s in the mood.

  5. Ted

    Ebay has a global shipping program for the sellers – if I sell something to Germany or England – I ship the item to Kentucky and they handle the rest (shipping and customs paperwork – even insurance) – all at no charge to me – sure it works in reverse also.

  6. Thomas

    Just shipped a 57 pound box 24x12x20 inches insured via bike flights for 23$
    Read a article in the NY Times talking about how the shipping companies will negotiate shipping prices but wont budge on fuel charges with their customers with accounts.

    Steve, glad you are sounding and feeling better.

  7. SnowWatt

    Please remember your delivery person during the holiday season. I am a rural mail carrier and we are being worked to death for no extra money by Amazon. A little bonus from the customers at Christmas helps a lot.

  8. Bill V.

    Steve, I am 2 for 2 on bike shipment fuckups with and cannot recommend them. I know there are other people out there who have had good experiences, but I am simply sharing mine. I was willing to forgive them the first time, but after this second issue I will be bringing my bikes with me on the airplane or shipping some other route.

    I have heard experiences from others who have had to file claims for damaged or lost bikes and not been reimbursed. Again, I’m sure many have been satisfied but I choose to be as risk-averse as possible with who I choose to ship with from here out.


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