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Sunday, 11 September 2016

Mail Order Business Has Been Killed By The Post Offices -Who are supposed to be ENCOURAGING Business

Yep, a few years back I heard from people in Canada about how they were sent things to work on from the US or given commissions but the postal system was so expensive compared to the US that they gave up commission work -it was either take a huge chunk out of what they were paid for safe postage or charge customers a big chunk of cash.

The US Postal System has up-dated itself now, though.  Ordering items from the US has become so expensive that traders have told me their business has dropped by 40% and some are thinking about giving up.  Postage is high enough within the US but the post office, as in Canada, is actively blocking the ability to carry out business by mailorder.

Last week I posted two packages to EU countries -Finland and Germany.  Two items in each package -Defective Comics and Donald Hamilton:Mind Your Manners (by Lally & Brown).  Both 16pp, A5 and quite light weight. Each cost £3.70 (Euro 4.37 or $4.90 US on top of the £3.00 for each book). To Japan, the same but with a very light weight paperback -£7.90 ($10.48 US/Euro 9.33) which means in total the postage was £15.30 (Euro 18.07/$20.30).  The value of the zines was £18.00.  Which means, of course, that I almost paid as much for postage as the books -in fact, I just checked and the price of the book brings the total to....£18.00.

So those three packages cost me £33.30 (I feel very faint).

That is six (6) zines and one light weight book. Those are the economics of mail order business. "Books cost £18.00 so include £18.00 p and p with that"  so the idea that, before "Brexit" ever takes place (if it ever does), we are in a sort of Utopian business place for small publishers, crafters or modellers is utter shit.

Now, Mr Brown charges £1.00 for UK postage (I guess that'[ll cover the cost of envelope!) which means  £1.00 =$1.32 =Euro 1.19 so you can see that the postal services are almost deliberately isolating trade between countries.  That's not a joke nor a stupid remark based on hot air.  Here's an example.

"B" buys and collects and some times trades in Microman/Micronauts figures.  In the UK, on Ebay, he can be asked to pay £10.00 per figure and about £5.00 for p&p.  So, £15.00.  Others can cost £52.00 or even up to £299 and you have to add £16.00 or even £30.00  for p&p from the US or even Japan itself where the figures originate.  The prices are ridiculous and people visiting Japan on holiday buy a bunch and then over-inflate the price (and postage).  Those selling from Japan are simply taking the piss.

Do you know what "B" does?  Once or twice a year he gets on a cheap flight to Japan and visits the various markets and buys even the "rare" (in Europe) figures for around Y300-400...or £2.50-£2.90 each.  He gets a few days holiday and buying for himself and a few to sell on.  He really does save money like this and he has explained it to me.  Personally, I'd go there, buy up a load and bring them back to sell because they DO sell. But you ain't getting me on no plane, fool!

"Robert" likes to buy French Bandes Dessinee and he found that if he went on day trips twice a year to France or Belgium the postage he saved paid for his travel.  And he got the books a lot cheaper.

In the UK we've all heard of "Booze Cruises" -travel to Europe and buy your booze cheaper than in the UK.  There are model makers, gamers and others who do this to buy stuff at shop prices in Europe and, again, the savings tend to pay for the trip.

These are not postal services encouraging free business trade.  They are fining small businesses for trading.

It is important to realise this because I used to hear from all the bright eyed people who told me "Oh, we won't need to sell at events -we'll do far better by mail order because the only expense will be a bit of postage!"  I wonder how they did with paying just that "bit" of postage.

Also,it depends how you send items. With some on, say, Ebay, £3.00 p&p =a cheap brown envelope and nothing to stop the item within being damaged.  I've even received items that were put inside taped up brown paper bags, a sheet of newspaper and a shop carrier bag (tape and a white sticker is the best £3.00 p&p can get you!

People look at prices on the lulu store front then the postal charges.  Again, I need to point out that postal charges are split.  Printers in the US shipping out to US buyers pay USPS rates.  In the UK it's the Post Office or courier rate and in Europe it's at European rates.  You get standard (un-tracked), tracked or next day delivery -you pay for which one you want.  And there is the bonus in that the books are sent in re-enforced card book boxes. I have never had one turn up damaged since 2009 so they are good and secure.

But a big business like lulu can afford this postage -because you as the customer are paying for it! Bear that in mind if you order from a legitimate small business (yeah, I'm excluding Ebay dealers): they cannot send their books out for free and if they tell you the postage and packaging is such-and-such an amount it is because it is. "I would buy but you charge too much postage!" -I have heard people say this to a publisher at a comic event and I have also been told by publishers that they hear this "at least once a week".

Small businesses do not own nor control the postal service and postage costs.


  1. Very very depressing. We are looking at on line publishing; something that will make us no money ... but better than MINUS I suppose. Very very depressing. It seems to me that sending packages from JAPAN to the UK may well be CHEAPER than sending packages IN the UK. The blood is running from my ears.

  2. Going by the prices on what you send -the last one was Y510 so around £3.00- yep, cheaper. The thing is postal services KNOW that Amazon and the like can afford this because -the customer pays. Don't get me started on Amazon or Ebay and fixed prices! But for small business it is killing time. Brexit (even though it has NOT happened) has pushed up UK comic prices. Why? Not helping.