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Buyers Guide to Auction Shipping and Handling Prices

1) Methods of shipping (US)

Three of the most popular methods used to ship auction merchandise in the USA include:

US Postal Service - First class (time varies, max weight 13 oz), Priority mail (about 3 days, max weight 70 lbs), Express mail (next day, max weight 70 lbs) and Parcel Post (max weight 70 lbs). Media mail is available for books, CD's, tapes, DVD's and other media - it can be fairly slow but it's usually cheaper than the other delivery methods. Package size restrictions apply to all options.

UPS - Ground (cheapest), Next Day Air, 2nd Day Air, and 3 day select delivery. Supports freight, C.O.D., domestic or international shipments. Freight is required for shipments weighing over 150 lbs. Rates vary by distance of the destination from the point of origin.

FedEx - Ground or express delivery. Regular, express and specialty freight services. Expedited (same day) package and freight delivery available. International or domestic.

2) Insurance - Sometimes, no matter how carefull the seller is in packaging, items are either damaged or lost in transit. Shipping insurance gives you monetary compensation, should that occur. While usually optional, some sellers may insist that you purchase insurance for expensive, delicate or irreplaceable items.

3) Shipping and handling practices and costs

How do you determine if the seller's shipping and handling charges are fair ?

  • Research current shipping rates - these are posted on the delivery service sites (USPS rates , FedEx rates , UPS rates ).
  • Be aware that not all items may be shipped by all methods - weight, package size and content restrictions may apply.
  • Expect to pay more for shipping if the item is large and/or heavy. Faster delivery (express, overnight) and special handling or custom courier services (sometimes necessary for antiques, large and/or fragile objects) will also add to the cost
  • In order to make an auction attractive yet guard against business losses, some sellers may "pad" their shipping and handling fees. The final price may still be a bargain, but watch out for excessive fees and price gouging.
  • Read the seller's feedback - it will give you some indication as to whether or not their shipping and handling rates and policies are fair and reasonable.

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