I hate everything about this post. Above all, I hate that it’s factual. I also hate that I have to write about it. And I’m pretty sure I’m gonna hate the repercussions. On several levels. Whining aside, there is a pretty brutal USPS rate hike taking effect on Monday. While just about all facets of service are touched by this restructure, a very large percentage of the increase will be borne by overseas buyers using First Class International, now known as “First Class Package International Service.” Under this umbrella are your CD’s, your 7″ singles, your LP’s. And, as of Monday, all will be more expensive to ship internationally. In regards to smaller packages that would house items such as CD’s or 7″ singles, likely prohibitively so.
Let’s put some numbers on this. For Europe, Eastern Asia and Australia, pretty much every LP package I ship is either 20 or 22 ounces. And that two ounces makes a difference, as today my respective base cost for those two weights are $13.17 and 14.74. On Monday, those prices go up to $16.74 and $18.41. Yes, it blows. (BTW, anyone who says that they can ship an LP to Europe for under a pound is either seriously under-protecting the album or is lying about the weight of the package) But it gets worse. Let’s say you live in the UK and want to order a CD from me. Today it would typically cost no more than $6.12. Come Monday it will be $11.48! Seriously. Same pricing schematic would apply to 7″ singles. And none of these take any packaging costs into consideration.
It’s not much better for our neighbors to the north. A LP to Canada for 20 or 24 ounces was $6.60 or $7.45; now going to $10.76 or $12.02. In regards to CDs and 7″ singles, what would be a $5 cost will now graduate to $9. Ugh.
Dude, all of this is seriously f’d up. And it really blows my mind that this is what the USPS has to resort to in order to remain an ongoing entity. And I like the USPS. A lot. But man, I have to reassess my position as I truly feel that small business is getting hammered here. And yes, I am speaking from somewhat of a selfish viewpoint. But even putting aside boutique retailers (which you shouldn’t), the impact on artists and artisans or, really, any creative type who strikes out their own and succeeds through nothing but their own innovation and sheer will (and maybe a little help from their friends), is truly hurt by these price changes.
I suppose I should mention that there is one slight upside. And it’s an upgrade that helps lessen the sting of the overall upcharge on a LP shipment, and that is tracking service, which will now be included in this new pricing structure. My understanding is that, as of Monday, a tracking number will be included on all First Class packages to Canada. So, while my shipping charge for a 20 ounce package to Canada will move from $8.50 to $12.00, at least you’re getting a little something for that xtra $3.50. Previously, tracking numbers were only offered on Priority or Express International Mail, which was around $25. However, the timing of the rollout of this new feature to other countries is still unknown, but the xtra $2-$4 that it will now cost to send a LP to Europe should be offset by having a tracking number for that parcel as Priority Mail to Europe for a package more than 1 lb and less than 2 was previously more than $40.
I suppose vinyl sellers can hope the impact is minimal. But across the spectrum of folks in America who sell stuff to folks overseas, I can’t help but think the overall impact will be pretty significant. At least when it comes to smaller packages that will see shipping costs doubled. If you ship a butt-load of stuff everyday, you’ll likely be able to work out a reduced shipping framework and maybe lessen the blow. But if you are a mom and/or pop, grandma and/or grandpa, sister and/or brother, husband and/or wife operation, this new postal order can’t help to not put some level of crimp in your business.
As for other services, I think most of the domestic shipping hikes are innocent enough for me to absorb. But again, this is what most small sellers will do. And, of course, to some extent, pay for it. I think Priority rates may tweak up a bit, but I rarely receive a request for Priority service in the states, so that seems like a rather negligible aspect.
So hey, apologies to the rest of the world. If ordering via platforms like Musicstack, Gemm or Discogs, please know I will weigh every package before updating the order with a shipping quote in an effort to get the customer the best rate possible. Okay, it’s now come time to go to all those sites and tweak my shipping costs. Ack.