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Shipping Costs

Last Change: 12/Apr/2016

This page has been completely rewritten as of Feb/2013. The biggest change is that I do not use ParcelForce anymore for sending items by courier. I actually stopped using PF a couple of years ago; instead, I now use Interparcel or parcel2go, which I have found to be more reliable and faster than the ParcelForce services I used to use in the past, and usually much cheaper cheaper aswell, eg. using Interparcel means the shipping cost for a heavy item to somewhere such as Mexico is now less than half what it used to cost using my old PF account. Likewise, my shipping costs to the US/Canada/OZ/etc. have roughly halved.

Note that I have written a general posting advice page which describes how to get the most out of UK postal services and couriers, includes hints/tips on how/where to obtain free packaging, my own thoughts on sensible packing methods, etc. The page has numerous examples which show how I pack items; nobody packs parcels as well as me. 8)

In all cases I don't mind shipping via your own courier if you have an account with Fedex, UPS or DHL, though an additional packaging materials cost still applies for larger parcels, unless I can employ used packaging which is sometimes possible. I don't normally have to add on a packaging cost for small parcels as I've accumulated a decent supply of boxes, bubblewrap, foam pieces, etc. over the years via items I've bought from elsewhere, though for sending IRIX CD packs I always use new boxes.

Sometimes the volumetric weight of a parcel is more than the real item weight, in which case the pricing is based on the volumetric weight. Whatever the case, I always do a precise calculation for each shipment to make sure it's correct. A parcel's volumetric weight is length x width x height (in cm), divided by 5000. Since I know the courier services have cutoff weights of 30kg, I have designed the custom shipping boxes I use to have volumetric weights less than this.

NB: for delivery within the UK, I never use Royal Mail 2nd Class or Standard Parcels; these services are too slow and unreliable.


Weight/Destination Index:


Lightweight Items Under 2kg

UK Destinations:

For UK destinations I can use Royal Mail 1st Recorded for low value items, but for anything valuable I use Special Delivery (SD), though if I'm busy and can't spare the time to walk to a PO, or if the weather is bad, then I can use either Interparcel (Hermes/Yodel48) or myHermes instead (or I can add on 3 UKP to cover the bus fare to the PO and back). Also, I am often somewhat restricted as to when I can get to a P.O., so if an item is needed urgently then it's best to use a courier or myHermes (the latter is a service which competes with RM on pricing, but they do collect from one's address).

SD, which is next working day guaranteed, is between 6 and 10 UKP depending on the weight. This includes insurance up to 500 UKP, with signature on delivery (extra insurance up to 2500 available). Shipping via Interparcel using Yodel48/Hermes costs less, but is slower, ie. 2 to 4 working days. Note that I don't use economy courier services for very valuable or fragile items (not worth the risk).


Mainland Europe:

The service I normally use for mainland Europe is called, 'International Signed-For' (ISF), which includes full insurance and signature on delivery (note if I'm busy and can't spare the time to walk to a PO, or if the weather is bad, then I can addon on 3 UKP to cover the bus fare to the PO and back). ISF is between 9 and 20 UKP for items up to 2kg, depending on the weight (delivery time is approximately 4 to 10 working days; 50 UKP defaultinsurance cover, extra insurance up to 500 UKP costs +3). If an item has a low replacement value then I can use normal small-packet airmail, which would be between 4 and 15 UKP, ie. ISF is just the normal airmail cost plus 5 UKP.

If a faster delivery is required, I can use Interparcel or parcel2go, with the shipping usually done by UPS, though sometimes Fedex is cheaper.

Note that Royal Mail pricing has reached the point where items close to 2kg are often cheaper and faster to send by courier, eg. a 2kg parcel to France worth 50 UKP costs 20 UKP by RM/ISF, but only 19 UKP by Interparcel/UPS. Hence, I use Interparcel or parcel2go instead when it makes to do so.


Outside Europe (USA, Canada, Australia, Asia, Far East, South America, Africa, etc.)

For destinations beyond Europe, I normally use Royal Mail's "International Signed-For" (ISF) service, which includes full insurance and signature on delivery (note if I'm busy and can't spare the time to walk to a PO, or if the weather is bad, then I can addon on 3 UKP to cover the bus fare to the PO and back). The typical cost ranges from 10 to 34 UKP for items up to 2kg, depending on the parcel weight (insurance beyond 50 UKP is extra), though again it is now very much the case that a courier service is cheaper and faster for parcels close to 2kg going to the US or Canada, eg. 2kg to the USA by Interparcel/Fedex is 30 UKP. Either way, I always check to see which is the best option, or I can use a courier service anyway if faster speed is required.

For items with low replacement value, I can use normal small packet airmail, which is between 4 and 29 UKP, though again a courier service might be cheaper (depends on the precise destination, parcel weight and size).

If an item is worth more than 500 UKP then I have to use a courier service.


NOTE: some destinations only have a max insurance limit of 250 UKP for the ISF service. Also, ISF does not offer any kind of tracking and it can be quite slow depending on the destination, so if you need tracking and/or fast delivery then a courier service is a better choice.


Items Weighing More Than 2kg

UK Destinations:

For destinations in the UK, I use either Interparcel or parcel2go (usually Interparcel). These services offer a range of courier options based on the specified parcel weight, dimensions and value, but most of the time I use the Interparcel Standard or Economy service, both of which are handled by UPS.

The typical rate per parcel is between 10 and 15 UKP depending on the weight (max weight is 50kg per box), which includes 50 UKP insurance cover (somewhat more to Highlands/Islands, Isle of Man, etc.) The price is somewhat more for a Tezro as it's a much heavier system. If an item is of low value and non-urgent, I can use Interparcel's Hermes option which is approx. 7 UKP. Extra insurance is available up to 1000 UKP, charged as follows:

   250 UKP cover: +5
   500 UKP cover: +10
   750 UKP cover: +15
  1000 UKP cover: +20

These costs apply to small/medium sized parcels for which I can usually employ used/recycled packaging materials to minimise costs.

For O2, IRIS Indigo, Indigo2, Octane/Octane2 and Fuel systems, I use custom-made new boxes in order to make more efficient use of packaging materials, ensure maximum box strength, etc. The typical cost is the above normal rate plus an extra amount to cover the cost of the box and additional packaging materials, as follows:

    O2, Indigo and Indigo2: +5
  Octane, Octane2 and Fuel: +10

Thus, for example, the shipping cost for an Octane with 250 insurance cover is 28 UKP, while for an O2 it's 23 UKP, etc. It will be less if by chance I have a used box and packaging I can employ.

Tezro is an exception as it's a much heavier system. Again I use custom-made boxes, but the weight means a more expensive courier service has to be used. Typically the shipping cost will be about 75 UKP.

If necessary I can split items into multiple boxes if that means a lower total shipping cost. It depends on the box weight/size, destination, etc. Either way, I always find out which is the best option.

For consignments worth more than 1000 UKP, I normally use parcel2go as they have a higher insurance limit of 2500 UKP.


Mainland Europe:

For mainland Europe, I use either Interparcel or parcel2go (usually Interparcel). These services offer a range of courier options based on the specified parcel weight, dimensions and value, but most of the time I use the Interparcel Standard or Economy service, both of which are handled by UPS. Occasionally Fedex is cheaper; it depends on the destination and precise box weight/size.

The typical rate per parcel is between 25 and 45 UKP depending on the weight (max is 50kg per box), box size and destination; this includes 50 UKP insurance cover. Extra insurance is available up to 1000 UKP, charged as follows:

   250 UKP cover: +5
   500 UKP cover: +10
   750 UKP cover: +15
  1000 UKP cover: +20

These costs apply to small/medium sized parcels for which I can usually employ used/recycled packaging materials to minimise costs.

For O2, IRIS Indigo, Indigo2, Octane/Octane2 and Fuel systems, I use custom-made new boxes in order to make more efficient use of packaging materials, ensure maximum box strength, etc. This is especially important for shipping O2 systems (most sellers use boxes that are not high enough, making transit damage more likely; the boxes I use are 52x52x53cm). The typical cost is the above normal rate plus an extra amount to cover the cost of the box and additional packaging materials, as follows:

    O2, Indigo and Indigo2: +5
  Octane, Octane2 and Fuel: +10

Thus, for example, the shipping cost for an Octane with 250 insurance cover to France is 47 UKP, while for an O2 it would be 41 UKP, etc. It will be less if by chance I have a used box and packaging I can employ.

Tezro is an exception as it's a much heavier system. Again I use custom-made boxes, but the weight means a more expensive courier service has to be used. Typically the shipping cost will be about 200 UKP.

If necessary I can split items into multiple boxes if that means a lower total shipping cost. It depends on the box weight/size, destination, etc. Either way, I always find out which is the best option.

If insurance above 1000 UKP is required, I use parcel2go instead (their limit is 2500), though the base shipping charge is usually a little higher. Ironically this means the best option may end up being ParcelForce's GlobalPriority service.


Outside Central Europe (Eastern Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, Asia, Far East, South America, Africa, etc.)

I use the same services as for Mainland Europe above, except the base shipping costs are higher depending on the destination.

The most common heavy items I send outside Europe are Indy, O2, Fuel and Octane systems (collections if item parts tend to have a similar total weight to an Indy, ie. around 10kg or less). Thus, here is the typical cost of sending these systems to some example locations, in this case I've listed the USA, Canada, Australia, India and Argentina (you can estimate the cost to other destinations based on these prices, or just check yourself on interparcel.com). All prices in this table are in UKP. I'll add other example destinations later.

               Indy     O2    Fuel   Octane

        USA:    60     105     107     120
     Canada:    60     107     107     117
      Japan:    86     170     173     182
  Australia:    86     159     178     207
      India:   100     202     215     221
  Argentina:   130     263     276     290


The above prices include insurance cover of 250 UKP. If additional cover is required, the extra cost is as follows:

   500 UKP cover: +5
   750 UKP cover: +10
  1000 UKP cover: +15


If an item needs more than 1000 UKP cover then I use parcel2go instead, which will add another 20 or so. Hence, shipping costs for a Tezro worth 2000 UKP are typically as follows:

               Tezro

        USA:    350
     Canada:    350
      Japan:    390
  Australia:    440
      India:    450
  Argentina:    500


In all cases, the cost might be more if extra items are required such as keyboard, mouse, CDs, etc. It depends on whether the real weight exceeds the volumetric weight, which is more likely to occur when extras are included with smaller items such as Indy or O2.


Extra Heavy Consignments to International Destinations

One other shipping option I can use is to ship the parcel(s) by sea using the WTA (World Transport Agency). The WTA is a cargo/freight organisation which provides transport support for agencies such as the UN Food Programme, various charities, etc. Their web site is at www.wta.co.uk. Shipping by sea to a remote destination is sometimes considerably cheaper than shipping by air using a courier and it does include full insurance, but it is much slower (typically 1 month or more). However, the cost savings can be well worthwhile.

Sea-shipping is usually more appropriate for more remote destinations such as South America or Africa, for which the courier charges can be extremely high. Thus, for example, in late 2004 I sent an Indigo2 and two 17" SGI monitors to the University of Urugay, for which the shipping cost by WTA was 435 UKP with full insurance. By comparison, shipping the same consignment by ParcelForce at the time would have cost 912 UKP (TNT would have charged 1500 UKP!). With import taxes taken into account, the University of Uruguay probably saved about 300 UKP by opting for shipping by sea.

However, note that shipping by sea is only door-to-port, ie. the items are delivered as far as the nearest sea port to the recipient. It is then the responsibility of the recipient to arrange for the items to be cleared through their local port customs, including any relevant taxes and duties.

Sometimes though, shipping by sea is not cheaper even though one might think it would be. For example, shipping something like an Indigo2 to Australia is cheaper by Interparcel. This is because the routes taken by ships at sea are more complex or just much longer for some countries. Using the WTA is more appropriate for really heavy consignments such as multiple boxes or high-end SGIs like Crimson, Onyx, Onyx2, Challenge and non-blade Origin.

Note that within the UK I can use freight services such as M & G Logistics Ltd., though usually Interparcel or parcel2go have good enough rates for shipping very heavy items.


Personal Collection/Delivery

If you happen to live close enough, or can arrange transport by car/etc., then a personal collection is welcome. I live in Edinburgh, Scotland. Email me for details - I can supply route maps, etc. to show how to reach me.

Alternatively, if you're in the UK, I can deliver in person if the destination is reachable in reasonable time by train/bus; the buyer merely covers my travel costs and any other expenses for the journey (food, etc.) I've done this several times in the past, the main advantage of course being the prevention of transit damage that might occur when items are shipped by RM, courier, etc. For example, I have a padded carry bag for transporting O2s.

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