Finding the best prices and easiest way for posting items - UK

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Having sent several items both through eBay and many non-eBay items I have learned a lot about what to do and how to save cash and just as important save on time and thought I would share this.
As a private seller I used to use the classic method of wrapping and packing everything up, going to the Post Office, queuing up for ages then paying for the item to be sent. I found on the run up to Christmas especially this was a nightmare; it took an age to get served and my lunch hour (and some) soon passed by.
I got fed up of this and wanted a different solution and reading community boards on eBay I read about online services where you could search through a range of services and prices and then choose what you wanted, a bit like 'go-compare'
The benefit of using these types of site are:
  • You choose the service you want e.g. express/next-day/pick-up or drop-off from a local shop - loads to choose from
  • You choose the service provider from a wide range: UPS, FedEx, DHL, Hermes, Collect+, ParcelForce, City Link etc
  • You choose the price you want to pay for the service from a list of options for each service - this can really add value to selling your items as you can select a better service for a great price that is often cheaper than the Post Office
  • You can track your parcel online and provide this to your customer/buyer - another value add
  • My favourite benefit: the courier comes to you to pick the parcel up so no queuing and wasting time. I find this especially useful as I can do all my parcel sending during the week and free my time up on the weekend! Result!
 
I have now tried a few of these with varying levels of success, none of them shocking but some better than others so I thought I would list the ones I have used in order of preference;
  1. Interparcel.com
  2. P4D (Parcel4Delivery)
  3. ParcelMonkey
  4. Parcels2Go
N.B, when I have had an issue it is more often than not the courier that has the problem rather than the online service - the online service will be the link between you and the courier company. Yodel are not the best option to use to ship items from my experience and have created difficult situations that the online service have had a nightmare trying to resolve. UPS are the complete opposite and to date (touch wood) I have yet to have anything go wrong.

General tips I have learned along the way:
  1. Put the labels on correctly and make sure they are easy to read
  2. Be honest about what you declare is in the parcel
  3. Make sure you read the list of prohibited items and items sent at your own risk. All courier services have a list of items that cannot be sent and often include lithium batteries so things like iPhones, cameras and laptops can be at risk (this varies a bit company to company); liquids are also often on prohibited lists and glass items, mirrors in particular are generally sent at your own risk. Do take the time to look over this, I can't stress this enough
  4. If it is a valuable item make sure you are covered in case the worse happens. you often have a chance to add an additional level of cover - don't leave it to chance
  5. Don't try and cheat on the weight and size! I have been stung on this and the courier services have sophisticated equipment that is automated and you wont get away this! You will end up paying more in the long run and delay the arrival of your item. Trust me!
  6. Make sure the item is well packed. It is worth spending a bit of extra time doing this and it will pay dividends on your seller feedback. Buyers really appreciate the effort made to pack and wrap well and it will also protect your item whilst on transit. Expect your parcel to be moved around and handled a lot by both humans and machines. Without wanting to sound disrespectful, jobs in the parcel industry are generally not the best paid so don't expect things to be handled like they are the crown jewels and there are about 3million parcels sent everyday in the UK so your parcel is not 'special'
  7. Tip for packing - if you have an office/paper shredder at home, put sheets of newspaper through it to make packing material - works a treat and is cheap!
  8. Just because you put or write 'this way up' or 'Fragile' on the parcel this doesn't matter, it won't be treated any differently and could sometimes make it more of a target to be 'man handled' 
Hope this helps!
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