Getting items posted from the US to UK


A thread from the end of August speculated on why US shippers of calculators don't like to ship outside the country. I did a little research on shipping from Houston, Texas, in the middle of the US and London, UK. It's fairly complicated to get good security with the cheaper US Postal Service, as opposed to a fast shipper like UPS, which costs at least $76 for a fully tracked and signed-for 2 lb. delivery in 2-3 business days.

All the cheap, secure USPS services claim a 'standard' delivery time of 6-10 business days. For my 2 lb. example, First Class International costs about $33 for Registered Mail, Return Receipt. The maximum indemnity for this is $47.93, the maximum weight is 4 lb. (more money) and the service is "sealed against inspection".

Priority Mail International Parcel costs $30 for 2 lb. and is not a 'sealed' service. Ordinary indemnity is maximum 70.43, or insurance can replace this: the cost of $100 insurance is $3.50. This service claims tracking to major destinations.

Non-tracked, but 'sealed' Priority Mail International Flat Rate Small Box or Flat Rate Envelope are a bad deal for 2 lb. shipments, but can take up to 4 lb at $42. There is no insurance. To get tracking, signed-for and $47.93 indemnity you have to get Registered Mail and Return Receipt for a total of $54.

Hope this clears things up ;-)


London, UK


Thanks. That just brings up the other problem.

To have paypal seller protection, they want signature on the delivery, even overseas. If you don't have that, the buyer can claim you sent a rock rather than the item and get their money back even though they have the item.

The alternative is to charge VERY high shipping charges, which upset the overseas customer, of course.

In the USA, signature delivery is much cheaper (cheap no-problems with paypal), no customs forms are required.

Couple of reasons why US sellers may not ship overseas.

Of course, present company :-) would not make such claims to paypal, but unless you guys are the ONLY people biuying off that auction site, then the risk is there. Google and you'll find the horror stores.


Does Return Receipt not qualify as signature on delivery for PayPal seller protection? I thought that's what I was satisfying.


Edited: 2 Sept 2009, 3:22 p.m.


Of course, I can only respond based on my personal experience. This tells me, however, that *none* of the parcels, flat rate boxes, or envelopes carrying my purchases across the Atlantic ever got lost. Nor did any letter disappear. AFAIK postal service is paid to deliver mailings, not to drop, discard, destroy them. And they do their job quite well.

If you ask a large crowd for interesting stories, however, what will you get? Horror stories, since the normal stuff is sooo boring. Here, the internet is collecting the gossip of this planet. No more double-headed cows or headless devils nowadays anymore (I hope), but lost mail and similar exceptional events. And big business is interested in such stories, else nobody would buy an insurance.

OK, I admit my statements are only valid for shipping from one civilized country to another one, both showing a reasonably low level of corruption along the shipping line (think of customs). But such it is. Sorry ;)

Hope this brings this topic on solid grounds again.


I only ever sold one item on TAS, a mobile phone, but sure enough the Russian buyer emailed me for a reduction on his bid, which I refused, after which I had to wait three weeks for the dispute to expire and re-list.

A particularly insistent US-only seller on TAS had an experience a year ago with a UK buyer who seemed to want delivery before payment. He had 805 feedbacks (97.5% positive), so I wouldn't be surprised if he had been burned more than once. His RAM card got 1/3 the price it would have done in Europe.

I was just trying to point out that shipping from the US is

- expensive, as you might expect

- complicated to get right (tracking, signed-for, PayPal support) without spending double

I do think the "he sent me a rock" thing is rare, if care is taken, but the extra complication and expense in the US to ship overseas, relative to somewhat easier conditions within the richer EU states, puts off many sellers.


Edited: 2 Sept 2009, 4:50 p.m.


I too hope/think the "he sent me a rock" thing is rare. However, my point was that without a signature delivery receipt (delivery confirmation, return receipt does not count - read the paypal long notice), a buyer can say they did not get it and the seller is out $$.

So, the seller either ships without that to another country and **hopes** the buyer is honest, or the seller charges outrageous shipping costs to the buyer in the other country (which will reduce the bidders outside the USA), or the seller just sells in the USA.

That said, I shipped three items out of the country this week from TAS. One to England, two to Brazil. Hope the buyers are honest.


P.S. The ONLY country I have ever had any problems with from a postal service is Italy. Took 6 weeks to clear their customs. Buyer kept getting angry at me when I could do nothing. The other problem I had was in Greece. Sent something there and the duties were more than the item was worth by far. The buyer told them to abandon the item.


delivery confirmation, return receipt does not count - read the paypal long notice

Shocking! So getting a post card back with the recipient's signature is not as good as a carrier-held delivery signature. That means $75 to UPS for my 2 lb. package, unless the Priority Mail International Parcel is signed-for at my 'major destination'.

I want to blame someone, but not sure who >:-(

It really is easier in the richer part of the EU (well, I know about UK, France, Netherlands and Germany). All the services seem to have reasonable signed-for options.


Edited: 2 Sept 2009, 5:29 p.m.


Is shipping abroad from the States any more difficult than shipping abroad from Europe?

Both require extra work from the seller but as I said in an earlier thread, that extra work is more than compensated for in the higher prices that are available when selling.

The way I work things is to offer a good basic package (Royal Mail International Signed For) which is quite affordable and then allow the buyer to opt for insurance or a faster system if they want it. I've sent lots of items out, some with high value and received lots of items in, some also with high value and never had any lost or any trouble. In fact, the only trouble I have had has been from UPS wanting to charge me a fee for something that didn't have any value which took a couple of weeks to sort out. Otherwise, good-old USPS has never failed me on my purchases.



It seems like there is no USPS equivalent to Royal Mail International Signed-for that satisfies PayPal Seller Protection rules.

I was trying to find one that was less expensive than UPS at $76 from Houston to London, but apparently the USPS Return Receipt system doesn't satisfy PayPal seller protection.



Why are you all so hung up on PayPal protection. It didn't do me any good when the seller didn't deliver. I only got 15% of my original payment back because the seller's account didn't have any more money in it by the time the dispute got settled. Oh, and the seller had lots of feedback, 100% positive. I've only done about 15 PayPal transactions, and this one has been the only problem. I'm hoping it stays that way.

From PayPal T&C par 13.13:

However, recovery is not guaranteed and may be limited only to the amounts that PayPal can recover from the seller’s Account.

I'm sure you can guess what I think of the "Pay with PayPal and you’re fully protected." slogan.


Why are you all so hung up on PayPal protection.

I think it's a matter of degrees. Things are somewhat more transparent (protection by whatever -- I was helped by a German sellers' group when PayPal wouldn't) and less expensive shipping within EU, from EU to US, and within US than they are shipping from US to just about anywhere else.

That's why many sellers in the US don't bother shipping anywhere else.

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