PacMe FAQ

 

Browse through our Frequently Asked Questions to find answers to your questions and find out more about how PacMe works.

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Summary: Think of us like a wholesaler.  We only sell soda by the case, not the bottle.  If you want a bottle, you need to buy a whole case.  So, we sell a case of soda very cheaply, but if you only want one bottle, it's going to be a very expensive bottle.  Likewise, we can ship you one bottle, but the cost would be the same as shipping you a whole case.  Our minimum shipping expense is about $70. For 1kg, that would be, well, $70/kg!  But if we were to ship you 25kg, then the $/kg is more like a tenth of that, $7/kg.    

 

You need to "go big."  Our fees max out at 7 packages - it's free after that.  Repacking is the number one way we save you money by reducing the dimensional weight, usually by half - see the proof or the photos below.  Avoid "bad" dim weight (e.g. foam pillows, plastic toy fire engines).  Shipments over 10-15kg begin to enjoy great shipping rates ($9/kg, whereas 25-200kg is our sweet spot ($5-7/kg).  These are rates to Singapore and Hong Kong.  Other places are a bit more so make sure you check out our real-time shipping calculator for your country.

 

To save money, it usually makes sense to wait until you have a lot of stuff before you consolidate and ship.

  1. Small shipments are bad, just plain bad.  Please don't use PacMe for small shipments unless you just love our service level and don't care about the price.  See the rate chart.

  2. Larger shipments are SIGNIFICANTLY more cost-effective to ship. That's our business.  See the rate chart.

  3. PacMe fees get maxed out after 7 packages so spread the fixed cost by going big.
    It's $3/incoming package and $20 flat rate to consolidate and repack them all ($10 if 1-3 packages).

  4. The more items you have, the more likely we can cut the dimensional weight (usually in half, see the proof).
    Repacking is the number one way we save you money.
    Think Tetris - we pack all your items tightly together.  Shipping air and empty space is expensive.

  5. Larger shipments will necessarily trigger GST/Tax, whereas multiple small shipments might avoid GST altogether.
    The math usually favors shipping savings over GST savings, however.  If you are signed in, see this secret FAQ.

 

Our decent international shipping rates kick in above 10-15kg (22-33lbs).  Our sweet spot is around 25-200kg.

  1. Though the $/kg rate differs for different parts of the world, the shape of the curve is the same for everywhere.
  2. For <5kg, we are not a good value.
  3. For 5-10kg, our rate is about the same as our competitors, although by repacking, we will be shipping you fewer kg. So the actual shipping charge will likely be less.  Still, this is not a very good value, from anyone.
  4. For 10-20kg or more, our rates are good.  Then push it to about 25kg and that's our sweetspot (the rate continues to decrease as you get heavier but not as quickly). 

 

 

 

This is what it looks like when it all goes according to plan...

(Check out more "proof" of the PacMe Way)

 

 

 

 

Here's an example that shows how dimensional weight is reduced simply by repacking...

 

 

 

And here is the sampling of the proof (see more here)...

 

 

 

 

 

We want ZERO unhappy customers.  Unless we simply mess up, it's usually about "Hey, it was only a small package, why so much?" or "Hey, where's my package?" so here's the scoop.

 

  • The PacMe Way.  When you go on a shopping spree visiting multiple online retailers and want us to repack it all into one tidy box, then we really shine.  We remove all the "dimensional weight" by repacking items, not simply by putting "boxes inside another box," and that will save you a ton of money.  That's why we are called "PacMe" and not "shipmeoneboxatatime.com."  Others might promise cheap $/KG shipping rates, but we will be sending you fewer KGs for the same amount of stuff because we reduce the dim weight.  If there is any empty space in your box, chances are you are paying for it.

  • Dim Weight.  The more packages you have, in fact, the more likely our "PacMe Way" consolidation and repacking will be of value.  Please watch the Dimensional Weight Tutorial to see how we reduced 56lbs (25kg) of billable weight to just 20lbs (9kg).  We can't do that with 2 packages.  BTW, as your packages arrive, on the website you will see a running total of the sum of their actual weights, as well as our estimate of the dimensional weight of the final outgoing package.  Making this estimate is our specialty and it is increasingly more accurate the more packages you have.  That should reduce any pink fluffy unicorn type of surprises you might have later (i.e. the unicorn weighs 0.5kg but it probably needs to be shipped in a 30cm-per-side cube box that "weighs" 5.4kg).

  • Consolidate & Repack!  We are a "consolidator and repacker," more than a "forwarder," and our fee structure reflects that. There are much cheaper forwarding options out there for forwarding single packages and small consolidations (vPost for one).  Use PacMe when you want to go on a shopping spree.  Of course, we are happy to forward a single package, we just don't want you to be unhappy when you see the bill.  The first few kg are the most expensive to ship.  Shipping 10 times the weight probably costs less than 3 times the cost.  For instance, a 2.3kg package going to Singapore costs about $55 for the 3-5 day service (which is outrageous for a single pair of shoes or a few shirts!), whereas a 23kg package costs a little less than $160. You can check out our Shipping Calculator for real-time quotes.

  • Fees.  We charge $3 per incoming package (includes scanning the invoice, taking photographs, and at least 30 days of free days of storage), a $20 flat fee to consolidate and repack all your packages, and then we add the carrier shipping fee.  We charge $10 to forward a single package or to consolidate just a few.  All other fees are optional, but generally are only of value if you have a lot of packages (e.g. we will do the customs list for $10 or you can create it for free).

    We cap the incoming fees at 7 packages (i.e. packages 8 through, say, 20 or 30 are free), so you should always plan on buying from several sources.  Our discounted shipping rates kick in around 10-15kg.

  • Trust.  We can understand why you might want to send us just a few packages to "try us out" first, but this will be [relatively] very expensive and might turn you off altogether.  We want to avoid such unhappiness.  To gain a little trust in us, perhaps you can watch the Ken & Randy welcome video or find a friend-of-a-friend on LinkedIn who might know one of us.  We have hundreds of ecstatic, happy customers and perhaps two that got upset (but it was really their fault, no really!).  We don't want tens of thousands one-off customers.  A few thousand great ones will do.

    Ken has lived overseas for 10+ years and has used all of our major competitors multiple times.  A handful are very good at doing one-off forwardings, but are way too expensive for larger shipments.  A few are decent consolidators but their websites are challenging.  One is rather good, but for some reason we get a lot of their customers.

    Anyway, there was a big frustrating hole in the market and that is why we launched the business. We raised capital and designed the website and warehouse procedures from scratch.  Randy has been running warehouses his whole life. We call him Uncle Randy, partly because he is just like the friendly and competent Uncle that you wish you had living in the US, who would pack up all your goodies and send them to you, and partly because he really is Ken's wife's Uncle.  Everyone should have an Uncle Randy!

  • Where's my package?  When we receive packages on your behalf, you'll see them in your account on the website.  We designed the website ourselves. When you want your packages consolidated, repacked, and shipped to you, you should either "start a consolidation" on the website and go through the prompts (e.g. customs list and values, transit speed, remove or keep shoe boxes, etc.), or just send us a message in your private, My Account chat box that says, "Hey, ship all my stuff already!"  We will probably respond with all those prompted questions or will just make the executive decision on each of them.  You can be in control or you can put us in control.

  • Customs.  Lastly, customs can be finicky.  Some countries are better than others, but many can be pretty frustrating.  The carrier will take care of the logistics to get the package through customs, but it still might be a headache for you if you aren't used to it.  We are working on a customs guide, but in the meantime, talk to some of your local friends to determine if you live in a one of the "better-than-others" countries. Places like Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, most of Europe, etc. are generally smooth. Singapore allows S$400 of goods to enter tax-free and Australia allows a whopping A$1,000.  Most of Europe, on the other hand, hits you with VAT immediately (but hey, you are probably still saving money buying in the US).

  • FAQ.  The FAQ is full of tidbits, tips, and tricks.  If you think we have missed something or find something confusing, please email us at feedme@pacme.com or put a message in your "My Account" chat box.    If you are still a doubter, then read Ken's rant.

 A picture is worth 20 words....

Sam breaking the PacMe way record.

 

Summary: PacMe is worth it if you have more than 7 packages or total weight is greater than 15kg and the goods are valuable or much cheaper in the US.

 

With PacMe, you save money every step of the way (also check out What Should I Buy?)...

  1. Shop in the US for the lowest prices anywhere. Buying branded products in the US is almost always cheaper than purchasing the same items in other countries.  The US sells the highest volume of most goods and the competition is fierce.  The advent of online retailing has taken prices down even lower.  Prices are cheap and you get exactly what you want. You need someone to receive and store your packages.  That's either PacMe or your Aunt Sally.  You might think Sally is cheaper (since she is free), but read on.

  2. Ship to Oregon, sales-tax free.  Shipping to our warehouse in Oregon will save you about 5-10% over shipping to other states or having your Aunt Sally make the purchases for you in a store.  There are only a handful of states that do not charge sales tax.  Sally probably doesn't live in one of them.

  3. Consolidate and repack the PacMe Way to avoid costly dim weight surcharges.  Your savings could be huge.  Most US retailers will send your items to our warehouse in boxes that are often only half full.  If we simply put those incoming boxes into another box and shipped that to you, it would almost always trigger the dimensional weight surcharge.  We are called PacMe because packing is our expertise.  We know all the tricks to help you avoid these nasty surcharges.  Sooner or later, your Aunt Sally would figure this out too, but as they say, "experience is the best teacher, but it is very expensive."

  4. Save on international shipping using our deep volume discounts. We ship such a huge amount of volume everyday that we enjoy incredible discounts from the shipping carriers (UPS, FedEx, USPS). The $/kg rate does down the more you ship. It would be impossible for your Aunt Sally to send it any cheaper.  Maybe you could get your friend to ship you something for free on their employer's company account.  Of course, they wouldn't actually do that... just sayin.

Ok, I can see I will save a ton of money with PacMe every step of the way, but every step still costs money.  Is it all worth it?

  1. If you are shopping for hammers and nails or fluffy pink unicorns and curtain rods, then it probably isn't worth it, unless you just have to have these items and can't get them in your country of residence.  Hammers and nails are low cost and very heavy.  You'll probably pay more in shipping than they cost to buy in the first place. Fluffy pink unicorns and curtain rods are just the opposite -- they are costly and weigh next to nothing -- but they will most certainly trigger the dimensional weight surcharge. Althought the 0.5kg fluffy pink unicorn weighs one-tenth of the 5kg hammer and nails, it will likely cost more to ship.  ...unless we cram it into a tiny jack-in-the-box and I don't think your little niece will like that very much.

  2. If you are interested in name-brand clothing, gadgets, sports equipment, etc., then it is most definitely worth it.  These items are of high cost, low weight, and are relatively dense so won't trigger the dimensional weight.  You will likely save so much money when you purchase these items in the US that it will more than make up for the international shipping charges and customs duties on your end.

  3. PacMe's fees -- $3 per incoming box (no charge after 7 packages) and a flat fee of $20 to consolidate all your boxes -- are relatively inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.  Repacking the PacMe way (reducing dim weight) and the international shipping discount will cover our costs many times over.  In some ways, we are a like a co-op of customers, a buying group that binds together to get cheap international shipping rates from the carriers.  By getting more and more customers, everyone enjoys cheaper and cheaper rates.

 

We have several customers who ordered over 300 packages per year.  They probably save tens of thousands of dollars per year.

 

 

 

It's simple "bulk pricing."  The more KGs you buy, the cheaper the rate (see the screenshot below).

 

Imagine you want to buy a dog house.  That just comes to mind since a customer in Singapore just did so. 

  • The dog house, in its [very full already] shipping box, weighed 24kg, but had a dim weight of 28kg.  As an "Amazon Prime" customer, it was sent free from Amazon to PacMe.
  • Checking our shipping calculator, 28kg would cost $190 to ship to Singapore using the 5-6 days Economy service. That is $6.78/kg.
  • The customer decided to delay the shipment of the dog house until she could add more to it.
  • Let's say she bought another 28kg of stuff for a total of 56kg.  That would cost $326 to Singapore, about $5.80/kg, a dollar less than before.
  • Now, that same dog house costs $160 to ship instead of $190.

 

BTW, you are not penalized by the carrier for the number of boxes in a shipment.  The overall weight and sum of dimensions are simply calculated as if it were one huge box.  If we need to use an additional double-wall PacMe box, then we will need to charge a few more bucks, however (the first one is covered in the consolidation fee).

 

GST/VAT/TAX is charged on a per-shipment basis as well, not per box. But if you are buying that much stuff, you are going to trip TAX anyway.  It rarely makes sense to split a shipment to save on TAX since the freight savings are usually greater than the GST hit.  At least you don't have to pay any US sales tax when you ship to Oregon.

 

 

 

 

See our entire Save Money FAQ for more information.

 

We get this question all the time, and we are happy to answer it with a big smile each and every time, but if you can't wait for us, here is a way to calculate it on your own.

 

Shipping Calculator
Enter the weight and dimensions of the shipping box into the PacMe Shipping Calculator.   Make sure you enter the shipping box size, not the product's dimensions.  This can usually be found in the detailed information section on the product's web page.   The shipping calculator gives real-time discounted quotes, directly from the carriers.  If the box is overweight or oversize, no quote will be returned.

 

A shipment can contain multiple boxes for no additional charge, but our calculator only does one box at a time.  If dim weight is unlikely to be triggered, then simply add up all the individual actual weights and put in dummy dimensions.

 

Restrictions
You can have an unlimited number of boxes in an outgoing shipment, but each box must be smaller than these limits (for UPS and FedEx; USPS are a little tighter):

  • Weight < 67kg (149lbs)
  • Length + Girth < 419cm (165 inches)*
  • Length < 270cm (106 inches)

 *Length + Girth = (L + 2W  + 2H), where L is the longest side and then add the circumference of the rest of the box

 

Dimensional Weight
Our shipping calculator will calculate the dimensional weight and return the correct quote, but here is the dim weight calculation.  While dim weight is not necessarily bad, it often explains why something is so expensive to ship (e.g. that 1kg plastic toy that "weighs" 5kg). For example, a cube box 12 inches per side (30cm) has a dimensional weight of 12lbs (5.4kg).

  • Dimensional weight = LxWxH/139 for inches and pounds
  • Dimensional weight = LxWxH/5000 for cm and kg

 

 

 

What we are and what we are not

How is PacMe better, or at least different, than vPost, comGateway, borderlinx or one of the other 100 competitors out there?  Chances are, if you are happy with your current provider, then you might not be happy with us unless you change the way you shop.  We are really in a different business.  Let's point out some differences...

 

Forget our awesome website and great customer service (testimonials) for a moment. You probably want to know who is cheaper (see our pricing and our shipping calculator).  And that depends on your shopping habits.  If you buy a few things at a time and then want to have them "bundled" and shipped overseas, then the simple package forwarders are probably right for you.  They pretty much charge the same $/kg rate for any weight so it doesn't really matter if you send them 2 or 10 packages. It's probably a good deal for 2 and a rotten deal for 10 packages.

 

We are exactly the opposite.  We are a phenominal deal for 7-10+ packages and a relatively poor deal for 2 packages (unless they are heavy).  The more weight we send, the cheaper the $/kg rate, much cheaper.

 

Our real value, however, is that we are a true consolidator and repacker, as our name suggests.  By repacking your items from several packages, not just bundling your boxes, we often reduce dim weight by half. We are the dim weight experts.  It is the number one thing we do to save you money.  Here's the evidence!  Most incoming packages arrive half full. We carefully repack your items in an outgoing box like we are playing Tetris.  So, if you have a lot of incoming packages, we will be shipping out fewer kilograms and at a cheaper rate.

 

Who else can do this?  Ken and Randy can, but Sam still holds the record...

 

Sam

 


 

Don't be fooled by other "consolidators"

There are 4 ways to "consolidate" your packages.  From bad to good, we would put them in this order...

Combination/bundling (bad). Some companies offer to send all your packages "together."  They might call this "consolidation" but it is really just putting your boxes together into a bag or under one tracking number so they won't get lost.  They haven't reduced any dim weight at all. vPost and Borderlinx do it this way. Sometimes the latter will "rebox" the most egregious ones, but they don't have enough box sizes to make it perfect.  It's probably fine for a few small packages with clothes (which, if tightly packed, won't trigger dim weight) and vPost certainly has the best rates for these small packages.  They might have the best rates, but the rates still aren't very good.  Shopping this way  -- one at a time -- makes very little sense to us.

Box-in-box (maybe worse). The second bad way to do it, and still call it "consolidation," is to put all of the incoming packages into a single, bigger box.  The dimensional weight will actually increase unless those 5+ boxes fit perfectly into a larger box.  If there is empty space, there is dim weight.  It does solve the "first" kg issue though because a single box would be shipped, not five individual ones, each incurring at least the minimum shipping charge.  Many of our competitors provide this service, but this "boxes-in-box" method is a second generation offering at best.

Repacking (good). The proper way to "consolidate" is to unpack the original packages and remove the items, get rid of the stuffing material, discard the original shipping boxes, and, most importantly, throw away all the air inside the box.  The density of air is nothing and that is what causes the biggest dim weight issue.   Amazon in particular will send boxes that are hardly half full because they don't have to pay for dim weight when shipping within the US.    We consider "repacking" a third-generation offering, and very few of our competitors do it properly.  If you are receiving a box from a competitor that has any empty space in it, however, then they could have done better.  Keep in mind that leaving 10cm empty across the top of a 40cm cube box will "weigh" 3kg (10x40x40cm / 5000 = 3.2kg).  Repeat, empty space is heavy!  That's at least $20 you would be paying for empty space.  Who else is going to care or even notice that extra 10cm?  It's our business to care.

PacMe Way (best). The fourth way is the PacMe Way.  We repack items into the perfect size box. If you can see any empty space, there is a good chance you are paying for it.  Whatever you buy, we will fit it optimally into a perfect size outgoing box (we have every box size imaginable).  We will reposition your items, Tetris-style, until we fill every nook and cranny. If you buy just an umbrella and a beach ball, then we can't work our magic.  But if you buy a lot of stuff, no one is better than PacMe at repacking.  It's why we have the word "pack" in our name and not "post," "ship," "my usa address," or other words that are easy to do.

 


 

Understanding Dimensional Weight

Understanding what causes dim weight will help explain what we can or cannot do about it.  The best kind of dim weight is accessible empty space (e.g. an empty suitcase would be an extreme example) because we can fill it with other items "for free" until the actual weight equals the dim weight.  Any item with big enough spaces, even nooks and crannies, can be filled that way.  Low density items without fillable space are not so good: pillows can be squished but maybe not that pink fluffy unicorn.  Hollow, but inaccessible (clam shell), plastic toys are really bad. The worst kind of dim weight, however, is when you buy just two odd shaped items that don't fit together (the umbrella and beach ball). We would have to send you a huge box with a lot of our fresh Oregon air inside it.  That makes us cry. 

 

Make sure you shop wisely.  You don't have to be obsessive about it -- that's our job -- but just think about what you are buying.  A mixture of weights, sizes, and shapes usually works out just fine.  The more items you buy, the more likely they will all fit together, like playing a game of Tetris. Clothing, by the way, dims out at 1:1.  That is, a box of clothing has a dim weight that pretty much equals its actual weight.  So there is nothing to worry about there.

 

Check out our dim weight FAQ and our dim weight video tutorial.

 


 

Now, on to shipping rates

 Here's our shipping calculator.  It provides real-time rates. Our shipping curve flattens out when you get to about 15kg or so.  That is where you will get the best value.  Our sweet spot is consolidating and repacking 5-10 packages or more with a total weight of 15+kg.  It kinda sucks if we are shipping just a few kg.  Use vPost instead for that. Their curve is flat, however, so while they are good on the light end, we blow them away on the heavy end.

 

          Cost per kg


 

Lastly, a word about some of our competitors

First, a note about our fees for comparison...  There are no hidden fees.  We call it "3-in and 20-out plus shipping."  We charge $3 per incoming package (includes scanning the invoice, photographing the items, and at least 30 days of free storage) and a $20 flat fee to consolidate and repack all of them.  If you only have a few packages, we drop the consolidation charge to $10. We cap our incoming fees at 7 packages, so 8 packages onward in the same consolidation do not have a fee.  You can control and complete the customs list -- descriptions, values, etc. -- or we will do it for $10.  If it is short, we don't charge at all. Then you pay the carrier shipping fee, which comes right from our shipping calculator so there are no hidden fees. You can see from the above rate curve, the heavier weights are as low as $6/kg.  We can do all sorts of special requests (e.g. video tape your dancing bear toy), but that's our very simple pricing in a nutshell, "$3-in and $20-out plus shipping." 

 

vPost does not repack, but they will bundle your packages into one order, although you need to move them out within 21 days. They charge about $10 per outbound order and their shipping rate is $7/kg (converted to USD). They quote per 100g and add a fuel surcharge separately, like a taxi charging per 1/8 of a mile, funny.  It's a good deal, however, for small packages that don't trigger dim weight because the "first" kg is not more expensive than later kg's.  Their curve is flat.  They can do this because they can fill up an entire plane nearly every day.  They are cheaper than us at low weights but more expensive at high weights.  Since they do not reduce dim weight at all, however, they will always be sending more kilograms than us. So, you'll be paying $7/kg for a lot of hot air.  For a 5-10 package consolidation, the amount is astronomical and we would say not worth your while.

 

comGateway's shipping rates are nearly identical to vPost's.  They charge $13 for the "first 0.5kg" and about $6.50-7.50/kg thereafter, depending upon the transit time, but they often add a fuel surcharge in there after the fact.  Naughty naughty.  They will bundle/combine for a dollar per package beyond 3, and they will "rebox" individual packages into another individual box for $7 per box to cut down on the dim weight of that particular box, but they purposely keep all the useless packaging, so what's the use?  Times that by 5-10 packages.  Ugh! They are trying to help, but it's costly, and they certainly won't repack all your incoming items from several packages into a single outgoing box Tetris-style.  That's what you want!  Storage is free for only 30 days and then $1/day per package.  They have all sorts of fees, some quite confusing, and we had to remove all the links from this paragraph because we can't even find them anymore!  That said, they are excellent at providing all sorts of shopping discounts.  They have tie-ins with credit card companies and various merchants.  So, it's up to you to figure out if it is a good deal or not, because we certainly can't figure it out.

 

Borderlinx's shipping rates to Singapore are $17/kg for a 1kg package, but about $7.50-8.50/kg for shipments in the 5-30kg range.  Their curve is pretty flat so you don't get much of a discount for 15kg or more.  They will bundle/combine, and rebox individual boxes for free, probably because they make their money by marking up the shipping rate.  Of course, they won't actually repack items from multiple packages into a single outgoing box. If you buy a fancy suitcase along with 5 other packages of shirts, gadgets, and toys, they won't put the items into the suitcase.  Instead, they will ship you all the dim-weight hot air inside it for a fortune, at least 2-3x the cost of its actual weight. They will give you 30 days of storage and then charge $5/day per package. I suppose that's kind of motivating!  Their claim to fame is providing hassle-free, "all in" pricing with taxes, duties, and fees all prepaid (by you of course).  We will do this if you want, but it's usually a bad idea since you will almost always end up paying more.  Borderlinx won a lot of converts from vPost and comGateway because they did a bad thing better.  Their service level, for what they will agree to do, is pretty good.  Again, use them for one-off small shipments, particularly from the UK.

 

ShopMate is Australia Post's version.  Pricing is $25 per parcel plus $12/kg to ship.  They will rebox a single package for $5 if the dim weight is 2kg more than the actual weight.  They charge $1.50 per day after 21 days.  They don't do any repacking of items from several packages into a single outgoing box either.  Those are Aussie dollars, but despite an awesome name, I can't see anyone using this service.  We love that they provide it, however, since they will do all the awareness advertising for the rest of us down in Australia.

 

By last count, we have over 100 competitors on our list.  We have used about 20 of them.  We are really in a different business than most all of them.  In the old days, people shopped one box at a time because these small package freight forwarders, as they are called, e.g. vPost, would only send one package at a time.  So, people continued to shop in that inefficient manner. Now, with PacMe, you can shop much more efficiently and save a lot more money.  And the website and service makes it bearable, if not outright fun!

 

 

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