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The fluffy pink unicorn

This is a story about how we are “in this together.”  It's helpful if you learn about some of the peculiarities of international shipping, not so you can do our job, but so you can shop smarter.  We’re here to help you avoid some of the pitfalls.  It’s a part of the “about us” that we think is unique.

Let’s say you buy a fluffy pink unicorn soft toy for your young niece. It weighs next to nothing, maybe 0.5kg, so you wouldn’t think it would cost much to ship. In fact, Amazon will probably ship it to our warehouse for free. It comes in a 30cm square box. Not small, but not that big either. The unicorn is too fluffy and that’s the problem.

There’s a thing called “dimensional weight” and it is particularly onerous for international shippers. It’s a simple formula: Dimensional weight = Length x Width x Height / 5000 (for cm and kg) or LxWxH/139 (for inches and pounds).

You pay the higher cost of the two weights: actual vs dimensional. The 0.5kg soft toy, if shipped overseas in a 30cm square box would “weigh” 30x30x30/5000 = 5.4kg! That’s ten times more than expected.

If you already knew that, you probably wouldn’t have ordered the fluffy pink unicorn in the first place. In our Pacme.com account, you would see that we flagged this issue. Otherwise, I’m sure we would catch this particular issue and ask you if you really wanted us to ship it by itself. We would do this in the chat box for the package and send you an alert.

But there’s also another solution.

In your Pacme account, you will be able to see in real time whether or not the sum total of your packages will likely trigger the dimensional weight surcharge when you consolidate them. We do that by opening your packages upon arrival and making an estimate of how full each incoming package really is. Most are only half to three-quarters full. We also scan the invoice and take pictures at this point so it’s a convenient and relative easy task for us to do. In your account, you will see the actual and estimated dim weights for all your incoming packages and what that might mean for your consolidated package. Later, if you agree, we will repack your items, not boxes. We won’t just put a bunch of half-empty boxes inside another box.

This consolidation trick alone will save you thousands of dollars every year if you are an average-volume customer. The easiest way to avoid dimensional weight is to let us remove all the air in your boxes by repacking your items, not your boxes.

Ship more stuff for free! Of Course, if she wants that fluffy pink unicorn for her birthday next Thursday, then you might not have much of a choice. But here’s an idea. Go ahead and buy that fluffy pink unicorn, but order a box of poker chips or a few heavy books at the same time. Those otherwise heavy but small items essentially ship for free with the fluffy pink unicorn because you are already paying for the “dimensional weight” of the box size (5.4kg in this example), not the actual weight of what’s inside the box (anything less than 5.4kg). The 30cm cube box “weighs” 5.4kg, so you might as well fill it up until it actually weighs 5.4kg since you are paying for it anyway. It’s a great excuse to buy more stuff!

written in: Things to Know

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