All About Shipping and Mail Innovations
Robin here with an update about shipping, especially about international shipping.
Here’s where we are at by the numbers…
- 3,173 Total backers
- 3,077 Have responded to the survey
- 51 have not responded to the survey
- 21 have no reward
- 24 backers were dropped (payment issues)
We have completed testing all the Teensys for all rewards!
Right now we have over 2,000 rewards packaged in envelopes. I have almost 700 shipping labels ready to go and ready to be put on packages. I’m working on generating the last few hundred shipping labels. These should be finished by end of day on Monday.
All of the rewards shipping to locations in the US will go out via First Class Mail. Our first priority is to get the rewards shipped, second is to update Kickstarter with tracking numbers. This means there is a very good chance that tracking number updates will happen a day or two after the rewards have actually shipped. We will post updates once packages start shipping.
For international packages we are using a service provided by UPS called Mail Innovations and it is the equivalent of USPS (US Postal Service) Air Mail. With this service we ship the packages to a UPS processing center, the UPS delivers the packages to the postal service in the destination countries where they are then delivered by the local postal services. The delivery time for this service is approximately 2 weeks. This is not a guaranteed delivery time and it may take longer.
Here’s a box of rewards almost ready to be shipped to the UPS processing center. This is 150 of the 300 which will be in this box tomorrow.
You might be wondering why we use this service. Well, it’s a whole lot less expensive than using USPS Air Mail. This is how we are able to offer low cost shipping for our international backers. Over the past few years the USPS has significantly increased the cost of Air Mail. In 2013 it was $3.23 to ship a 2 oz parcel outside of the US. Now that same package costs $13.50 to ship! Yes, you read that correctly. In three years the price has increased over 400% for a 2 oz package!
In recent years freight carriers like UPS, Federal Express, and DHL decided to start playing in the postal market. They started offering service like UPS Mail Innovations where they collect up small parcels and deliver them to the destination countries and let the local postal services do the final delivery. Since the freight carriers already have airplanes filled with cargo going around the world, filling up excess cargo capacity with small packages destined for local post offices is a pretty good business model for them. That’s how they can offer the service so much cheaper than the postal service. There are other political issues with the USPS, but let’s not get into that mess.
But is there tracking with this low cost service? Well, sort of, but not a lot. A customs bar code is generated when the shipping label is generated. There is tracking with UPS while the package is within the US, but once it leaves the country, UPS doesn’t provide any additional tracking. In fact, when you look at the tracking it might seem that your package is stuck in Fontana, California. It’s not, that’s just last place the package was in the US before being shipped off to its destination country.
Let’s look at the example below. We shipped this package to Poland on Tuesday, 09-August. It took 3 business days to reach the UPS Mail Innovations sorting facility. On the next business day (Monday, 15-August) it was put on a plane to Poland. That is when all tracking stopped. The recipient of this package let me know that he received the package on 23-August – two weeks after we shipped it. So, the tracking may look like the package is stuck in Fontana, California, but in reality it has been delivered and UPS doesn’t add tracking information once the package leaves the US.
In some countries, and it varies around the world, the local customs or post office can use the customs bar code ID to help locate the package. Do not try to contact UPS in your country to track the package. Your local UPS office will not know anything about it.
Keep in mind that you may have to pay customs, duties, or VAT when your package is delivered. Again, this varies greatly country by country. We have no idea if and what you might have to pay when the package is delivered. I have heard reports that it can even vary by city within a country. If you would like to know what fees or taxes you might have to pay, it’s best to contact your local post office.
Every reward that we ship will include a commercial invoice that includes customs information. The actual amount of the reward will be shown on the invoice. We cannot issue invoices that show a low value or mark the package as a gift. Doing that really slows down the shipping process and will delay the processing of all the rewards.
It is looking very likely that almost all of the rewards will be shipping out on Tuesday. Some backers in the US might even receive their reward by Friday (September 30, one day before the original estimated delivery date of October)!