Tuesday, 3 September 2013

A brooch sale that went over the pond.

It's brilliant to receive a sale, even more so when you read the buyer's address and see your item will be off to another country.  This happened to me a few weeks ago.  A lovely, friendly lady found my Union Jack horse brooch and decided it was perfect for her daughter - they live in America.
Ellie's Treasures
I have mailed items to the States before, but not for a long time, so decided to swat up on the ins and outs of airmail.  I specifically wanted to find out about the custom sticker that I'd need to place on the envelope as people often just put "gift" which wouldn't actually be true in this case.

Researching this I came across a blog post (written 31st May, 2012) by fellow seller Mogs Togs.  It made for interesting reading, not about customs labels, but about the cost of mailing the item via Royal Mail - sending letters vs small parcels.  When pricing up all my goods with overseas postage I had assumed that they would travel under "small parcels", however, after Mogs Togs' enquiry with Royal Mail and final reply by them to her via twitter it seems small, thin items (whether in an envelope or jiffy bag) and weighing up to 100g can actually go as a "letter" as long as there is personal correspondence enclosed with the item.  I believe Royal Mail are thinking of  changing the dimensions at some point to make overseas "letters" no thicker than 5mm (this measurement is already currently in place for RM business customers I believe), but at present, this isn't the case for personal customers.

Convincing the post office that this is OK is another thing!  Reading the blog and relevant forum posts, it really depends on the PO you wander in to as to whether they'll allow your package to go letters over small parcels when requesting overseas airmail postage.  Armed with all this information, and my brooch securely packaged up in a jiffy bag weighing under 40g and with a personal signed "Dear so and so" letter included, I headed off to my usual Post Office.  The lady said it would go small parcels and wanted £3.50 - I told her about the information I found out and that a personal letter was certainly inside but she wouldn't accept it.  I cancelled the transaction and headed back to my car and drove off to the next post office.  There the lady was much more knowledgeable and agreed that yes, it could go as a letter, just £1.88, and wrote on the package that a personal note had been put inside.  Pleased to say, the package arrived very quickly and the customer was extremely happy, especially as I was able to send her a postage refund too.

Seeing as how there's quite a difference in cost between letters and small parcels for light items travelling airmail, and often a hit-or-miss when it comes to prices quoted by PO counter staff, it's perhaps worth pre-purchasing postage via RM's on-line postage system.  Having said that, if you require a proof of posting, you may still have to convince the PO that the item really can go as a letter!

Thanks to Mogs Togs for such a helpful, informative post.

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