The end of cheap postal rates from China to Canada
November 10, 2017 5:18 AM   Subscribe

Ever wondered why it's so cheap to ship small stuff on the slow boat from China? It's due to an international agency that "sets prices based on factors such as national income. The cost of sending mail from China to Canada was set at a low amount years ago, long before the advent of e-commerce and China's emergence as a major economic force." That will start to change in 2018.
posted by clawsoon (23 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
Years ago I worked in Guyana for a bit. If I remember rightly there was a not-quite-scam of people shipping mail in bulk from the UK to Guyana and then having it sent individually to the UK from there as it was so much cheaper that way. I the Guyanese govt. got wise to it though (as they were losing money, I presume).
posted by dowcrag at 5:25 AM on November 10, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'd personally like to see it go the other way - sometimes shipping something into Canada from the US or even domestically inside Canada is so expensive that the stuff on aliexpress or dhgate starts to look like the better option even if it is of questionable quality and provenance.

So instead of making domestic shipping cheaper to help compete, the answer is to making shipping from China just as painfully expensive as everything else in Canada?
posted by thecjm at 5:34 AM on November 10, 2017 [7 favorites]


FTFA:
International mail rates are set by a United Nations agency called the Universal Postal Union, which sets prices based on factors such as national income.
So could this rate adjustment also take place in other countries? Will my crummy Chinese EBay electronics not not be free shipping? I mean, I did see the line that says "...[Canada Post] has recently negotiated price hikes that will start next year." But I wonder if other national postal systems will be emboldened to open their own parallel conversation about this.

Are there any USPS wonks here who can comment?
posted by wenestvedt at 5:41 AM on November 10, 2017 [1 favorite]


Shipping things from China has been so cheap it's basically free. As in some days I get home to find packages I don't remember ordering 3 months ago but my seizure log says it was a bad week and I know that said package could contain pretty much anything - $3 worth of keychains! a semi-legal laser pointer! A usb key shaped like food! An LED bike light broken in the (half or non existent) package! Anything!

I might have better fiscal management if shipping from China didn't make such purchases well under my feeling-under-the-weather-impulse-threshold.
posted by mce at 5:45 AM on November 10, 2017 [11 favorites]


More detail previously. A lot more detail.
posted by merlynkline at 5:55 AM on November 10, 2017 [7 favorites]


I completely missed that one, merlynkline. Great post by Wordshore!
posted by clawsoon at 5:58 AM on November 10, 2017 [1 favorite]


I regularly get post from Australia (bank statements, and the periodical subscriber magazine from a community radio station in Melbourne). In all cases, it is not actually sent from Australia, but from somewhere in Europe (the last RRR magazine arrived from Sweden, though other mail has come via Germany or the Netherlands; the source of any one communication changes occasionally). I think some mail from Australia may have come via Singapore once as well.

I'm not sure what's going on here, but I'm guessing that the mail is sent in bulk to Europe and mailed individually from there. I can imagine the National Australia Bank having enough customers abroad to have someone regularly arbitrage postage rates and strike deals with remailing firms in different countries, though wouldn't expect a community radio station to do so, so I'm guessing that there's a firm in Australia that provides all that as a service to any business that has a mailing list, parts of which are abroad, perhaps charging them a fixed fee and taking profits through aggressively arbitraging the system.
posted by acb at 6:29 AM on November 10, 2017


I just got free shipping for China to Singapore in an online retailer by accident through an offer and omg it has changed my shopping patterns. I just buy stuff and it arrives randomly 2-3 weeks later. Yesterday, I got toothbrush squeeze things and Christmas ornaments. They were about 25-50% cheaper than retail and I wrote them on a list and went huh, check China site before I go to Amazon or the actual mall. There's no way to track the orders so I never know when something will arrive and have to order way in advance or non urgent only, but the savings and the convenience as I hate hate hate shopping at malls, is just wonderful.

But the postal side is bizarre. Things come over wrapped in wads of leftover recycled packaging, and the cost of the postage is often the same as the cost of the item. How it's working as I don't pay shipping, I have no idea. Somethings a package will come in 5 days, sometimes it takes 5 weeks.

And in a few hours it is 11.11! The big online shopping day in China!

Honestly, I think China to China shopping is going to outweigh the rest of y'all soon enough.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:57 AM on November 10, 2017 [2 favorites]


I hope my international forever stamps still function as intended!
posted by rebent at 7:17 AM on November 10, 2017


Huh, I always assumed that the reason aliexpress sent my stuff so cheap was that it took two freaking months to get here.
posted by Sternmeyer at 7:55 AM on November 10, 2017 [1 favorite]


Off to binge shop. BRB.
posted by Keith Talent at 8:40 AM on November 10, 2017 [2 favorites]


He said policy makers need to take a closer look at the e-commerce sector and how Canadian firms can remain competitive.

I'm sorry, but what Canadian firms in e-commerce????
posted by kitcat at 8:40 AM on November 10, 2017


MetaFilter: Interesting post.
posted by Fizz at 8:51 AM on November 10, 2017 [3 favorites]


I see a lot of "Canadian e-commerce" guys who basically buy large lots of the exact same stuff you can order directly from China, then add a massive markup. I've seen electronic stuff that you can order including shipping from China for a couple bucks, yet the Canadian re-sellers want $20-30 plus shipping. I don't feel guilty at all about cutting out those middle-man parasites.
posted by fimbulvetr at 8:54 AM on November 10, 2017 [3 favorites]


What are "chapters" in this context?
posted by floam at 9:11 AM on November 10, 2017


(20% of the floor area of a Chapters or Indigo is dedicated to selling assorted junk like throw pillows, mugs and things like the pill box mentioned above)
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 10:57 AM on November 10, 2017 [1 favorite]


"So instead of making domestic shipping cheaper to help compete, the answer is to making shipping from China just as painfully expensive as everything else in Canada?"

Canada Post: Trying to drive itself out of business since... pretty much forever. Their solution to every problem is 1) Cut service or 2) Charge more.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:31 AM on November 10, 2017


To be fair to Canada Post, the fact that I can buy something from China and have it shipped across the Pacific Ocean and then across the North American continent and have it delivered directly to me for $0.99 including the price of the item is economically ridiculous.
posted by clawsoon at 11:38 AM on November 10, 2017 [3 favorites]


> I'm sorry, but what Canadian firms in e-commerce????

Shopify
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:42 PM on November 10, 2017


To be fair to Canada Post, the fact that I can buy something from China and have it shipped across the Pacific Ocean and then across the North American continent and have it delivered directly to me for $0.99 including the price of the item is economically ridiculous.

It certainly is, and it is about time it stopped! No real sign that this change is going to have much effect though:
A Canada Post spokesperson said Wednesday that new rates, which are based on weight, will take effect in 2018 and will increase until 2021. At that point, the rate on untracked packets will have increased by up to 100 per cent.
Needs to be 1000% before any real effect at all.

If the costing ever does become sane, I'll certainly miss the stuff, I shop Aliexpress a lot. And, I have no illusions about Canada Post. They set local counter prices at whatever they think the market will bare, and they always will. But the thing is, cheap "export only" stuff from China is really a horrible problem at many levels. It drives the race to the bottom of quality. It removes accountability from the vendor (drives the race to the bottom of customer service?). It's bad for local business, and local employment.
posted by Chuckles at 12:46 PM on November 10, 2017 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry, but what Canadian firms in e-commerce????

ShopperPlus.com is great. NCIX maybe? HLMGTFY? Let's say there wasn't any.. Should we actively spend money making it even more difficult to compete locally?
posted by Chuckles at 12:56 PM on November 10, 2017


Notes on shipping in Canada:
Shipping within Canada is bad, but doesn't seem much worse then inside most other countries, except the US. Shipping inside the US is stupid cheap, and I understand the USPS post office is basically forced to ship a lot of things at a loss. This might explain why Canadians think our mail is so bad: We are comparing to the US.

The US is the worst place to get *anything* shipped from, and gets worse every year. It costs a fraction of the amount to get stuff mailed from the UK or Australia compared to getting a package sent from the US.

Conversely, from what I can tell, shipping from Canada to the US costs a lot less then the other way, doubly so with the exchange rate.

I'll miss getting free shipping on everything on eBay, but honestly most of the time it was a better deal to go on Amazon and pay more, but get something that worked better.
posted by Canageek at 1:51 PM on November 10, 2017


My job (now) is mailing things from Toronto to pretty much anywhere in Canada. What I don't understand is why a < 500 g Expedited Parcel costs ~$8 to the GTHA, but over $11 to get to Owen Sound. It seems to be about the same price as shipping to Calgary.

It's utterly lovely mailing things to Canadians, though. We send out an auto mailer a couple of days after their order should have arrived, and the number of folks who reply is a) huge; and b) overwhelmingly positive.
posted by scruss at 9:24 PM on November 11, 2017


« Older Community collectives, epic granaries, and quirky...   |   River basins of the world Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments