So, what is HipStamp to do about new USPS rates?

Clearly, the new postal rates will have a HUGE impact on international sales for US Sellers on sites like this. Per my understanding, to be compliant with the law, we must now mail ALL stamps to non-US addresses as First Class Package International, and we must use customs forms on all international shipments.

I just had to jack my postage rates to $15 for non-US buyers. That REALLY stinks!

What can HipStamp do to not lose international buyers? What new features can be offered? Allow for shopping carts to add up over time until critical mass is reached to finally check out?

Lord have mercy...



  • 473 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Been watching this thread since its beginning and can certainly understand the frustrations expressed by many contributors. 35% of my sales come from international buyers on Feebay and Hip Stamp but also 90% of my problems with "lost" shipments also come from those sales. Firmly believe that registered mail and mail with customs forms are advertisements for "steal me". Since I made the decision about a week ago to abandon all international sales on both selling sites, my stress level has remarkably been reduced.
  • Back to the original question... what is HipStamp doing in response to this whole mess,.. might I recommend one thing?

    Stop charging fees on shipping charges! This is driving up cost and making shipping/handling charges more exorbitant as a result.

    That still just irks the heck out of me, and now it's 10 times worse.
  • Just pop the stamps into a letter and mail them to your out of US customers. Big Brother is not likely to start chasing stamp dealers for mailing relatively low value items, and if Big Brother does start chasing stamp dealers then the US will be in one mell of a hess .
  • Banishment? We're talking a slippery slope here. Where does it end? Do we only banish people for "supposedly" violating rules that we don't like? I say supposedly because you can't assume every seller who has a low International shipping rate is breaking the law.

    I disagree Mark should get involved. If he chose to send out an FYI at the time this was being proposed, fine. It's a sellers responsibility to be aware of laws, rules, regulations, etc. How many sellers sent emails "To the powers that be" when this was being proposed and comments were requested?

    Do you want Mark to banish all sellers who list stamps from sanctioned countries? From what I can tell everyone seems happy with how that situation is handled. And, yes, selling stamps from these countries is a violation of Federal law.

    So before we start throwing around words like "banishment", etc. let's all take a hard look at how we conduct our own affairs. You can't have it both ways!

  • edited September 2018 5 LikesVote Down
    I have been relatively quiet on this particular discussion. Now, I have had a sales outside of the US, and the buyer demanding justification for my $15.00 flat rate shipping fee. I answered the buyer's request for information, but the buyer didn't read it and demanded the explanation again. Nothing I can do about someone asking a question, and then not reading the answer.

    Anyway, here is the breakdown of the sale:

    stamps purchased = $1.28
    flat rate shipping fee = $15.00
    total paid by buyer = $16.28

    My costs, not including materials and time, etc:

    PayPal fee = $1.28
    HipStamp fee = $1.31
    Actual postage = 14.25
    total fees paid by me = $16.84

    This sale cost me more than what the buyer paid.

    I also just had another international sale of about the exact same amount, so I lost money on that one too.

    Accordingly, I have raised my flat rate shipping fees for international shipping, because the fees and postage rates are resulting in negative net sales for me. I may go back and raise the shipping fees even more to dissuade buyers from outside the US. I might just go back and remove all international sales. This is absolutely freaking ridiculous, especially with buyers who don't read the forums to keep abreast of what is going on. Not worth the hassle. This isn't fun anymore either.

    And note to buyers: The shipping fees are not a secret. If you don't like them, then don't buy a couple of stamps for just a dollar. Either don't buy at all, or buy enough to make up for the shipping fee. Don't complain after you buy. It's your responsibility to read the terms BEFORE you click on the buy button.
  • Well, this says much. It is from the HipStamp policies page:

    International Buying and Selling

    "Many of our Services are accessible to international sellers and buyers. We may offer certain programs, tools, and site experiences of particular interest to international sellers and buyers, such as estimated local currency conversion and international shipping calculation tools. Sellers and buyers are responsible for complying with all laws and regulations applicable to the international sale, purchase, and shipment of items."

    I think the question should be, what is HipStamp going to do to enforce this rule so that it is an even (and legal) playing field for all sellers?
  • The change is not in using or not using customs forms. They have always been required on First Class "Letters" that contain merchandise. Those who were sending product in a first class envelope with no customs forms were not skirting USPS rules, rather they were "cheating???" the country the product was being sent to out of potential duty fees.
    Continuing to do so not only skirts USPS rules (and revenue) but also affects the receiving country.
    There ARE rules in place for some mailers - which is what is taking advantage of - much like the packet mail program from China.
    Seems to me it is best to bite the bullet so you don't have to worry about Interpol, UPU, or Postal Inspectors knocking on your door. Charge a realistic postage amount and sleep at night.
  • I don't think this thread is about "skirting" or "cheating" or customs forms - it's about the insane price because the European Community wants more MONEY and perhaps rightly so. But I think there could have been some middle ground here - some kind of International Large envelope - Not an 8 oz package.

    Previously,to this new ruling, whenever I received a small order (a handful of stamps - nominal value) which would fit nicely in a "First Class Letter" size, I have been told by the postmaster at my PO I do not need a customs form. It doesn't fit on a First Class letter, anyway. If I received a larger order or a high dollar amount, I always used a larger - 6 x 9 envelope with a Customs Form. He explained that I am a known mailer of known goods and Customs does not want to bother with these types of nominal fee transactions. Who am I to argue with the Postmaster! His rules not mine.

    So, my point was, because of these high fees the foreign country will now receive a portion of, US mail will be more closely watched in the International Community.
  • Having listed a ton
    selling can be fun
    when the auction's won
    and the shippings done

    Burma Shave
  • You can forget me as competition. I set my new international shipping rates in late January at $10 for Canada, $12 for Mexico and $14 for all other countries. After taking a quick look at Easy Ship, I did not want the hassle of trying to figure out how to use them as a service.

    For me this is just a hobby, not means of financial support. I am retired and just started the process of selling off my accumulation as a new hobby. I will still have my collection, only now it will exist as a virtual collection on my computer hard drive as the pictures that have been scanned in of each of my stamps. Since this is a hobby, I want it to be an enjoyable consumption of time and not something to get upset about. So I set my international rates at an amount that will cover most of my shipping cost but not all. Since most of the stamps I am using as postage could be considered scrape postage and could only be sold in bulk at a deep discount from face, any infrequent sales that I do make will not cause me any financial hardship.

    I only started listing items for sale in mid-November of 2017. By mid-December I was recording a bit less than one sale each day, with about half coming from outside of the United States. When I put the new shipping fees into place in late January, my international sales completely stopped. I did have one inquiry today from someone in Poland if I could reduce my shipping fees for them since they only wanted one stamp with a sale price of $1.50. I declined.

    I may get a few international sales in the future once I get some of my better (higher value) material listed. Only when these higher shipping fees are relatively small percentage of the entire sale do I expect to see any international sales.
  • My previous post was to address the "banishment" of sellers who some on this site ASSUME certain sellers are violating the new USPS International mailing law by not charging the proper shipping fees. The statement is based on a false assumption.

    Sellers need to evaluate their business model and do what is right and lawful for their business. Faced with this new law, I had a choice to raise my shipping or keep my original shipping fees, use Shipping Easy or use USPS directly, or eliminate all International sales. How would the choices I made affect my bottom line.

    First I contacted all my known International buyers. I explained the new law and the certain choices that were available. Overwhelmingly, the buyers did not want sales eliminated and would rather wait an extra week for an order than pay the exorbitant shipping fees.

    International sales plays a large part of my business. Could I absorb some of the shipping fees to keep their business? Was it worth the effort financially? I decided to keep my original shipping fees for a trial six month period. What I found was I received enough large orders to keep my bottom line in the black despite losing money on shipping for each order.

    So my conclusion for my business: keep International sales, use Shipping Easy, and absorb a portion of the shipping fees. I understand this will not work for all sellers. It's up to each seller to evaluate his business and decide what necessary changes must be made.
  • edited August 2018 4 LikesVote Down
    Hi Bob. I am sorry that happened to you. You can try to educate them, but it will only go so far, I'm afraid. I have been wondering about a similar topic... should those who don't "follow the rules" get called out? I started the conversation in the newly revitalized IPDA, and the APS is a logical next step. Is intentionally flouting the new USPS regulations an ethical violation for which members should be sanctioned? I think (in my personal opinion) that it is giving the people who do not follow the rules a significant business advantage in this market of "cheaper" stamps that many of us dwell in, and I think that is patently UNFAIR. It is also why I started this thread in the very first place... basically saying "OK, you have members clearly and openly not following regulations and not playing by the rules. So, HipStamp, what are you going to do about it?" Now do I think these people should be banned, kicked out, or any of that? No. Far from it. Should they be educated? Yes. Should they be warned? Well, I think they have been to some degree if they pay attention to these forums, but they are doing it anyways, or don't give a crap and our laughing at us "do-gooders". So now, what do us "do-gooders" do about it? Intentionally start breaking the rules like the others? Tempting, but it's against my moral code. Not so much that I'm breaking a rule that isn't really enforced (yet, from what I can tell), but it's more that by me breaking a rule, it would HURT others who are trying to FOLLOW the rules. That's what people don't seem to get... your breaking the rules and failing to pay the mandated postal rates (and charge S/H accordingly) are HURTING OTHER PEOPLE and their business! That's what I find unethical. So again, what do we do? Whine like I am right now? Go on a public shaming campaign? Well, none of this is good for the hobby. What to do? What to do? Well, for now, I am going to try to write an article for the IPDA newsletter and work on the "education" piece, and I would encourage organizations like IPDA, APS, and yes, HipStamp/PostCard/Comics to address this issue at least by getting the courage to clarify to their membership that, as part of their terms of service/membership, members are obligated to follow the law in the execution of the business, INCLUSIVE of paying appropriate postage when shipping items. That does not mean that they have to raise shipping rates to customers, but they damn well better be paying a legal rate when they ship to the customer, otherwise you are in violation of the law, and in the policies of these various organizations! Oh, and I need to get a Twitter Account so I can write @realDonaldTrump so I can Tweet."USPS having to raise postage rates for small businesses over 2000% to follow UPU rules that are totally unfair and not enforced equally? Why is US kowtowing to them? TOTALLY UNFAIR!" and maybe we'll hear about him pulling out of the UPU like the other international organizations! Ha ha!
  • edited August 2018 4 LikesVote Down
    Yeah, I've argued before that HipStamp shouldn't be taking commission on S/H in this new paradigm because it exacerbates an already bad situation and makes S/H rates go up even further to compensate. Crickets... I guess that old adage goes, 'nice guys finish last'. Here's my new logo I'm thinking about...

  • Robert, Just a quick note - that's expressly against our feedback terms and conditions. Buyers are not allowed to leave neutral or negative feedback due to their own "Failure to read a clear item description", which includes your shipping costs, as long as your shipping costs are reasonable (also per our terms and conditions).

    I've gone ahead and removed the feedback in question. If you have any issue in the future, just go ahead and Contact Us.
  • I don't think that a seller being "afraid" to charge the correct postage rate has anything to do with this. It has nothing to do with being "afraid".

    From what I have read from sellers' comments since the international postage rates went up last January, I believe it comes down to one, or a combination of, the following:

    - blatant disregard for the new postage rates
    - undercutting other sellers who are charging the correct (and much higher postage rates)
    - putting the risk on the buyer ("it is your responsibility at the lower postage rate to assume any losses or added fees" [basically if the underpaid postage shipment is caught])

    There are probably more reasons and excuses for some sellers not following the rules/laws.

    For me, my international sales dropped from about 1/3 of my total sales to 0. I sustained criticism and abusive responses from a few buyers regarding my shipping rates. I thought that I was going to get negative feedback from them, but I think when they saw their order arrive, and added up the face value of the stamps on the parcel, they knew I wasn't pocketing the shipping fee. One buyer sent me a message stating that he was shocked at such an actual high postage rate just to ship a couple of ten cent stamps.

    Still, I continue to get the question as to why do some sellers in the US ship at much lower rates? What should I tell those buyers? Should I tell them that it is because such sellers are unethical, or have chosen to disregard the law?

    As a member of several philatelic associations, I have, with those memberships, agreed to abide by the ethical rules regarding conducting myself in the philatelic world. I am not professing to be an angel. I certainly am not, but I do not take advantage of situations like this to get an upper hand on fellow collectors and sellers just so I can make a few extra dollars while those who are doing the right thing are losing sales.

    I agree that it would be nice if HipStamp management would take action on this situation. Even if it does, what then stops a seller from charging the higher postage fees, and then still shipping at the much lower letter rate?

    In a recent Linn's, there was an article that explained the reasoning for the US's decision to withdraw from the UPU. It was the imposition of higher international postage rates of which the US is required to give the higher amounts to the receiving countries to which the international mail is sent. The US is currently trying to negotiate better terms regarding UPU international mailing rules in the hopes of not having to withdraw. At the same time, the US is negotiating international postage rates directly between certain countries just in case attempt of getting better rates from the UPU fail.
  • Does the guy have an accent from India?
  • what with HipStamp and PayPal fees and international shipping costs, pretty soon we might wind up having to pay for the privilege of someone taking stamps off our hands
  • Beginning to wonder if Shipping Easy is the way to go. Still don't know if my first shipment sent Feb 12th has arrived. The last tracking info was Feb 19th indicating it's in transit to next facility. A second shipment is apparently still at their sorting facility in Lyndhurst. It arrived there on Feb 26th. I cheated and mailed another order using USPS First Class letter on Feb 25th and my customer received it today in the Netherlands. Apparently the only great service is the one you shouldn't use. Hope others have had better success with SE.
  • I believe that I am correct in stating that these regulations came from the UPU (Universal Postal Union) which is now a part of the UN. Part of it's purpose has been said to derive from the need to find a way to stem the flow of illegal drugs through the mail systems which required the segregation of "documents" from "other" (including merchandise). Technically "merchandise" has always required a customs label, no matter how inexpensive. What has changed is that only "documents" can now be mailed by first class letter. .
  • Per the terms, you will not:
    - breach or circumvent any laws, third-party rights or ...

    If some abide by the postal regulations, and others do not, is this a fair and level playing field? If you choose to disregard them, are you technically in violation of the site's terms as well?
  • I had a customer in Sweden buy a $10 stamp on May 21st. About 2 weeks later I got a message about the status. When I looked up the tracking it was still showing in the Lyndenhurst NJ facility (still showing that today). I asked the buyer get back to me in about a week which he did. He said he got contacted by customs and they want him to pay 97 SKR customs on the item. That's more than $10. Obviously, he is not a happy camper.

    Since the rule change, I have mailed about 20 international orders. This is the first one that has had customs issues.

    I also agree, it is not fair that some (most) sellers are either not aware of the rule change or worse, ignoring it. It really creates an unfair advantage. I'm sure this customer will never buy from me again.

  • I just received this email from a "former" customer.

    "I'm in Canada and over the years I've bought several stamps from you and it disappoints me that I'll have to pay a flat rate of $6.00 US for shipping (about $7.50) CDN.) for even one single stamp. It seems like many, many dealers in the US are jumping on the bandwagon of excessive shipping rates when it's not justified.

    On the other hand, I just received in the mail today a padded envelope containing 13 baseball cards (I collect them also), from Delta, PA. and the metered rate on the envelope is $2. 50 US. I paid $2.75 US. for postage. And I'm sure 13 cards weigh a lot more than 1 stamp.

    Guess I'll have to buy my stamps north of the border from here on in."

    Since I am a member of the APS, I wanted to let him know that I was bound by a code of ethics of which # 2 applies.
    "I agree to abide by all federal, state, and local laws relating to philatelic matters."

    Looking further down the code of ethics at #11 it says:
    "I agree to bring known examples of irresponsible or unethical tactics to the attention of the societies in which I hold membership and which embrace this code."

    Does that mean I need to report anyone not using the current International Rates? I probably can't, I have to assume anyone not charging higher international rates is losing money on the shipping but I'm sure most are not.

  • Thanks for the reminder Michael, but isn't it sad that it takes a threat from PayPal to get some sellers to decide to "to the right thing" and simply follow the law.
    Not only that, it is just good business practice to abide by the rules, regulations, laws that are imposed on you.
    It doesn't matter if you are selling on HipStamp "just for fun" or running a full business enterprise: the responsibility is still out there.
    I raised my outside US rates with fear and trembling and the first months were rather stressful with questioning messages and emails which I carefully answered, but now I have international customers who pay the rate with no question, understanding that's the way it is in the US.
    No one should be afraid to charge what is fair and honest. No one should be expected to lose money just to accomodate a customer. Certainly no one should feel they have to chance "getting caught" by PayPal or the Postal Inspectors just because they are afraid to charge that honest price. If they do continue to ignore the rules they have no place on HipStamp as they pull down the rest of us (and HipStamp) with them.
  • Now if I stole a total of $14,000 from you over 5 years wouldn't you expect that I should be arrested,fined and sent to jail for doing that to you? And if it's not OK for me to do that you why is it OK to do it to the USPS and not expect to have the same thing happen to those who so to them?
  • Punish the rule-followers by charging fees on their higher shipping rates, that's what. $$$ Cha-ching! $$$
  • What are you hoping to gain from such information? No one can do anything about it.

    The impact is simple. If you are following the UPU rules for mailing merchandise to international destinations, your sales have been impacted. Buyers don't want to pay those high fees. If you stopped selling to international buyers, your sales are impacted.

    For me, it's simple. I stopped selling to international addresses. My international sales used to be at least 1/3 of my sales. That is gone.
  • Doug, that $15.00 will work for less than 8 ounces. You'll need to charge $25.00 for first class parcels weighing over 8 ounces, but less than 32 ounces. Charge $35.00 for up to 48 ounces, and charge $60.00 for up to 64 ounces. More than that, and you have to use one of the Priority Mail International services $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

    I would suspect that most people are going to chance it with the first class letter (weighs not over 3.5 ounces) or large envelope, at least for a while. Note that a First Class International Large Envelope can weigh up to 64 ounces. That is a long letter!

    USPS will have to figure this one out when the mailer's associations start complaining.
  • I wish Trump would direct some of his Fire and Fury at the UPU. These regulations go totally beyond the pale.
  • And right below the rate chart they state:

    "If you have any issues using this service, please call us at 877-782-6739":

    Not exactly an encouraging statement -
  • edited January 2018 2 LikesVote Down
    OK, so we become importers/exporters now. We set up key members in key countries to act as distribution centers. We take foreign orders and ship them to the domestic HipShip Center, which combines all orders for a period of time and ships the package of individually-addressed mailings (stampless) to the HipShip Center in the destination country. That HipShip Center applies the postage and mails it domestically to the final destination. Insurance and customs fees are paid for by HipShip, but supported by membership fees or some other mechanism. Domestic postage and any special services are charged direct to the applicable seller (or buyer for that matter).

    I'm just having fun with this... I just like "HipShip"
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