January 2014 Archive

USPS Price Rises for 2014

January 28th, 2014

It is that time of the year where USPS (United States Post Service) puts up their Priority and Express Mail prices. Once again they claim the rise is only 2.5%, but like they have done for the last few years this varies across the shipping weights. Being very sneaky they have increased the weights that people actually use (under 10 lbs) by around 5% and  increased the prices of the weights that nobody uses (40+ lbs) by 1%. Average these two out and suddenly they get their 2.5% rise. If they actually provided an increase on the basis of packages shipped then the rise would be more like 4.75%!

So what does this mean for most of my customers? Actually very little since so few packages are shipped by either Priority or Express mail. Around 98% of all packages are shipped either via First Class Air Mail (economy) or via UPS courier (express). It was a rare package that was cheaper to ship via priority or express mail and with these price rises it will be even rarer.

We have updated all the internal prices  so all quotes and final balances will be correct, but I have yet to update the shipping cost calculator. I hope to do this in the next few days – when I do I will post an update.

How to view US only websites

January 18th, 2014

Some websites in the USA won’t let you view them from Australia. They do this to stop you learning how much they are overcharging everyone outside of the USA. This is a real pain if you want to use my service to order from a store as these companies won’t let you see what the have for sale. There are a few solutions for this such as using US proxy or VPN service, but if this sounds like geek speak to you then I can recommend an easy alternative service – Zenmate. This is a free add-on for the Chrome browser. Once you have installed the zenmate extension then you can set your location to be in the USA and start viewing all those sites that you could not before. This is the step by step guide for using zenmate.

  1. Open Chrome and go to the zenmate website (https://zenmate.com). If you don’t have Chrome installed just google “install chrome” and it will be the top link – it is very simple to install and much better than other browsers like internet explorer.
  2. On the Zenmate website click on the big green button that says “Add Zenmate”.
  3. A new window will pop-up telling you what the Zenmate can do to Chrome.
  4. Click Add. Chrome will download and add Zenmate. You should see a new “shield” between to the star and bookmark icons in Chrome (top right hand side).
  5. Zenmate will ask you to enter an email address. You will need to enter a valid email address. Their user agreement says they won’t spam you and as they are German it seems believable as Germany has very strict rules about this. I have looked through the rest of their terms and they are all reasonable.
  6. Once you enter your email address the shield will change from  blue or grey to green.
  7. Click on the green shield and new window will pop-up. Choose the USA flag as your public location (the middle one).
  8. Go a visit the site that would not let you in before  – you should now be able to see everything as though you are in the USA.
  9. To turn zenmate off just click on the green shield again and select off (at the bottom on the small window). The green shield will then go grey. You can switch it back on at anytime by clicking on the shield.
  10. Start shopping 🙂

Troubleshooting

UPS Price Increases for 2014

January 1st, 2014

It is that time of the year when UPS likes to increase their shipping charges. The rates are going up on average of 5% as of today. This is not great news with the dollar also  down, but there is not a lot any of us can do about this. The only good news on the shipping cost front is that the UPS fuel surcharge has fallen to 10% from 10.5%.