Saturday, January 11, 2020

Free Shipping is a Myth! It costs indie artists and fans.

There has never been free shipping. Quality, reliable shipping has costs, but the value is priceless.

So why do so many people feel entitled to "FREE SHIPPING" -- and what is that myth really costing?Would taking USPS private bring costs down? Would the public be better served? This video from the Postal Workers Union highlights some of the unique benefits of our USPS.

Amazon has done a brilliant job of cultivating generations of online shoppers to expect "free shipping." This has deceived customers. The costs of "free" are either absorbed by the company, or factored into the price. 

Quality shipping and handling is more than the quote to move the package via USPS, UPS or Fed Ex. There are shipping supplies required... paid for by the sender. As well as time and often expertise required to pack items to assure safe delivery. Small business can't afford items to be damaged and returned in the mail. Especially one-of-a-kind items. Massive returns work ok for huge companies selling goods that are easy to remake, replace or restock. They can ship things in cheap envelopes and containers. Indie artists put time and money into their shipping and handling to prevent damages.  Most pack items themselves. They can't "cost cut" in this area. 

If you enjoy finding usual items to purchase from indie artists and content creators, then help raise awareness about the realities of shipping and handling. 

1) shipping is expensive. It's a painful reality for sellers and customers. Don't hate on indie vendors for quoting realistic shipping prices. Imagine if you had to travel to another location, pay a convention attendee fee to access an artist's table, to get the same item? Online shopping has given us greater access to indie artists. The shipping fees to buy directly from them are a bargain compared to the pre-internet days.

2) We are lucky in the US to have reliable shipping with tracking and insurance. That peace of mind comes at a price.  Plus we have options: USPS; Fed Ex; UPS. The employees of the shipping companies often perform above and beyond --- and shipping fees help pay their salaries. If we want quality, reliable shipping why do we fee entitled to get something so valuable to us for free? Graphic below from Pew Research Center. USPS ranks #1 with public opinion of federal agencies.

3) USPS is a vital government service. Keep up with the news about future plans for USPS, not just price hikes. There is a push to privatize USPS. This crucial service knits the nation together, making timely deliveries to urban areas of course, but also rural outposts that would be cut off without the public mail option. 

I'll be using this "Free Shipping is a Myth" post to update with articles highlighting the privatization fight.

January 11, 2020 article by Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times "Don't mess up the mail"

 "Establishing “post offices and post roads” is one of the powers of Congress explicitly enumerated in the Constitution, right up there with the power to tax and borrow, declare war, coin money, establish federal courts and issue patents and copyrights. That hasn’t kept Congress from doing its best to hamstring the Postal Service. The USPS consistently operates in the red, but as I’ve reported before, the major drag on its earnings is a 2006 congressional mandate that the service prepay over the following 10 years all its future expected retiree healthcare benefits....Delivering packages is also more expensive than delivering letters. Parcels require additional heavier trucks, more personnel and more fuel. And although the USPS is collecting more in revenue from packages than it used to, that still is not fully compensating for the falloff in letter revenue....The Postal Service, despite the decline in letter volume, still knits the country together. The dimmest of dim bulbs in Congress recognize that in their heart of hearts. That’s why they so seldom show the gumption to shut rural post offices down.If there’s a government service that should absolutely not be “run like a business,” it’s delivering the mail. Treating universal mail service as something that must compete profitably with commercial carriers or die is a dumb and anti-democratic idea, and conservatives should just drop it.

Dec 27, 2019 article by Nicole Goodkind in Fortune "USPS Could Privitize as Early as Next Year"

Quote: "A study by the Institute for Policy Studies found that 70 million more (rural) Americans would have to pay hefty surcharges for deliveries without the USPS.
The impact could also raise prices of the goods being shipped.
“Businesses, from the online retail shops to manufacturers shipping parts to customers in need, could face sharply higher shipping costs, leading to higher prices for their customers or lower profits for their businesses,” the Institute for Policy Studies report found. “Small businesses would be hit especially hard, since they don’t have the clout to negotiate the same level of shipping discounts as big corporations.”

April 2019 by Andrea Germanos, Common

"U.S. Postal Service workers will hold a day of action Monday to reject a Trump White House proposal to privatize the service.
"Our message to the public is quite simple. 'The United States Postal Service—Keep it. It's yours!'" said Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), in a statement. "Don't sell this national treasure to private interests that will charge more for less service."
The workers' message, which they plan on delivering outside over 100 locations across the nation, is actually twofold. In addition to rejecting privatization—as well as a "franchising the mailbox" proposal floated by a White House task force, they want to dispel the myth that the USPS is funded through tax dollars. It's a timely message given that Monday is Tax Day. "

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