Friday, 12 October 2012

09:30 – We didn’t watch the vice-presidential debate last night, but, from all accounts I’ve read, Ryan won despite being outnumbered two to one. Instead of wasting time watching that, we chose to waste time watching the final four episodes of the final season of Despicable Housewives on Netflix streaming.

Speaking of despicable, the school fund-raisers are at it again. One of the neighborhood girls stopped by trying to sell magazines for her school fund-raiser. What possesses people to put 14-year-old girls in this position, not to mention putting their neighbors in that position? I almost told her that no one wants these overpriced magazines. No one. I’d rather just hand her money. In fact, they need to stop sending these kids out to raise money, period. What kind of lesson are they teaching them? We pay federal, state, and local taxes to support the schools. The kids shouldn’t be forced to raise more money themselves by begging from their neighbors. It’s demeaning.

13:03 – Boy, am I not going to do business with U-Line. Back before we started the business, I ordered some stuff from them: shipping boxes, bubble-wrap, shrink-seals, and so on. I remember thinking at the time that their prices were a bit lower than local suppliers, but their shipping charges were outrageous. If there’s one thing customers really, really hate, it’s when a vendor attempts to making shipping a profit center.

So, this morning I got email from someone who wanted to know if we’d sell him just the six stains in the biology kit. Sure, why not? So I quoted him a price. All of those stains will fit in a USPS Priority Mail small flat rate box, which costs $5.15 to send anywhere in the US.

But I got to thinking. First-class mail is a very good deal for light packages, although it’s available only for packages that weigh 13 ounces or less. Those half-dozen stains would weigh well under 13 ounces, so I went to the USPS web site to check out how much first-class mail would cost. Even a 13-ounce package costs only $3.65, and it’s more likely this package would weigh maybe 6 ounces, which is $2.46 worth. Just as interesting to me is that I could send that package to a Canadian address for less than $5, versus the $30+ it costs to send it to Canada using Priority Mail International.

Just two problems. First, the USPS web site allows me to print postage labels for Express or Priority Mail, but not for First-Class mail. How strange is that? I guess they’re trying to keep the local post offices in business or something. Well, there is one alternative. Rather than using their web site to produce the postage labels, I could download and install an application that does the same thing, but allows me to print first-class, parcel post, and other postage labels. The only problem with that is that it won’t install under WINE, so I’d need to run an actual Windows box. Either that, or perhaps Virtual Box. The other problem, of course, is suitable boxes. The boxes that USPS provides are for use only with Express Mail or Priority Mail, NOT with first-class mail.

So I went over to the Uline site and found suitable boxes. I was going to order two sizes, one about the size of a DVD writer and a second about twice that size. They had those boxes for $0.42 each and $0.44 each, with a minimum order of one carton of 50. So I added one carton of each size to my shopping cart, for a total of $21 plus $22 or $43. Note that these boxes are, small, light, and are shipped flat, so this wouldn’t have been a bulky or heavy shipment. Uline offered me only one shipping option, UPS ground. Obviously they would ship from a warehouse not far from us, because they said delivery would take one business day even UPS Ground. Their shipping charge? About $21, or nearly 50% of the order amount. So, assuming that perhaps there was a minimum shipping charge that made that charge so high, I added another box of boxes for $21. That took me from $43 to $64 for the merchandise. It also boosted the shipping charge from about $21 to about $32. Once again, they were charging me about 50% of the merchandise total for shipping. So, I’ve written off Uline as a vendor. I’ll get what I need locally.

27 thoughts on “Friday, 12 October 2012”

  1. Ya the government should take care of us. Why shouldn’t they raise money. It’s for their education.

  2. @Andy: Their parents should take care of it. Perhaps they will want to involve the kids. The schools should not be sending kids out to collect money, and certainly not as long as the schools are supposed to be fully funded by the government. To make the matter even sillier, these are the same schools that increasingly prohibit bake sales.

    The vice-presidential debate wasn’t shown here. From what I’ve been able to find in the Internet, it was not widely watched, and seems to have been pretty much a tie. Which is to say: pro-Obama folk think Biden won, pro-Romney folk think Ryan won, and everyone else fell asleep.

  3. There was a debate? Why? And people watched it? Why? Did anyone watching
    it change their mind about whom to support as a result of watching it?
    If not, then they might as well have watched Despicable

  4. I think if you’ll ask the local school boards, the “full” funding from the government isn’t full enough to cover the actual costs of the activities that are expected of them. Instead of looking to the childless taxpayer to shell out even more, they ask the kids to help raise money to fund their extra curricular activities. I thought school was supposed to teach kids how to be good tax yoke wearing wage slaves, in the first place? Getting them to do fundraisers to raise money for their activities seems a fairly efficient means of doing just that. Why are the parents, who already paying school taxes, supposed to trade their bodies for MORE money to support the schools, but the near adult kids shouldn’t be? Time for Jr. to help out.

    But, what do I know? I home-schooled for almost twenty years. I funded 100% of my kid’s education, without grants, tax money, OR fundraisers, but I sure as hell worked their asses off doing yard work, in exchange for it.

    Giving kids a free ride, makes adults who think all rides should be free.

  5. Did anyone watching it change their mind about whom to support as a result of watching it?

    The presidential debate last week seems to have had two effects: there has been a break of undecideds/independents towards Romney, and the Democrats got discouraged and Republicans encouraged. The VP debate might not have as much of an effect.

  6. Just imagine if there were no laws mandating a child has to “go to school” until 18. Look at the HS dropout rate and the high number of unskilled jobs in this country. Do you really have to go to a mandated school? Why not a simple trade school for readin’ writin’ and ‘rithmetic.Those who really want an education will do as BGrigg. Private education would thrive and University level education would be filled with quality students in areas we really need, ie., STEM.

    I took my twin daughters to a college scholarship workshop a couple of nights ago. Not only does Nevada suck in the economy, it’s number 49 in quality of education. Only Alaska is worse. The big push for the night was “take AP courses!!!” Heh, those are the courses most of us took in HS that were “better” than todays HS AP courses. My kids chemistry lab consists of four people. I guess that’s lab by committee. My HS chem labs had two max as partners. If you were getting an A, the teach gave you your own lab drawer and let you go at it.

    The second big push to get scholarships was outside activities. WTF? The lecturer not only said it war critical to be a member of clubs, you should be president. Community service was also very critical to get a scholarship. I guess it’s more important to be a community organizer that to actually use critical thinking. No wonder kids are constantly coming to our doors begging. They can put that on their scholarship applications. Begging 101, a critical skill in tomorrow’s world!

  7. Well, I could have mentioned the EU’s Nobel Peace Prize, but
    why add insult to insult? Winning the Peace Prize is a public
    acknowledgement that you’re a loser and a liar and probably a criminal
    of some sort — how else can you explain Al Gore and Barack Obama
    winning it?

  8. I had that issue Bobby Socks softball. I told them that she was not going door to door selling candy. I offered an equivalent donation. They said that that would not be acceptable and she would not be allowed to play unless she sold the candy. I refused to sucumb and they never sent her home without playing.

  9. Regarding sending kids door-to-door selling candy or magazines —
    begging, in a word — I’m just waiting for the first fourteen-year-old
    girl to be raped. I’m wondering what bullshit justification the schools
    will use to deny responsibility.

    (If such has already happened and the school personnel were found to be
    blameless, don’t feel obligated to share the details. I’m already in a
    pissed-off enough mood. Unless the girl’s father then took a shotgun to
    the heads of the teachers, school administrators, and school board. That
    would be good news, and very welcome.)

  10. How is it begging? They offered a (admittedly useless in today’s world) magazine in exchange for money. Or are all merchants beggars?

  11. SteveF, how many girls get raped and sexually assaulted now, merely because they walk home from school or work? Do you seriously think fundraising is going to raise women’s overall danger level from it’s current level?

  12. It’s begging because the magazines are grossly overpriced. They’re asking these kids to take advantage of their neighbors’ desire to help the kids by paying much more than the going rate. What makes it worse is that the schools typically get only a small percentage of the actual profit. It’s the companies that get schools to do this that keep the lion’s share of the profits. Kind of like Boy Scout cookies or whatever.

  13. It’s begging because they’re attempting to play on peoples’ emotions to
    get them to shell out money for something they don’t want. Or at best to
    shell out more money than necessary for something they want.

    As for rapes, how many kids walk nowadays? Everyone seems to take the
    bus or Mom’s Taxi everywhere. And in particular, how many kids go up to
    strangers’ houses, off the sidewalk and not necessarily well lit? And
    anyway, I’m not saying it’s likely to happen to any particular kid,
    merely that it seems likely to happen to someone, somewhere.

  14. How is it begging? They offered a (admittedly useless in today’s world) magazine in exchange for money. Or are all merchants beggars?

    I still subscribe to one print magazine for hobby purposes. Although I’m starting to wonder if the annual fee is for the magazine, or access to some of their older content on the web. Ironically it has a free online only competitor, but that one isn’t formatted that well if you want to read it on a small tablet sized device like a Kindle Fire or Nook Color.

  15. It’s begging because they’re attempting to play on peoples’ emotions to
    get them to shell out money for something they don’t want.

    I used to do side work for a school fund raising company. They sold food such as cheese, sausage, cheese spreads, etc. It was actually really good quality stuff. During the Christmas season he sold wrapping paper and other Christmas items. Spring was candles and Vidalia onions. It was overpriced for what you got. But when you consider the cost breakdown it was really good for the school.

    An item would sell for $10.00. Of that $10.00 the school either got $4.00 or $4.50 depending on the contract. Of the $6.00 that was left the supplier had to purchase the product. The supplier had to pack the product for each student with the packers getting $0.10 per item split among all the packers. Then supplier had to pay his assistant’s salary, my fee, building expenses (cold storage and such), and deliver truck expenses. If I remember correctly he paid $2.50 to his supplier for each $10.00 item.

    When he sold Vidalia onions it was a 3 pound box for $5.00 or 3 three pound boxes for $12.00. Considering the store price it was not bad. He would get an entire farm’s production for the season. Getting 15 semi-tractor trailers each season was not unusual. The onions were excellent quality, better than I ever got in the store. He purchased directly from the farmer.

    Same with the cheese, he purchased directly from the maker in Minnesota, candles were purchased from the local maker, thousands each year.

    It was not uncommon for a larger school of 800 students to sell $60,000 worth of product, generally three times a year. The school would get $24,000 out of the sale. Many times bands would do the selling and I have seen 200 kids sell $50,000 worth of stuff.

    The people around the schools that he used were glad to get the stuff actually. They would ask the school when the fund raisers would start. This was because he sold a quality product even though it was marked up. Even then for what you got the price was probably only 15% higher than what you would pay in the store as at least a couple of layers of middle men were avoided.

    I did the computer work for him. I provided all the invoices, order detail, order summary, packing labels and labels for the collection envelopes. I got paid $50.00 for any program with 1 to 100 students, $75.00 for any program with 100-200 students, and $100.00 for each program over 200 students. I made about 12K a year doing that.

    I also had two people that worked for me, paid by him, as data entry. They got paid about half what I got paid. I had the easy part and it was work done in the evening at home. I did this for 13 years. It stopped when he died and his wife sold everything.

    The packers loved the work. They could work when they wanted. For those with kids in school they could come and work for a few hours and make some extra money. When he died and the business ended it affected a lot of people. The suppliers loved the business. My data entry people loved the work. I liked the work.

    So all fund raising programs are not ripoffs. Some of the stuff is good quality and not too overpriced. The people that bought considered that but also knew they were helping the kids. The fact that it was quality stuff also helped.

  16. It was overpriced for what you got.

    I rest my case.

    And, even if what’s being sold is of good quality, which it often is not, that doesn’t change the fact that these programs are taking advantage of people that don’t like to say no to neighbors’ children. I can’t tell you how much stuff we’ve bought that we had no desire for. Often we ended up donating it to a charity or simply discarding it.

    I deeply resent these programs. If they have to beg, why not just have the kids ask for money?

  17. In defense of Uline, they’d really much rather sell to people who buy boxes in quantities of 1,000 or 10,000; I assume that the freight costs are much more reasonable per unit that way. Some of your local suppliers might be selling you Uline boxes a dozen at a time cheaper than you can buy them direct.

  18. I’m sure they would, but they have their price breaks listed right on the item page. Charging 50% for shipping is simply a rip-off.

  19. MrAtoz, the school would have to have topless guys doing the carwash too, or it would be sexual discrimination, and you’d probably get some nerdy looking guy wash your car.

  20. Well, there is one alternative. Rather than using their web site to produce the postage labels, I could download and install an application that does the same thing, but allows me to print first-class, parcel post, and other postage labels.

    Why not just print your first-class labels via PayPal?

  21. I didn’t think PayPal offered general support for label printing. The last time I looked, it supported only a small group of printers and label sizes.

  22. I didn’t think PayPal offered general support for label printing. The last time I looked, it supported only a small group of printers and label sizes.

    Ahh…I don’t ship as much as you do so I’m content to print their labels on plain 8.5×11 paper and tape them to the packages…

  23. Ah, thanks. I hadn’t even thought of that. I run so many postage labels that I just automatically think of them as being sticky labels.

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