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.