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For Seniors: How to Ship Your eBay Item with the U.S. Postal Service

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is still the most efficient and inexpensive way to ship items — eBay or otherwise. The post office also supplies free boxes and labels for Priority and Express Mail packages. You have several options: Priority Mail, Express Mail, First-Class Mail, and Media Mail.

Exploring your postal system options

Priority Mail, with its flat-rate free envelopes and boxes, is the standard method of shipping for eBay users. The promised delivery time is two to three days. As of this writing (rates are always subject to change), the current rates and options include

  • $4.95 for a 1-pound package. Over a pound, the charge is calculated according to weight and distance.

  • $4.95 for a flat-rate Priority envelope is also available. You can ship as much stuff as you want — as long as you can fit it into the supplied 9-1/2-x-12-1/2 envelope. You can reinforce the envelope with clear packing tape.

  • Reduced flat rates on Priority Mail boxes that come in three sizes. Order the boxes directly from the USPS.

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If you print your postage electronically, through a service such as Endicia or PayPal, you get a discount on your Priority Mail postage. You also get a free Delivery Confirmation code.

Express Mail is your choice if the item needs to be delivered the next day. The Postal Service promises delivery no later than noon the following afternoon (even on weekends or holidays), and you can get free boxes. Express Mail costs run

  • $13.05 for packages 8 ounces and under.

  • $17.50 for a flat-rate envelope, which is the same size as the Priority flat-rate envelope. (You get a 5 percent discount when purchasing your postage electronically.)

First-Class Mail is an option if your item weighs 13 ounces or less. First-Class Mail is considerably cheaper than Priority. Try to ship as much as you can via First Class mail so that offer lower shipping prices than other eBay sellers.

Media Mail (formerly Book Rate and Special Standard Mail) is a popular option among those who sell books on eBay. Media Mail rates start at $2.23 for the first pound and increase by $0.35 for each additional pound.

Calculating rates and tracking deliveries

Check out the USPS Web site for an overview of the U.S. Postal Service rates so that you can see all your options. USPS even has a page that can help you determine exactly what your item costs to mail (after you’ve packaged it and weighed it, of course). Start at the Rate Calculator page and follow the instructions.

The Postal Service also offers delivery confirmation (DC), which buys you the knowledge of when and where your item was delivered. Not only that, but if buyers report to PayPal that they want a refund because they never received an item, the scan on the delivery confirmation code prevents you from getting a chargeback. You can add this service to Priority Mail, as well as with other mailing services such as First Class or Parcel Post. The cost is $0.75 — and it’s free when you buy postage online.

You can’t accurately track your package with a DC; instead, it serves as proof that the package was mailed and delivered. You can check on whether the package was delivered (or whether an attempt was made to deliver it) by typing the number online.

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