My name is Michael Wang and this is my first time attempting to blog anywhere so I’ll give a quick introduction. If you live in a major city, you probably know someone with the same name as me. If you know Asian American stereotypes at all you know my basic story: grew up in Orange County, California; played tennis/violin/piano; went to Ivy League College; good enough at computers to be software developer for a year; currently medical student; drives a Camry.
Intros aside, I hope everyone had fun at their pre-release/releases and pulled some sweet money cards. Today, I want to touch on a typically ignored part of buying/selling/trading those shiny new overhyped cards: shipping.
As someone who sells cards on ebay myself, I often assume that people know what they’re doing when they ship Magic cards. This has yet to actually bite me in the a$$, but there have been some shipping methods that scared the bejeezus out of me. Perhaps most memorably was when back when, pre-banning, I bought some 2x Jace, The Mind Sculptors and they came to me in a plain envelope with only soft sleeves as protection! =-O !!!
I have no idea how they got to me unbent, but I suffice to say, I sent a stern message to the seller that such shipping technique was really NOT OK. So today, I’m here to share my methods on the art of shipping cards as a individual seller.
To DC, or not to DC
The first decision I make when selling cards is whether or not I want to use delivery confirmation. In my own experience, USPS delivers within 2 weeks about 95% of the time. This means that 5% of the time, it takes a little longer which can cause the buyer to get skittish and demand a refund. Of course, the shipment can also get lost/buyer can try to rip you off, but I’m including that in my 5%. Therefore, I expect to lose 5% of my value on any given shipment.
Delivery confimation costs $1.75 through ebay, which is a $1.31 increased expense over a $.44 stamp. As a result, I only use DC if my expected losses cover the cost of the DC. Assuming 5% loss, that means I should use DC on any shipment over $1.31/5%= $26.2. Personally, I just use $20 as a rule of thumb, but above $26.2, it is worth my while to use DC to ensure that my shipment is tracked/gets there. Once I’ve made my decision to use DC or not, I package the cards.
For non-DC orders, I use a plain envelope and 44 cent stamp. However, I ALWAYS use a top-loader. If you play magic, you probably play at a store. If you play at a store, you can buy top loaders. Heck, even wal-mart sells 25 packs for something like $2.50. There really is no excuse not to use a toploader unless you’re shipping a big stack of cards. If you ask nicely, other players will probably give you top-loaders. I will usually put the cards in penny sleeves, put them in the top-loader and tape up the toploader opening to keep water out. Then toss that in the plain evelope and they’re good to go. Looks like this.
If I’m doing DC, I will purchase my label on ebay and then tape the label to a padded envelope like this one. The padded envelope is a necessity since the package must me at least ¾” thick to count as a parcel (usps rules). As with the non-DC order, I always use a toploader taped to keep water out then toss it in the padded envelope and seal it. Looks like this.
Unfortunately, the padded envelopes can be a bit pricey if you can’t buy them in bulk. If you’re more ghetto, sell a decent number of cards and are willing to more effort in, you can try my cheaper approach. Instead of using a padded envelope, I just use a regular manilla envelope with no padding like these.
Then I buy a big roll of bubble wrap, cut some off and wrap my taped up toploader. This then goes in the manilla envelope with the label taped on. Looks like this.
It looks like hell, but its a bit cheaper if you’re selling 15+ delivery confirmation orders.
So that’s all I have to ruminate on for now. So for everyone out there who is selling cardds on ebay and not using toploaders, PLEASE USE TOPLOADERS. Ship as you would want to receive. It just makes for better karma. And if you’re shipping out a >$25 order, for the love of whoever you worship, use DC. It will make both shipper and buyer feel more at ease. I look forward to hearing in the forums about other shipping horror stories and other sellers’ shipping strategies! Thanks for reading.