My two cents on shipping

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Hello world!

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.


Posted in QS Blogs

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7 thoughts on “My two cents on shipping

  1. Another important note: TAPE UP THE TOP OF THE TOPLOADER.

    Yes, even if you stuff a full set of cards in there.

    Otherwise, the cards will pop out and get bent in transit.

  2. I was just discussing this with a friend earlier tonight – in preparation to start selling some cards on eBay. What a coincidence! I have a few questions if you don't mind me asking,

    Do you typically include anything inside the package such as documentation?
    When is and isn't it appropriate to offer an insurance option on your auctions?

    Thanks so much!

    1. Right. Totally forgot about. I will usually use some sort of receipt toss it up into the envelope as well. If its ebay, I use the printer version of the "view order details". I'll also write my user name on there. Its super annoying when you get cards and don't know who to give feedback to.

      I actually haven't tried using insurance yet. How much does it cost? Do you know any specifics on requirements for reimbursement?

  3. Ok I'll step in and bring up several points that you missed out on just as a public service….. If your shipments through usps are taking more than a few days it's probably because you are only putting a $.44 stamp on an envelope with a top loader and your envelopes arrive postage due, it's not cool for anyone when you're not paying the full amount of postage.
    2 weeks shipping time is ridiculous and I for one will certainly leave negative feedback if I have to play 2 fnms without the cards I ordered, you NEED to send your cards out the same or next day actually going to the post office gets your cards out sooner than just dropping them in your mailbox. Shipping w/ D/C @ $1.31 is a great deal as your local post office is going to charge $2.51 be sure to email your buyer with the date you sent the cards and the D/C # (this is more for you to have a record of the d/c# than a courtesy for your buyer in a dispute you usually only need a d/c# to win and not your receipt) .

    1. I completely agree with you that 2 weeks is a ridiculous amount of time, but I usually give buyers/sellers benefit of the doubt. If I'm selling and something hasn't gotten there in 2 weeks I will do a full refund. If I'm buying I'll ask for a refund until the package actually arrives. Hence the inclusion of that in calculations for whether or not to use DC. That said, it does happen occasionally even when you send the next day. I have some pretty hillarious DC tracked shipments that somehow got routed to New Hampshire on its way from Chicago to Ohio.

  4. Envelopes must be padded to get D/C#s , regular envelopes don't qualify. NEVER write Do not bend on an envelope,it's a surefire way for your cards to get bent INSTEAD write NOT MACHINEABLE on the envelope as 1 of 2 things generally happens when an envelope with a single top loader goes through a mail sorting machine 1- the case is bent or 2- The envelope projectiles out of the machine – I for one would certainly not be inclined to take car of your cards after they literally hit me in the face. It's best to put a small piece of card board or something rigid besides just the toploader in a padded envelope.
    Any documented National mail (ie anything to the continental US with D/C, S/C etc is already insured by the postal service for up to $100. If you decide that you will ship internationally ALWAYS use DHS, America is much maligned by the rest of the world, while German Efficiency is well respected and this results in lost mail and you will lose this dispute on ebay.
    LASTLY be nice to your local postal workers, they have to work with an impatient and ignorant public all day long and they are providing you with an awesome service at the best available price.

    1. Just as a point of clarification, the USPS does NOT automatically insure any domestic 'documented' parcel. Express service (not recomended for e-bay shipping of singles) is the only service that provides automatic insurance.

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