For a very thorough explanation of how to sell your cloth diapers over Facebook, check out this post.
If you’re already read it, you will know that
Being able to ship an individual diaper as lettermail will mean the difference between making some money on your sale and making none. If a diaper can’t be shipped for a couple dollars lettermail then you are looking at at least $10 to ship it as a parcel.
This post is all about tips on getting those fluffy parcels down to lettermail standards! The take home lesson here, folks, is:
Make sure your envelopes are no more than 2 cm thick;
Avoid the postal counter by putting your postage on yourself and dropping directly in the mailbox.
Perhaps because parcel post is more profitable, perhaps due to a lack of training or perhaps due to laziness, clerks at the CP counter send envelopes that do fit lettermail as parcels all the time, unless Mamas know enough to request they test their envelopes with the template. Some clerks will push and pull an envelope that is borderline through, others will categorically reject it. Your best bet is the pop in the box yourself… but if your envelope is clearly over 2 cm thick, I would really advise against it since…
Lettermail is not trackable and not insured;
If your envelope exceeds dimensions for the postage affixed, it may be returned to you (and this can be fast, or it can take weeks);
It is possible for the recipient to be charged the missing postage for an envelope that exceeds dimensions. CP will hold the item and essentially give the recipient the choice of paying the missing postage or having it returned to sender. This isn’t extremely frequent, but it is possible and I have heard of it happening on cloth diapering forums.
To avoid the last two points, you need to know the basics of lettermail. (That it is uninsured and untrackable is the inherent risk of lettermail, however. I have not had a domestic lettermail item get lost and have sent upwards of 400 diapers this year alone. Sadly, two pieces of fluff have gotten lost on their way to me….)
A) What are the official, maximum dimensions for sending lettermail?
38 cm x 27 cm x 2 cm
This means the largest envelope you could use would be a 10 x 15″ Kraft envelope. At Maman Loup’s Den I use 10″ x 13″ and I don’t normally need those extra 2 inches in length.
The hardest part of respecting the lettermail dimensions is the width. If the envelope is too fat to pass through the 2 cm slot on the CP mailer template, then it cannot be considered lettermail and must ship as a parcel.
You can actually buy your own template if you sign up as a Venture One member with Canada Post (technically, this is a membership reserved for small businesses, however, I don’t see any parameters in the sign up process that would stop anyone from joining, and it’s free.) It took me forever to actually find out I could buy a Canada Post Lettermail Template, by the way. The people at the CP counter seemed unaware that consumers could purchase it. And, guess what? It costs $9.20 and Canada Post ships for free! (Haha!)
You can make your own slot from cardboard, or do your best to measure the width with a good old-fashioned ruler. You might find it easiest to compare your envelope to an item you know is just under 2 cm thick…. for example, my iPhone in its massive Otterbox Defender case!
You can also buy this template from a lovely Mama called Sarah! Just message her via her Facebook page!
1) Vacuum sealer:
2) Vacuum cleaner + Ziploc bag
Make your own budget vacuum sealer! Unless you have a massive diaper stash to unload, there’s no point in buying a vacuum sealer just to mail diapers. Thanks to Jennie for this demo:
3) Ziploc bag + Straw
You and your lungs can suck plenty of air out of the Ziploc! Seal the bag all the way to the very corner, stick in your straw and inhale!
4) Ziploc bag + rolling
I find you can get things pretty flat by rolling the bag tightly to squish all the air out before sealing.
C) How much postage do I put?
These rates reflect the new CP rates as of March 2014:
If you don’t have a kitchen scale, you can guesstimate:
A cover without an insert (ie: AMP, AppleCheeks, Bummis covers) is usually under 100 g.
Most pocket diapers with insert included or AIOs will be under 200 g.
A heavy duty fitted will probably be over 200 g.
D) How do I package it up?
You want to keep your packaging light and inexpensive. I love the lightweight aspect of poly mailers, but they are more expensive than regular manila envelopes. Most Mamas send their diapers in ordinary manila envelopes, adding packing tape to provide a bit of reinforcement to the edges.
E) How do I protect myself against the risks of Lettermail?
The short answer is “always mail with tracking.” However, this means paying between $8-$10 to mail out a single diaper. It usually takes a parcel of at least 4 diapers to make it worthwhile to mail expedited. (And you should use PayPal shipping to do so, since it’s the cheapest way unless you have a VentureOne card.)
The long answer is that you should establish with your buyer that you are sending lettermail at her risk. You should specify this in your PayPal money request in the comments section. You should take a picture of the envelope being mailed as “proof” of shipment. This way your buyer has proof of, at the least, your good intentions!
Now, I’ve recently had a diaper not show up that I purchased from another Mama in a swap group. Firstly, I established she wasn’t a scammer. (It’s not entirely unheard of for people to post diapers they may or may not actually have up for sale, sell them, and never send them.) I established she wasn’t a scammer by politely posting in the same swap group asking if others had received their diapers from my seller. I got tons and tons of responses from happy buyers, confirming my suspicion that the diaper just went missing in the mail. Honestly, I chalk this up to my loss. I don’t expect the seller to reimburse me because I knew she was sending it out lettermail and I knew the risks. Some sellers and buyers might agree on a partial refund, because in the end, one Mama is out a diaper and the other is out some cash. In the worst case scenario, the buyer could open a PayPal dispute against you. Hopefully, open lines of communication and remembering that it’s JUST A DIAPER (and ideally it wasn’t a super expensive one) mean this won’t happen. However, without a tracking number to prove your mailed an item, PayPal will side with the buyer.