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Ever wonder how they can ship packages for free from China?

I was listening to NPR this morning and they were talking about the UPU. Universal Postal Union. Interesting discussion. I tried to find the archive so I could post a link here but maybe it's too early yet.

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  • 12 Comments sorted by Date Added Votes
  • kwinnkwinn Posts: 7,909
    edited August 23 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Don M wrote: »
    I was listening to NPR this morning and they were talking about the UPU. Universal Postal Union. Interesting discussion. I tried to find the archive so I could post a link here but maybe it's too early yet.

    AFAIK the agreement was based on the idea that on average the amount of mail between any two countries was roughly equal, so it made sense for each postal service to reciprocate by delivering incoming mail from the other countries. Good idea when the volumes are roughly equal, not so good when the volumes are orders of magnitude apart. What it means now is that our postal systems are subsidizing shipping from China and a few others.
    In science there is no authority. There is only experiment.
    Life is unpredictable. Eat dessert first.
  • Ken GraceyKen Gracey Posts: 6,256
    edited August 23 Vote Up0Vote Down
    It's a mess. So are the tariffs. Trump has totally missed this issue and I'm really happy to see that the issue is finally getting exposed.

    There's no longer anything "reciprocal" about this deal. It just sucks for Americans!

    Ken Gracey

    Screen%20Shot%202018-08-23%20at%207.58.28%20AM.png
  • Then when you get the cheap broken junk you sort of deserved (we've all been there including me) they try to charge you return shipping lol. The return shipping is usually double what you paid for the item.
    Founder of Kinvert
    https://www.kinvert.com/
  • Don't forget that most export shipments of small packages from China are completely subsidized through the postal system by the Chinese government. You want to build your export base then make it easier to get your junk out of the country.

    Ken, have you actually seen impacts of the tariffs? I haven't yet. The reason I ask is that there is a lot of talk about the impacts, but some of the supporting data is hard to find. The issues we are facing are due to the global shortages of many SMT parts that are now abundantly used in many more industries, one main one being automotive. I used to have to fight computer and phone manufacturers for parts. Now we are fighting makers of autos, trucks, tractors, refrigerators, etc for things like SRAM, MLCCs, etc. In all honesty, there is good in the tariff/trade wars. Some companies that have been planning to move manufacturing away from China due to rising labor costs have finally stepped up their planning. Several companies have recently announced plans to break ground in countries in Europe and South America to combat the disaster that is known to most as "China".
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 21,990
    edited August 23 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I'm dreading the next time I order lenses from China for the TSL1401 and TCS3200 modules, which could be soon. Hopefully, they won't be subject to more abusive tariffs (I've always had to pay a little). If they are, it would be misguided, since there are no longer any domestic manufacturers of miniature TV camera lenses. That business has long since been ceded to offshore manufacturers. Even the Korean supplier I used to buy from gave up when China undercut them.

    But I also have to say that my Chinese supplier is excellent. They're attentive to my needs, communicate well, ship on time, and provide good quality product. Even though I have to pay in advance with a bank transfer, I have no reservations buying from them. (My only disagreement with them is their choice of Harmonized Code for export.)

    I don't get free shipping, BTW. And FedEx isn't cheap coming from China.

    -Phil
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • The uniform rates and source shipper keeping all the postage is not really the main issue, it's the overall subsidies. China will continue to subsidize these factories for how ever long the practice meets their goals. Since subsidizing factories keeps them open -- and therefore with employed workers -- I don't see the practice ending any time soon. Ken's letter might have had an impact pre-tariff days, but the few million lost on these small packets shipments is a drop in the bucket.

    The USPS makes up for the loss in other ways, with the current deficit coming from the cost of paying into a pension fund. They actually run more years in deficit than in surplus, and this has been going on for decades, well before Alibaba, eBay, or Erco.
  • Then when you get the cheap broken junk you sort of deserved (we've all been there including me) they try to charge you return shipping lol. The return shipping is usually double what you paid for the item.

    That's absolutely true, I've only returned something to China once, because it was a small, expensive item. Very expensive shipping that way. Funny how that works.

    But TTYTT I have been blown away (pleasantly surprised) that the stuff I get from China mostly works as advertised (~99%). The few times something is defective, the sellers happily and quickly offer a refund or replacement. Their service is second only to Team Parallax. :)

    Related, I am moving into an office/studio space and am THRILLED to have a clean start. Things are tidy (for now) and I'm unpacking and organizing all my electronic parts & treasures, which heretofore have been squirreled away in random boxes in closets and the garage. Now I can FIND that part I need, and I can actually see most of the Corvair. No telling what can happen now!
    1925 x 795 - 232K
    2560 x 1440 - 1M
    1440 x 2200 - 818K
    "When you make a thing, a thing that is new, it is so complicated making it that it is bound to be ugly. But those that make it after you, they don’t have to worry about making it. And they can make it pretty, and so everybody can like it when others make it after you."

    - Pablo Picasso
  • I got triggered seeing you working on all those laptops. We have around 25 of them and let me tell you how much fun it is keeping up with that.
    Founder of Kinvert
    https://www.kinvert.com/
  • erco wrote: »
    Related, I am moving into an office/studio space and am THRILLED to have a clean start. Things are tidy (for now) and I'm unpacking and organizing all my electronic parts & treasures, which heretofore have been squirreled away in random boxes in closets and the garage. Now I can FIND that part I need, and I can actually see most of the Corvair. No telling what can happen now!

    Xanadu and I simply must come up for a visit! I'll check with him if he's interested, and maybe we can make a play date?

    Are you still building toys? Life after the Big-M seems to be suiting you.
  • We're long overdue for a meetup! Any time you cats want to trek up is cool.

    Yeah, I'm digging my new inventor freedom. Had a wild meeting yesterday at the office with a bay area AI startup, talking robots & aggressively targeting CES. Big money. Very exciting stuff.

    Good and bad, that's why I'm a bit less active here than previously, too much cool (and proprietary) stuff going on.
    "When you make a thing, a thing that is new, it is so complicated making it that it is bound to be ugly. But those that make it after you, they don’t have to worry about making it. And they can make it pretty, and so everybody can like it when others make it after you."

    - Pablo Picasso
  • Good and bad, that's why I'm a bit less active here than previously, too much cool (and proprietary) stuff going on.
    and you thought the Covair was going to get some more love!
    Jim
  • Erco, I have an idea for a new toy for tweens. Little miniature metal cars and a flexible track that snaps onto stanchions to form curves, twists, and bends. Kids can set up the track to race two cars at once. There's a little filler hole in each car for gun powder, and the bumpers are connected to flint strike mechanisms so if they crash into things, kaboom!

    I'm thinking of an add-on consisting of an acetylene torch gauntlet that the cars have to pass through on the way to the finish line.

    What do you think? Does it sound like it might have sales potential? I mean, I'm asking the toy maker that went on NATIONAL TV to demonstrate a saw blade shooter!!

    (Of course I jest. Everyone here wants the job Erco has.)
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