June 9, 2010

Fighting Terrorism -- One eBayer at a Time

Well, it appears that summer has finally arrived. It is currently 102 degrees in Chico. If you want to get anything done in this town, you'd better get up early. By 11:00 a.m., you can fry an egg on the pavement.

This morning we got up very early and headed to Walmart to pick up the new iPhone. (Yes, that's right. Walmart sells iPhones.) We also drove to Lowe's to purchase a few items for the house. Since I purchase most of my household items at yard sales, I rarely find myself in these types of establishments. This morning was definitely the exception.

While shopping, I was on the hunt for boxes. I usually order free shipping supplies from the USPS and send everything using Priority Mail. But every once in a while I ship using Parcel Post or First Class. I realize that I could order boxes, but boxes are expensive, and it's so much "greener" to reuse a box.

At both Lowe's and Walmart, I found a plethora of free shipping supplies. I was amazed at the number of broken down boxes that were sitting in shopping carts ready to be recycled. I guess this makes sense since most stores probably start stocking their shelves early in the morning. Most of the boxes were medium in size, but I found small but sturdy boxes (perfect for shipping First Class parcels) in the tool departments of both stores. Hitting the stores early is definitely the way to go if you are looking for free packaging supplies and don't want to send products using Priority.

That brings me to my "top six" tips related to reusing boxes:

1. If a box is covered in mysterious acronyms, don't use it. OK. So here's the story. When I first started selling on eBay, I reused a box from a hair salon. It was a box that had contained hairspray. It had ORM-D stamped on it. I guess that the ORM-D stamp lets the postal service know that a package contains hazardous material. About three weeks after I sent off the shoes, I received a notice from the USPS. The notice ordered me to appear at a USPS facility almost 50 miles from Chico. According to the letter, my package was being held hostage, and the USPS wanted to interrogate me. No joke!!

So I was forced to drive to a community an hour south of Chico, head to a huge USPS facility on the bad side of town, hit a large black buzzer, and sit in a room with a postal employee. Get this. The postal worker asked me one question: "What's in the package?" She wanted to make sure I wasn't a terrorist!! Couldn't she have asked me that on the phone? Besides, what kind of terrorist lets the postal service KNOW that he or she is sending a bomb by labeling it hazardous?

Funny story, huh? Actually, it wasn't funny at the time. I was pretty annoyed.

2. If you are reusing a box that once contained alcohol (I don't recommend doing this, especially if your eBay selling has started to turn into a "real" business), you must cover up the words "Coors" and "Corona." In fact, you must hide any words that indicate that the box once contained alcohol. I have no idea why. The USPS website was no help in solving this mystery.

3. Unless you are sending clothing, be sure that the boxes you use are sturdy. Boxes that have already been used are weaker than new boxes.

4. Do not address a box on both sides thinking that you are being extra thorough. A postal employee may look at the side that does not have postage on it and send the package back to you.

5. Be careful when using boxes from the grocery store. They can be heavy. Sending a product via Parcel Post using one of these boxes may end up costing you as much as sending it Priority using Priority packaging.

If you need to shave a few ounces off the weight of a box, cut down the inside flaps. This may do the trick.

So there you have it. The most important things to remember when reusing boxes. Reusing Boxes 101. Follow my advice, and you'll have a happy summer .....and you won't end up on the no-fly list. - Miriam @ bluefrogshoes.com.

P.S. If you are one of those lucky, lucky women who wears a hard-to-find shoe size, check out my eBay store at Bluefrogshoes.com. Interested in taking an eBay class? Call (530) 680-8715. Have a great summer!

1 comment:

  1. I love your blog! I'm learning soooo much. I wanted to let you know that the reason you have to cover up Coors or Corona or which ever brand of alcohol that is on the box is because you can't ship alcohol to certain states and countries. At least, I'm pretty sure that's the reason.

    Thanks again for blogging!!