On eBay you can find great items from countries all over the world, including Lithuania. While you might know all about US and UK postage charges, Lithuanias' postage costs and system are very different.
Sometimes you'll see someone write in a listing that their shipping is the lowest possible through Lithuanian post, or that insurance is required, or charge a few dollars (or pounds) as a handling fee.
While I have seen some items ship for a few dollars less than the actual shipping charge (you've got to wonder why), I've also seen CDs with shipping prices up to $20 or $30, while the actual price of shipping for a CD would never be more than $8, even if registered. EBay doesn't keep track of most foreign postage costs, so this is left wide open for abuse, from excessive fees to obvious fee avoidance. I hope this review can help shed some light on what are truly money-grabbing practices.
The biggest difference between Lithuanian Post and its counterparts is that Lithuania uses the metric system for postal weights, and fractions of kilograms to charge by. the most used are up to 100 grams, 100 to 500 grams, and 500 to 2000 grams.
A 500 gram book package sent from Lithuania, to the US, or anywhere outside of the EU, costs 11.75 LTL, or about 3.45 Euros (the Lita is pegged to the Euro at 3.45 LTL per Euro), or about $4.75 US. This price is good for up to 2 kilograms! Lithuanian international printed matter rates at http://www.post.lt/en/?id=357.
Lithuanian Post used to charge more for small packages other than printed matter. Now the rates for printed matter are identical to small packages. Check miscellaneous package rates at http://www.post.lt/en/?id=355
The quotes I give are for Air Mail/first class. There is a lower class of mail, but this mail could take a month, or more, to ship from Lithuania to the USA.
Registration of mail is an additional 2LTL, for domestic mail in Lithuania, and 7 Litas to other countries, regardless of mailing type. Registration on a parcel of goods is the ONLY insurance possible for standard mail deliveries, both domestic and international, through Lithuanian Post. If you received a package or letter from Lithuania in the mail unregistered, you would be able to just keep the package, and no one would be able say if you ever received it, or not.
At your option, you could choose to use the expensive, yet reliable EMS system. For shipments over 2 kilograms, this is a very competitive price, and is really the only way to ship more expensive items, like jewelery or antiques
For international shipments using Air Mail (first class), or otherwise, Lithuanian Post does offer insurance.. This insurance charge is an additional 5 Litas on top of a 7 litas registration fee. Lithuanian Post Law Article 12, line 4 provides for remuneration to the sender of the package up to 120.33 LTL, or a little over $46. That's without insurance. Insurance is available only on parcels, and these cost considerably more than shipping small packages or printed materials. The sender is asked how he knows the package did not arrive, copies of letters and /or emails are helpful. The investigation is a combination package trace/mail fraud investigation. Once submitted, what happens with the investigation, separate from remuneration, is out of the hands of the sender.
he only tracking number is the number assigned by mail registration. This is a bar code originating in Lithuania, and used by the foreign postal service, also, for mail tracking. There is NO "real time" post tracking in Lithuania. The sender, and the sender only, must wait one month before submitting the number to Lithuanian Post, where he will fill out the requisite forms to begin tracking/investigating the lost shipment. This takes at least one month for shipments to the US
Handling charges are a sticky subject everywhere for eBay. Let's put it into perspective: In Lithuania, the minimum monthly salary, before taxes, is approximately 800 LTL, or under $200 after taxes. We could say about $50 per week.
If you paid a $5 "handling charge" for an item from Lithuania, you'd be giving that person four hours worth or minimum wage money for packaging one item. You could buy a bottle of vodka and a bottle of beer (or two) for that kind of money While you might be well able to afford that, is this the kind of enabling you wish to contribute to? Small change to you is a big donation somewhere else.
Packaging materials are also relatively cheap here in Lithuania, also. Any item you could ship internationally, you could pack for $2 or (much) less. Of well over 200 items sent through Lithuanian Post, only 3 have cost more than $2 to package with all-new materials.
So when you do decide to buy something from Lithuania, keep an eye on the shipping and handling, and pay attention to the insurance. Above all, shop around and compare. Search the auctions, as well as ebay stores. You can get some very nice, and interesting things from Lithuania. But don't search "items from" Lithuania - it's stacked with the "digital download" garbage by ebay policy.
What if the shipping is less than the "official" postage cost? Compare other's prices! Alternatively, buy, but stick to the quoted price, don't take excuses! If they change the shipping price without a VERY good reason, just tell them you want to cancel the transaction.
And use PayPal. Watch out for the "send paypal payments to my proxy acceptor/brother/friend" statements. This can indeed be like playing the "shell game" if you're trying to get a refund!
DON"T GET RIPPED OFF.. BE AWARE OF THE REAL VALUE OF "HANDLING"
I hope I helped you to be more aware of Lithuanian Post, and the issues surrounding the extra costs some would associate with buying from Lithuania, a beautiful country, with only a few greedy, lying, cheating people. Like everywhere else.
If you got a little help from this guide, please give it a helpful vote.
Thanks for looking!