Here is a little information about shipping with UPS (United Parcel Service), or especially about setting up an account with them where they have your credit card on file.
We liked receiving our shipments from UPS (Don't confuse UPS -> United Parcel Service with USPS -> US Postal Service), the brown truck with the brown uniforms inside, United Parcel Service, what ever you like to call them.
They almost always left the packages on the doorstep if you were not home, and seemed like the way to go. That was before we became the shipper, instead of the consignee.
First of all, they are very rough on the freight, and this can be verified by nearly any UPS employee that is being honest with you, and has been with UPS long enough to have gained the knowledge. Our claims went through the roof during our short period with them, as compared to no claims what-so-ever with USPS (the Post Office), FedEx and DHL. Also, UPS promotes how they give a generous amount of standard insurance for no additional charge, but wait until you try to use it. Generally they instantly flat out deny any claims stating that your packaging was at fault. Read their guide lines and you will see that for many items this means double boxes, layers of Styrofoam, etc.,and these methods will hugely increase your shipping costs. Never-the-less even by shipping following their bomb proof guidelines, which, for example, ended up totaling over $110.00 in packaging and shipping charges (with no labor charges figured in), on our last shipment of 2 medium sized boxes going about 700 miles, and they still managed to crush one of the containers. The UPS delivery driver witnessed that it was crushed upon delivery, and also witnessed the unpacking to verify the damage to the freight, and to note that the items were properly insulated to protect against the shock and rough handling, according to the UPS shipping guidelines. Even with this obvious damage caused by the carrier (UPS) they have not yet even offered to refund the shipping charges, much less reimburse the bill to repair the damaged freight for the customer (who went out of his way to get a repair estimate), after months, and many phone calls. This was even with the merchandise being photographed, and witnessed at both ends, by multiple individuals, for reference.
Oh, they will NOT notify you either way (in our case, and the case of our local UPS store owner, at least) about any progress in relationship to your damage claim. You will have to keep checking and rechecking on the claim to find out any details, or to even get them moving on it in the first place. This was the most tiring thing about UPS, it seems they would always keep any monies you were due, or over-charged, unless you specifically pinpointed and called out every single one of the many times they ended up owing you money.
Understand, also, that if you go with UPS ground your packages will be bouncing around in the back of a semi truck, or crushed under heavier freight, and will also be man handled on many transfer docks, while moving down the highway towards the final destination. Also, UPS is very efficient at fully loading their trailers, evidentially at the expense of many damage claims (claims, not pay-outs being the key word). This would not be the case if you opt for one of the more expensive air delivery methods, as air freight more often than not gets a very gentile ride, and superior handling.
Now, one must also be very careful when using the UPS web based shipping services. Especially once they have authorization to use your credit card. Remember that by allowing UPS to store your credit card information you are authorizing them to charge you in any way they see fit within the vague (to the layman) boundaries of your contract you agreed to with them. The first annoyance may very well be when you are accidentally ringing up charges on your card while learning to use their shipping software, or online shipping solution. UPS is very quick to charge your card without clearly stating that during a certain phase of your online shipping process, your card will be charged. You will already have been billed before most people even realize it had happened. All the other shipping services we use clearly state that they would now like to authorize a charge, and require some kind of action on your part to verify that you are aware of this charge taking place, but not with UPS, you get a thank you, and an invoice for the amount they have already charged you, without your knowledge (as a beginner). Hopefully they have rectified this deceptive web based billing scheme, but since we will never ship with them by pre authorizing any bank account again, we could not know whether they have, or not.
Also, be very careful if you have set up an account to use between eBay and UPS. When setting your account up, UPS may well have gathered the data off more than one of your charge cards that you are authorizing them to use anywhere along the way. We had originally set up our UPS account through our bank, and even after canceling all our online UPS accounts as thoroughly as we could, we were later terrified to see that UPS, had switched over to, and were still ringing up various charges on our PayPal account (weeks after we cancelled our UPS account). We did not even know PayPal had been connected to them, but, somewhere along the way they got a hold of it while setting up the eBay shipping services with UPS.
Of course, even if you are lucky enough to realize they have just billed you, at a point where, perhaps, you were just attempting to gather accurate shipping charges, they will refund your money after you comply with hopping through a few more hoops, and waiting a few days for the credit to appear back to your bank, or financial institution. Be very meticulous in connecting their shipping charges to the shipment in question though, because it is very common, while familiarizing yourself with the UPS shipping scheme, that you inadvertently bill yourself twice, or more, for the same shipment while making a change during the online shipping process. During the time we used UPS online there were no safe gaurds to protect you against double, or triple billing (for the same shipment), and UPS would just let the unaccounted (or unused) shipping charge float on through, for their profit, if you were not meticulous enough to realize they charged you multiple times for the same shipment.
Lastly, the real deal breaker for the small business owner is when you bill the customer for shipping by using the receipt from the shipping invoice you created with UPS on the web, and, at that time, you a happy camper thinking the work is done, the customer is happy to pay for the item they ordered, and all seems well as you move on to next sales task. But surprise! You forgot UPS is holding your charge card, and you also probably did not spend the many hours reading the contracts that would have clarified the whole UPS shipping process to you. So, going by whatever method UPS uses to calculate their fuel costs, they will very often bill your card again, weeks later, for fuel surcharges on a shipment you had chalked off as completed. Fuel surcharges are common when moving whole truckloads, or more, of freight, but not reasonable on a per item basis as UPS does. Try going back a few weeks after the sale, and telling your customer that you are adding additional fees for the order they placed with you, and see where that gets you. Well, that just chewed away any profit you might have made on that item that you have already sold and shipped and were paid on. It's your fault because you should have known what the fuel surcharges where going to be, so you could have been billed that to the buyer of your goods beforehand. Another thing UPS loves to do is take your packages at a shipping center, and then somewhere down the road claim that the container you used was Non-standard in some way, and then they hit your credit card with another 5 dollars or so. You could ship 50 of the same packages and then have only one of them highlighted for additional charges while the others were not. The last time this happened with us, after spending another couple of hours reading through even more fine print, it became apparent that the package we were overcharged for did indeed meet the UPS requirements, and they refunded the five dollars, while also explaining that they were doing us a favor because they can add shipping fees to any package for any reason they see fit. They equalized that credit the next week by adding another fuel surcharge they assessed on another piece of freight that had been prepaid beforehand, or should we say prepaid to the best of our knowledge.
The bottom line is that UPS created many headaches along the way while trying to squeezing every dollar they could all the way down the line, and this is reasonable to watch the bottom line in business, but not good for the startup business that can't absorb many financial, or time consuming hits when simply trying to ship a package.
We realize many probably never have a problem with UPS, even though we have never met them. Also, for a larger company, or someone who has gained the shipping experience, these will probably not be problems they have to deal with, except for realizing that any shipping claim they make will probably never be admitted to by UPS, and it will have to be absorbed by their company, and they will also need to make allowances for the drawn out billing process that UPS employs by running a rolling invoice of the shipping charges in the accounting department in order to average whether UPS is a viable shipping partner for them to use, or not. Most of these issues discussed are mainly for the new companies, those considering a switch to UPS, or those considering letting UPS have any kind of free reign with their credit card.
On the plus side, they have a beautifully engineered tracking system, and are fortunately now being matched in that area by the other carriers.
For those considering adding the UPS shipping directly into their eBay account we would advise another method unless you can comfortably afford to risk another 5 or 10 dollars added, to many of your shipments, long after you had completed the transaction (or chalked it up as completed at least).
From the beginning, if you want to use UPS, consider not giving UPS your credit card information directly (by opening an account with them). Instead go to one of the many UPS designated shipping centers, and pay for it there with your credit card, and that way you will not be hit with any additional charges, for that shipment, in the future. The shipping will cost more initially this way, but will equal out to about what you would be paying in the long run (by being billed directly through an account with UPS) taking into acount the additional billings, or added charges UPS will add to many of your shipments at a later date.
If you can initially add another 5 or 10 dollars to your shipping charges, at the point of sale, that should keep you out of the red with UPS until you become more expert in using them. The only problem with that is that many try to only charge actual shipping fees, and profit from the sale of the item itself. Also, the eBay community, unlike many other places you may shop on the web, generally frowns upon profiting from ballooned shipping charges. You've seen it a million times. A fairly priced item that looks appealing until you realize the shipping charges are high enough to have it delivered via a chartered Lear jet. Pity the new eBayer who gets railroaded into buying an item at a favorable price, and has overlooked exorbitant or undisclosed shipping charges, and is stuck not knowing what to do while trying to build or maintain a certain amount of favorable feedback.
Lastly, we truly wish a better experience for all others who use, or decide to go with UPS for their shipping needs. Also, as stated earlier, we are sure UPS will eventually be compelled to implement a more satisfying customer experience for "the small guy", but this guide will not necessarily be updated with those changes, as we will unlikely be unaware of any said changes, having permanently changes our shipping solution for medium sized freight.
<-- Just a joke about using this shipping method as an alternative, but there are many other fine companies bidding for your business.
Vote below if you would like.
Thanks for the interest,