You can save substantial amounts when sending items with Australia Post, be studying their various charging methods and rates. One way to make massive savings, if you post larger items, is to minimise the number of items that are charged by cubic weight.
Actual vs Cubic Weight
For small items, Australia Post will charge you based upon the actual weight of the item, and the originating and destination post codes, but for larger items Australia Post will apply the greater of actual or cubic weight. If the cubic weight of your item exceeds the actual weight, you'll pay more in postage, and the further the item needs to travel, the more you'll pay.
Australia Posts Cubic Weight Policy (as at 26/03/2011)
Charges for parcels weighing more than 1kg that are square or rectangular in shape are assessed according to their actual weight or cubic weight equivalent, whichever is greater. The cubic weight is the parcel's volume in cubic metres multiplied by 250.
Australia Post reserves the right to apply cubic charges to a parcel weighing less than 1kg and to parcels that are irregular or cylindrical in shape.
Cubic weight policy in practice
Your postal outlet, or postal representative may vary their application of the policy, but in our experience, cubic weight is only applied for boxes that are larger than a BC mailing box (roughly the size of 500 sheets of A5 paper). If your item is boxy and larger than a BC mailing box, then you'll probably be charged the cubic weight. Most cardboard cartons are considered square or rectangular in shape, so it might seem a little unfair that someone sending an awkardly shaped item will not have to pay the cubic rate, especially as their item will be more awkward to transport, and thereby, more expensive for Australia Post to deliver.
How can you minimise the application of cubic weight policy?
There are a number of approaches available, to minimise the application of cubic weight postage rates, and the best approach will depend upon the nature of the items that you're sending, and the distance the parcels must travel, to reach their destination.
- Consider sending the item as multiple packages. If you can split the consignment into several items, you may be able to reduce the size of each package, such that you're only changed for the actual weight of each package. Take care however, as any savings might be quickly eroded by the extra costs of sending multiple packages.
- Consider sending your items as flat-pack, or unassembled items, to minimise the cubic weight. You might not avoid the cubic weight pricing, but at least you'll minimise the cubic weight.
- Pack your items to that they're deliberately irregular in shape. Take care however, as irregularly shaped packages may require extra packaging, and/or be more prone to damage in transit.
- Pack your items in courier bags. Courier bags are light-weight, and they add a professional, secure finish to your packages. They're a great packing material in most situations, but they also have the potential to minimise the application of cubic weight charges. In our experience, Australia Post rarely applies cubic weight charges if the parcel is packaged in a courier bag - even if the parcel remains rectangular in shape.
Of the four minimisation methods outlined above, the courier bag approach is the most effective, although we can't guarantee that your postal outlet won't arbitrarily decide to apply the cubic weight policy. There's no harm in trying, and if you're curious, just ask at your postal outlet, and find out how they interpret and apply the policy. You may even find that they vary the policy application, depending upon how busy they are!
Afterall, Australia Post themselves, offer their own pre-paid-postage satchels, and it's very unlikely that they'd ever apply additional cubic-weight charges on those satchels!
We have a wide range of mailer / courier bags, and other packaging materials, and we offer them in a wide range of quantitites to suit your turnover and budget requirements. Just see our eBay store or our listings for more details.
This guide has been prepared based upon our experience with several Australia Post outlets. Your experience may differ by outlet, representative, time of day or even the specific parcel. You should always pack your items appropriately, and pay the right amount of postage. You don't want to have an item arrive damaged, or have Australia Post charge your customer for any postage shortfalls.
If you have any comments or suggestions, or any experiences with Australia Post regarding cubic weight or minimising postage charges, please contact us.
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