Monday, 20 May 2013

A guide to Courier Services: how to weigh and measure your parcel

If you want to send a parcel within the UK or overseas via a courier service, the first thing you will want to do is get a quote. This way, you can easily compare prices and get the best possible deal for the service you require. Several factors determine the cost of sending your parcel. In addition to the destination country of the goods you'd like to send, the weight and dimensions of your parcel will also determine the price, and you will need to supply this information in order to get a quote. 

This seems simple enough, doesn't it? And it is! But there are a few areas where it's possible to slip up, and if you do not quote your parcel's weight and dimensions accurately at the point of obtaining a quote, you risk incurring additional charges from the carrier when they measure it themselves while it is in transit. Of course, no-one wants this to happen, so we've compiled a list of tips to assist you with careful measuring to ensure that the price you see is always the price you pay! 

Always aim for accuracy

If you're unsure of your parcel's exact weight and dimensions, at the point of obtaining your quote, you may be tempted to estimate it rather than giving exact figures. This is not advisable since all carriers weigh and measure the parcels themselves and levy charges if they find inconsistencies. While (gu)estimates may work to give you a rough guide on cost, at the point of booking you really should have weighed your parcel using quality scales and determined the length, height and width as accurately as possible. 

Measure the furthermost point of each dimension

Consider the image below. Which is the correct way to obtain the dimensions for this suitcase? Most first-time shippers (and even some seasoned shippers!) would probably be tempted to measure their shipment in accordance with the image on the left, but the measurements on the right are the correct ones to quote when obtaining a quotation. 

Carriers such as UPS and DHL Express use lasers to measure the parcels transported through their networks and this equipment measures from the furthest most point of each side of the parcel. In this case, including the wheels, the handle and the strap around the suitcase would be necessary in order for your dimensions to agree with those that the main carriers would measure using their specialised equipment. The same goes for cardboard boxes that are bulging at the sides. Aside from an indication of poor packaging, such instances could incur extra fees if they are not measured correctly.

Include your packaging in your quoted weight

It may sound obvious, but the weight of your parcel comprises both the items you wish to send as well as the cushioning to protect them and the shipping carton in which they are sent. Ideally, you should book deliveries only after your parcel is packaged so you can quote the correct weight.

Protect yourself

It's quite rare, but carriers make mistakes too when weighing and measuring your parcels! If you have followed all of the advice above and you are still contacted about a size or weight discrepancy, it's great for you if you have evidence to support your position. Before you send your parcel, why not cover yourself by taking photographs of it on the scales on which you measured it, and against the tape measures that you used to determine the dimensions?

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