New research from the international delivery expert ParcelHero reveals the single most common cause of complaints from people sending a parcel abroad. It’s the use of a seemingly arbitrary measurement called ‘volumetric’ weight to determine the cost of a shipment.
Instead of simply charging on the actual weight of a package, international carriers bill items based on the combined size and weight of the parcel, using a formula called volumetric weight. 60% of all customer complaints are caused by unexpected extra charges due to volumetric weight corrections. To add to the confusion, each carrier uses different criteria to calculate this weight, depending on which service is selected.
Fortunately, ParcelHero has now launched an easy-to-use tool that calculates exactly what the volumetric weight of a parcel will be, for each carrier service. It is likely to be a game-changer for anyone struggling to find the best price for sending a parcel abroad.
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ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks M.I.L.T., says: ‘Calculating the volumetric weight of a package would put Einstein into a sweat. However, the idea behind billing by volumetric weight is really simple. The space inside the cargo belly-hold of an aircraft is quite restricted; so too is the weight of all the items the aircraft can carry. Otherwise, it couldn’t take off. A carrier must take into account both the weight and overall size of a shipment.
‘A carrier will charge on weight or volume (calculated as volumetric weight), whichever is the greater. If a parcel is relatively light but takes up a lot of room, perhaps due to extensive packaging, that needs to be considered when the carrier works out how much to charge for the shipment. This size-based weight is the volumetric measurement.
‘Volumetric weight is calculated by multiplying the length, width and height of a parcel (in cm) and then dividing that figure. The big problem is that different companies use different divisors. And some apply a different volumetric formula for their express service compared to their economy service.
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‘Depending on the carrier, the final figure is divided by 4,000, 5,000 or 6,000 to determine the billable volumetric weight. If you’re sending with an express courier like UPS or FedEx, the devisor will likely be 5,000. Some other companies, such as TNT (which is currently merging with FedEx), use a slightly different formula for their economy service, dividing by 4,000. If you’re sending air freight or economy freight, the divisor will likely be 6,000.
‘If all those numbers have left you thoroughly confused, fear not. Happily, our new volumetric tool not only calculates the typical volumetric weight but, if you enter the specific carrier and service you are thinking of booking, it will calculate the exact volumetric weight you will be billed for. No more unexpected extra charges.
‘Our golden rule is, if you are sending something abroad using a courier, ensure the items are not only carefully padded and sealed (to safely withstand the rigours of being handled at airports and Customs) but that your items are packaged as tightly as possible. The more space you waste with extra bubble wrap or crumpled paper, over and above what is required, the higher the final price.
‘Equally, if you are using old boxes when sending items abroad, remember that a small item packed in a large, reused box will incur unnecessarily high costs because of its volumetric weight.