Out There

Amazing Amazon

Posted in Uncategorized by Pete on September 23, 2012

I’ve been meaning to do a series of posts on shopping tips for those new to the bush.  This is sort of jumping the gun but I’m throwing it out there because if I don’t do it now I’ll forget about it and the moment is gone.

Just another item on amazon, 10 pounds of jasmine rice for $12.22.  But when it came the other day I realized how crazy cheap it is.  I can’t even figure out how they can cover the shipping.  Checked usps.com and 10.5 lbs from Seattle to here is $16.34 for parcel post which usually takes a month (this came in 10 days).  I’ve mailed boxes from the northwest to here maybe 25 times and I’ve *never* had one arrive that quickly parcel post so I don’t think that is how it was mailed.  Priority mail for 10 lbs would be $31.55.  Sure maybe globalization has brought the price way down but how are they possibly making money selling it for $12 with free shipping?  Maybe they have some kind of volume discount deal with the usps?  Even so, it can’t be that big of a discount.  Maybe I shouldn’t publish this.  You know that giant deficit the usps has been running every year?  Could I be the cause??  

Seriously, the usps is the greatest bargain ever–for those of us in the bush especially.  When we’re in Anchorage and I do one of our two annual shopping runs, I usually haul about 20-something boxes to the post office, each weighing an average of about 55 pounds.  A 55 pound box from ANC to KUK is $20.14 parcel post, delivered in about 7-20 days usually (and way faster, I believe, if our mail wasn’t delivered from Bethel via hovercraft.  Friends in other villages around the state report they get parcel post in less than a week).  What does the free market charge?  Northern Air Cargo (NAC) would charge me a total of $57.08 for the same box just to get it to Bethel!  (I’ll spare you the calculations but you can check it yourself here.  I’m assuming there is nothing that would fall under an “exception rate” which would push the price even higher)  You have to call them for the price from Bethel to Kasigluk as it goes on Ryan Air on that leg, but the price is usually pretty close to the same price paid to get it from ANC to BET.  So the free market price would be probably right around $100, which is why I say $20 is a steal, and why Alaska is such a losing proposition for the usps. You could probably get the price down to $80 by using Ace Air Cargo or Everts instead of NAC, but you get the idea.  While you’ve got me going, how about forty-something cents to mail a letter across the stinkin country?!?  Ridiculous!  And people complain when this goes up a cent or two.  

The next time you don’t like the price at the PO, think about how much you’d have to pay someone else, anyone else, to deliver it for you.  Then smile, pay, and say thank you!

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