Friday, February 19, 2010

Keeping the costs down... Mr Zip is your friend!

Yesterday was something of a bang-your-head-against-the-bulkhead-until-the pain-stops sort of day...

I had a small metal order which included the stainless for the new chainplates, a bit of aluminum for new solar tracking mounts and some billet material to make my new deadeyes for the new rig. Not a big order, at just a kiss over $100, but the shipping quote we got for it was over $281! Can you spell ...O-U-C-H?

One of the reasons we are in St Croix at the moment is it allows us access to the US Mail service but we are finding these days that far too many companies are no longer working with the US Mail and instead are only shipping via FED EX, UPS, and my least favorite DHL (dropped hard and lost). The reason they give is better service and cheaper rates for their customers but while my math abilities have never been great (just ask my algebra teacher Mr H at Virgil Jr High) they are, however, up to the task of comparing the difference at between $35 to $79 for USPS and $281 and change for UPS.

Sadly, these days, a big part of the problem is people who slide in to the customer vendor matrix offering to help and improve things and then once firmly entrenched ramp up the prices... When I was a jock I had jobs with both UPS and DHL and knowing first hand how both companies worked on the level of a guy who sorted boxes on the night shift... Well, let us just say, the the Dropped-Hard-and-Lost was considered a moniker of PRIDE for us on the floor who loved to hear things jingle inside those boxes marked FRAGILE.

Of course, that was a long time ago (dinosaurs were still a regular sight in the boonies of Westwood) but having had over ten years of experience getting film gear and boat bits shipped to the Caribbean, if you want it quick and in one piece the US postal service is the way to go.

So, if you need a small order of metal, forget the folks who only do the UPS/FEDEX/DHL shipping and go with someone like Online Metal Supply and ask for Diane (she understands!) and the bonus is not only do they do USPS shipping but they were also less expensive than those other guys... YOWZA!

One other thing is why don't I just just buy Schaefer chainplates, for instance, from someone like West? Let's see if you can do the math? Schaefer chain plate = $107.99 (which I should add is both thinner and shorter than needed) each as opposed to $9.20 per chainplate for the metal at Online Metal Supply.

Now I will have to put a bit of labor into the DIY chainplate (drilling six holes, rounding off the corners with a grinder and giving it a quick passivating and polish) but when you do the math even I come up with a pretty clear number!