The shipment of large items that has to be arranged on a special per-case basis is called freight shipment and can present a special challenge if you’re unfamiliar with the logistical difficulties involved. Most of the time eBay freight shipments are LTL, or Less Than Load shipments, which means that they are too large or heavy to be sent with a standard shipping service but too small to occupy and justify the cost of an entire truck’s cargo space by themselves.
In general, freight shipments have the following characteristics:
- They’re more expensive. You’ll find that you’ll pay rather more (in some cases a lot more) to ship items freight than even only slightly smaller or lighter items that aren’t classified as freight.
- They’re harder on the item being shipped. For freight shipment your packaging will need to be twice (or even more than twice) as good as it has to be for standard shipments. This is because freight shipments are often moved by forklift rather than by human power, and may switch trucks dozens of times en route to destination.
- They’re less convenient for both parties. Freight shipments often require pickup and/or delivery to or from freight terminals. Even if the shipment can be picked up directly from the seller or delivered directly to the buyer, a surcharge is likely to be involved for such services, and they are likely to be relatively inflexible with regard to time of day and day of week.
Because shipping freight represents such a different experience from standard small shipment processing, it’s important to be able to identify freight shipment items before you list them for sale so that you and buyer alike are prepared for the shipping task (and costs) to come.
Identifying “Freight” PackagesWithout getting into numbers, the a rule of thumb is that if the item is too large or too heavy to be lifted and carried by the average adult without serious trouble, it’s probably a freight package. In practice, the standards at the “big three” carriers (UPS, USPS, FedEx) for classifying a package as freight when shipping via their most basic service are as follows:
- United States Postal Service (USPS) Parcel Post: Larger than 130 inches combined length and girth (measurement around the outside of the box plus the measurement of its longest side in the other direction), and/or heavier than 70 pounds. Details here.
- United Parcel Service (UPS) Ground: Larger than 165 inches in combined length and girth and/or heavier than 150 pounds. Details here.
- Federal Express (FedEx) Ground: Larger than 165 inches in combined length and girth and/or heavier than 150 pounds. Details here.