FW-56 -- Frugal COD Shipping within Japan

* * * * * * F R U G A L W A T C H * * * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of how to be frugal in the world's most
expensive country to live (unless you read this!), written
and compiled by Wendy J. Imura.

Regular edition, May 17, 2005 Issue No. 56

- What's New (Frugal COD Shipping within Japan)
- Event Notice: (Top Three Little-Known Post Office Discounts)
- Frugal tips (Frugal Shipping Tips at FrugalJapan.com)
- Credits

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+++ WHAT'S NEW (Frugal COD Shipping within Japan)

Dear Frugal Readers,

If you are a fan of trading/selling/and or freecycling items in
Japan, you might have noticed that shipping these goods
(whether new or used) can be a bit of a hassle. While both the
Japanese post office (Japan Post) and commercial small package
'takyubin' shippers (Yamato, Pelican, Sagawa, etc) offer cash-
on-delivery services, their rates differ according to the distance,
size of package, and other factors. In today's Frugal Watch, I'll
briefly outline the differences in these services' prices, and make
recommendations as the most 'frugal' method. Of course, the
cheapest way to get something to someone is to have them
either pick it up or bring it to them!

Cash-on-delivery services using domestic shippers are called
"chakubarai takyubin." The sender is only required to box/bag
the item and fill out a special 'chakubarai' shipping form. The
recipient, in turn, pays the shipping costs. It is important to
note, however, that if the recipient cannot be located, fails to
respond to the shipping notice, or does not exist, then the
sender is (in the end) responsible for shipping costs. Make
sure you have the accurate name, address, and telephone
number of the person you are shipping to BEFORE you ship

The two major players in the domestic small-package shipping
arena are Japan Post's YuPack service, and takyubin companies
(the largest being Kuroneko Yamato and Sagawa

To use the Japan Post's YuPack service, simply take your item
the nearest Post Office, and ask for a "chakubarai yuu-pakku
raberu" (COD YuPack label). The COD labels are different
from normal labels. Simply bringing the box to the post office
yourself entitles you to a 100-yen discount (mochikomi
waribiki), which applies even if the item is being sent chakubarai
(COD). Certain items cannot be shipped: anything with total
dimensions (LxWxH) exceeding 170 cm, and anything over 30 kg.
(Bags being sent to airports, and golf clubs/skis are exceptions
to this rule.) The post office will pick up large/heavy boxes from
your home (shucho saabisu) for a slight additional charge. A
number of special express delivery services, frozen delivery, and
other services are available. All items shipped by YuPack are
insured up to 300,000 yen. Finally, remember that sending a
package COD adds an extra 20 yen to the shipping cost.(Note
that since November 2004 all Lawson convenience stores now
serve as additional YuPack service locations.)

To use a commercial takyubin service, you can either call the
company directly to arrange pickup at your house, or take the
packages to your nearest convenience store or takyubin
'deposit' location. Most convenience stores offer takyubin
services and COD as well. (Just don't expect the clerks to be
very knowledgeable about the services). Kuroneko Yamato and
Sagawa Kyubin also offer a 100 yen/box discount if you bring the
item to the pickup location yourself (which unfortunately does
not apply to COD packages).

Okay, finally, the cost comparison: the main difference lies in
weight. Shipping costs for YuPack are determined by a
combination of distance to destination and package size,
whereas for Sagawa and Kuroneko Yamato (commercial
shippers) the prices are determined by weight, distance,
and size. A box less than 60 cm in dimensions (LxWxH)
and weighing 2 kg being shipped from Tokyo to Osaka would
cost, for example, 820 yen using YuPack chakubarai, 840 yen
using Sagawa Kyubin, and 840 yen using Kuroneko Yamato.
However, if the same 60 cm. box weighed 3 kg, your costs
would be 950 yen for Kuroneko and 1100 yen for Sagawa,
but still 820 yen. In short, if you are mailing something heavy
COD, the Post Office YuPack is cheaper, AND (according to
my local Post Office at least) the 100 yen 'mochikomi' discount
still applies! For very heavy items (over 30kg), choosing a
commercial shipper would be best -- the Post Office will not
accept anything above that weight. Hope this was helpful!

Frugally yours,
Wendy J. Imura

PS: While all three companies lack a good explanation of their
domestic shipping services in English (even the Post Office!),
you should be able to work the following Java-operated
shipping-cost estimator with even rudimentary Japanese
for Kuruneko Yamato:
Simply select your sender location, receipt location, and the size of
the package, and press "ryokin annai kaishi" (left button at the bottom).
An answer will appear in about five seconds.
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+++ BARGAIN ROUNDUP: (Top Three Little-Known Post Office Discounts) +++

*Greeting Cards: Tired of getting charged 210 yen for a
slightly oversized Christmas card (or 25 of them!) during
the holiday season? Label your Christmas or New Year's
cards as "Greeting Cards" in RED on the front of your
envelope, and you will qualify for a special discounted mail
rate. (Note: The 'insatsu butsu' or special printed material
low rates might also apply to Christmas cards, if they are
pre-printed. You must, however, leave the envelope open

*Small Packets: (Kogata hosobutsu) Parcels weighing less
than 2 kg. can be sent for lower rates than normal parcels,
usually at a substantial savings. Write "Petit paquet " or
"Small Packet " in the upper left corner of the addressed side
of the packet (under the name and address of the sender)
and bring it to a post office counter after attaching a customs
label or customs declaration. (Note: You may not be able to
send a letter or greeting together with this package.)

*Economy Air: (SAL) This air post service utilizes open space
on airplanes, and takes an additional 3-7 days longer than
traditional air service, but is faster than surface mail. It is
also cheaper. (Note: Depending on the weight of the package,
it can actually be cheaper and faster to send by EMS express
service, especially if you have valuable documents that must
be tracked. To get the best price, package your item and ask
the post office staff to give you a separate price for surface
(funabin), economy air (SAL bin), airmail (koukubin), and EMS
(EMS). Choose a non-crowded time of the day to go, of course,
but this can save you a fair amount of cash.)


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Looking for some detailed information about frugal tips for shipping
in Japan? Check out Frugal Japan's growing tip library here for the
latest addition (May 2005): Shipping Tips!



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Written by: Wendy J. Imura (frugalwatch@japaninc.com)
Edited by: JI

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