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Excessive postage costs with CNG


GregH

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Recently I won a CNG auction with a hammer price of $90. With the buyers fees, the price became $118. Fair enough, it’s a business and they need to make money somehow. However, I was shocked when they added a $50 postage fee, bringing the total owing to $168! Previously I had been charged $25 for postage.

I queried this, and they told me they cannot send coins to Australia by USPS because Australian customs has restrictions on coins (first I’ve heard of it and I’ve been buying coins from overseas for years!) So they only send coins to Australia via expensive FedEx. I must admit I don’t understand the theory that a parcel sent by FedEx would be cleared by customs, but a USPS parcel wouldn’t. The customs rules would surely apply to either scenario. It feels like price gouging.

It’s a poor customer experience and I’m not inclined to bid in CNG auctions anymore.

is anybody else experiencing this issue? 

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Under "prohibitions" for USPS mail to Australia:

"Antiquities, art fossils, historical documents, numismatic material, specimens of flora and fauna, and similar cultural heritage objects that are significant to a nation’s identity."

https://pe.usps.com/text/imm/ab_012.htm

This is a fairly recent change, I think. I first became aware of it a few months ago. I assume a comma is missing between "art" and "fossils".

Edited by DLTcoins
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2 hours ago, DonnaML said:

The $50 for Fedex is still less than the 80 CHF that Leu recently charged me for a Fedex package from Swizerland to the USA. Speaking of exorbitant charges!

Wow! 
So postage of ancient coins is becoming expensive everywhere!

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4 hours ago, DLTcoins said:

Under "prohibitions" for USPS mail to Australia:

"Antiquities, art fossils, historical documents, numismatic material, specimens of flora and fauna, and similar cultural heritage objects that are significant to a nation’s identity."

https://pe.usps.com/text/imm/ab_012.htm

This is a fairly recent change, I think. I first became aware of it a few months ago. I assume a comma is missing between "art" and "fossils".

Interesting. I don’t understand why such a prohibition exists for USPS but not for FedEx. Maybe I’ll restrict myself to European auction houses.

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5 hours ago, DLTcoins said:

Under "prohibitions" for USPS mail to Australia:

"Antiquities, art fossils, historical documents, numismatic material, specimens of flora and fauna, and similar cultural heritage objects that are significant to a nation’s identity."

https://pe.usps.com/text/imm/ab_012.htm

This is a fairly recent change, I think. I first became aware of it a few months ago. I assume a comma is missing between "art" and "fossils".

If this is the issue it looks like it has been misread, or interpreted in an overly risk-averse way.  All the above seem to relate to the clause “that are significant to a nation’s identity." Almost all coins do not fall into that category. You have to stretch credibility quite a bit to think of any.

They are of course also wrong to think FedEx have different rules. Carriers don’t set customs rules. CNG must know that, surely? Obviously, it’s just because FedEx know what the rules are and CNG don’t.

It’s not the first time though that auction houses and dealers have abandoned their overseas customers for an easy life. Presumably there’s enough business at home.

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Since the US Postal Service has no objection to carrying numismatic materials domestically, I wager they are reacting to strictures put in place by the Australian authorities, and the over-zealous interpretation of these by the USPS, and not by CNG, is the problem.  As consonant with the omnipresent governmental bias against the private and individual ownership of coins, I suspect some US government bureaucrat is delighting in abridging individual liberty by thwarting the detestable international trafficking of culturally significant artifacts.  

Obviously, any ancient coins shipped Down Under are ignorantly stripped from the precious store of European cultural patrimony, and become lost to Science.  

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If I may intervene as a dealer - in my opinion, it is by no means the case that CNG wants to enrich itself here.

In recent months and weeks, government agencies have made it increasingly difficult to transport antique coins from country A to country B - without the goods being confiscated by chance.

Most auction houses and dealers are not interested in making money from the shipping costs, but in transporting your purchased coins safely to you. And in such a way that there is no trouble at all! 

Because when I send a consignment to the customer, I as the seller bear the risk. Of course, the consignment is insured - in the event of damage or loss - but not if the consignment is confiscated! In the end, I have to transfer the money back to the customer and have no coin left. I also have a lot of trouble. Who wants that?

---

The biggest problem is that there is no generalised statement! Yes, but I only paid 15 USD from Australia to the USA, why do I have to pay 50 USD from the USA to Australia? And why does UPS work in one country but not in the other?

We sellers don't make the rules!

The rules are made by the states. 
The rules are made by the carriers and they are different in every country!

It is not forbidden per se to send antique coins from the USA to Australia - but UPS simply wants to avoid any possible trouble and excludes this in its terms and conditions. There's nothing you can do about it.

 

An example from me.

If I send a parcel from Germany to the USA with UPS, it costs me 20 euros. If I send a parcel with UPS from Germany to Australia, it costs me around 50 euros! So you can see the differences!

Next thing. I used to send parcels as letters at the request of customers - with tracking, but without insurance. The customers agreed to this (they chose the option themselves!) - cheaper letter, with tracking, but without insurance! And yet, when the parcel didn't arrive, customers reported the loss to PayPal and demanded their money back. Even though they selected cheap shipping without insurance themselves. Since then, I no longer use cheap shipping. 

 

And one more thing - as far as Australia is concerned.

I used to send registered mail to Australia. Two months ago I got the coin back from Deutsche Post (thank God). Deutsche Post justified this with: "We no longer send such items as normal letters - in future, this type of item must be registered and sent as a parcel!". 

I was lucky that the letter was sent back to me - I know retailers who simply destroy or retain the parcel.

As a dealer, I would have no chance of delivering a coin from Germany to Australia at a reasonable price!

Either I send you the coin as a letter and take the risk. There is a 50:50 chance that nobody will check the letter (and the coin will be lost) or that you will receive the coin in Australia. Of course - customers always say "oh, we'll take the risk - just send it to me as a letter". But if a coin does get lost, the goodwill is suddenly gone from the buyer.

If I had to send you a coin to Australia at the moment - I would also have to spend around 50 euros for safe (!) shipping to you!


No offence meant by my posting. But it's no longer so easy to send coins all over the world with the aim of ensuring that the goods arrive safely (!) at the customer! And you can't make generalised statements or compare shipping prices!
 

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10 hours ago, GregH said:

Recently I won a CNG auction with a hammer price of $90. With the buyers fees, the price became $118. Fair enough, it’s a business and they need to make money somehow. However, I was shocked when they added a $50 postage fee, bringing the total owing to $168! Previously I had been charged $25 for postage.

I queried this, and they told me they cannot send coins to Australia by USPS because Australian customs has restrictions on coins (first I’ve heard of it and I’ve been buying coins from overseas for years!) So they only send coins to Australia via expensive FedEx. I must admit I don’t understand the theory that a parcel sent by FedEx would be cleared by customs, but a USPS parcel wouldn’t. The customs rules would surely apply to either scenario. It feels like price gouging.

It’s a poor customer experience and I’m not inclined to bid in CNG auctions anymore.

is anybody else experiencing this issue? 

Even if they shipped via USPS, I wouldn't be surprised if the charge was the same. It might've been sometime last year that they increased the shipping costs. Originally a $250 hammer invoice would be shipped to Europe for $25 or so, then it became $40. These days I have all US auction houses (Heritage, Stacks, CNG) ship to a shipping forwarder because their domestic rates are really cheap and the forwarder's tracked rates to Europe are also cheap enough ($15). I can bundle a few wins together and save quite a bit on shipping.

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Nowadays I always check auction house shipping costs ahead of time, and have on multiple occasions not bid on low value coins I was interested in because of it. If I was an auction house I'd self-insure and offer inexpensive shipping for inexpensive coins - I'm sure they'd get better prices that way.

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14 hours ago, DLTcoins said:

that are significant to a nation’s identity."

This reads as if the limitations are conditional on the items being "significant to a nation's identify." Clearly it does not matter if a Roman or Greek coin is located in the US or in Australia. Also, the world of scholarship is better off with access to a CNG photo and description than not. So, the increased hassle and increased expense of dealing with transportation is not to any good purpose. It seems to be to be politically motivated. Some people, seemingly with influence, don't want us to have an easy time collecting coins.   

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My guess is that Australia wants potential cultural property to arrive via couriers only (Fedex, DHL, etc), to streamline screening. The wording of the rule is reminiscent of language in the UNESCO Convention which lists categories of goods which may be deemed "cultural property". Rather than the arbitrary "significant to a nation's identity", however, the Convention qualifies its list with the the phrase "specifically designated by each State".

 

Edited by DLTcoins
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8 hours ago, Heliodromus said:

Nowadays I always check auction house shipping costs ahead of time, and have on multiple occasions not bid on low value coins I was interested in because of it. If I was an auction house I'd self-insure and offer inexpensive shipping for inexpensive coins - I'm sure they'd get better prices that way.

CNG don’t specify the shipping costs in their terms & conditions. All they say is “Unless other specific shipping instructions are indicated, coins are sent by U.S. Insured or Registered mail. 

I assumed nothing had changed since my last purchase. Lesson learnt. I’ll ask specific questions.

 

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11 hours ago, Prieure de Sion said:

If I may intervene as a dealer - in my opinion, it is by no means the case that CNG wants to enrich itself here.

In recent months and weeks, government agencies have made it increasingly difficult to transport antique coins from country A to country B - without the goods being confiscated by chance.

Most auction houses and dealers are not interested in making money from the shipping costs, but in transporting your purchased coins safely to you. And in such a way that there is no trouble at all! 

Because when I send a consignment to the customer, I as the seller bear the risk. Of course, the consignment is insured - in the event of damage or loss - but not if the consignment is confiscated! In the end, I have to transfer the money back to the customer and have no coin left. I also have a lot of trouble. Who wants that?

---

The biggest problem is that there is no generalised statement! Yes, but I only paid 15 USD from Australia to the USA, why do I have to pay 50 USD from the USA to Australia? And why does UPS work in one country but not in the other?

We sellers don't make the rules!

The rules are made by the states. 
The rules are made by the carriers and they are different in every country!

It is not forbidden per se to send antique coins from the USA to Australia - but UPS simply wants to avoid any possible trouble and excludes this in its terms and conditions. There's nothing you can do about it.

 

An example from me.

If I send a parcel from Germany to the USA with UPS, it costs me 20 euros. If I send a parcel with UPS from Germany to Australia, it costs me around 50 euros! So you can see the differences!

Next thing. I used to send parcels as letters at the request of customers - with tracking, but without insurance. The customers agreed to this (they chose the option themselves!) - cheaper letter, with tracking, but without insurance! And yet, when the parcel didn't arrive, customers reported the loss to PayPal and demanded their money back. Even though they selected cheap shipping without insurance themselves. Since then, I no longer use cheap shipping. 

 

And one more thing - as far as Australia is concerned.

I used to send registered mail to Australia. Two months ago I got the coin back from Deutsche Post (thank God). Deutsche Post justified this with: "We no longer send such items as normal letters - in future, this type of item must be registered and sent as a parcel!". 

I was lucky that the letter was sent back to me - I know retailers who simply destroy or retain the parcel.

As a dealer, I would have no chance of delivering a coin from Germany to Australia at a reasonable price!

Either I send you the coin as a letter and take the risk. There is a 50:50 chance that nobody will check the letter (and the coin will be lost) or that you will receive the coin in Australia. Of course - customers always say "oh, we'll take the risk - just send it to me as a letter". But if a coin does get lost, the goodwill is suddenly gone from the buyer.

If I had to send you a coin to Australia at the moment - I would also have to spend around 50 euros for safe (!) shipping to you!


No offence meant by my posting. But it's no longer so easy to send coins all over the world with the aim of ensuring that the goods arrive safely (!) at the customer! And you can't make generalised statements or compare shipping prices!
 

Thank you for the post. It’s been great to get a dealer’s perspective & I wish CNG had been proactive and provided similar information. Such an important change in the conditions around global shipping of ancient coins should have inspired them to send an email to potentially affected customers - rather than quietly increasing shipping costs and hoping winning bidders wouldn’t notice! I say CNG have behaved poorly. 

I don’t mind paying higher shipping costs when I buy higher value coins. But I don’t want to wear such costs for low value coins.

 

 

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1 hour ago, GregH said:

I don’t mind paying higher shipping costs when I buy higher value coins. But I don’t want to wear such costs for low value coins.

 

 

What's worse is paying exorbitant shipping on top of import charges for what they describe 'express shipping', but still providing a snail mail service (from UK to Australia). I paid more than $40 for shipping alone on top of 10% GST for a $40 coin, (I really wanted the coin so fine with high shipping), but I assumed I'd at least have a quick postage. This week it'll be a month since I bought the coin, but the estimated delivery was around the last week of October. 

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3 hours ago, JayAg47 said:

What's worse is paying exorbitant shipping on top of import charges for what they describe 'express shipping', but still providing a snail mail service (from UK to Australia). I paid more than $40 for shipping alone on top of 10% GST for a $40 coin, (I really wanted the coin so fine with high shipping), but I assumed I'd at least have a quick postage. This week it'll be a month since I bought the coin, but the estimated delivery was around the last week of October. 

Yeah it sucks. I am starting to question if i want to buy ancient coins from overseas, or restrict myself to the two Australian auction houses (Noble and Status International). Or collect a different category of coins altogether.

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6 hours ago, GregH said:

Yeah it sucks. I am starting to question if i want to buy ancient coins from overseas, or restrict myself to the two Australian auction houses (Noble and Status International). Or collect a different category of coins altogether.

You can always have cng hold your wins and ship them once a threshold of value is reached that justifies this shipping cost for you

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9 minutes ago, TheTrachyEnjoyer said:

You can always have cng hold your wins and ship them once a threshold of value is reached that justifies this shipping cost for you

They did offer that. I don’t win frequently enough to make this worthwhile. 

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