20120405, 19:42  #1 
∂^{2}ω=0
Sep 2002
República de California
2DA9_{16} Posts 
The cost of USPS flatrate shipping
An easy, but amusing "spot the outlier" problem. The US postal service has for nearly a decade offered a very popular flatrate shipping option for priority (and other kinds) of mail. I use the FR boxes  mostly the medium, occasionally the large  all the time. Recently I had a smaller set of items to ship, so I looked into the small flatrate box, which costs slightly less than half the mediumbox rate. I figured the volume ratio of those 2 boxes should thus be roughly proportional to the cost ratio, which should allow my items, needing roughly onethird the volume of a mediumsized box, to fit into a small box. Not even close. Hence the resulting puzzle problem.
Using domestic priority mail and the instore costs in the abovelinked table, compute the shipping cost per cubic foot (use the internal box dimensions) of the 4 flatrate boxes: small, 2 types of medium, large. Based on costpervolume, which is the best value? Which deserves the appellation "blatant ripoff"? Last fiddled with by ewmayer on 20120405 at 19:44 
20120405, 21:15  #2 
Jul 2003
So Cal
5·11·41 Posts 
I would disagree. I imagine the cost includes a fixed overhead plus a charge per volume. Plotting the cost vs volume for both sized medium and large boxes and performing a linear extrapolation leads to an expected cost of about $4.92 for the small box, which is reasonably accurate. The fixed overhead then appears to be around $3.85 per box.
Last fiddled with by frmky on 20120405 at 21:17 
20120406, 18:15  #3 
∂^{2}ω=0
Sep 2002
República de California
11,689 Posts 
What "overhead" might that be? If you're going to justify $4 just for the starting price sans shipping cost, I want specifics, especially as that is nearly 10x the cost of a firstclass letter, which presumably also involved many of your claimed "overhead" expenses.

20120407, 00:16  #4 
Aug 2003
Snicker, AL
7×137 Posts 
First class letters do not have the same fixed costs as packages. They are handled by machinery vs the packages which require hands on. Compare apples to apples pls.
I ship hundreds of 1 cubic foot boxes per year with tomato and pepper plants. It is easy for me to estimate shipping to just about anywhere in the U.S. But I am lazy and I really prefer accurate shipping so I wrote a macro in Excel that looks up the shipping cost in the U.S.P.S. database and pops it into a cell in the spreadsheet. Please note that this is using priority mail shipping, not the flat rate boxes. Just to give you another "outlier", try shipping anything that is over 12 inches per side (total L + W + H > 36 inches) and see what it costs. DarJones Last fiddled with by Fusion_power on 20120407 at 00:16 
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