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Why do couriers sometimes charge for the size of my box?

One of the most common questions when planning a shipment with ParcelHero is how the prices that you are quoted are decided. It can be confusing to see that a regular sized, but heavy, box may be cheaper to ship internationally than a larger but lighter package. Similarly, sometimes you could receive a quote for one size of box that is a similar price to another box of different dimensions.

This issue comes about because there are two separate values that your shipment may be charged on; the actual weight of your parcel, and the volumetric weight. That means that, depending on the weight that your courier chooses to charge you on – the chargeable weight of your package – the price of your shipping may change.

However, the weight that you will be charged on is no mystery, and it certainly doesn’t have to take you by surprise. It’s simple to work out which value you will be charged on, and how to make sure that you are paying the best price possible.

What is volumetric weight?

Since space is often at a premium in your couriers van or plane, it can be an expensive proposition for them to ship a package that is large but light if they are charging by the weight of the goods. To avoid this problem, many couriers will charge by volumetric weight instead – that is, their idea of what a parcel would weigh if it were full.

This allows couriers to ensure that they are not using up valuable space and weight in a van that could instead be used for higher value shipments. And though it doesn’t necessarily mean higher prices in general, this does means that those who were expecting their parcel to be charged according to its weight could well be in for an unpleasant surprise.

How to work out volumetric weight

  1. Multiply the parcel’s three dimensions (length x height x width)
  2. If you are using centimetres then divide the result by 5000 (or 4000 for EU economy services).
    1. If you are using inches, then divide the result by 305 (or 245 for EU economy services).
  3. The resulting figure represents the volumetric weight of your parcel

Alternatively, you can just use ParcelHero’s simple volumetric weight calculator.

But which am I being charged on?

Many parcels are still charged on the amount that they actually weigh. This is why, when giving you a quote, ParcelHero requires the weight of your box.

But now that you know what your parcel’s volumetric weight is, you can compare the two. Your courier will do the same, and select the weight that is higher. If the volumetric weight is significantly higher than the actual weight, then this could lead a large discrepancy in the expected price against the actual price.

But by understanding how volumetric weight works, you can make sure that you are getting the best price possible – as you can make changes in the size or weight of your package to ensure that you are paying the price that you would like to pay.

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