Economy Parcel Delivery

By far the cheapest way of sending a parcel is to use an overnight carrier. The main overnight carriers in the UK are: Amtrak, ANC / Fedex, APC Overnight, City Link, DHL, Lynx / UPS, Nightfreight, Parcelforce, Parceline / DPD / Interlink, TNT Express and Tuffnells Parcels Express. Some of these are reluctant to deal with ‘one-off’ users, members of the general public and small companies that only send a few items a month. Things are changing though and several of the networks now accept online credit card bookings.

A relatively new phenomenon is the internet-based parcel delivery reseller. With no depots or delivery fleets of their own they negotiate lower prices with the major carriers and offer their services online to eBay sellers, members of the public and small business users, often charging lower rates than the overnight carriers would charge those same customers. Many of these companies advertise their services on eBay and other forms of internet advertising.

Overnight carriers offer a very different service to same-day couriers and it is inevitable that a certain, albeit small, proportion of parcels that are sent via overnight carrier will either be damaged or lost

Whichever carrier or reseller you send your parcel there are a few basic considerations:

‘Guaranteed’ Delivery Services

Using a ‘guaranteed’ service might seem to give you some reassurance that your delivery will arrive on time but have you ever thought what this ‘guarantee’ is worth? The guarantee doesn’t actually ensure that your parcel will arrive on time, it merely offers you a small amount of compensation for the late delivery. Usually the best you can expect to receive is a refund of the shipping charges you’ve paid, or in the case of one carrier, double your money back.


Bear in mind that your parcel will usually have to be handled at least four times before it’s destination. It will travel in at least four different vehicles, with lots of other, maybe heavier, packages and may travel through a mechanised sortation system. City Link provide some useful packaging advice on their website.

It’s generally best to expect the worst and package your goods accordingly. If your item’s long and thin expect it to be bent, if it’s flat expect it to get walked on, if it’s very small or light expect it to have heavy items put on top of it.

Weight and Size

Overnight carriers’ delivery costs are generally based on the weight (and sometimes the size) of the parcel. If you need an accurate quote for a delivery it’s best to know the weight and dimensions before you start. bear in mind that weights are nearly always rounded up to the nearest kilo for pricing purposes - a 10.1kg parcel will be charged as 11kg.

Very bulky but light items will often be charged based on their volumetric weight - usually at a rate of 6000 cubic cm per kilo. The formula for calculating the volumetric weight is:
Length x Width x Height in centimetres / 6000 = Volumetric Weight in kilograms.

Addressing the Parcel

The most common reason for parcels being delayed or lost is incorrect addressing. A typo involving a single character of the postcode is enough to get a parcel loaded onto the wrong van, or even sent to the other end of the country. Thankfully most of the online booking services have a postcode lookup function to help you ensure that you’re entering the correct address. Be aware that overnight carriers can’t deliver to PO Box numbers.



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