I have to be honest. I don’t order from taobao as much as I used to. But I’m always active on reddit. So when I ordered, I was expecting “rape shipping” which I kept reading about, especially in connection to Wegobuy and Superbuy.
Turns out this couldn’t be further from the truth. On top of that, what we’ve been saying about DHL proved to be true.
a RepArchive commentary
If you don’t have time, jump straight to the main takeaway.
I ordered 2 parcels in December. Parcel 1 contained a sweater and a down vest. Both size 2XL
Parcel 2 contained a jacket, pants, a sweater and socks.
Both parcels were delivered to central Europe through DHL Ecommerce line and wegobuy agent.
By the way, both arrived fine, without problems with customs.
Evidence, the shipping prices
Parcel 1 (Wegobuy)
As you can see in the screenshot above, parcel 1 weighed 1.989 kg and delivery with DHL Ecommerce cost 205 rmb (~$32).
This comes down to a cost of $15.90 per kg.
The way we achieved the almost exact match between estimated and actual weight is through rehearsal packaging. We will talk about this more later.
Parcel 2 (Wegobuy)
Parcel 2 weighed 2.044 kg and delivery with DHL Ecommerce cost 250 rmb (~$39).
This comes down to a cost of $18.83 per kg.
Why is this one a little more expensive? Might be a little bit of bad luck and the fact that it’s just so slightly over the 2kg border while the other one is ever so slightly under it.
What’s up with the 5298 grams you might be asking? That’s the estimate – and it’s something many people don’t understand. Parcel 1 is actually a good example why an estimate is necessary: You submit the parcel for shipping and pay before the agent takes the parcel to the shipping service, before they even pack it. If they didn’t give themselves some extra room by making the estimate higher, they’d have to take the parcel back to the warehouse and ask you for new money if they shipping service’s scale showed a higher number. That would be bad customer experience. That’s why they give you a higher estimate and then usually refund you.
Parcels X (Sugargoo)
The point here is to make it clear that all agent’s cost almost the same. Yes, Sugargoo might be a fraction cheaper than Wegobuy, but we can’t even say that with certainty because it’s so close. Saying you’re switching to agent XYZ because Wegobuy has “rape shipping prices” is not justified. Sugargoo is not “rape shipping”.
We don’t want to make this an agent comparison, that’ll come another time. The point here is simply to show you how close they are.
This goes to show really well how close the prices are between agents and even more clearly how you pay less per kg the more you ship. Which makes sense, because there is so much overhead unrelated to the weight.
Of course we wouldn’t show this if they weren’t from roughly the same time and destination.
How is this not “rape shipping”?
Let’s be clear about something first: These small parcels don’t utilize dedicated cargo jets. They are delivered in the belly of passenger planes, because it’s cheaper. Due to Covid-19 international airplane traffic is at the lowest in the history of agent shopping. On top of that forwarding centers face restrictions. So naturally the prices should be a lot higher.
The rape shipping claim is a fairly recent claim. So the easiest way to find out if the agents are charging us too much now, because they got greedy, is to look at the historical data.
Let’s use the RepArchive crowdsourced shipping calculator for that
The data is admittedly old, all of it from 2018 for this target country (please submit new parcels). But it shows us that prices haven’t increased the last 2 years, taking inflation into account, shipping is probably more affordable today than ever.
This becomes even more clear if you consider that we shipped very small parcels, which cost more per kg. The historical data relies on parcels that were on average almost twice as heavy. If you ship more it’s even cheaper.
Also, whenever users asked us how much shipping costs, we’ve said that you should expect $15-$20 per kg. This turns out to be true.
The main takeaway
Shipping now is cheaper than we’ve ever recorded ($18.84/kg in 2018 and $17.44/kg in 2021).
This argument gets even stronger if you consider the smaller parcel size and the effects of covid. Both should drive prices up in theory, yet they are lower.
The one thing everyone has to be aware of: Don’t complain about the prices before you either wait for the refund or do rehearsal packaging.
This shows that the agents didn’t get complacent, they are in fact working to lower the prices by optimizing the processes. And that goes for all agents.
How about when someone tasks about “rape shipping” you send them this post.
I’m ready to discuss this controversial opinion with you. But please don’t argue on the basis of screenshots from shipping calculators. They have no relevance and the agents aren’t bound to them in any way. All it takes the agent to say is “volumetric weight” and your calculations are thrown out of the window.
The next thing, unrelated to the main topic, is that using a budget shipping service like EMS/EUB will not save you a substantial amount of money, and comes at the cost of time (weeks). Yes, if you keep having bad luck with DHL customs it might be worth a shot, but other than them not being DHL there isn’t much speaking for a budget line. We’ve been saying that for a long time.
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A discord member provided us with more evidence. He didn’t want to believe it at first, but then decided to check his records.
He then told us we are right about everything we say in this post. Please take a look at the screenshots he provided us.
These are all negative examples, to show you how it was in the past.
You can see that he used budget lines with slow shipping in most instances, 2+ years ago. And they were still more expensive than DHL today.
It should stand out that every single one is significantly more expensive than what we pay today. And he used Wegobuy/Superbuy to the same region I’m in.
Disclaimer, a few things that should be said for transparency
I did not get paid for this. The agents don’t know I’m making this. The account used is wegobuy VIP level 0 and receives no discounts.
Some users already messaged me on discord saying the prices must be fake, to which I responded with a video that shows that all screenshots are authentic, which I can’t share here because it shows everything I censored due to privacy.
I know volumetric weight is a factor too, but when you have average items like this and a decent amount of test data it averages out.
This does not apply to every country and your experience might differ greatly when you live elsewhere.
I didn’t do a scientific analysis of currency exchange rate and inflation. In 2018 the exchange rate was higher and lower than today, depending on the month. I think for our test it’s fair to leave it out.
I’m aware DHL and DHL ecommerce aren’t the same. But I think they can be compared. Especially when you look for the cheapest way, regardless of a few days.
Also we don’t use the term “rape shipping” lightly, it’s a term we wouldn’t come up with at all. Firstly, because it can’t be compared to the horrific crime, and secondly because we have proven that the agents don’t deserve to be called “rapists”.
Talking about agents, yes, we use affiliate links for them, Sugargoo, Wegobuy, Superbuy, cssbuy. We look at this from a neutral view, and have always done so.
Here are some more shipping prices for 2021, sadly they are calculated in Yuan, and as we know agents don’t use the real conversion rates. That’s why I won’t provide the USD/kg price. If you want you can calculate them for yourself. You’ll find that they are all around 115 Yuan/kg and over, which is around 18 USD with real conversion rates, so roughly $19-$20 in reality.
Additionally, NL-Bram was not used in this comparison.