For those of you who ship quilts...

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If you want "wow" factor, return it in a new container--remember they may send you only a top and backer since batting is so bulky--the box going back will be larger. Have a few batting choices available charging full retail prices.

Look into flat-rate USPS boxes so you always know what the postage will be. If you want to use FedEx or UPS, set up a business account with them for a better rate. Giving your customer multiple choices for shipping sometimes does not work in your favor, especially if you are in a rural area and FedEx drop-off is far away.

Payment always before shipment--cash the check right away. Or set up a PayPal account--really an easy way for your customers, but you will be charged a fee.

I think your customer will be so excited to see their quilt, any extras like pretty paper or a ribbon tie will not be noticed and end up in the recycler. A thank you card from you telling how nice their quilt was--piecing/color choices/pattern, etc. and reminding them of your hope to work with them again--that would be a nice touch.

You are asking all the right questions! Good luck CJ. :D

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Good thing I asked... I didn't even think about batting not being in the original box! I love the idea of a flat rate shipping box, I will check with UPS. I can't do FedEx, I'd have to drive 45 miles to the closest drop location, but UPS will pick up at my door.

I'm in the process of opening up a PayPal account.

Thanks for the suggestions!

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I'm not in the "biz" yet, but in a class I took from a couple of wild women quilters ;) I seem to remember them saying a few things about shipping. What I took away from the class was (1) don't refer to anything about there being a quilt in the box so that pesky thieves won't have a clue there's a quilt in there (my two friends that are in the "biz" puts their names in the return address instead of their business names that refer to quilting) and (2) they suggested using the post office instead of UPS because of the insurance (supposedly if there's a loss UPS will only replace fabric and physical tangible expense so your quilting charges would not be covered BUT the post office insures it for the amount of insurance you actually put on it). Clear as mud? I'm not affiliated with either service, but just saying what I learned in class for my future reference.

BTW, I'm learning a lot from reading your postings, CJ. Thanks for asking the questions and thanks to those who are responding with all the great advice.

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I just sent four quilts to the Smokey Mountains from Ohio. Since it was a big box, I could not use USPS flat rate boxes, they are too small. I just used a plain box and put Priority mail stickers on it It weighed 16.5 #s and cost $21.58, if I print the label and buy online, it also gives me a free delivery receipt. I always send by priority mail, and have never had any problems.

However, remember that, if it is insured and then lost; the post office (or FedEx or UPS) will only pay for fabric, batt and thread (with receipts). UNLESS, you have a written appraisal stating it is worth $xxx. They will pay to replace the materials used to make the quilt, NOT the labor involved to piece it or quilt it, unless you have the appraisal. This is not just my opinion, this is what I was told by the post office and UPS people.

You can get priority mail boxes and stickers for FREE from the post office; and you can also order supplies on line and they are delivered for least they were the last time I ordered about a year ago.:D:D

Whew! man, I talk tooooo much!! I need to go quilt now!:P:P

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We use USPS and many times the shipping is cheaper based on weight versus the flat rate shipping. I really like the idea of UPS for the tracking feature but they always seemed higher than USPS.

I always add a thank you card and a fat quarter to their return order. Also, make sure you communicate clearly in emails to and from your customer - including an email for when you received the quilt, quilt designs, a clear estimate up front, and when you have completed the quilt and mailed it back to them.

We typically charged about $9.95 to $14.95 for most quilts for the return shipping in the continental USA. Remember you can also add a "handling" fee.

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I always put the quilt in a large plastic bag and make sure it is waterproof. I only use the post office. Had bad experience with other carriers. Always mail with deliver confirmation and insurance.

I mailed a quilt to a cust long time ago and didn't do this.

I used another carrier,not USPS. It was tossed in her yard because it was raining. The guy didn't want to get wet.

Of course the quilt got wet,the colors ran and didn't come out.

She was upset but didn't blame me. She went after the carrier.

Lesson learned the hard way.

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Another idea is to include a decorative fabric label with a thank you note. Labels can be purchased by the yard and there are some cute ones out there. It gives the customer the idea that every quilt deserves a label, and I'm always surprised how many times a quilter hasn't thought of putting a label on a quilt. I always say it's for this quilt or any other quilt you might choose, though I choose one that would work in color or theme for that particular quilt. Include 2 business cards also, 1 for the customer and 1 for a friend. In fact, I already bought Christmas labels to include with a Christmas card to my customers.

Sharon Roos

Excelsior, MN

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