There are four basic principles at work here. The first has to do with the size and weight of the item. The second has to do with where the item will be shipped. The third has to do with how the item will be shipped and the last has to do with how you intend to pay for your item.
What is so complicated about the size and weight of the item?
An item's shipping cost is measured in one of two ways. If the item is under a certain size, as in the case of a book (usually) the shipping cost is only based on weight. If the item is over a certain size (12" or more on a side) like many of the shoeboxes for the shoes I sell, they are based on weight AND dimension. Thus, a three pound item that is large can cost more to ship than a five pound item that is smaller.
What is so complicated about where it has to ship?
In the US, the country is divided up into 8 zones. If where you are is zone 8 for me, it will be zone 1 for you. The USPS has rate tables with the basic rates for the various methods of shipping to all of those zones; that is the USPS shipping matrix. To determine how much an item will cost to ship it I have to know which zone it's going to and I won't know that until you buy it. That makes it very difficult for me to provide you with an accurate shipping cost before you win unless you use the "Ask the seller a question" form. With regard to international shipping, some of the prices quoted for Canada reflect the shipping BEFORE any delivery confirmation fees are added. Delivery confirmation fees are required for payment with Google Checkout, as we are required to provide proof of delivery in the event of any chargebacks for non-delivery. If you pay from Canada with a money order these charges will not be added.
What is so complicated about the way it should ship?
Although there are many variations and complicated distinctions within the methods, for our purposes postal items travel in one of four ways; First Class Mail, Priority Mail, Parcel Post or Media Mail. Each of them has its own pricing matrix and the cost of shipping for you will be decided when the method you prefer, or the one that is required is factored in and I won't know that until you win, or until you contact me for specifics.
What is so complicated about the method of paying?
It's not really that complicated. You can either pay with my preferred method, a postal money order, mailed to me or my other, slightly-less preferred method, which is a personal check, mailed to me. If you pay with a money order your item will go out the day it gets here, or the following day. If you pay with a check I will wait for your check to clear in most cases. You can also pay with Google Checkout, which is instantly cleared.
So what's the bottom line?
eCrater requires the use of one of three methods of informing potential buyers of the shipping costs. The first is "Free Shipping." That is a non-starter for me, so we have to move on to the other two methods. The next is the "Shipping Matrix" which is a tool that allows you to enter certain prices into certain boxes. The problem with the "Shipping Matrix" is that it does not provide every pound increment, it does not provide a way to input measurements and it does not allow the combining of multiple purchases in the case of instant payments. So that's also a non-starter for me. The last method is known as "Flat Rate Shipping" and that is the one I have to use. Unfortunately, as we have seen from the four complications, there cannot be a "flat rate" for many of my diverse items since it will only work for items that typically weigh under one pound and are under a certain size.
How can I get the best, fairest price on shipping if I buy something?
You will always get a fair price on your shipping, but ...please understand I had to put something in for the "flat rate" so I put in the most it would cost for that item to ship to what is zone 8 for me. The actual amount you will pay will not be more than that, but if you are closer to me, it could very possibly be less than that. Additionally, you might prefer a different form of shipping than that intended for your item. I want to send you your item in the way that you want to receive it, and that also includes other, non-USPS carriers, but those are the sorts of arrangements we'd have to make between us, hopefully before you buy. The bottom line is, pay with a check or a money order and you will absolutely get the lowest possible shipping rate, up front and without any subsequent reshuffling of monies.
If you pay with the Google Checkout I will have to refund any overpayments to you at the time I ship your item. If you pay with a check or money order you will not be overpaying. And remember, if you are not in the USA, and you pay with Google Checkout you will be required to pay for confirmation of delivery and return receipt fees.