Tuesday, November 3, 2015

eBay Shipping Tip - Frankenstein Boxes

 If you sell on eBay for any length of time, you will be faced with the dilemma of finding the right size box to ship a large or odd shaped item. It happens to everyone at some point.

Frankenstein boxes are the answer. Also known as Frankenboxes, these are created when taping 2 or more boxes together to create a larger box. This process is called telescoping when  2 or more boxes are taped together end to end to create a longer box - hence the "telescoping" effect.

Frankenboxes are shipping boxes you can make yourself to accommodate any size item. This technique comes in handy year round, but especially during 4th quarter when sales spike and you may be shipping items you don't normally work with. There are a few rules to be aware of so you don't get in trouble with the post office.

Flat Rate and Regional Rate boxes cannot be altered, telescoped, or Frankensteined.

The price for shipping these items has been configured based on size and maximum weight. They cannot be altered in any way.

It is ok to Frankenstein Priority boxes.

You are free to use regular (not flat rate or regional rate) boxes in any configuration you want to create as long as the item is shipped Priority. Turning the box inside out or covering it with brown paper or poly mailers then shipping Parcel Select is a big no-no. Priority boxes must be used for Priority Mail, period. No exceptions.


Plain or recycled boxes can be Frankensteined.

As long as you aren't using a flat rate or regional rate box from USPS, anything is fair game.

Use plenty of tape to secure edges.

The USPS requires that all edges are taped and any gaps or flaps are covered with tape. You don't want flaps or box edges getting caught in sorting machines or on conveyer belts. Make sure everything is tight and secure.

Be aware of oversize restrictions.

Boxes measuring over 12 x 12 x 12 may be subject to oversize charges. It depends on the distance the package will travel.

Don't "piggyback" boxes.

Piggybacking refers to taping 2 boxes together that are not the same size, the smaller on top of the larger. USPS won't accept these.


Consider a box resizer for cutting down larger boxes.

Sometimes you have a box that is too large for the item, and rather than fill it with packing material and increase the shipping weight and cost, cut down the box using a box resizer tool. This tool is very handy, easy to use, and creates clean looking packages. You can buy them at office supply stores, on eBay, or Amazon.

I actually did a survey on my Facebook group asking other sellers about their Frankenbox experiences, and here are some of the responses:

Joseph said, "We just took a package to the post office today that combined 5 priority shipping boxes (totaled over 12" x 12" x 40" long). The postal clerk actually complimented us on the creative construction."

Debbie said, "Tonight we bought a 3" PVC pipe for $8 to mail metal roof edge moldings for a 1957 Mercury. 67 x 3 x 3 girth 4.75 I think....price to mail just under $11. We Franken-pack all the time!"

Sarah said, "Monday I stacked & taped 6 large Priority boxes together. Total height 58" x 12 x 12. I was shipping a wakeboard. 17 pounds from Alabama to Oklahoma just under $11.00."

So there you have it. If you don't have the right size box,  get creative and make one. Just be sure to keep plenty of tape on hand at all times.

If you need more help with shipping, download my free eBay Shipping Flow Chart here.

Related Articles:

How to Charge for Shipping on eBay

Pros and Cons of eBay Global Shipping Program

Can it be Shipped Media Mail?




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