The courier gets more expensive to deliver to the middle of nowhere

Some courier companies use so-called zone rates and divides the territory in which it provides services into two zones. The first one uses the basic price list, the second – with additional charges. Although this practice is gradually disappearing, in companies with longer experience and with traditional business principles, you may be charged extra for delivering a package to places remote from the company’s branch.

The zones may apply to the different parts of a country. Or to different countries within the whole continent, e.g. Europe.

A and B, i.e. urban and rural

Why the territory of a country is divided into zones is quite clear: delivering parcels within a city is cheaper, while delivering them to remote places, i.e. in a rural zone, requires an extra charge.

How the courier company divides the given territory depends on the location of its branches. If a company has a branch in a city, the city is zone A and you are not charged with any surcharges if collection and delivery is done in a place with the same post code. Otherwise, an additional charge applies for each shipment that is collected or delivered in an area of zone B .

Sometimes, as in the case of more complex clusters, such as for example one consisting of three cities: Gdańsk-Gdynia-Sopot in Poland, where the same A zone, which means no surcharges, extends beyond the administrative boundaries of each of these cities to the areas adjacent to them.

Domestic and foreign fees

The zone surcharge does not seem so big – they differ among different companies, however on average it amounts to approx. 20 zloty. However, if the number of packages subject to this surcharge is high, then the total amount becomes quite serious. Moreover, some courier companies may charge the zone surcharge twice, if both the collection and the delivery are in zone B.

A similar division into zones applies to foreign shipments, e.g. in Europe. In this case, the amount of surcharges start from 50-60 zlotys and may exceed 100 zlotys per package. Interestingly, it is not always only the distance that counts – sometimes the geographical location of the country too.

Zone for a pallet

Recently, the hottest news was DPD’s introduction of three zones for the delivery of pallet shipments in Poland. The zones have been established very precisely:

  • zone I – urban – delivery within the administrative boundaries of the city in which the DPD branch is located,
  • zone II – all delivery points within 30 km of the DPD branch,
  • zone III – rural – areas over 30 km from the branch.

Considering the quite significant difference in rates, the division into as many as three zones (actually dividing previous zone II into two new ones) can be treated as a transparent manner of establishing fees corresponding to real costs.

How to avoid zone surcharges?

The easiest way is to use the services of courier companies that do not charge zone surcharges or can drop them if the delivery is in a rural zone in the vicinity of a city with the company’s branch. If you are dependent on a surcharging company, you may always choose the option to pick up the parcel in person from the courier company’s branch. In this way you may avoid the extra charge for your location.

No matter what you do, in most cases there is a limited offer of services related to deliveries to rural areas. You may not, for example, choose the option of using the day-definite or time-definite services (e.g. delivery by a specific time) or you will have to pay extra for that.