Making It Up On Shipping Charges

from the sneaky-sneaky-sneaky dept

This is certainly not a new issue (we posted something similar two years ago), but many online merchants try to sneak their profit margin into the shipping fees. They want to hook people into making the buying decision based on the low base price, and then add a huge shipping charge at the very end of the checkout process. They’re especially doing this on comparison shopping sites where they try to come in as the lowest cost provider – but with shipping it’s often not true. Many comparison shopping sites are trying to add shipping fees in to “total costs” to deal with this problem, and some customers are getting increasingly annoyed at over-inflated shipping fees. A few retailers are rebelling. The article talks about Amazon’s popular “free shipping” on orders over $25 and Overstock says they charge a flat rate of $2.95, no matter what you buy. If you want repeat business (and you should), being upfront about the real price of an item definitely makes sense. The times I’ve seen exorbitant shipping fees added in at the end have often made me either bail out on a purchase, or decide not to use that merchant again.

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Comments on “Making It Up On Shipping Charges”

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Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

ebay too.

I personally dislike finding what looks like a great deal on ebay only to find that the seller has artificially increased the S&H charges to compensate.

You’ll see a lot of listings in the Featured Auctions section of people selling things like cigarette lighters for $0.99, but the S&H charge is like $7.00 and $5.00 for each additional lighter. I’m supposed to believe it costs $12 to ship two cigarette lighters?

I don’t mind ebay sellers tacking on a little extra to cover their time and effort, but is there really $5 extra effort in adding a second cigarette lighter to the package?

I have often times purchased small items and paid $5.00 (or more) S&H costs, only to have the item(s) show up in a small ziploc(tm) bag stuffed inside a $0.75 padded envelope with $1.00 worth of postage on the envelope.

I once purchased a pack of 100 DVD-R discs along with 50 DVD cases. It was a medium sized box (less than 2′ on a side), but not very heavy, and it took 9 days from the time I paid until it arrived and I paid $25 S&H! That’s outrageous.

If you’re an ebay seller and you use this tactic, pay heed – I’ve learned to look much closer at the S&H costs before I even consider bidding on any auctions, and if your S&H costs seem abnormally high, I will not bid.

I have sold numerous items on ebay and every single time I do I set a starting bid equal to what I expect to pay for S&H plus the absolute minimum amount I would consider selling the item for. Sure, it means that my starting bid may be higher than someone elses, but it means that if one of my auctions ends at $10 – the buyer owes me $10 – period – and that’s the way I like it.

I sold a series of comedy albums to someone who lives in the same town as me and told him that if he wanted to pick them up from where I work (which was really close to where he lived) I would knock the amount I had figured for S&H off of what he owed me, and he greatly appreciated it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: ebay too.

You are a wonderful E-Bay seller and one that I would certainly buy from. It really irritated me when I tried to buy a phone from a dealer located 5 miles from my house but they refused to let me pick it up. They told me that they would mail the item and I would have to pay the listed $25.00 s&h charge; an amount that, I’m sure, they figured would be the most it would cost to ship to the east coast. I, and the company, are in Los Angeles. Needless to say, I didn’t buy their phone.

Anonymous Coward says:

No Subject Given

Personally, I just factor the shipping into the price, and just consider “total cost”.
At least nowadays most web merchants reveal the shipping at some point in the initial buying transaction; remember how frustrating several years ago when you would be emailed the shipping cost afterwards?
In regards to the comparison shopping sites, my biggest beef is finding that the “lowest” prices often aren’t honored by the merchant once you attempt to make the purchase.

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