Archive for the ‘Shipping Charges’ Category

Service of Too Good to be True

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

F rated

David Segal, “The Haggler,” wrote in The New York Times about Lola Backlund’s experience with exorbitant shipping and handling fees—almost $50–after purchasing a $10 bottle of furniture scratch remover featured in a late night TV commercial. She estimated that the box might have cost $12 to wrap and send. While the Tarrytown NY marketer of the product claims it will refund money for its products, customers won’t see a cent back for its sky-high shipping charges.

Segal investigated and learned that the Better Business Bureau gave the marketer, SAS Group, an F rating and posted 169 similar grievances. The Pennsylvania attorney general’s office ordered SAS in 2011 “to pay restitution to consumers who said they were overcharged for shipping and handling fees after buying as-seen-on-TV products.” In addition, it “was prohibited from making false and misleading statements in future.” No more promoting a free product when it wasn’t really: Shipping and handling charges count.

SAS returned Ms. Backlund’s money immediately after the Hagglerreturning money intervened. But the point is that they—and others like them—continue to entice gullible viewers with claims of miracle products which may not be [though Ms. Backlund didn’t mention whether the scratches are gone from her furniture] and cheat on the transport charges. By the way, rubbing olive oil into a scratch or stain on wood will often tone down the wound.

We all wish for a phenomenal product that dices and slices, dusts and irons, sews on buttons and makes dinner in 10 minutes for $19.99 and sometimes we fall for the pitch. Have you? Were you sent shipping or other charges that were more than anticipated?

Shipping boxes

Service of Comparative Value

Monday, December 12th, 2016

chocolates

Sometimes you can impact what you pay and other times you’re captive—take it or leave it.

How Sweet It Is

Waiting my turn at a well known NYC chocolatier I saw a pile of boxed chocolates—six pieces for $9—and noticed that when sold by the piece the salted dark chocolate caramels, that matched those in the box, cost $1.10 each.

I asked why six pieces bought individually cost $6.60 when the [undistinguished] box of six cost $2.40 more. The clerk looked surprised and mumbled that the $9 ones were in a box. I asked, “Wouldn’t you put my order in a box as well?” and he said he would.

I ended up buying 10 pieces, which he put in a much nicer box, [in my opinion], for little more money. The moral: Look around.

Wrap it Up

When a package is small enough to fit in the US Postal Service box Postage meter for Post about Value dec 2016container I use the do-it-yourself post office on my walk to work. There’s rarely more than one person ahead of me and most of the time it’s empty.

If you’ve never sent a package this way it’s easy. You do the work that a postal clerk would and you waste less time than waiting in a long line. Nevertheless, I object to the cost. The box [photo right] was a little over a pound. [I choose lightweight, unbreakable gifts.] I paid $6.95 to ship this small box and I saved the postal service the work of a clerk.

Juicy Value

Apple ciderAcross the street from the postal closet was the weekly farmer’s market where I bought half a gallon of fresh apple cider. Think of the number of apples that went into this sweet juice and the labor to turn the fruit into cider, pour it into the container and drive it to midtown Manhattan from the boonies and pay staff to sell it. The cider cost $4.00. I see more value in the apple juice than in postage.

Addendum

Postal clerk with packageI got weak in the knees later that day when mailing a large-ish box from a post office-with-clerk. It was so light I had no trouble walking it six blocks from home. [The box would never have fit in the package container mentioned above so do-it-yourself was out of the question.] When the clerk gave me the choice of postage it was then my legs buckled: $20.86 was the cheapest. And I had to wait in line 20+ minutes for the privilege.

Have you noticed pricing discrepancies when buying pre-packaged items versus by-the-piece? Am I out of it to think that $7 and $20 are a lot to pay for shipping lightweight boxes? When do you feel you are getting good value for your money?

More bang for your buck

Service of Free Shipping & Returns

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

delivering package

Loretta Chao wrote “More Retailers Offering Free Shipping on Returns,” which caught my eye because I’m spoiled by online retailers who swallow the cost of shipping back and forth instead of foisting the charges on me. She wrote in The Wall Street Journal: “About 49% of retailers now offer free return shipping, according to a new study released this month by the National Retail Federation, underscoring how companies that had long been resistant to footing the bill for returns are being forced to do so by their customers.”

I see shipping as an e-tailer’s cost of doing business just like rent in often expensive neighborhoods and the salaries of sales associates are costs that standard retailers shoulder. I’m irritated when an e-tailer asks for a minimum purchase that’s too high–like $100–to qualify for free shipping and I pass on the opportunity if I only need $39 worth of goods. If there’s a generous sale involved, I can accept a minimum order without gripe.

ecommerce fulfillmentThose in e-commerce would do well to guarantee free returns, even if they charge for the initial shipping, or people may increasingly be reluctant to buy more than commodities. Sizes of clothing and shoes are zany and the vase you thought Aunt Irene would love may not be a fit. It’s inconvenient enough to repack a box and deliver it someplace without adding the insult of another charge.

“The added costs will put a strain on retailers gearing up for the peak holiday season, which historically is followed by a surge in returns,” wrote Chao. “In January, returns were up 15% over average return rates for 2014, and the volume is growing, Mr. Jindel said.” Satish Jindel is president of SJ Consulting Group Inc. and shipping data firm ShipMatrix Inc.

Another industry expert, Chris Dunn said that in the past e-tailers thought people simply wouldn’t return things so they didn’t have to worry about offering the service. Chao quoted Dunn: “‘They’re starting to realize that you’re still going to return, and you’re not going to buy from that retailer again.’”

Do you pay attention to shipping costs when you buy online? Have you ever balked when you’ve seen what the shipping costs will be even after taking the time to identify what you want and fill out all the charge and address information? If you’re buying something that needs to fit a person, a bed or a window, or a gift that someone might want to exchange, do you cancel an order if you, or the recipient, must pay to ship the return?

 carrying package

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