Vol.1, No.5

Is an online shop gouging you with shipping costs?

Read all about online shipping and handling, and how to handle it!

Online shipping packages
Photo Credit: Stefan Klein
Is an online shop gauging you with shipping costs? Online shopping is a good alternative to shopping in person at a physical store; you will save driving time and be able to review various products at the click of a button. However, what you save in gas money you may make up for in the costs involved with shipping an item. Online merchants may charge you more than what it actually costs to ship the item. Why do they do this? Most likely, shipping costs are raised to make a profit.

Online merchants certainly do not need to charge you that much for shipping, but they do. Maybe they figure that for the convenience of shopping online, they are validated in overcharging you for shipping. This is similar to the way in which gas station convenience stores will charge you more for items than the same items you can find in a regular supermarket. They use the same reason of convenience, hence the name "convenience" store, for their higher prices. Online stores can almost thus be classified as "convenience" stores, but obviously are convenient in a different way. Now that you know that online shops may attempt to gauge you with shipping costs, what can you do about it? What are your options?

One thing you can do is to shop around. One online business may offer a product for less than another, yet if the shipping and handling rate is excessive, then it may either offset how much you would save or be comparable to the total price of the product offered by the other business.

If you can, buy in bulk, which means purchasing several of the same items. If a business offers a standard shipping and handling price for anything under, for example, the amount of fifty dollars, or for anything under ten pounds, buy a number of units; just be sure that it is an item that you know you will use or highly desire. You need to know that it is worth the cost and/or is something you really do need. Do not waste money on something you may decide not to use and end up throwing out anyway, or will regret your purchase later on. If the shipping and handling is close to or almost equal to the cost of the item you want to buy, it probably is not worth purchasing; however, if you buy several of this item, it may then be worth it. It is important to make sure you truly want that many of this one item! In the event that what you want or need is a specialty item, and there is only one vendor offering it, then unfortunately you are at their mercy in terms of shipping rates.

Are you curious to see how much they are over charging you on shipping and handling? You can find this out by just visiting the web sites for the United Parcel Service (or UPS), Federal Express (or FedEx), or the United States Postal Service (or USPS). On these sites you may calculate shipping costs according to the origin address of the product, the destination address of the product, and the weight of the product.

You know you are being royally gauged when you order an item whose actual weight is in ounces, but the minimum shipping weight offered by the business is one pound! Thus, something that should not cost much more than one or two dollars to ship; is costing you a range of five to eight dollars to ship! In short, it may be cliché, but "buyer beware"!