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December 16, 2013

When Shipping Costs More than the Product

Filed under: Electronics,Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:31 am

MrConsumer is always on the lookout for a deal on iPhone accessories for an Apple-loving friend.

This crazy low-priced email deal for a dock good for either the Apple 4S or 5S looked like a steal:

$5 dock

Clicking through, yep, it’s really $5. But, only if you scroll down toward the bottom of the page once you are on the seller’s website, do you see the catch:


$5 dock

If you happened not to scroll down to see that shipping was $7 extra per dock, and just clicked “buy this deal,” you would not have known the real total cost of your purchase until you went to redeem the voucher this company sends out.


$5 dock order form

Nowhere on the order form does it inform the customer of the $7 shipping charge. Is it any wonder that the shipping cost is not well-disclosed? After all, a $7 shipping fee for a $5 item kills the deal.

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  1. It’s only worth it when the price of the exact same item (same brand and model) with the shipping is still cheaper than anywhere else with the shipping. But of course, you have to comparison shop first. I’ve been on e-Bay where the shipping charge is obviously carefully crafted to make the total cost just a little cheaper than anywhere else you can buy the item, either online or offline. In those cases, I don’t care what the shipping cost is, it’s still a bargain.

    Comment by Renée — December 16, 2013 @ 9:16 am
  2. What website is this on? This is total BS. This is as bad as the crap on TV they sell where it is “only $19.95” but then add another $20 “shipping and handling”.

    Comment by Tom — December 16, 2013 @ 9:55 am
  3. Is this a good product to begin with?? I always worry about quality when you see a massive price reduction like that one….

    Comment by Richard Ginn — December 16, 2013 @ 1:15 pm
  4. Is it legal to show a total price that is not reflective of the actual total price that is going to be charged? I don’t think the manufacturer can have a total price on the screen and then charge something different when they actually go to the credit card company.

    I have never bought something that didn’t show the shipping and handling charge with the subtotal of the merchandise cost.

    Edgar replies: Wayne, the advertiser here is not actually selling the docking stations directly. They are selling a voucher that you redeem at another site. So after you receive the certificate for which you pay $5 for the $19.99 docking station, you go to the actual seller’s site and redeem the voucher. Then, presumably, you are taken to a typical shipping page where you will be asked to pay $7 more for shipping.

    Comment by Wayne R — December 16, 2013 @ 2:50 pm
  5. In other words, beware of vouchers.

    Comment by Peter — December 16, 2013 @ 4:27 pm
  6. I didn’t understand this one fully, I thought it was the retailer selling a voucher to use at their site. This one is a tough one to call, it would be like me selling you a coupon to buy a $20 product for $7, where that $20 product, when ordered online, always had shipping charges (I’m assuming if you paid $20 you would still pay to ship).

    This one is a tough call. Although, I’d like to know, this website selling the voucher, how did they get them, are they in any way associated with the other website? Are they a subsidiary?

    Edgar replies: Tom, I don’t know the arrangement, but is most likely that an arrangement was made by the actual seller with this marketing company to send out emails soliciting orders. And the way it would work is that the marketing company would sell vouchers redeemable only at the actual seller’s website.

    Comment by Tom — December 17, 2013 @ 9:34 am
  7. Many of the new TV adds that finish up by telling you that “you can now receive two ” of what they are selling at the “same price plus” so other junk, never tell you the cost of shipping and handling. Bottom line is that they can give the items away free and still make money on what you pay for “Shipping & Handling”

    Comment by MILDRED GOOD — December 17, 2013 @ 10:18 am
  8. My guess is that some of these situations develop because a seller is trying to scam eBay by having a low selling price on which the eBay fee is calculated. They then make their profit from money charged for shipping.

    Comment by Eric — December 20, 2013 @ 7:27 pm
  9. In reply to Eric above.

    You are, most likely, correct. Which is probably why eBay has started taking a fee from the shipping costs too. Its a shame really. One bad apple spoils the whole bunch.

    Comment by Victoria — December 30, 2013 @ 12:10 pm
  10. 1) As I’ve said before, I think we should have a regulation that states that any advertised price must include a way to get that product at that price. For example, “FREE* …*+S/H”? If it’s free, they should be required to offer ti to me free of charge (including S/H) as long as I am willing to inconvenience myself and go to their warehouse/location to pick it up.

    2) This mouseprint is apparently even worse because you get something at a specific price but the seller is under no obligation to reveal the costs because they are simply acting as a middle-man of sorts to let you but a product from someone else. This sounds almost as bad as the rebate problem where you claim your product rebate from a different organization (which seems to benefit if they deny your claim.)

    So YIKES! More deception in actual prices to worry about. once you buy the voucher, I assume you can’t get your money back when you find out the real price (including handling/shipping/etc.).

    Comment by RobS — December 30, 2013 @ 2:15 pm
  11. This is also another way to avoid paying taxes: by keeping the product price low.

    Comment by John — January 2, 2014 @ 5:57 am

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