Shipping and Handling fees may only be a few dollars per item/shipment but these can accumulate to a meaningful amount. Sometimes this can be a high percentage of the total costs and that tends to be when it grabs our attention. There are some ways to offset and/or avoid shipping and handling fees.
- Negotiate a lower fee or negotiate a deal where you can pay on the actual amount shipped. Request a copy of the receipt and tracking number to verify. Work with the merchant to advise on the type of packaging to reduce your costs.
- Simply tell the vendor you refuse to pay shipping and handling. This is more effective if you’ve been a loyal customer with a good reputation. If you plan to be a repeat buyer, you may concede to pay it on this one order but going forward you will pay only the product price (w/o a markup to cover shipping).
- If you’re a user of Amazon, Macy’s, Lowe’s, Kohl’s, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, or a list of growing merchants that have offers for free shipping at a certain threshold of spend, then you can do the math. For example, a merchant may offer free shipping for a shipment of $50 or more. Be careful, this can entice you to spend more than you planned just to hit the threshold.
- Get a membership. Determine if its worth joining (such as Amazon Prime) or meeting whatever spending criteria are necessary to get free shipping. If you plan to buy items that costs $150 to ship in the next year and the membership is $119, then you will be further ahead to join…and may get other perks too.
- If you are the shipper, avoid over containerization. This is a fine balance of protecting the product and yet minimizing your costs. Usually the shipping company can help determine this solution.
- Hire a company that specializes in auditing shipping records for errors and fights for your refund. Of course, they make money taking a piece of any refund or you may be able to pay a flat rate. This is most suitable for people or businesses with hundred or thousands of transactions/yr.
- Avoid mistakes: Make sure the packaging is acceptable. Make sure the address is correct and legible. Is the package a standard size or is it considered “oversized”?
Ecommerce explosion leads to new fees
Rampant ecommerce growth is likely to continue and with that comes innovative ways merchants are using to squeeze out your nickel and dimes. Due to the pandemic there are new fees such as “special handling”. A list of a few is shown below.
Shipping companies define these fees differently and some may not have certain fees that others do. The list below is just a sampllng. Contact that courier to understand the fees and they will likely assist you to minimize your fees.
- Package oversized surcharge
- Non-machinable charge
- Fuel surcharges
- Congestion surcharges
- Freight collect refusal fee
- Winter surcharges
- Signature-on-delivery surcharges
- Carbon neutral fee
- Weekend deliveries surcharges
- Peak season surcharge shipping
- Insurance surcharges
- Weekly service surcharges
- Address correction fee