Monday, April 2, 2012

Shop: Tip # 5 - Purchase based on Shipping Cost & Method

Sometimes I can be so distracted buy the price of an item on eBay that I forget to pay attention to the shipping costs. You learn quickly after a couple of these mistakes.

This might be less of a problem for the folks buying and shipping within the U.S. but for us Canucks, shipping can be costly and can sometimes take the total price from a bargain to downright inflated. I understand that with the frequency of mail being lost and stolen in transit these days, sellers are hesitant to send something off unless it's registered or tracked. Despite this, I think that as a buyer you really should consider the value of the item to determine if it's worth it as a whole. For example, shipping for clothes or mid priced jewellery should be affordable, since it does not weigh much and you can accept the risk of loss should it be lost in transit. Between 10-20$ should be expected. For big ticket jewellery like Tiffany & Co., you should always opt for the more expensive shipping option that provides tracking (generally 24.95 or more). Shoes will almost always be bulky and heavy, so expect to pay between 20 to a whopping 40$ for shipping, same with outerwear. Which royally sucks... so the discount better be worth it, right? At that price, you can patron online retailers instead who will give free shipping with most purchases over 50$. Use common sense; if someone is selling costume jewellery from J. Crew or a 15$ DVD, seriously question why they are charging 24.95 for shipping when they can safely charge 12.95 or less (and the product is half the price of the shipping!). Sellers are not supposed to inflate shipping prices but it happens often enough to warrant being weary about it.

The second aspect of shipping that I consider carefully is which shipping method is used. I will never again buy from a seller that uses UPS, DHL, or FedEx. Every single time these carriers are used, I not only have to go to some location in an industrial part of town during business hours to pick it up BUT I inevitably get hit with handling fees and customs. Always, without fail. Combine the handling fee, taxes and duties; chances are you didn't get much of a bargain at all. I get that sometimes you just don't have a choice when you find that one-off special item you got to have, but I will always take the seller that uses USPS, even if it means paying a higher sale price (within reason). This way, my mail is conveniently located at my local post office for pick up within reasonable service hours AND there is a good chance that I won't get hit with customs (and certainly not handling fees).

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