How Can I Avoid Excessive Shipping and Handling Charges?

There are incredibly great deals on the Internet.  Just make sure you are aware of ALL the costs before you try to compare one prospective seller to another.

Beware of excess shipping and handling charges

Some sellers add hefty shipping and handling fees to boost the net profit they make on each sale.  For this reason, some sellers will not allow you to negotiate shipping, handling and insurance charges they specify.   This is especially true of online auction sites, such as, where a $10 item can have a shipping charge of $40.  The seller ultimately determines how much you will pay.  If you win an auction, you are bound to the terms listed by the Seller, even those outrageous shipping charges you didn’t see.  Be sure to look at the seller’s specifications for shipping and handling before bidding, and then decide if the item is worth the bid price, plus the additional costs.

UPS, Fedex, and most other package carriers automatically insure shipments up to $100 in value.  Still, sometimes sellers have a mandatory insurance fee that you will pay as part of your agreement to buy the item.  Again, you’ll have no choice if the seller insists on charging you additional for insurance.

Not all sellers charge excessive fees.  Some sellers charge a flat shipping fee to ship an item anywhere in the U.S..  Some auctions advertise “free shipping” if the auction bid amount exceeds a certain price.  Also, some sellers will offer free shipping if you select the more expensive “Buy it Now” option offered on some auctions.

If you will be paying actual shipping charges versus a flat fee, it may be worth your time to select a seller who will be sending your item the shortest distance.   Obviously, your shipping charges from a seller 200 miles away will be less than charges from a seller 2,000 miles away.  This is especially important if the item is large or bulky.  Also, be aware that most ground couriers add a surcharge for making deliveries to residences.  Consider asking the seller to ship your item to your office address instead of your home to avoid residence surcharges.

In online auction listings, a seller will usually detail shipping, handling, and insurance charges in the section titled “Shipping and payment details” at the bottom of each auction listing.  Sometimes sellers don’t use this default section and instead they locate all the additional charges in the item description.

The bottom line is that you must consider ALL the costs of the item before you select the items that you will bid for.   Shipping, handling and insurance fees have the potential to make your online item purchase a not-so-great deal after all.

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