I remember old days of the Columbia Record Club and how they would charge $7.98 for shipping and handling on an $8 LP, and promised to have it to you in 6-8 weeks. It seemed okay, because there were no alternatives.
Wow, times have changed.
Thanks to the internet, and the emergence of e-commerce, most of what we consider buying comes via the postman or the guys in the brown shirts and brown vans. As a result consumers are paying close attention to those handling charges and are quick to criticize when they seem too high. Merchant organizations, sensitive to these criticisms have taken steps to fix the prices for shipping and handling at levels they deem fair, with little or no consideration to the seller.
Take for example Ebay. Recently they limited domestic shipping and handling on a book at $3.99. All booksellers were forced to comply or be de-listed on Ebay, no discussion, no exception, just comply or be thrown off. Furthermore, booksellers have been encouraged to “hide” their actual shipping costs in the product price, and provide “free” shipping to the consumer. As Ebay explains, the “image” of free shipping makes the consumer more willing to buy. However, Ebay’s motivation is even more sinister. Ebay does not collect fees or commissions on shipping charges, but with that amount added into the product price they now do. Additionally, adding shipping costs to the product price increases the listing fee change to the seller. Who benefits? You guessed it, Ebay!
Other book commerce sites have adopted similar attitudes and policies.
At VJ Books we are sensitive to how you view shipping and handling charges and strive to keep them at the lowest level possible. However, please understand that most of the costs involved in our delivery process are beyond our control. We have no influence over the postal service, and prices for boxes, bubble wrap, book jacket covers, and even packaging tape continue to go up.
We will continue to do our best to keep our prices competitive, and not hide them inside our product. We will ship any in-stock item in 24-72 hours, and guarantee that every book that leaves our store will be inspected, placed in an archival dust jacket cover, carefully bubble wrapped and sent to you in the best packaging material available, and always your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed.
Don’t be fooled by offers of free shipping, it’s merely a slight of hand, dishonest at best.
Thanks for listening. I’d love to hear your thoughts –