Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Shipping News

In the course of clicking around, I discovered the following discussion.

A customer complained that certain online businesses had shipping charges that far exceeded what he knew to be the cost of shipping an item of that size and weight via common carrier. The customer indicated that he sometimes chose not to make certain purchases on the basis of the shipping charges alone. The proprietor of the business in question then stepped in to confirm that her shop, like most online vendors of its type, based shipping charges on the cost of the items purchased. This leads to absurd results like $10-25 shipping fees for items no larger than a paperback book.

My question: why would a vendor in an industry selling mostly fungible merchandise choose this absurd method of charging for shipping? Granted, shipping charges often do not appear until an order is one click away from being transmitted, but isn't the way clear for someone to take an Amazon-style Super Saver/flat rate approach and leech customers?
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