Be really careful when saying "includes shipping" on anything but small stuff!

Discussion in 'Swapmeet Talk' started by W7UUU, Mar 10, 2019.

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  1. W7UUU

    W7UUU Super Moderator Lifetime Member 133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Just thought I'd put out a "public service announcement" regarding ads I see all the time that say "Price includes shipping". There was an ad recently for an old tube receiver listed as "$55 shipped". The radio in question weighs just shy of 13 pounds (I looked the model up). It will take a box roughly 20" x 20" x 16" assuming no double boxing involved. That will make the actual shipping weight be right about 17 pounds, assuming decent packing materials.

    So let's look into this radio selling for $55 "shipped"

    If I were to ship such a radio from where I live (98366) to Boston (02215) here is what UPS would charge me (remember that UPS calculates "billable weight" which factors box size with scale weight):


    Here's the results from FedEx for the same box, 17 pounds, 20 x 20 x 16:


    And here's USPS - the best rate of the three - 17 pounds, 20 x 20 x 16 via Ground:


    Needless to say, I would have lost my shirt on that sale, selling at "$55 shipped" if my buyer had been on the other coast from me.


    Shipping to Dallas from here is a little better but not much:


    And again, the same box shipped via FedEx:


    Once again, USPS has the best rate but still higher than many might guess. I'd still lose money on the sale. Might as well just give the radio away to Goodwill!



    But even if the buyer were much closer, say Eugene Oregon, at least I don't totally lose money but the shipping cost is such that I still don't make much at all. Eugene is only a 5-hour drive away:

    Here's the UPS cost, again 20 x 20 x 16 at 17 pounds:



    I can't add more images to the Eugene example as I've hit the limit of images in a post.... but I think you get the idea.

    So - my recommendation is DON'T SAY "SHIPPING INCLUDED" unless you've done a calculation or two to get an idea how much it might cost - figure worst case with the farthest US destination as your basis. Don't just guess!! But it's far more fair to your buyer to simply sell an item with "Shipping to be calculated based on your location" - that way they at least don't have to pay to ship cross-country when only living a state or two away.

    IMO, the only safe way to have "shipping included" is when an item will fit any of the "Flat Rate Shipping" boxes from USPS or it's so small it can go 1st class mail.

    Please do NOT take my word for it - use the links below to calculate shipping cost on any item you wish - I think you'll be astounded at just how expensive shipping has gotten in the age of "Amazon gets practically free freight and the rest of us pay for it"

    UPS Calculator:
    FedEx Calculator:
    USPS Calculator:

    Hopefully this post will help sellers figure out when it's not a very good idea to say "Shipping is included". In my opinion, other than flat-rate boxes and 1st class, shipping should NEVER be included - and on stuff that I sell myself, that's exactly the rule I follow


    [This is a redone version of this thread - folks were getting side-railed in how UPS displays their results. So I redid all the graphics and also added the FedEx "fact check" - again, do NOT take my word for it folks - do the calculations YOURSELF before you list something as "shipping included]

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 10, 2019
    N4FZ, N4GKS, K7MH and 9 others like this.
  2. W7UUU

    W7UUU Super Moderator Lifetime Member 133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    So today I got stung by this very thing - on the "buying end" :eek:

    I purchased an item from a QRZ seller for around $50 "shipped anywhere in the lower 48" - paid with Paypal no problem.

    But today I received an email saying "It cost me several dollars more than that just to ship. It's a complete loss for me"!!! :mad:

    OK - so this means that I'm now in a spot to essentially be "guilted" to pay MORE - I'm feeling compelled to in fact "pay more because he didn't bother to see how much freight might be to WA state". I'm no longer making a "buying decision based on total cost" but rather put in a spot to feel I'm supposed to "make him whole"

    Why the hell didn't he just walk out of the shipper's location and get back in the car, come home, and then email me? I'd have canceled the purchase, and he'd still have the item. But no - now I'm in the awkward position of "doing the right thing" for something that I had nothing to do with screwing up.

    So perfect case in point: If you do not have any clue how much an item might cost to ship "anywhere in the lower 48" then you have no business listing it as "shipping included". Learn how to CALCULATE SHIPPING or better still, just don't list stuff as "shipping included" except on flat rate USPS boxes.

    N4FZ, KE5OFJ, N1VAU and 3 others like this.
  3. KB2SUJ

    KB2SUJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I recently did a transaction here. The seller (actually, he was gifting, 'buyer' just paid shipping costs) went and got the actual shipping cost. It was a lot! It was expensive due to the size of the box. Since I had already agreed and am a man of my word, I sent the funds, and the seller sent the item. By luck, when he shipped, the amount charged was much less and the shipper refunded me the difference. The point being is the actual shipping cost may not be the same as the calculated. It could be less, it could be more. It also greatly depends of how you go about it. It is much more expensive to ship from a UPS store VS going to the local UPS hub and dropping it off there (often 2X !!!). USPS flat rate boxes are a great deal if you have a heavy item that fits.
  4. KA9JLM

    KA9JLM Ham Member QRZ Page

    The problem with those, Is many times you can not package the item safely for shipping.

    Bubble wrap is not much good for protecting heavy items.
    K9ASE likes this.
  5. AJ4GQ

    AJ4GQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    "Doing the right thing" in this kind of situation simply enables the person to continue to make bad choices/decisions. People learn best when they're allowed to pay for their own mistakes. Allow him to pay for his mistake. You'll be doing him a favor.
    N4FZ, K3EY, K3BR and 2 others like this.
  6. KP4SX

    KP4SX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Unless you think you may be buying from him again in the future ;)
    N4FZ likes this.
  7. W7UUU

    W7UUU Super Moderator Lifetime Member 133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    All the reason I started this PSA thread.... in the hopes that people would see this and THINK ABOUT SHIPPING COST... always get an estimate first

    I have not heard back from the seller - I sent him my email saying "so what do you think it will cost to 'make you whole'?" and that's as far as it's gone. I will probably pony up some $$ to help him out but still....

    YES I think he should "learn a lesson" here - don't blame an honest up-front buyer for your own stupidity as a seller.

    AJ4GQ and N2EY like this.
  8. N2EY

    N2EY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    But you CAN use flat-rate boxes for heavy items (up to 70 pounds).

    What I have done is to take heavy corrugated cardboard and pack the item in a custom-made box that fits inside the flat-rate box. Also lined the inside of the flat-rate box with pieces of foam sheeting or more corrugated.

    A bit of work but the stuff got there safely.

    73 de Jim, N2EY
    N1VAU and KB2SUJ like this.
  9. W7UUU

    W7UUU Super Moderator Lifetime Member 133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    As I said in my OP... the only "safe way" to say "free shipping" is a flat rate box.

    But pretty hard to put a 10-tube receiver or Globe Scout transmitter in one :) That's who the thread is aimed at

    K9ASE and N2EY like this.
  10. ND6M

    ND6M Ham Member QRZ Page

    You upheld your end of the (verbal) contract, but, OTOH, it seems like the "giver" did too.

    FWIW, IMO I would have offered half of the postage difference, and consider it a lesson learned by both parties.
    N4FZ likes this.

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