shipping envelope

Image by mary hodder via Flickr

I inadvertently opened a can of worms with this post. I was talking about what I’m like as a buyer, since I know what it’s like to be a seller, and I mentioned that I’m very generous with the DSR stars with one exception… I don’t take kindly to being overcharged on shipping. Now, to clarify, I don’t automatically ding when this happens… I always email the seller to talk out the shipping costs first to give them a chance to explain/make it right. But, still… I do NOT like being overcharged on shipping.

Several commenters jumped in to say that they think that’s wrong of me. To paraphrase most of the arguments,

  • if you don’t like the shipping costs, you shouldn’t buy the item
  • the shipping costs were listed when you purchased so you have no right to complain about them
  • the seller may have hidden charges you don’t know about (this was in response to the fact that I said I will weigh the packages myself and compare to posted rates and contact the seller if I was overcharged by more than $2)

And… I don’t agree. My objection comes down to a few basic things.

1. All of those arguments are only looking t it from the seller’s standpoint. OK, granted, we are all sellers and that is what I was talking about in the original post… buying when you are a seller, but I maintain that, when I have my buyer hat on, none of those things matter. If I may quote myself from this post:

In the world of customer service, what’s the difference between being overcharged and just thinking you were overcharged? From the customer’s perspective, there isn’t one. Either way, the buyer is unsatisfied and that’s bad for you, the seller.

If I win an auction for a toy car and the shipping cost is high I think to myself, wow, they must be shipping it in a super sturdy box or maybe it’s coming overnight! Then, instead, if it comes in a paper envelope with no padding at all? Yeah… I don’t care how much hidden costs the seller paid behind the scenes… I feel overcharged.

2.  The feedback rating doesn’t ask you about the cost of the item. It asks if the shipping costs were reasonable. That has nothing whatsoever to do with what the seller is doing behind the scenes that ups his or her shipping costs… it just asks me to rate if that one cost is reasonable and I define reasonable as “how close they are to the actual shipping cost.” I’ve heard this misconception before. A reader once posted a comment on an article about leaving feedback that she will ding the shipping cost DSR if she think the item itself was too expensive which is just dead wrong. If boils down to this: additional hidden costs need to be built into the price of the item… not the shipping costs.

3. If you truly consider the shipping costs to be part of the price of the item… you set your shipping as free. Period. That’s pretty much the entire point of free shipping.

4. And, lastly, if you go by those things above, am I to believe that some of you think that there is no case in which you can leave a seller a low shipping cost DSR? Because if the shipping cost is always listed, we always have to assume that costs are reasonable because of these “hidden costs” and we only buy the items where we love the shipping costs… when IS it acceptable to leave a low feedback star for shipping costs?