Amazon Merchant May Want To Reconsider Their Two-Day Shipping Charges

Brent was ready to order two-day shipping from Amazon merchant Electronics Expo for a set of Boston Acoustics speakers until he realized it would cost an extra $186. The speakers were only $49, and standard shipping was available for $14.99.

Brent writes:

I was looking to buy some decent computer speakers for my new apartment but im moving in a week and figured it wouldnt be much more to get 2 day shipping…..until i realized they wanted $186.81 for two day shipping. The 3 – 5 day shipping is only $14.99….call me crazy but i think ill wait.

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  1. chucklebuck says:

    This isn’t actually Amazon’s shipping – it’s Electronics Expo’s shipping (small Sold By at the bottom of the screenshot). Amazon lets their third party sellers set their own shipping rates. Had this been actually sold by Amazon instead of AT Amazon, the two-day shipping would have been a lot less.

    • limiter says:

      @chucklebuck: Agreed. In fact if the speakers had been sold by Amazon it would have free super saver shipping because it costs more than $25. I have been extremely satisfied with Amazon pricing, shipping, and customer service.

      • ZekeSulastin says:

        @limiter: … except free super saver shipping has absolutely nothing to do with two-day shipping. However incredibly stupid I think Consumerist and the OP are in this case (and I do: Consumerist for posting a misleading title and the consumer for knowing nothing about how shipping works), I only have more scorn for commenters like you who don’t even give a cursory glance to the point of the article.

    • randomangela47 says:

      @chucklebuck: But that exemplifies exactly what I see as having gone wrong with amazon. I don’t shop there anymore because everything I see is sold by a different vendor with separate shipping rates. I miss the old days when I could pick up some electronics, some random gift items, a couple of books, and a CD and actually have EVERYTHING sold by amazon and shipped for free via their super saver shipping (not the 2-day option, though it usually arrived within 2 days!).

    • bobcatred says:

      @savdavid: Perhaps that’s why they said “Amazon Merchant” rather than “Amazon.”

      • Scuba Steve says:

        @bobcatred: Well the story was corrected, so there’s no real reason to dwell on it.

        But the real issue is that the seller is trying to skirt posting fees by putting most of the price into shipping charges instead of the actual price.

        So either its the lowest price w/ shipping, or its not. Amazon needs to be up-front about all pricing, including tax and shipping (how hard is it to include a state code in a search?)

        • YardanCabaret says:

          @Scuba Steve: While it would be nice for Amazon to give you the estimated shipping included in the price when initially looking at the products it would be a pain in the ass to set up both for them and for us as the users. Am I going to have to select what kind of shipping I’m going to want BEFORE I go and look at things? What if I decide part way through shopping that I really wanted 2 day not 3-5 day, would I now have to go back and “re-shop” all the items I had already added to make sure the “price” was the cheapest. Also I know that I don’t generally even know what delivery speed I’m wanting until I look at the price, then decide how much I’m willing to pay to get it when. I think the way they have it setup now makes the most sense and is the easiest to use. You occasionally encounter situations like this but all you have to do is check each of the shipping methods and note the price. If you pay attention to that and don’t buy from sellers that charge inflated rates for certain shipping methods you’ll be just fine.

  2. kateblack says:

    Expedited shipping on anything that weighs more than a pound or two jumps exorbitantly.

    Some office supplies I buy usually cost $20-ish to ship. If I didn’t plan ahead, I could get them super fast for $123 in shipping charges. Non-story. Plan ahead.

    • Posthaus says:

      @kateblack: That’s more or less the gist of what’s going on, especially so with larger items that have to be shipped.

      If the OP had read Electronics Expo’s shipping rates, they would have seen that their rate per pound for Two-Day shipping jumps to 8.99 per pound(!) from the standard fee of $1.95 per pound. Shocking I know, but that’s why it pays to look at the rates before crying fowl.

      • utensil42 says:

        @Posthaus: What do chickens have to do with this?

        • Posthaus says:

          @utensil42:

          Don’t be facetious over a freaking typo.

          • utensil42 says:

            @Posthaus: Typo or ignorance of the idiom? If the former, than I’ll apologize. If the latter, then it was educational.

            “Crying fowl” is right up there with “for all intensive purposes” and “supposably.”

            • YardanCabaret says:

              @utensil42: Well for all my intensive porpoises I make sure they eat’s a healthy dose of crying fowl every day, at least supposably. Usually with a liberal amount of irony (which in my experience is way more misused then foul, intents and purposes and supposedly)

    • Julia789 says:

      @kateblack: Yes, large or heavy items shipped by ground are inexpensive. Large or heavy items shipped overnight or 2-day air are extremely expensive. There is a huge difference in shipping costs for air vs. ground.

      Use the UPS ground shipment calculator/map to see how fast they get to you by truck. If they are within a certain area (no more than a few states away, depending on your area) cheap ground shipment often gets there just as fast as two-day or even overnight shipping.

    • coren says:

      @kateblack: Other vendors selling the same item charge 40-45 for the same type of shipping that was going for 180 here.

  3. savdavid says:

    This is a third party who sells through Amazon. Their shipping rates and policies are clearly stated if you click on their name. It states clearly “Sold by Electronic Expo”. This is a non-story.

  4. zigziggityzoo says:

    Welcome to the free market. IF you don’t like the price of one vendor, feel free to try another.

    Enjoy your stay.

    • William Brinkman says:

      @zigziggityzoo: Pretty much this. Also, if you don’t like the prices of any vendors, feel their margins are too high, and believe that they’re running a business poorly- feel free to open your own retail store.

    • takes_so_little says:

      @zigziggityzoo: Um… isn’t that what the consumer did, kindof? Thought the 2-day charge was too high, so didn’t pay for it?

  5. pmcpa4 says:

    Not Amazon, and Amazon Marketplace merchants can charge anything they want…. it’s part of the contract… shipping may only cost $80 to 2nd air (2nd day air is NOT cheep), plus any handling charge the merchant is tacking on.

    • kateblack says:

      @pmcpa4: Actually, no. Amazon usually sets the price for different types of items.

      For a book, it’s $3.99 shipping, regardless of the weight of the book. I collect the same shipping fee whether I sell a 60 page booklet or a 500 page, 15″x15″ coffee table book. So I have to be careful to either not sell books that cost more to ship than I can collect in shipping, or bump up the price to cover shipping losses.

      Amazon also sets the expedited prices for Marketplace sellers.

      It’s the carrier who sets the real shipping costs.

  6. tedyc03 says:

    Yeah, this story shouldn’t be about Amazon. Their 2-day shipping charges are based on a flat rate per item IIRC. This is about the seller.

  7. zarex42 says:

    These shipping charges are not that unreasonable. Shipping heavy object by air is expensive.

    No story.

    • Skin Art Squared says:

      @zarex42:

      Shipping 2nd Day Air is not that expensive. I lived in Hawaii for 6 years and ordered things online all the time because, let’s face it, the only things on Maui that aren’t shipped in, one way or another, are pineapples & coconuts.

      Yes, it’s more than regular Ground shipping, which by the way, as odd as it seems, is an option for shipping to Hawaii. The heavier the object, the more spendy the shipping. But $186 to ship computer speakers is ridiculous by any standard.

  8. ReverendBrown says:

    The point of the story is that a little patience is good on the wallet. I like it. No need to get all fire and brimstone on Carey and Brent for having spent <100 words and a screenshot on it.

    • chucklebuck says:

      @ReverendBrown: I agree that “patience is a virtue and cheaper” is a good point, but the article is titled in such a way that it makes Amazon look bad, when it should really name Electronics Expo as the party responsible for the massive shipping.

  9. DrRonster says:

    This is a relevent story and it belongs on Consumerist.com, EXCEPT it should be about Amazon.com. Ive got Amazon Prime so I always make sure its sold by amazon. As far as the shipping prices on this article, shouldnt Amazon also limit shipping fees on all selling partners?

    • Kogenta says:

      @SalenaBabblerash: Depending on where said item is going, it could very much well cost that much in shipping.

      Frankly, my brother tried to ship a video card as RMA once, the 2 Day Air price was quoted to be like $80 compared to like $15 for 5 day ground and a video card is nowhere near as heavy as speakers.

      Even assuming the vendor has a discount with their shipping company, it costs some pretty obscene prices to get what amounts to almost overnight air service from courier companies compared to “standard” ground service.

    • RedwoodFlyer says:

      @SalenaBabblerash: Ironically, Amazon Prime doesn’t apply to speakers sold by Amazon! I ordered a set of computer speakers and it defaulted to 2-day, since I had Prime…. wound up with a $35 shipping charge!

      That policy makes no sense to me, since we’ve ordered a Microwave and a Lawn Mower with overnight shipping for only $3.99 extra, and both of those weigh quite a bit more!

  10. krunk4ever says:

    EVEN if this was Amazon, is it wrong to charge more for shipping than the actual product? Let’s say I order 50lbs of brick and have it shipped 2nd day to me. Should I not expect to pay more for shipping than the actual costs of the brick?

    I looked up the weight on this item and it appears the Boston Acoustics Horizon MM226 Multimedia 2.1 Speaker System is 18lbs. To ship this across country in 2 days according to UPS is $82.50. Still alot cheaper than what the buyer was quoted, but proves the point that 2nd day shipping isn’t cheap and in this case IS more expensive than the actual item.

    • VA_White says:

      @krunk4ever: Yes, and a bulky item can often cost more to ship than the item itself. Vermiculite is one example. Weighs nothing, is pretty cheap, but because it takes up a huge amount of space, it costs a fortune to ship.

    • coren says:

      @krunk4ever: Other vendors sell it at less than 50 shipping.

  11. flakeyblakee says:

    My guess its because they are speakers with magnets in them. If they magnets are strong enough they are not allowed to fly on planes, and must be shipped via truck.

  12. Coles_Law says:

    I went on to Amazon, found the Electronics Expo vendor, and loked up the shipping charges for each option:

    Standard: Free

    Two-day: $186.81 (still)

    Expedited: $81.05

    One-day: $209.81

    I had to look up on the white set, not the black set, but all else was the same. Odd that the expedited shipping is cheaper.

  13. rpm773 says:

    Evidently, that vendor *really* didn’t want to have to go the post office that day.

  14. Damocles57 says:

    I was wondering why OP didn’t ship the speakers to his new address. He wouldn’t have had to load and move those too, the price would have been less, and he wasn’t going to use them until he got there.

    Regarding different pricing for different shipping options, a third-party seller may not have the same shipping systems in place that a large warehouse/shipping facility does. To do anything out of the usual flow of work would require someone to stop what they are doing, take care of this special request (pull the product, label the product, prepare paperwork for product, etc.), maybe drive to UPS or FedEx, and resume what they were doing. It may also reflect an expedited cost to deliver the product to them from their supplier so they can deliver it in 2 days.

    Labor and added costs in a workplace are not free, so there are bound to be seemingly odd price structure differences for exceptions to the standard rules.

  15. Anonymous says:

    This is one of the oldest scams in the book… A lot of computer stores dont proportionally charge for 2day.. They use it as a way to *make back* their discounted product costs.. theres a few mail order companies iv done buisness with who nail you to the wall in inflated shipping costs, this is no exception… There should be some premium for expidited shipping but it should be proportional to the actual shipping costs… Note this is not amazon itself, but a third party vendor on behalf of amazon…

  16. Sockatume says:

    Who wants to bet that the item mysteriously vanishes in transit if you opt for the “standard” shipping? ;)

  17. lehrdude says:

    I started my boycott of Amazon during the holidays when they were letting their 3rd party sales fronts “price gauge” and sell $39 toys for $200. I can go to e-bay if I want to get price gauged and charged $186 for shipping.

    Now I just use Amazon to see what books are coming out so that I can pre-order them from somewhere else…

  18. EdnaLegume says:

    either most of the commenters failed reading comprehension, or the story has been edited… it says “two-day shipping from Amazon merchant Electronics Expo”… so for those of you that have no clue what Amazon is.. that line right there tells MOST EVERYBODY that the seller is Electronics Expo.

    Auntie Edna says: how about NOT selecting 2day shipping and issue has miraculously resolved itself.

    • chucklebuck says:

      @EdnaLegume: The story has been edited – when first posted, it didn’t say “Amazon Merchant” or mention Electronics Expo at all.

    • LochNess says:

      @EdnaLegume: You also apparently fail reading comprehension, as the person placing the order ended up “NOT selecting 2day shipping”.

      • EdnaLegume says:

        @LochNess: yes I realize that’s what they did. my sarcasm (which flew well above your head, quite unnoticed) was meant to convey this is a non issue if you simply opt to not select the over prices option. I didn’t honestly believe the person placing the order was on pins and needles awaiting replies to help him choose the right option.

  19. oldgraygeek says:

    We subscribe to Amazon Prime, and we get at least $300 worth of two-day shipping for our $75 per year. The membership includes next-day shipping on most items for only $3.99, so I even got an 80-lb. drill press the next day for only four bucks.

    This leads us to avoid buying from third-party sellers like Electronics Expo… so we missed this particular item!

  20. FrankReality says:

    Well, this is a good warning to beware of the total cost of purchase, including those expedited shipping charges.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I bought these exact same speakers from the same vendor through Amazon and shipping was only like $15. This place sells these speakers for over $100 less than anyone else and they are excellent. Try again with them, it looks like a little glitch. The speakers are extremely heavy and if you rushed the shipping that might be the price, they are VERY heavy and compeltely worth it.

  22. CyrilNuddleman says:

    Great set of speakers!

    I just bought this exact same set of computer speakers and subwoofer for $49.99 plus $5 shipping from Woot! (woot.com)

  23. PLATTWORX says:

    I love this site, but this is another story that was not through about before a staff member at Consumerist threw it up to put something new on this weekend.

    This kinda of sloppy work is why I am not donating yet. when Consumers Union can get this site cleaned up of errors, misleading headlines and things that are NOT a company’s fault and should not have been posted, I will consider it.

  24. Ronin-Democrat says:

    Avi Oslick wants to know why this is here.

    This is a cautionary tale to all to keep an eye on your purchases.
    It would have been easy to assume the shipping would have been a few bucks more and even seen $18 instead of $186 and clicked accept only to find you paid way too much.

    So know what the complete charges are before you buy.

  25. Avi Oslick says:

    Frst f ll ths sn’t mzn. Ths s sld by lctrnc xp. Scnd f ll, why s ths hr. Ths s jst dmb stry.

    • nybiker says:

      @Avi Oslick: My guess as to why it’s here is so that we all can learn (or be reminded) to read the really, really fine print.

      • Chris Stone says:

        @nybiker: The fine print says that it’s being sold by Electronics Expo, not Amazon.com, LLC. So I don’t see why certain fine print is more relevant than others.

        • nybiker says:

          @Chris Stone: I just noticed you replied to me. The facebook avatars are still blocking the addressee so I didn’t my user id.

          To your point: I really wasn’t trying to say that there are different fine prints. Just that we all need to examine whatever fine print there might be.

          And I see that the title has been changed to reflect “amazon merchant.”

      • Corporate_guy says:

        @nybiker: The final price isn’t fine print. But this story is basically the everything is OK alarm. Is common sense so rare that we have to celebrate when it’s used?

    • takes_so_little says:

      @Avi Oslick: So, you think this is an acceptable amount to pay for 2-day shipping on $50 speakers? It’s a consumer issue, this is a consumer-issues website. Welcome.

      • William Brinkman says:

        @takes_so_little: You’re intentionally oversimplifying Avi’s post. Why? Consumerist doesn’t need you whiteknighting it. The story should’ve been more clear that it was a third-party vendor charging that much shipping through Amazon Marketplace.

        • takes_so_little says:

          @William Brinkman: People who post “why is this on consumerist?” comments annoy me, and I’m not shy about that.

          And why are you posting corrections? Consumerist doesn’t need you executive-editing them! (See what I did there? I took that thing you said about ME, and I said the same thing about YOU!)

          • William Brinkman says:

            @takes_so_little: u mad bro? For a website that (re)prints news articles that are critical of businesses, you’re sure getting mad when someone is being justly critical of a story and offering advice on how to improve it.

            • coren says:

              @ZekeSulastin: Except he wouldn’t be paying for the 3-5 day shipping at all, because it would be free. That is to say, it would have free super shipping, just like the person you’re chastising for not reading said.

              And as far as “knowing nothing about how shipping works” – the company is trying to rip him off. I put the item in my cart (or the same item in a different color) and shockingly, got the item as shipping for 40 for 2 day when not purchasing from EE! Even if one assumes that EE is making up for a low price with excessive shipping (or the vendor I saw was able to charge lower due to charging more for the item) the price difference was 50 bucks lower for just about any other vendor I chose.

            • coren says:

              @William Brinkman: Since the comment 1) corrected the article instead of writing an email to the writer/editor and 2) basically said “why is this here” – it’s a comment that shouldn’t have been made on two fronts; neither is ok by the commenting code. So yeah, maybe he should get mad.

              • William Brinkman says:

                @crn: gss y cn hd bhnd yr “cmmnts cd,” bt t stll stnds tht t’s lttl dd tht st ddctd t gvng vc t ths wh r wtht vc wld chs t cnsr ts rdrshp.

                @Rndrp: s plnty f thrs hv pntd t, t’s $90 mnmm jst fr th shppng nd tht s nly f t’s stndrd shpd. t ls dsn’t cnt nsrnc. ls, th byr cn jst dcln t, s thy chs t.

                • coren says:

                  @William Brinkman: Uh, censorship? Really? That’s the argument you’re going with?

                  Because this isn’t an issue of censorship – who has censored that comment?

                  • William Brinkman says:

                    @crn: sy tht n l f Mndy whn th pplr ntrnt prsnlty f “vrzls frm mdrtr” cms n nd prbts/bns th ppl wh dr qstn th pc.

                    • pop top says:

                      @William Brinkman: Yeah, it’s terrible that places have censorsh– er –commenting codes so we don’t have to read obnoxious or whiny posts from people who like who cry about everything that’s on this site.

                      It’s also probably a good idea to not insult the people who work on/for this site.

      • y2julio says:

        @takes_so_little: Thats fine, if the consumerist had said “Electronic Expo” may want to reconsider their two-day shipping charges. This is not the first time that the consumerist has blamed Amazon for a third party seller.

      • madanthony says:

        @takes_so_little:

        Why do you think the price of the item is relevant to how much it costs to ship? The item in question is 18 pounds and measures 19.9 x 16 x 13 inches. Most shipping companies price by a combination of distance, dimensions, and weight. A low-value, large, heavy item is going to cost more to ship than a high-value, small, light item. If he was being charged a ton for shipping a flash drive, I could see the outrage, but this is actually something that is expensive to ship.

        And while it’s not relevant, it looks like he got a pretty good deal – the one vendor that has the speakers in stock on Amazon now wants $150 for them.

        • coren says:

          @madanthony: 67 if you don’t want this color. But other vendors charge 40-45 for shipping on the same item – which seems reasonable to me.

        • Rain says:

          @madanthony: The issue isn’t the price, it’s the discrepancy between the prices for fast and slow shipping for the same item. It shouldn’t cost $171 to get something a few days sooner.

      • Avi Oslick says:

        @takes_so_little:
        Um. I think that if you want something 2-day shipping either buy it from a vendor that has good 2 day shipping rates and pay more for the item(if you need to) or pay less for the item and wait a few days..

        This is not amazon.com doing anything. Personally I only buy items sold by amazon not a 2nd party

    • Communist Pope says:

      @Avi Oslick: Probably because Consumerist has a long history of making posts about inexplicable, and perhaps accidental, pricing? That would be my guess.

      @William Brinkman: Aren’t you whiteknighting Avi while simultaneously telling takes-so-little that Consumerist doesn’t need him whiteknighting it? Which I guess means I’m whiteknighting takes. Whoops, I hope I haven’t unintentionally entered a never-ending vortex of people whiteknighting each other…

      • William Brinkman says:

        @kidjesus: I’m addressing the issue at hand, and in that I accused this random person of oversimplification, which I feel is a fair accusation. This random dude doesn’t know how to respond to the fact that the title reads “Amazon May Want to Reconsider Its 2-Day Shipping Charges,” yet it isn’t Amazon charging that amount. So, he dodges that point and asks a question that has nothing to do with the issue. I could care less about Avi. I just want people to honestly address the point brought up about the misleading title.

    • bobcatred says:

      @Avi Oslick:
      “First of all this isn’t amazon.”

      When I read it, I understood immediately that “Amazon Merchant” meant “A store selling products on Amazon” and not Amazon.com itself. Perhaps this is a reading comprehension problem on your part? That’s certainly not Consumerist’s fault.

      Personally, I like Consumerist’s crazy pricing stories.

  26. s35flyer says:

    Why s ths stry? Wh crs, slct th shppng y wnt nd mv n. Gt lf.

  27. hellinmyeyes says:

    Wow, umm, creepy as hell. I JUST was buying these speakers Friday night and noticed the same exact thing. My quote for that shipping was well over $200 for 2-day shipping. What the hell kind of racket do these EE guys think they’re running?

  28. mharris127 says:

    That is ridiculous for shipping! I recently bought a speaker set from walmart.com, had it shipped overnight for $18, and that included an amplifier.