Walmart Overcharges Soldiers Stationed Abroad For Shipping

The idea behind military mail is to allow people in a given country to send mail to their loved ones stationed anywhere in the world, for the same price as mailing a letter or package to any other destination in the United States. However, the military paper Stars and Stripes reports that some retailers are increasing prices for customers with APO/FPO addresses, claiming “higher transportation costs.” The biggest offender? Walmart. Surprise!

On a $120 purchase, Walmart.com charged $10.35 to ship to an APO address, compared with $2.10 to a stateside address. For most items, Amazon.com charged the same to ship to an APO address as a stateside address. And Target offered shipping on a $120 purchase to an APO address for less than to a stateside address.

On Walmart.com, the company says shipping costs will be higher to APO addresses due to higher transportation costs.

“There is no higher transportation costs,” [Wiesbaden Army Airfield Postmaster Earl] Small said. “Companies are abusing the system and making a killing.”


Some retailers inflate costs to ship to APO addresses
[Stars and Stripes] (Thanks, Shannon!)

Comments

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  1. Aphex242 says:

    Uh, the story doesn’t match the comment at all. The only major offender is Wal-Mart. The article says Amazon is the same, and Target is cheaper.

    …how can that be so backward on the Consumerist commentary?

    • Fred E. says:

      Um, JINX!!!

    • mac-phisto says:

      this actually does require some advanced reading comprehension. if you read between the lines, notice that MOST amazon purchases ship for the same price as stateside (which infers that some do not) & target offered “shipping on a $120 purchase to an APO address for less than to a stateside address.” now that could actually mean a few different things – perhaps you have to spend $120 or more to have it ship for less, or maybe this was one particular item.

      anyway, blame s&s – if you click-thru, they are making the “some retailers” claim; not consumerist.

  2. Fred E. says:

    Why do you say Target and Amazon are major offenders? Clearly from the article only Walmart was a major offender.

  3. bsalamon says:

    Ever get the feeling that Walmart is anti-American? Just another reason to shop at Target when going to the big box stores.

    • Kaonashi says:

      They are, they’re from deep in the “patriotic” South and yet they’re whole mission is to not only make a profit, which is the purpose of a corporation, but to rip off their customers for every cent they can no matter how many shady tactics they have to use. Milton Friedman and Theodore Levitt would be proud.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Wal-Mart now is definitely not how Sam Walton meant for it to be. It’s sad how far it’s gotten from its original goals and missions.

        What’s up with the quotes around patriotic? The South isn’t the only region that pride itself on being patriotic, you know. And it’s hardly the only region to display any kind of disruptive, hypocritical behavior, so there’s no need to bash the entirety of the South for it…I’m saying this as a Northern VA/DC girl (which 99% of Southerners say is not part of the South – and I agree) with Deep South relatives. A few bad apples doesn’t make the entire region hypocritical. Just like I’m sure a few tree hugging hippies and rampant homelessness don’t necessarily diminish the overall splendor of San Francisco.

        • Kaonashi says:

          It was not a bash on just the south, in general I have found that there are very few patriots and most of the people who are true patriots are too humble to ever admit it. Patriotism has, like Walmart, entirely changed and no longer resembles it’s original definition or form.

        • bsalamon says:

          not to nitpick, but as a New Yorker who went to school right outside DC, I view everything below the mason-dixon line as part of the south. Either way, I say we have the army invade wal-mart’s secret hq

          • pecan 3.14159265 says:

            You mean it’s part of the South in a regional sense. For most Deep Southerners, It’s more of a cultural divide, and that’s why most Southerners who call themselves that do not consider the Northern VA/DC/MD area part of the South. My in laws hate driving up here because they’ve never encountered so much traffic, and it stresses them out to be on the beltway.

            • pop top says:

              I’d say Virginia is part of the South, Maryland definitely not, and DC is it’s own little area.

              • TheWillow says:

                Virginia yes, NoVa, no.

                Trust me, I’m a proud product of “Fake” Virginia. (who ran north as soon as humanly possible – what’s the opposite of a carpetbagger?)

            • Wombatish says:

              Exactly. Texas is.. South Central.

              But they definitely have their own culture and are really no longer part of the Deep South, except maybe a tad bit on the Louisiana border.

      • TouchMyMonkey says:

        Patriotism for thee, not for me.

    • JediJohn82 says:

      Wal*mart is actually a terrorist cell. Just wait until the decide to go all 9/11 on our asses!

  4. strife1012 says:

    Use Newegg and Test to APO, the mail actually goes to New York.

    The only additional Step is for them to fill out a Customs Form.

    • Preyfar says:

      While I’m a Newegg fan (I’ve spent more money there than I care to admit) I’ve even see odd shipping rates on their side, too. I’ve got about 60+ orders with Newegg while I was in Kyrgyzstan, and some of them had some /really/ odd packing/shipping costs.

      For the most part they were alright (especially on small items) but when it came to larger packages the numbers inflated very strangely, especially in comparison to where it was shipped from.

    • trashbaby says:

      What is highly annoying about ANY of these issues is the way that the postal deliveries work for APO/FPO has no increased costs for USPS or the merchants.

      I had sometime last year spoken to the Military Postal Service Agency 1-800-810-6098 who advised that the process is as follows:

      Whatever APO/FPO/AA/etc military address is listed on the package has it delivered to whichever coas it would launch from (California or New York). Once the package is delivered there by USPS, it is released from USPS custody and goes into the custody of the military to deliver. I.E. If you are sending express mail, it expresses the package to the processing facility in NY or CA and then the military delivers it from there. A military convoy must travel to the end destination for delivery and can be delayed if the situation is unsafe (think early Iraq or current Afghanistan)

      This being the case, there is NO increased cost to Wal-Mart to send the package, it is as others have mentioned the exact same as shipping an item to CA or NY. Phooey on them!

  5. jtheletter says:

    Consumerist, I love you but these statements are at odds:
    1) “Major offenders include Walmart, Amazon.com, and Target.”
    2) “For most items, Amazon.com charged the same to ship to an APO address as a stateside address. And Target offered shipping on a $120 purchase to an APO address for less than to a stateside address.”
    I read the linked article, where does it state Amazon and Target are ‘worst offenders’? From the article text it appears they’re doing the OPPOSITE of Walmart and keeping shipping the same or less to APOs.

  6. buzzybee says:

    There are in fact higher transportation costs shipping to military destinations. From my shipping experience I know that while it may appear that it is the same cost as a stateside address, there is often extra work in shipping a military package.

    Additionally, you must use USPS to ship to military destinations. Major retailers tend to use UPS or FedEx for most of their shipping, so the extra work required in isolating and coordinating special shipping through USPS results in extra costs. Shipping with USPS is a pain, they do not support the types of advanced shipping technology that UPS and FedEx do, and rarely does USPS subsidize shipping infrastructure for businesses.

    Sometimes the USPS has special forms that must be completed for each package. This is much more work and on a per-package basis, cost of USPS does not decrease as much with volume. This is why it affects large volume shippers more than the small time putnicks. All in all, it does cost more, and the cost is simply being passed along.

    • bblawson says:

      Not totally true. You can ship your UPS or FedEx package to an APO address. Again, the package is only traveling to the sorting center before being transferred to a military postal facility. And UPS and FedEx do have overseas delivery. We have received APO packages from them during our time overseas.

  7. qbubbles says:

    This isnt new. Its been going on for yeaaaaars. My mom actually called up Drugstore.com and gave them a piece of her mind when they wanted to charge her $10 on a $15 purchase. They made a “one time exception”.

  8. clamjuice says:

    basically, the FPO/AP addresses work like a “main hub” of an airline.

    San Fran is one, the other is NY. (examples) People send the mail to the FPO/AP Address then it gets re routed to the correct duty station or post that the man or woman works at.
    Walmart….lol

  9. full.tang.halo says:

    There ARE higher transportation costs, if you are as big as wal-mart is you get a ridiculous volume discount with USP or FedEX. APO/FPO’s can ONLY be shipped to via the USPS. When I managed a Postal Annex my cost on a 10 lb ground package was less than Priority Mail, it all comes down to your discount rate.

    • EWU_Student says:

      Then why can’t Wally World absorb the cost, like Target and Amazon are apparently doing?

      I understand the volume discount, I worked for a hydraulic company that had the same system, but on the volume of sales that ship to APO addresses, WM wouldn’t be taking a very big hit to just subsidize the shipping costs, and have the price be the same as to a domestic address?

      • full.tang.halo says:

        A 10 lb sample package from my home state of Florida to Washington state, reasonably as far as an APO box could be from me, and an apo box for Iraq.

        Via UPS Ground: $15.40
        Via Priority Mail: $27.25

        That UPS amount is retail, Cost for me would have probably been around $6-$7, and I was a small store, sub 500k a year in UPS shipping costs.

        USPS might give a discount for volume to wal-mart, I know I had to run my packages through a PB postage machine, but even a 50% discount from USPS would put their cost at 1.5 to maby 2.5 times HIGHER than UPS.

        Call Wal-Mart evil if you will but it’s a business and you are in business to make money, taking a $10 hit on every package sent doesn’t seem like much until you get into the ten’s and hundreds of thousands @ that point, it starts to hurt.

        • Naame says:

          That still doesn’t explain why Walmart is making this decision while Target and Amazon are not.

          Actually…I am wrong. It does explain it. The reason solely revolves around cost savings. Target and Amazon have decided that the cost savings involved (even if they are in the tens or hundreds of thousands) are not worth passing on to the troops and their families. Walmart doesn’t give a shit. All they care about is obtaining those cost savings even though they already make billions.

          I am not saying it should be illegal or that the government should step in or anything, but I am saying it is evil and in very bad taste. On top of that they decide to do it around Christmas! How can you possibly defend them while others who are just as big as they are (or close enough) are choosing not to go this low?

        • Kateritek9 says:

          The USPS actually offers special APO/FPO boxes that are at a lower rate (the priority mail flat-rate). https://shop.usps.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10052&catalogId=10001&productId=10001233&WT.ac=P_MILI-FRB

          Don’t know if Wal-Mart can access this, but they are available.

        • Wombatish says:

          Except the last “leg” of the APO is handled by the military, at least in my understanding.

          So Wal-mart is charging more for shipping to New York, or wherever else the hub is. Douche move.

          As many others have also stated, USPS discounts postage to APOs, even on commercial shipments (my mums store had a commercial account with the post office and they were able to get a discounted rate on shipping to APOs). Walmart has to be using USPS for those particular transactions, so either they really have -that- good a discount with FedEx (possible), or they’re taking advantage of the situation.

          BUT what rubs me the most is they’re running “we love the military” adds for Christmas and then doing this D:

      • Cant_stop_the_rock says:

        Walmart certainly doesn’t have to absorb the cost difference. Different shipping methods is a reasonable explanation for the cost difference; if that is the case, then i think it’s misleading to say Walmart is overcharging anyone. Hopefully the Stars & Stripes article serves as a reminder to military families to compare the full cost of items including shipping.

        • jesusofcool says:

          If this is true, it is misleading to say they’re overcharging. They’re simply a multi-million dollar company refusing to absorb the cost for the sake of our troops. Either way, it’s bad PR and you’d think a company who constantly comes under government scrutiny and bad pr for it’s corporate jackassery would be mindful of these things. I mean honestly, even if it is a huge hit, its still most likely a very small percentage of their profits

    • The hand that feeds, now with more bacon says:

      I think this is the reality of the matter. People are just looking for more reasons to hate on Walmart.

    • TouchMyMonkey says:

      You know this for a fact, pal? Attribution, please.

  10. Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

    If Wal Mart is doing this, then they should be ashamed of themselves. Ashamed enough to pour gasoline over their bodies and light a match.

    I spent a year sending packages overseas to Iraq for my SO, ranging from food to microwaves, power inverters, laptops… I was very thankful of the APO he was given. I think it was similar to a California address, so that’s as much as we were charged. I usually sent things priority because there wasn’t much of a difference between regular and priority mail in terms of price.

    To all the companies that have abused this system– F U. (slow clap for effect) Way to go Walmart- abusing families sending things to loved ones they haven’t seen in months, years… many of these families struggling with money issues as it is.

    • vesper says:

      I agree. Another example of American businesses being completely calous about customers and only looking for the almight dollar. It’s called greed. Amazon and others are stepping-up charges for profit, but in reality it should not cost them more. I was in Iraq in 2006/7 but this was the time that everyone was making the big bucks back home so shipping costs were minimal. Another reason for gouging.

  11. humphrmi says:

    Glad to see that the headline and article caught up with reality! :)

    I’m disappointed that Wal Mart is taking advantage of our hard-working military personnel stationed overseas like this. But, I’m guessing that very soon, we will hear from them, they will take it very seriously, and after an investigation, adjust their policy. In fact, they might even blame it on a programmer or some external data.

  12. darklighter says:

    Stay classy, Walmart!

    • Wombatish says:

      Man, their “We love you soldiers” adds they’re running for Christmas (the boy wishing for snow) are so sleazy now D:

  13. TouchMyMonkey says:

    An APO is a U.S. Post Office, just like the one down the street where you drop off your mail. It costs the exact same amount to ship a laptop to APO AE 07131 as it does to ship it to Chicago, IL 60601. Way to support the troops, Wally.

  14. @BadCSR says:

    This is caused by lazy programmers. To do it right you need a Zip code database with a zone matrix and every item needs to have a height, width, depth and weight plus you need api calls to FedEx, UPS and USPS to populate the correct shipping charges when they aren’t available in the database (IE. Rural areas that you do not have existing customers in.)

    Shipping a large volume of packages is very complex. Just look at the pics from the amazon distribution center.

  15. bubi73 says:

    Something doesn’t seem right with this story. What USPS service costs $2.10 these days for a package to ship? Also, most businesses will ship APO/FPO by a minimum of Priority Mail because it eventually goes by air. Sorry to say this, but there’s several inconsistencies with the above.

  16. Naame says:

    Well, would you look at this…one more fantastic reason to take my business to Target or Amazon when I finish my Christmas shopping this weekend. Walmart, you really do make it way too easy for me to shop elsewhere.

  17. Judah says:

    There’s an APO zip-code for people stationed in Tokyo. It costs like triple to send them something compared against normal mail, but a five times mark-up is still gouging.

    • Tim says:

      No, for a Tokyo APO/FPO, it would cost the same as sending it to San Francisco. The USPS just ships it to San Francisco and the military takes it from there, on their own dime.

  18. PencilSharp says:

    Man. This is not as easy to call as it looks.

    While Mr. Small is correct that it doesn’t cost extra to use an APO/FPO to reach a service member overseas, he is missing some key points:

    1. You gotta use the Postal Service. UPS/FedEx do not deliver to APO/FPOs (yet). Still, USPS, for all its faults, usually costs less than those two for smaller packages.

    2. You gotta use Priority Mail. These go on airplanes, meaning that it will get there faster. If you send via Parcel Post, the DOD will stick it on a ship instead of a plane, meaning a minimum eight-week wait. So, there’s that extra expense.

    3. You gotta do a Customs Form. Just because it’s an American receiving the package, that doesn’t mean that “Your Good Government” isn’t going to stick its nose in your business. All that paperwork means extra work for shippers, which costs money.

    If you wanna find out more about this, check out Oconus.com’s website.

    • Naame says:

      Regardless, the reason why Walmart is making this move and places like Target and Amazon are not is because is a much more abusive cheapskate company. They are doing this because they want to pocket more savings and extract more money from the troops and their families around Christmas of all times.

      There is a reason why shipping to an APO is normally cheap to the end user. Walmart is abusing the hell out of that reason even though they were already making billions before this policy change.

      To me, that alone makes it an easy call.

    • sirwired says:

      As a minor note, technically the customs form isn’t for the Postal Service or the Feds. Unless you are shipping HazMats, they really don’t care. But the receiving country most certainly does care what comes in across the border.

      But you are right about the rest…

      That said, it would be nice if WalMart followed the lead of other online retailers and did not impose a surcharge, despite the additional cost. (NewEgg makes it a point of pride for not doing so)

    • Preyfar says:

      You can use Ship it APO to accept UPS/FedEx overseas. Ship it APO bases all rates to APOs out of Pennsylvania, thus lowering the costs. So if your get free shipping (even free overnight shipping) you can route it to a Ship it APO account and send it overseas for cheap.

      Sure, this doesn’t fix the problem, but that’s one step.

      A customs form takes about a minute or two to fill out. Not that hard (I’ve had to fill out my share of them). The wait times for transit is a killer, but if you go to the USPS’ own site you can get a shipping calculator to APO addresses to calculate what the USPS will charge you to ship a package. The numbers don’t always match up what companies charge. Maybe they’re adding extra “handling” charges, but even then, in some cases the results are to an extreme (I’ve seen some companies charge up to $100+ over what the USPS charges for rates shipped from their state and location).

      I personally believe a lot of companies add in an extra hidden insurance fee to account for packages that go missing (and anybody who has lived at an APO knows happens more than it ever should).

      When the USPS routed their packages to the Milpost for Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan they routed all mail through Istanbul,Turkey, then to then Manas, K-stan then to the US Air Force. The Turkish were notorious for “losing” packages, and the Kyrgyz were not much better. You were lucky to get packages at all, and most of our soldiers over seas got packages that were tampered and/or missing items.. In the end, the milpost re-routed all APO mail to go through Kandahar, where they ended to sit on an air strip in the desert bleaching away for 1 to 2 months before anybody cared enough to route them up to our airbase.

      So I definitely know the pain. But as a consumer who has been overseas… I also know the pain of shipping costs being padded.

      • Preyfar says:

        For clarification on my post: the Turkish and Kyrgyz both handled the package on the civilian sides using air freight, and the US mail was accessible by foreign nationals for tampering/theft.

        • PencilSharp says:

          Roger that, dude. I’m a Desert Storm vet who could only sign and offer reassurances to my Mom when she couldn’t figure out why I hadn’t gotten her packages after eight months. Long story writ short, she sent six packages and I got two: one in country, and the other was waiting in my barracks room when I came back…

          And while Customs Forms don’t take long to fill out, when you’re WM, and you ship thousands of packages a day, those minutes will add up fast. Not to take WM’s side on this, but hey, the devil’s in the details.

          And, to everyone else who has replied: Sirwire: You are correct, as well, about the receiving country’s concern about what’s coming in. We in the USA would certainly like to know about what’s coming in.

          Naame: Yeah, go ahead and get the WM bashing in while you can. I’m quite certain somewhere in Bentonville some Wal-Head is cackling with evil relish over screwing over the soldiers who put their lives on the line for human freedom and the ones who love them. I have absolutely zero love lost for the Wal-Drones, but come on…

  19. Watcher95 says:

    Believe me, there are MUCH worse than Wal-mart out there for APO shipping.

  20. Preyfar says:

    I lived on Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan for over a year. Even Newegg put an exorbitant amount of markup on their overseas shipping. What would cost $5 to ship to my place in PA would cost $30 to $40 to ship to our US Air Force APO in Kyrgyzstan. It’s *insanely* more expensive. However, all APO mail is routed through the same transit system that leaves New York.

    A lot of companies do this, and they secretly mark up the shipping to cover the fact about one out of a dozen boxes goes missing and/or gets severely damaged en route to an APO. It’s unfortunate, but the do this to sort of pad their losses

    There’s one company (and only one!) that works as any sort of good alternative to that – Ship it APO. It’s a soldier and contractor’s best friend over there. I’m not a shill, but having been a person overseas… I know the pain of this story far, *FAR* more than most.

  21. sullich says:

    Yet another reason I dislike walmart. There are no additional costs when shipping to an APO/FPO. It gets sent to a distribution center in one of three places. Once the Military Mail arrives at the respective mail processing facility, it is further sorted by Postal Service Center, APO/FPO and ZIP code. After that, the USPS “hands it off” to their Military equivalent in a branch of the Armed Forces after transport via contract air carrier and delivery to the overseas APOs and FPOs. For APOs, either the Army or Air Force provides personnel. For FPOs, the Navy does the job.

  22. FatLynn says:

    Walmart is indeed incurring higher shipping costs. If it’s their duty to absorb it, all the outraged commenters on this post are happy to pay higher shipping to make up the difference, right?

    • sullich says:

      How does it cost them more? They only have to ship it to one of three places in the US. DOD and Contractors handle everything from there, and is subsidized by the US Government.

    • Watcher95 says:

      I would pay what it costs for them to send it. extra 30 for the paperwork included.

  23. bblawson says:

    we have just moved back to the states from England, where we were stationed with the military and this is absolutely true. In addition, you have companies like Target who will ship only certain items to an APO address and other companies who won’t ship at all because they don’t understand how the system works. I tried to explain to several companies that they are not mailing overseas, merely to the US sorting station that will then process the mail and send it through the military system – you’d be amazed how many people just don’t get it. This includes the post office itself – my friend was mailing me a package addressed to my APO address and the post office charged her airmail rates!

  24. jtheletter says:

    How about this instead, in Q3 2009 Walmart posted a _profit_ of $3.23 Billion-with-a-B. In one quarter alone. (source: http://www.appliancemagazine.com/news.php?article=1347074&zone=0&first=1)

    So Walmart, I challenge you to take a minuscule percentage of that profit and apply it to cover the higher APO shipping cost. Call it a charitable donation to US soldiers and you probably even get a tax write off. Broadcast this ‘donation’ to the world, enjoy the positive PR from it.

    Do I have to do Walmart’s PR for them? This is EASY.

    • frank64 says:

      Your outrage speaks volumes, of course a company that size is going to make billions of dollars, charity should a choice and not something one is shamed into. If I saw you made 50K, what kind of person would I be if I demanded that you give a certain amount to any charity? Do you donate to a low cost shipping fund for the troops? Shame on you!

  25. Dutchess says:

    @Aphex,
    You need to check your reading comprehension. It says Amazon charges the same rate for APO and stateside deliveries.

    • Aphex242 says:

      …which is exactly what I said. Perhaps either my comment wasn’t clear, or you’re the one who needs to “check” your reading comprehension.

      Or perhaps you’re confused by the fact that the original Consumerist comments on the article named Walmart, Amazon, and Target, not just Walmart, hence my comment.

      Either way a little less snark would be appreciated.

  26. johnfrombrooklyn says:

    I don’t know diddly about Wal-Mart but we ship to APO addresses every single day. To ship to an APO address we have to manually fill out a customs form and hand deliver it to the post office. So it is a LOT more work than just printing out stamps and handing it to the driver. We charge the same to an APO as we do to any domestic address but I can understand why companies charge more. There is definitely more work. (Having said that, I will never charge more myself. If someone is overseas getting shot at, I can certainly fill out a customs form by hand.)

  27. duxup says:

    It would seem it might actually cost Wall-Mart a bit more but Target and others have chosen not to be jerks about it. Wall-Mart should eat the cost. That isn’t much to ask for folks risking their lives overseas and away from their families. At some point some guy made the decision to charge more for such things. I hope Santa give him some coal.

    • frank64 says:

      I just think anytime you say someone should eat the cost you are on shaky ground. Easy for you to say unless you yourself give a lot to charity, and I am betting those that do aren’t the type that would force it on others.

      No business can eat costs except in very few instances. That this isn’t one that Walmart elected to eat this time. If they did, great, but lets not impose it on them with our outrage. In total, they may give more to charity than Amazon or Target, it isn’t for us to say either way.

      • cluberti says:

        While I agree (and I despise the “make the profiteer pay!” mindset people have in the US, I also have to ask “why can [company x] eat the cost and [company y] not? I would always support Wal-Mart’s decision to charge more to ship something to an APO address, just with the expectation that it is decisions like this that keep me (and I’m sure many others) from patronizing them.

  28. Tim says:

    The only reason I could see why they would do this is if USPS shipping costs more than whatever method they usually use to ship within the U.S.

    All APO/FPO mail gets sent via normal USPS channels to San Francisco (for servicemembers in the Pacific and Asia), Miami (the Americas, excluding Canada) or JFK airport in New York City (Europe and Canada). At the point, the military takes it over. But the point is that the cost for the shipper is whatever the usual cost to those three points would be.

    Now, some e-tailers don’t even ship to APO/FPO addresses, because they just plain don’t want to deal with USPS.

  29. Guppy06 says:

    1.) Except for Media Mail (books, disks, etc) and Express Mail (guaranteed delivery date), if it weighs more than 1 lb, its postage is based on zone, i.e. the further it has to travel, the higher the postage. It sounds like the quoted postmaster doesn’t know his own business, and I suspect the sample stateside address wasn’t in Pago Pago or any other place that’s zone 8 from everywhere.

    2.) While mail delivery service is available to APO’s and FPO’s, most service options aren’t. This includes Delivery Confirmation, without which most third-party postal insurers (usually much easier and less expensive than insuring through the USPS directly) will drastically increase their insurance rates (as they can’t verify if a package had been delivered).

    3.) While the postage rates to APO’s and FPO’s are treated as “domestic,” it is still international mail and still needs to clear customs with the destination country. This means having to fill out a customs declaration, which is never simple or easy. This tacks on a non-negligible amount of time and effort (read “money”) it costs a shipper to send something to an APO or FPO address.

    Long story short: if you want someone to blame, blame either the USPS or Congress.

    • Tim says:

      Military mail goes to San Francisco, New York City or Miami, depending on its destination. That’s the farthest that USPS takes it. So if it were a zoned service, I would assume that the zone would be whatever one of those three cities it’s going to.

      • frank64 says:

        But it is possible that the details of the shipping costs are different for each company and no one is eating it. Companies obviously ship from different points and the specific weights have different affects on costs differences. Going by amount of total bill has nothing to do with actual shipping costs either. This story is very superficial but does go provide some amo for the anti- Walmart crowd, so details aren’t that important.

  30. LuvJones says:

    I call shenanigans on all this shipping crap! I was stationed overseas for over 4yrs and the military pays to ship mail of any kind to the overseas location. Folks should only have to pay to get it to the APO port in CA! This is a complete rip off and shame shame on companies that are doing this!

  31. H3ion says:

    Considering that the people who use APO addresses are the ones undergoing maximum hardship, might it not be a good idea for the federal government to (a) mandate that shipping costs to APO addresses cannot exceed the cost to ship to the US city closest to that APO address or (b) subsidize the rates so that a person shipping to an APO address doesn’t have to pay anything, or will pay a nominal charge at most. I don’t know how much money is involved but I would believe that the daily cost of our presence in Afghanistan and Iraq is more than the annual shipping costs involved.

  32. LuvJones says:

    I call shenanigans on all this shipping crap! I was stationed overseas for over 4yrs and the military pays to ship mail of any kind to the overseas location. Folks should only have to pay to get it to the F/APO port in CA/NY! This is a complete rip off and shame shame on companies that are doing this!

  33. CherieBerry says:

    10 years ago when I was stationed on Guam and online retail was in its infancy, it was ridiculously overpriced to have items shipped to my FPO AP address. To get around it, I would used FPO AP as my city and I’d use CA as the state. Not sure if that would work today, but it worked for Old Navy/Gap/BR a decade ago.

  34. Caroofikus says:

    For those who are interested, there are a few things that people have written in the comments that aren’t true. I work in the military postal system and deal with all of this daily.

    1) You don’t have to ship Priority for packages to not go on a boat. Sure, since this is our busy season, it helps. You can ship it SAM (space available mail) and it (usually) won’t be on a boat unless it’s big (108+ in) or heavy (35+ lbs). Like the name implies, it will just sit in the states waiting on a flight. Once it gets to us over here, we send it out as soon as it’s sorted, regardless of class.

    2) You CAN use delivery confirmation. However, the package won’t be tracked to its final destination, and since we simply don’t have enough people, it might not be entered as delivered when it does get there. However, if it’s sent insured, it will ALWAYS have a record on file at the post office it was delivered to for a minimum of one year. If you’re worried about it, save the receipt you get at the post office to prove you sent it.

    3) Theres no 8 week minimum wait for mail that goes on a boat. It’s usually only 4.

    4) You don’t need to blame the USPS or Congress. They’ve already made the appropriate legislation to keep people from needing to pay more. The USPS delivers it to one of the hubs, and the military pays the tab the rest of the way.

    On a side note, I don’t know anybody who hasn’t waited an unusally long time to get their package from Wal-Mart. I don’t order from them just because it does take so long. Now, I have even more motivation not to.

  35. Kerov says:

    At least Wal-Mart offers delivery to APO/FPO addresses, albeit at a profiteering rate.

    There’s a shocking number of US companies that refuse to ship orders to APO/FPO addresses. When I was in Iraq, I spent a non-trivial amount of my spare time writing complaint letters about this. The only straight answer I ever got was this one: the company didn’t want to deal with the financial and legal risks of violating import/export laws.

  36. kuhjäger says:

    My company typically charges for APO shipments at the USPS rate unless I happen to be processing overflow orders. Then any APO that comes my way gets free shipping. A present from a Guardsman to our fulltime soldiers.

    Any little bit helps them I hope.

  37. TheDude06 says:

    why do you see places that refuse to ship to APO addresses at all? difficulty of tracking?

  38. bwcbwc says:

    I wonder if they are charging based on the distance from their fulfillment center to the APO/FPO transshipment point in the US, and the variations are based on that. It would not only explain the Walmart discrepancy, but Target as well.

  39. Demonpiggies says:

    It costs me $10.95 to ship an APO box oversees… I don’t get how companies can ship theirs for less… not that I’m complaining but it was cheaper you can be sure that I’d be sending weekly packages rather than monthly (not that $11 is expensive it’s just that I stuff that box full of stuff so that $11 shipping is worth it)… The worth of the APO box that I send is close to $100 soooooo…

  40. TheUncleBob says:

    I assume you verified the truth to this article before running it, right?

    While I’m not saying I doubt the author, I thought this was odd… so I checked it out myself.

    At first, I took a $50 Wii game. 97 cents to ship to my home. 97 cents to ship to an APO address.

    Odd.

    I thought, perhaps, it was because of the amount. So I threw in an XBox 360.
    The $399 unit. With a 12 month card and an extra controller.
    $8.94 shipped to my home.
    $8.94 shipped to an APO address.

  41. Caprica Six says:

    I want a name like: Wiesbaden Army Airfield Postmaster Earl!

  42. misterO says:

    I send at least a couple dozen boxes each year to friends serving, soldier’s I adopt, and random people. Thank goodness the Post Office allows me to pack as much I can into their specific boxes so I can ship it out at a flat rate. The PO is losing billions a year, right? And yet they still do it. Walmart makes billions a year yet they cannot be bothered to cut into their profit a little to people stationed overseas. Epic fail, Walmart. Epic. Fail.

  43. stlbud says:

    Yet another reason not to shop at Walmart.

  44. Galium says:

    I believe the concept of the article is that Wall mart charges APO/FPO extra for the same service to US customers. It is like the sellers on eBay that charge extra for a 1st class package to Hawaii and Alaska when the 1st class shipping is the same no matter where you are in the country. If Wall mart ships an item to a US resident for $4.50 USPS, and charges an APO/FPO address $10.50 USPS; for the same item then they are gouging. The article is unclear about the method Wall mart uses. I would assume that the author was comparing using USPS for both locations. If not, it is comparing apples and oranges.