Dell's "Keyboard Condoms" Are No Problem For Stupid Shipping Gang

Consumerist Forums reader Sixtwo sent us some photos from his recent scrape with Dell and the stupid shipping gang. He ordered a pair of “keyboard condoms” which tip the scales at a few grams, but received a giant box and paid $16 for shipping. His letter and photos, inside…

Long time reader; first time submitter. Going for greenlight! ;D

We ordered a pair of keyboard covers ‘condoms’ for one of our CNC machine PCs. The CNC has a habit of throwing aluminum strips around and getting stuck in the keyboard at the workstation next to it.

While Dell made with fast shipping from Texas in 2 days, they made the glaring mistake of excessively overpackaging the 2 items that weigh less than a few grams.

It bothers me to think of how many other items could have been shipped via Plane/UPS truck. With gas and the economy the way it is now, this is really over the top and quite unnecessary.

Edit: Items were 14.99 per – The shipping cost $16.00?!

Bravo Dell


The stupid shipping gang triumphs once again! Is there no stopping this wasteful bunch? Will common sense ever catch up to the stupid shipping gang? Stay tuned for more exciting episodes.

Stupid Shipping Gang: New Dell Version 7-10-08 [Consumerist Forums]


Edit Your Comment

  1. smakdphat says:

    At least they weren’t infested with ticks.

  2. Ben Clayton says:

    What did I miss with that story, smak?

  3. Standard shipping box that shipped at the 1 lb UPS/FedEX rate.

    It don’t cost more to ship this size box, the box can be used for a wide range of products, therefore it is the standard size box used in many high volume shipping departments.

    The shipping charges are pure Dell shipping inflation rates. If you want to complain about something, how about complaining about $16.00 in shipping costs that most likely only cost $5.50 to $7.00 in standard UPS published rates.

  4. muffinpan says:

    Remember that keyboard covers must be shipped flat. Can’t exactly fold em and put em in an envelope can ya.

  5. TheUncleBob says:

    @muffinpan: These look like the flexible rubber covers… why can’t you fold ’em up a little?

  6. Coles_Law says:

    @TheUncleBob: If it got creased, some people nay get upset. That’s my best guess.

  7. LeJerk says:

    Why won’t N.A.S.A. invent a flat box???

  8. ChuckECheese says:

    @TheUncleBob: I purchased one of these from Toshiba, and it arrived folded in a padded envelope. It worked just fine when unfurled.

  9. bcsus83 says:

    lol ok I have to ask what the disc in the picture is for? LOL! Is it simply to show the size of the box (in which the covers do a good job of that lol)? Or does Dell think keyboard covers need to be installed? ;)

  10. Bourque77 says:

    @Coles_Law: I could turn that big ass box into 3 or 4 keyboard condom boxes. I mean dont keyboards come in the computer box inside pack in a small box? Were they out of those?

  11. 5h17h34d says:

    A keyboard condom that costs more than a keyboard?

  12. linbey says:


    I guess if you want an el-cheapo piece of crap keyboard. A good keyboard will cost you $50 or more

  13. Mudpuddle says:

    Typical case of one size fits all.

  14. Marshfield says:

    Gotta be reasonable and add something for “handling”. still have to pay someone to put the thing IN the box, put the label on it, tape it up, etc. There ARE costs beyond what UPS will require.

  15. sahhhm says:

    Goodness, $16 for shipping?! That seems quite overpriced for something so light.

  16. Crabfeast says:


    Define “good,” because a $50 keyboard with 200 extra buttons and lights that don’t do shit isn’t what I consider to be good. I bought a standard 250 Logitech keyboard from Newegg recently for $6.99, and it’s the best keyboard I’ve ever had. Well, I guess it would be worth it to pay more for wireless, if that’s what you’re suggesting.

  17. AgentTuttle says:

    @Corporate-Shill: Of course it costs more to ship it this way because LESS packages get into the truck, the truck requires fuel. If only mother nature had a lawyer.

  18. nonzenze says:

    Typical case of one size fits all.

    Consumerists apparently fail to realize that having 50 different sized boxes/envelopes/tubes would be considerably more expensive than one.

    Given the pressure to cut costs, I’m certain every aspect of Dell’s business has been examined for efficiency. If it was cheaper to ship in smaller boxes, they would.

  19. @AgentTuttle:

    Actually no.

    Most freight trucks are weight limited rather than volume limited.

  20. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    When I look up the item (keyboard cover DL900) on the Dell website I see that $16.00 is for *Next Business Day Delivery*. 3-5 Business Day Delivery is only $4.99.

    I challenge anyone to find a cheaper rate on the UPS website.

  21. legwork says:


    Are you suggesting the status quo is good?

  22. othertim says:

    What will it take for the Grocery Shrink Ray to be pointed in the direction of the Stupid Shipping Gang? That’s a crossover I’d love to see.

  23. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    @Marshfield: “Gotta be reasonable and add something for “handling”. still have to pay someone to put the thing IN the box, put the label on it, tape it up, etc. There ARE costs beyond what UPS will require.”

    Um, I don’t pay WalMart a “handling” fee for the cashier to put my items in a bag and hand them to me, so why should someone pay Dell to put their purchased items in a box? Those WalMart cashiers DO cost money, and so do the bags…

  24. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Even with “handling”, Dell’s $16 Next Business Day rate is cheaper than what you’d get by going direct to UPS or the post office.

  25. PyroBor says:


    lolz @ ur 1337 name

    /end offtopic/

  26. AgentTuttle says:

    @Corporate-Shill: If everything was packaged with such stupidity, the truck would be full long before the weight limit was reached.

  27. papahoth says:

    @Corporate-Shill: Ir “doesn’t”

  28. DrJimmy says:

    Good help is hard to find.

  29. guilliam says:


    That’s what I was expecting when I saw the shipping cost. After all, the OP did say ‘Dell made with fast shipping’ and anyone who’s ordered from Dell should know that if they shipped fast, you had to have requested it AND paid for it :)

  30. Aladdyn says:

    @aaron8301: But youve already done the “handling” part. ie you walked through the warehouse and gathered all items “ordered” and delivered them to your “truck”

  31. lchatburn says:

    I think people are missing a key point, when it comes to finding these small items shipped in big boxes…

    Your goods are not being packed by people.

    Dell, Newegg and the other giant online retailers have huge warehouses, with automated picking robots, which place the goods on conveyors, which fly around the warehouse and end up at the packing machine, which packs everything in the same way. A single set of standard boxes for all goods makes it far easier to create a machine to box them. The machine boxes it, and sends it on to the loading dock, where Dell has the courier truck on standby. They don’t just call UPS/Fedex/etc. when they have things to ship… They have a truck there at all times, with courier company staff constantly scanning, registering and loading your packages onto the truck, until it is full, and then it leaves and another one pulls in. This is how your products gets packed and shipped within minutes of your order being confirmed, and how you get it next day.

    It’s a seriously automated, high-efficiency, high-reliability process that aims to be fast and lose as few packages as is possible – something that you couldn’t do with hand packing. The trade-off is that some items get over-packed.

    And yes… They have specially negotiated rates with the carriers for a box of that standard size. It’s also easier for the carriers to stack and shelve, so that helps them too. You’re really not losing any money on shipping weight/size with this policy.

    Moreover, you’re not affecting the fuel usage of the truck very much when it delivers. An almost-empty box requires less physical work to transport, so it uses less fuel per box, and the truck runs the same route every day, by and large, so you’re not making a difference in terms of distance or weight.

  32. mgy says:

    @Aladdyn: I hate handling charges because it should be inherent in the price of the item you’re purchasing.

    You do not claim that an item is a certain price, say, $19.99, and then charge an “assembly” fee to put the item together, a “international shipping charge” to send the item to their warehouse, a “delivery” charge to send the item to your local store” a “stocking fee” to put the item on the shelf and then a “display” fee to dust the product and display it prominently once it is there. All of those things are added together and displayed as an item’s “price”. Then a customer looks at that price and makes a conscious decision whether or not the price is acceptable for the product offered.

    Handling fees are just another method of claiming an item is one price to reel in the customer and then trying to skim a little more profit once you’ve hooked them. People on eBay do this all the time by charging exorbitant shipping.

  33. pfeng says:

    @linbey: For industrial applications, one rarely needs (or wants, since they’re rapidly trashed) a high-end expensive keyboard. These don’t tend to be used regularly, just once every so often when the operator needs to enter a brief instruction.

    One keyboard condom may cost more than a low-end keyboard, but it costs far less than multiple keyboards destroyed by metal chips :)

    @bcsus83: My only conclusion is software to enable your keyboard condom to interface properly with your Dell(TM) keyboard.

  34. Edge231 says:

    Dell did not ship those. It was their distributor, which Dll has a agreement with – Synnex. I can tell by the packing list.

  35. Aladdyn says:

    @mgy: Handling fees apply to something shipped to you as opposed to something already in a store. It does require extra labor to make many small shipments to different places as opposed to few big orders to the same place. And some stores do charge assembly fees for items that come partially assembled like bikes. I think it makes sense to list the handling fee separately, most people understand that they will have to pay extra for something they are ordering.

  36. niccernicus says:

    @Marshfield: So, does Dell just have a bunch of temps sitting around who pull the orders? No orders guys, no pay. C’mon, that’s like saying there should be a cooking & serving charge at McDonald’s, cuz hey, someone has to nuke the burgers and bring u the tray.

    The only time I can accept “handling” fees is in the case of a company trying to recoup any unexpected charges. Case in point, our UPS calculator on our website sometimes shorts us $1 or so on a sale, due to the shipping being slightly off. Solution, add $1 handling. It also covers things like UPS deciding the package weighs 3.1# and ups the charge from 3#.

    ……I hope Dell gives their workers a bit of the kickback on the extra shipping money on that condom.

  37. @Aladdyn:

    Yes handling fees are appropriate.


    Since dedicated mail order /internet companies know the manner of sales and their cost of operation, why in hades are any of these companies charging a handling charge?

    Like @n1ckel5: said, there is justification for a small charge here and there. But only if the charge is to cover incidentials, such as the VISA hit on the freight charges.

  38. Angryrider says:

    I see something wrong with the OP. He should at least check around for prices. But he gladly paid $16 for shipping? That’s nuts. There are plenty of other places that’ll sell it for cheaper.

  39. Rusted says:

    CNC machine throwing aluminum scraps? Makes me wonder if some of the safety shielding has been removed.

  40. Sixxtwo says:

    @bcsus83: Yup, for size comparison.

    @IfThenElvis @Angryrider:: I unfortunately, didnt do the final order on them for shipping selection. Damned if we didn’t have a good laugh when they showed up, tho.

  41. SAGoon987 says:

    Title: Consumerist Sixtwo has too much time on his hands.

  42. Sixxtwo says:

    @Rusted: Nope, no shielding even came with it. Its a 2.5 Axis mainly used for woods and aluminum wallplate production. Gantry table style (open top w/ motor above).

  43. Sixxtwo says:

    @SAGoon987: And is bored on a saturday. Also! Enjoy your Styxroll!

  44. kayfox says:


    Heh, and a keyboard condom costs alot less than machine downtime… especially at places like Boeing.

  45. differcult says:

    Editors…Stop, these post are pointless now.

  46. mlgrnt says:

    If one were smart he would use his own shipping account. Dell offers the option of supplying your FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc… account number and charging it to your account. It is generally less expensive.

  47. MrEvil says:

    @Crabfeast: The OP Mentions CNC machines. Do you think that the machine shop he works at wants their machinists at the hourly rate they get to waste time changing keyboards on the workstations? Yeah, they could hire an IT guy to do it, but I charge $45 just to drive out and say hello. I’d charge $10/seat after that JUST FOR THE KEYBOARD install and cable management.

  48. taznhell says:

    In an effort to go green most companies such as DELL have instituted a system that packages according to dimesions. HeightxLenghtxWidth this means that an item such as this would have a box determined by those paremeters. Most systems can not calculate whether it can be folded or not. I am sure that given this error they will make the appropriate changes to ship smarter. However, if you use Ebay or any other online service the shipping charge would probably be the same.