UPS Making It More Expensive For Retailers To Ship Your Large Purchases

When online retailers like Amazon began making a big splash with free or discounted shipping, a lot of what customers bought were books, DVDs, video games — items that didn’t take up much room. But now people are buying TVs, refrigerators, grills, furniture, and other large items online, and UPS is apparently tired of giving retailers a discount on these shipments.

When you or I ship an oversize package with UPS, it can trigger an automatic surcharge of $57.50, plus the shipper may apply “dimensional weight” to the shipment, meaning it charges not on the actual mass of the parcel but on a larger number based on how much room the package takes up during shipment.

But in order to play nice with retailers who also use UPS for their smaller shipments, the company has long given discounts or waivers to some online stores so that they didn’t have to pay these hefty surcharges on the large items.

Now the Wall Street Journal reports that UPS has recently begun telling some retailers that it wants to do away with these discounts on oversized parcels for at at least the upcoming holiday season — if not permanently.

In terms of size, a 50-lb oversize package currently costs a retail shipper around $29, according to the Journal. Some stores are willing to eat that charge if it means selling something worth hundreds of dollars. But if UPS does away with discounts and waivers on oversize packages for retail shippers, this same shipment will trigger and additional $57.50 large package surcharge and because of dimensional weight, it will now be charged as a 90-lb parcel.

Not many retailers are going to suck up all of that additional cost, meaning shoppers will likely either have to pay more for shipping or pay a higher retail price for these large goods.

This news comes as Walmart prepares to roll out its ShippingPass program for, which will offer free three-day shipping on a variety of items — with no minimum order required.

Meanwhile, Amazon is countering this news by offering free shipping on some smaller items to all customers, not just Amazon Prime subscribers.

The Journal notes that UPS has to deal with each retailer separately and may have to renegotiate contracts. It’s possible that these two mega-stores may still get some sort of reprieve given the sheer volume of shipping they do through UPS and the value that business might have to a competitor.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.