If you don’t want to read an overly analytical piece on shipping and online carts, just skip this altogether.
So, this morning I woke up to find adafruit had found my somewhat disparaging remarks within an hour of me posting them, and seemed rather concerned that I retract/change my wording, because they never pad prices. I commented that there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with it, it’s quite a common practice, it’s just something I don’t particularly like. I’d rather see the product price reflect the price you need to get to stay in business, and shipping being shipping, and nothing more. The net price might be the same, but I just feel better about it that way.
I played with their cart again before I left for work, and found that every item is at least 0.1 pounds (45g), and there’s no scaling of that as you go up. Some things count as 0.2 pounds. I completely endorse minimum weights. These are handpacked kits, and there’s a lot more to a kit than just the sum of the parts on mouser/digikey. But, if I order 1 magnet, it’s 0.1 pound. 2, 0.2 pounds, 4, 0.4 pounds. If I order 40, my order is calculated as weighing 4 pounds. This is clearly wildly inaccurate, and rather than converging as the number of items goes up, it just stays flat. Ramping out with ever increasing error.
You can pick any item. An xbee adapter kit, weighing in at 12g packed, actually counts as 0.2 pounds, or 90g. So with 5 of them in the cart, we’re going to get billed for a whole pound, and the shipped weight will only be 50g or about 0.1 pounds, plus the packaging. If you look at the shipping estimates, you’ll see that adafruit calculate their packaging to be 0.2 pounds. This is entirely reasonable, and sensible of them to add on for packaging.
Which leads back to my first post yesterday. I got charged for 1.6 pounds shipping. Which, although not super cheap, is reasonable, given the difficulty in locating some of these parts elsewhere. But, clearly, my order didn’t weigh that much. It simply couldn’t have! Adafruit claimed in their comments yesterday that they weigh every parcel before it goes out, and while that’s absolutely true, as they need to weigh it to work out how much they’re paying in shipping, I’ve already paid for shipping by that point, based on what the shopping cart calculator decided. See the picture of the packaging, where adafruit only paid for 6 ounces, not 1.6 pounds that they charged me. Note, this is _not_ a clerical error, with an extra decimal point or anything, 0.6 pounds is over 9 ounces.
I’m quite happy to believe that adafruit had no intention of price padding, but if I pay for 1.6 pounds of shipping, and the merchant only pays for 6 ounces of shipping, well, I call that price padding. I really do believe they probably had no intention of doing this, nor even knew they were. They’re far too active in community outreach and education to be knowingly doing this, but I pointed this out this morning, and have had no further comment from them, other than “am I going to update the post / title”
And now some pictures