Adafruit shipping prices, part 2. Or, tipping and fuel surcharges.

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

  1. hi karl,

    out comment is in moderation again – we asked if you’d like us to review your order and refund any shipping, either way since you devoted a lot of time to this we refunded your shipping while we audit the weights of some of the items. as we said before we do our best to get the right weights and take many things in to consideration from packaging to envelopes, to boxes and how orders are commonly shipped.

    to be clear, again, we do not make any money on shipping and we do not do “price padding” – this is the first and only time anyone has mentioned this is in any way. we think it’s unfair to say we’re “price padding” and that’s why asked if you planned to change the title or the post after we addressed this nearly instantly when we saw your post. all we asked if you’d update your post or title since we don’t price pad.

    we’re going to review our weights and shipping to see if we can better improve what we’re doing. we decided to refund all of your shipping, so either way – shipping is on us this time :)

    please email us if you plan to place a new order before we audit our shipping system, we’d like you to test it once we’re done.


Leave a Comment

NOTE - You can use these HTML tags and attributes:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>