If I don't know the weight of an item I will usually look at several ads for the same or similar items to see if it's in the ballpark. My experience has been that many members underestimate the weight of an item, leading to higher charges at ship time.
I usually make an offer inclusive of shipping so that if the seller grossly under-estimates it's on him to make up the difference.
When I did question shipping cost regarding an LP being shipped by Media Mail (THE cheapest and slowest form of delivery), I was informed that the inflated cost was for shipping AND handling. This was not part of the ad and nothing that I know of can be shipped without being handled. I no longer buy from this seller even when he has something of interest (which is often).
Undoubtedly some sellers inflate the weight to try and make more profit, but I think it's mostly bad estimates. People in general are lousy at estimating size, weight, numbers and time. Unless you have a scale at home, it's easy to be off by a factor of two or three if you're just picking something up and guessing the weight. Most won't bother to take the goods somewhere to get them weighed.
I never had a bathroom scale until recently when my doctor recommended one to keep track of some medical issues. I found a digital one on sale for $10, and it's remarkably accurate. I've shipped a number of things since I got it and it's never been off by more than a pound. If you do a lot of shipping, it would be a cheap way to get accurate weight estimates, even if you don't care what your own weight is.
Like Rlwainwright, when I'm buying something I tend to make offers inclusive of shipping to avoid any problems or hard feelings.
As an aside, 25 years ago when the UPS limit was 50 pounds, I had a UPS driver that could pick up a box and tell whether it was 49 pounds or 51 pounds. Amazing.
I had a selling transaction just the past week where Canada Post's online estimator gave me an oddly high number. The buyer brought it up, and I agreed to go to the post office, and informed him of the actual cost, which was a third of what Canada Post's website quoted on the same mass and dimensions.
Clear, honest, two-way communication goes a long way towards avoiding hard feelings when anomalies come up.
A separate postal quote for something else was about approximate, so go figure.
That old shipping AND HANDLING bit is what the record clubs used (and still use) to make a profit. Same with Amazon shipping charges, although they are more realistic. The best ads for me are the ones that include shipping. Then at least you know up front what total cost will be.
Seems like there's fodder for a joke to be written here.
My butcher always rests a finger on the scale, perhaps he sells on Audiogon.
I am always up for a good joke and welcome them, but I do not recall seeing a thread about this and felt it was worthing asking. I hope to learn and laugh so hopefully this keeps rolling.
I think some sellers might pack their items with greater care which increases the cost of shipping. It's been my experience that the actual cost of shipping is always higher than the shipper's web site estimates. Personaly I'd rather pay a reasonable amount more for better packing than have to deal with the consequences of "cheap" shipping and especially handling. In the past, I ate some pretty expensive "shipping estimate expenses". Now, that I'm more conservative, any over charges, have been less than $2.00. The cost of packing is usually many times that amount. As both a seller and a buyer, I hate to see new higher than agreed upon expenses. Recently I have tried to include shipping as part of the asking price, but, I wonder if the Audiogon opening listing [item.......price] format might discourages some from clicking on the ad for further investigation, because they assume the price is inflated and don't realize it's the net cost?
Often, it's easy to verify shipping wieght by looking the same item being sold by other sellers. Usually, the anomally will be obvious.
Also, I agree with Unsound about packing. IMO, you have to consider the cost of boxes, bubble wrap, peanuts, labels, etc. These items can easily add $15 to the cost of shipping.
oh well.......thinking outloud again, nevermind.
I agree about many of these shipping estimates being inflated, but consider this: I notice a lot of sellers dont't seem to have a manual (which usually gives the dimensions and weight) and they don't keep their boxes and many do not have the remotes that come with the item. I personally don't buy from anyone who can't manage to keep the remote & manual.
Also, a manufacturer's website can usually give the specs for the unit, so it can't be too hard to guesstimate what the weight might be. If the shipping price is estimated too high, I'd pass on those goods!
when quoting shipping, the package dimensions are almost as important as the weight. I find that the shipping calculators listed in ads don't take this into consideration and shipping charges are often more that what was agreed to at time of sale. Sometimes the actual weight of an item isn't known until it is packaged up and again this is sometimes done after payment is made to seller. If people tend to mislead as to weight for profit sake, then they will mislead about the items itself. I will always check at shipping site if things do look right.
I will include packing expense [either double boxing, or a special kind of expandable foam] in my shipping charges, although usually it costs me slightly MORE than what I actually charge. And don't forget that there is usually an extra charge for "oversize" boxes [watch out when UPS and the USPS pulls out their cloth tape measures]! This can substantially add to the shipping charge.
I try to photo first, THEN pack and get a weight and dimensions, so that I can give a reasonably accurate quote for shipping...very easy using the UPS website.
Viridian, your butcher should have been more careful with the cleaver :-)
Interesting post -
I am just waiting for ebay shipping practices to move on to audiogon. Take a look at how often the shipping for an ebay item - regardless of cost - is fixed at $30 or 40 plus insurance etc etc. Talk about buried profit. And also talk about knowing the true cost of doing business...
As Tvad points out with his usual precision, the real cost of peanuts, packing tape etc has nothing to do with what you have to pay to the carrier, never mind the time to organize it all, figure out why a label is not printing etc.
Half my garage is filled with potentially useful packing materials that I recycle from shipments to me. One more reason that with their free materials, free online tracking and total integration with Paypal, USPS Priority is the best deal in town for most smaller items.
There is one other great deal out there if you tend to buy a lot from Amazon, and that is Amazon Prime. Basically a flat fee which buys you two day shipping on every single item you buy from Amazon regardless of size or weight for a year. Trust me, its saved Christmas and lots of birthdays at no cost to me.
Just read the fine print because items that do not ship from Amazon are not eligible.
Nice topic. In my case it is a matter of which carrier you feel more comfortable with. I tend to gravitate to Fedex. they seem to have less breakage in my area than UPS. DHL, BAX and others are not players in my area. Fedex charges dimensional weight whereas UPS does not. For this reason Fedex tends to be a bit higher because the dimensional weight pushes the package into a different weight category. Thus, maybe sellers inflate the weight to cover incurred shipping costs. In my experience an online quote on shipping rarely matches the final shipping cost.
Chuck, you said, "For this reason Fedex tends to be a bit higher"
I've calculated shipping cost at UPS.com and Fedex.com on more than a few occasions for the same package using dimensions, weight, and destination point. Each time Fedex comes out cheaper than UPS. For me, the online calculators for Fedex have always been very close to the actual cost and I've shipped audio gear many times.
eBay shipping quotes are FAR more expensive and abused than anything I've ever bought on this site. I've sold and shipped enough items to be able to guess what shipping cost would be to me and I've never been scammed here, that I know of.
Jihley and Foster_9 seem to share the same experiences I have. Double boxing really raises the costs.
A friend told me once he wont use UPS because they have conveyor drops of up to 6ft in sorting facilities, so he only uses Fedex wich doesnt employ the same process.
When I am buying, I guess I have never been concerned with what the seller lists as the weight. What matters to me is 1) what the actual cost of shipping will be, and 2) will it be packaged to arrive safely? I *always* consider the total cost of the deal, and negotiate that way. Regardless of what they list as the weight, I always appreciate it when they are open about what shipping cost they intend to charge.
When I'm selling, I always list the weight and shipping costs using the calculator. I normally will weigh the item and add what I expect the packaging material to weigh. For heavy items like an amp, this is usually 5-8 lbs of packaging. I shipped a subwoofer once and the packaging alone weighed over 15 lbs. OTOH, I've NEVER had anything I ship damaged in transit. If a buyer doesn't like the cost of shipping I'm quoting and want to negotiate it - I'm open to that - provided the price of the unit is at a level the total deal meets my bogie.
A few other things - I would much rather pay a seller a slightly inflated shipping rate - including a "handling uplift" if I feel they will properly package and deliver the unit intact. Indeed I'd rather pay the extra $ for heavy packaging and care taken by the seller than to deal with someone who is going to have it "professionally packed" at the UPS store - for which it will cost $80 for $5 of packaging material and poor packing. I usually add in $3-$5 extra packaging costs into the quoted shipping charges (based on the A'gon shipping estimator). Sometimes I have a box and packing material available, but usually end up buying material (a box, or styrofoam sheet). Further, as others have said, It usually takes a good deal of time to package and ship. Anyone who thinks this $3-$5 "profit" is unfair, is under no obligation to extend an offer for to me.
That's funny about FedEx not using the UPS practice of a 6 ft "conveyor drop." Today outside the Post Office a postal employee and I watched as the FedEx delivery guy proceeded to unpack boxes from his delivery truck by *heaving* them out of the back of the truck onto the ground! I'd say there was at LEAST a 6 ft drop involved. The postal employee turned to me and said, "We are not allowed to handle boxes that way. If there is anything glass inside any of those boxes, it is now broken." I guess every carrier, despite its official practices and policies, is subject to the individual practices of its individual handlers. We looked quizzically at the FedEx employee when he was done, and he just shrugged, loaded stuff onto his dolly, and was off.
In general, I've found Canada Post to be competitive, or a better value than Purolator, UPS (or OOOPS if you prefer), or FedEx.
Servicewise, Puro, UPS and FedEx have angered me on several occassions with mislaid, misdirected or poorly handled packages.
While I'm whinging, UPS' Customs Brokerage coming into Canada from the US conducts borderline piracy. I've been asked with a straight face for $30 in customs charges for a $49.95 item.
Back on the subject of buying and selling on A'Gon I agree with Bdgregory about the inherent value of paying to have something arrive in one piece.
A lot of people that list on e-bay reduce the sale amount and transfer it to the shipping charge to save money on e-bay's listing fees which is based on the value of the listed item. It is not a scam and a lot of bidders recognize that.
Ebay has nothing to do with Agon and there is a flat fee for listings here.
Sorry your majesty, I was only trying to shed some light on Sc53 comments earlier in the post. You always have a choice not to purchase from sellers who you believe are attempting to get rich off of your hard earned money. So, instead of sitting there wringing your hands about being taken, just stick them in your pockets and move on.
That smartass swipe was a cheap shot, I was pointing out how one has nothing to do with the other.