What are Shipping and Handling Fees?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 28 November 2018
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Shipping and handling fees are a combination of the charges required to pay for shipping something and the labor involved in preparing those items for shipping. The handling portion has the most variance in price, while shipping items tends to be about the same price for similar size weight items. Consumers will pay about the same price for shipping whether something is sent from the post office or from another company.

When a person orders something, especially from television or the Internet, he is often assessed shipping and handling fees. It may be hard to tell exactly how much a shopper is being charged by a company to “handle” a package. Occasionally, these charges will be itemized on the invoice or the shipping label may state the shipping cost. In some cases, the handling cost is quite a bit more than shipping.

This can be more common with products purchased online from auction web sites. Some sellers make their profit not on the items they sell but on the handling fees they assess when they ship the products. A seller who charges $5-6 US Dollars (USD) in fees on a relatively small item, and who sells a lot of these items, may make a considerable profit. While people who sell something do need to be compensated for the time it takes them to package and ship products, this may be considered by some an unfair rate and too great of an expense.


Many consumers also note that products sold on television often include free extras. Even if these are free, the buyer may have to pay shipping and handling fees to get them. It’s a pretty safe bet to assume that the seller makes a small profit on these “free” items by charging more in handling fees.

To avoid paying these charges, individuals can look to companies that offer free shipping. Sometimes, a shopper may be charged extra for the items he buys in order to compensate for free offers of shipping, but if a company is motivated to sell merchandise, this may not always be the case. A wide range of stores offer free shipping and handling to encourage shoppers, and some even offer no return fees if the item don't fit or isn't right in some other way. Consumers may note that the prices can be slightly higher than the same products sold elsewhere, but such sites often offer sales or coupons that can make these products more affordable.

Companies that have big online businesses may offer free shipping and handling for orders above a certain amount as an incentive to get shoppers to spend more money. Such offers typically do have limitations, but they may usually do provide extra savings. The idea is to get consumers to buy more, increasing sales and profits, and making shipping and handling fees unnecessary.


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Post 4

I ordered a DVD from a small business and they charged me $10.80 shipping and handling -- the DVD came in a standard DVD case inside a padded envelope. The shipping label said it was less than $1 to ship. It seems the "handling" was expensive. It seems, as this article says, there is money to be made in handling.

Post 3

I returned a merchandise to Kjordan because the jacket was too big for me. I used their return label but I paid the expense of the return shipment to their company. They received the merchandise but was surprised that they charged me $7.00 plus for the shipping. Now they are asking me to pay $40 plus because I ignored it. Is it legal? I will pay the $7 only but not the $40 maybe. --MS Sagg

Post 2

Crispety- I did not know that about Staples. That is good to know. For some reason I usually order from companies that offer free shipping.

I know it is only a few dollars sometimes, but for some reason I feel like I am getting more for my money that way.

Post 1

I know that Barnes and Noble offers free shipping on online orders of $25 or more. Staples offers free shipping on orders of $50 or more and if you place the order before 5PM, you get the merchandise the next business day.

This is standard delivery as far as Staples is concerned. Other companies do charge for the next day shipping. But there is no extra charge for this expedited service at Staples.

Also, if you place a phone order for the first time, they often waive the shipping fee in order to get you to call back and buy from them again. Their customer service is top notch.

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