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Why is shipping so high?


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Hi All. I have a question that I am not sure if it's been asked or if this is the right forum for this but here I go.
Why is shipping so high? I had three subs. One month I only was to receive a map pack, a flip-mat, & a comic book. All smaller items. But it had to be sent in 2 shipments (one in a white envelope, and one in a white envelope inside a big box). And it cost $16.00 in shipping. I have to ask why couldn't it all be shipped in the big box & in one shipment since I'm getting a big box anyway. And $16.00 for shipping!
I live in Texas not another country. Miniature Market has shipping where anything under $100.00 cost only $5.99 & if it's over $100.00 it's free. I had to cancel my subs because I just can't afford the shipping.
If you ever get to having reasonable shipping I will come back but until then I am using Miniature Market.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

10 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm happy to explain our shipping costs to you.

I looked at your order history, but I couldn't find anything that exactly matched what you described. The two I spotted that were close were these: In June, we shipped a Map Pack, a Flip-Mat, a comic, and an Adventure Path volume, with a shipping charge of $11.53. And in July, we shipped a Map Pack, a Flip-Mat, and an Adventure Path volume (but no comic), with a shipping charge of $11.49.

First, let's look at what the Post Office would actually charge if we shipped those items to you in a single package. In either case, the weight of the items, plus a box large enough to hold them, plus some packaging to protect the items, comes to a little more than 2 pounds.

So let's go to the USPS website, and ask for quote on that parcel from our zip code (98052) to yours. Choose "calculate based on shape and size" (which also returns the rates for Flat Rate Boxes), enter a package weight of 2 lbs 2 oz, and select "package" for the form factor. The best rate you'll see ($3.61) is for Media Mail, but the contents of this parcel don't qualify for that rate. The next best ($7.15) is for a Small Flat Rate Box, but the contents of this package can't actually fit in that box. Next up is a Priority Regional service ($9.99) we aren't able to use. Finally, we come to the best actual usable rate for getting this package to you: $13.60 for the Priority Medium Flat-Rate Box, or about $2 more than we charged you.

However, we also have access to special rates for Bound Printed Matter. The problem is, to qualify as BPM, at least half of the weight of the contents have to be material that is both printed and bound. The Adventure Path and Comic Book are BPM, but the Map Pack and Flip-Mat are not. By kicking one of these non-bound items into its own package, that lets us send the rest of the items as BPM, which is so much cheaper that even when factoring in the cost of two shipping boxes and an entire separate small parcel, we end up saving you a couple bucks.

Paizo's shipping charges are designed to cover the actual costs of shipping your order safely, including the the postage and shipping materials, and we go to substantial effort to minimize those costs to you as much as we can—even when that means the warehouse has to pack two boxes instead of one because it saves you money.


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Vic, this is a great post. Could I suggest that you put this information into a link of some sort ("How is shipping calculated -- An Example")? It might save some headache for (and from) folks like the OP here.

Doug M.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Pawns, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I do not dispute the math listed above. It is accurate as to the links and what I know of shipping materials. What I do not understand is how every other company I tend to order from, their rates are significantly lower, usually 50% lower and often even more. Let's not even bring in the Amazon free shipping issue which is an entirely different beast. And I'm sure that Paizo will say they cannot speak to the nature of orders from other vendors over which they have no control or for the shipping costs related to packages of which they have no vital details. I just find it "interesting" that their rates are double or more of what other companies charge for similar products in similar weights/quantities. YMMV


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Class Deck, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
TwilightKnight wrote:
I do not dispute the math listed above. It is accurate as to the links and what I know of shipping materials. What I do not understand is how every other company I tend to order from, their rates are significantly lower, usually 50% lower and often even more. Let's not even bring in the Amazon free shipping issue which is an entirely different beast. And I'm sure that Paizo will say they cannot speak to the nature of orders from other vendors over which they have no control or for the shipping costs related to packages of which they have no vital details. I just find it "interesting" that their rates are double or more of what other companies charge for similar products in similar weights/quantities. YMMV

This has come up before and (beyond the existence of companies willing to take a loss on shipping) my recollection is that many companies ignore the restrictions on Media Mail.

As I recall the issue - if there's any advertising/promotional material in the printed matter it doesn't qualify and pretty much every Paizo product is excluded on this basis. Some companies probably ignore that rule on a "who's going to know?" basis, but Paizo are not interested in flouting the rules.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Pawns, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

That may be true for some of the shipments, but not the ones that are UPS, FedEx, or USPS priority mail. Those really confuse me


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Class Deck, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Yeah, I think that's just a case of some companies being willing to take a hit on shipping. I can't imagine many places get "special deals" the way Amazon does.

Grand Lodge

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

If you're already paying below MSRP, you wouldn't know if the seller is discounting the shipping, but adding that cost back to the sell price.

-Skeld


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Class Deck, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Skeld wrote:

If you're already paying below MSRP, you wouldn't know if the seller is discounting the shipping, but adding that cost back to the sell price.

-Skeld

Kind of, although all discounts aren’t equivalent.

Overseas shipping rates complicates the picture somewhat (a shipping discount benefits some customers more than others - a product discount is distributed equally to customers, regardless of where they live).


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

I'd be more ok with the shipping cost, if they came closer to Amazon delivery timeliness. Amazon routinely beats paizo by 2-5 days on new releases for me.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Class Deck, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

The UPS international priority option is insanely fast from Paizo to here (in Australia). It’s also very expensive though and won’t ship to a P.O. Box, for some reason.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Amazon also has numerous fulfillment centers that can potentially make use of shorter shipping distances and costs, is massive enough to run virtually without profit and so can strip expenses to the bone, and has been accused of operating some of the fulfillment centers in sweatshop style.

Paizo's never going to be as big, as immune to pricing things at a loss, and hopefully never as exploitive. So I'm OK with them not being able to beat Amazon's shipping.


USPS also has special rates for people who do volume shipping.

I find it 100% dishonest to ask someone to calculate shipping based on the public 'walk up to the counter' rates - because a business doesn't use those rates - or they shouldn't have to as a very small business can qualify for vastly lower rates.

The last time this came up I did a check and the actual business rate was more like $3.00 american.

More honest would be - because they have to hire people to ship directly and they pass that cost on - they pack the package well and will make it right if it's messed up. I don't care if they charge 100 bucks to ship something but telling people to use the public post office rates like they bring a truck of boxes to the front desk of their local PO is really not reality.


Pathfinder Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

Totally agree Ckorik... having worked in eCommerce, it's hard to believe that a company that ships product both domestically and internationally doesn't have any kind of partnership with USPS/FedEx/UPS where they're getting a better rate than walking up to the counter.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

5 people marked this as a favorite.

Not only did I *not* say that we pay over-the-counter rates, I specifically said we *do* have access to special rates, including the BPM rate that we used for his shipments. But I can also guarantee you that if we didn't use that BPM rate, and did what the OP suggested—put all of the stuff into a single box—the rate we would be charged would be only a few percent less than the over-the-counter rates that the USPS website quotes. The only way that we could ship that order for anything *close* to $3 is if we violated the Media Mail regulations.

We spent a *lot* of time and effort on our shipping code. It looks at all of the viable rates we have to ship your order, including all of the different ways that your order can be split up, and then presents you with the least expensive option we can find for each of the available modes (standard, priority, UPS, etc.). The quote you are given is designed to cover our costs (including the cost of packaging materials); it is *not* designed to provide profit. We do even periodically look at the shipping charges we've collected over a period of time, comparing them to our actual postage and materials costs for the same time, to verify that we're neither overcharging nor undercharging. And our operations team and tech team both spend a lot of time each year trying to bring you better options.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I've noticed my shipping went down 6 cents per shipment this year compared to last. :-)

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Wow. I applaud such observational skills. I barely pay any attention to what Paizo charges for shipping.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Somewhat relevant to this thread:

Yesterday, UPS announced that their rates are going up about 5% starting December 24.

Today, UPS announced profits of $2 billion for July–September—that's a daily profit of more than $21 million.

They also announced that they expect delivery volume for Thanksgiving through New Year's to be up 5% over last year.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Shipping approximately equals cover price for me, so I stopped paying attention a LONG time ago.


Let me rephrase this - as perhaps my point was less clear.

I think your shipping rates can be defended based on real factors (like paying warehouse people more than slave wages, and customer service like few others) - the focus on comparing to USPS rates rings hollow. You guys make up for the rates in other ways and in almost any other case of being asked about costs (for subs, vs. amazon pricing, etc) - you point out your strengths (free PDF, etc.) instead of trying to dance around cost. I don't understand why that changes when the question is about shipping.

/shrug I feel like you've always been straightforward about getting product where it best fits my budget - there are some things I won't buy direct from you because of shipping.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Wow. I applaud such observational skills. I barely pay any attention to what Paizo charges for shipping.

It used to be I only had the one subscription, so it was easier to notice.

Scarab Sages

I really haven't had much complaint about Paizo shipping costs. I mean sure, there are many other similarly sized companies that charge significantly less (or none for orders over a certain price) for shipping. But it just isn't that big of a deal to me.

What did chap my hide once, was when I ordered something 2-day air for like $60 or something (forget the actual price but it was quite significant) for either a flip map or a map pack so I could have it in time before I left home for Gen Con. And my confirmation email said it would still have 2-10 days handling. I was like, "what?" Why would I pay 2-day shipping price to get it in 4 to 12 days?

I am not sure if this is still how the express mailing options work with Paizo, but if it does, I would really suggest that the cost of expedited shipping include expedited handling. And if it doesn't, that the customer be let know right away so they can cancel the order if 4-12 days doesn't work for them.

EDIT: In October 2014, with a $10 discount, my shipping ended up being ~$27.00. And I did call Customer Support and they physically went into the warehouse and made sure it was actual 2-day shipping. So I got special treatment that day. Which I was very appreciative of.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Because it smoked some weed, duh. That's how you get high safely, kids.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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Ckorik wrote:

Let me rephrase this - as perhaps my point was less clear.

I think your shipping rates can be defended based on real factors (like paying warehouse people more than slave wages, and customer service like few others) - the focus on comparing to USPS rates rings hollow. You guys make up for the rates in other ways and in almost any other case of being asked about costs (for subs, vs. amazon pricing, etc) - you point out your strengths (free PDF, etc.) instead of trying to dance around cost. I don't understand why that changes when the question is about shipping.

/shrug I feel like you've always been straightforward about getting product where it best fits my budget - there are some things I won't buy direct from you because of shipping.

I'm sorry off the comparison to USPS rates rings hollow to you, but that's what the truth is—our shipping charges cover our actual costs of postage and packing. (I think I have now run out of ways to say that.)


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Vic Wertz wrote:
Not only did I *not* say that we pay over-the-counter rates, I specifically said we *do* have access to special rates, including the BPM rate that we used for his shipments. But I can also guarantee you that if we didn't use that BPM rate, and did what the OP suggested—put all of the stuff into a single box—the rate we would be charged would be only a few percent less than the over-the-counter rates that the USPS website quotes. The only way that we could ship that order for anything *close* to $3 is if we violated the Media Mail regulations.

Firstly, as a former mail carrier, thank you for not stuffing all the books into a single box.

Secondly, Vic is right about Media Mail restrictions. Whether any of us agree with their restrictions or not, the USPS takes those restrictions very seriously. If you violate them as a shipper, your shipments face much higher scrutiny and higher incidents of open-the-package inspections. Serious violations will result in the USPS imposing much harsher penalties, up to and including not accepting any packages the shipper ships at Media Mail rates.

Thirdly, there are sometimes cheaper ways to ship where another shipping company is paid, picks up the package, flys it to their hub, then drops it off at a local USPS distribution hub or local post office to deliver the "last mile." If you had seen how too many of those packages used to arrive at my post office... well, I know I certainly wouldn't want to subject my Paizo books to that kind of treatment.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Ambrosia Slaad wrote:
Thirdly, there are sometimes cheaper ways to ship where another shipping company is paid, picks up the package, flys it to their hub, then drops it off at a local USPS distribution hub or local post office to deliver the "last mile." If you had seen how too many of those packages used to arrive at my post office... well, I know I certainly wouldn't want to subject my Paizo books to that kind of treatment.

Paizo actually utilizes one of those services, UPS Mail Innovations.


Hawkmoon269 wrote:
Ambrosia Slaad wrote:
Thirdly, there are sometimes cheaper ways to ship where another shipping company is paid, picks up the package, flys it to their hub, then drops it off at a local USPS distribution hub or local post office to deliver the "last mile." If you had seen how too many of those packages used to arrive at my post office... well, I know I certainly wouldn't want to subject my Paizo books to that kind of treatment.
Paizo actually utilizes one of those services, UPS Mail Innovations.

That wasn't the one.


Ambrosia Slaad wrote:


Secondly, Vic is right about Media Mail restrictions. Whether any of us agree with their restrictions or not, the USPS takes those restrictions very seriously. If you violate them as a shipper, your shipments face much higher scrutiny and higher incidents of open-the-package inspections. Serious violations will result in the USPS imposing much harsher penalties, up to and including not accepting any packages the shipper ships at Media Mail rates.

I never used Media Mail as a quote - I used packages under 30lbs - within normal sizes - 50 pcs shipped at a time. Price to ship 3 bucks. This is a public quote for a business shipped package from the USPS website - not the over the counter rate that I'd pay if I tried to use a 'if it fits it ships' box.

Media Mail was an option - it wasn't one I choose - the assumption that it was is wrong, I wasn't going to harp on it because my point was how stupid using those rates as a defense was - but this was never about Media Mail - despite that being the assumption.

Liberty's Edge

Here’s the bottom line. Paizo says they are charging the minimum ammount they can to ship these packages out and cover the cost of shipping. They even seem to go above and beyond to look for ways to reduce shipping costs when they can.

These are good people and it’s a good company. If they say the shipping is as low as it can be for them to break even on the shipping, there’s really no reason to not believe them.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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Ckorik wrote:

I never used Media Mail as a quote - I used packages under 30lbs - within normal sizes - 50 pcs shipped at a time. Price to ship 3 bucks. This is a public quote for a business shipped package from the USPS website - not the over the counter rate that I'd pay if I tried to use a 'if it fits it ships' box.

Media Mail was an option - it wasn't one I choose - the assumption that it was is wrong, I wasn't going to harp on it because my point was how stupid using those rates as a defense was - but this was never about Media Mail - despite that being the assumption.

If you can point me to a way to ship any package under 30 pounds for $3, I REALLY want to know about it. If I could charge $3 plus the cost of a box and some packing to ship the majority of packages we handle without losing our shirts on it, it would be a total game-changer.

I searched the Domestic Mail Manual looking for what you might be referring to, and the closest thing I could come up with is Parcel Select Ground, which is one of the few services that involves a 50-piece minimum. However, it is both weight- and zone-based. According to this table, a Parcel Select Ground package over 2 pounds going to the original poster's zone—that's Zone 7 from here—costs $12.77. That is 83 cents less than the Priority option, but it's still $1.24 more than we charged him, or $1.28 more for the order that didn't have a comic in it. (And busting that order down into two boxes using that rate would be worse, not better.)

Scarab Sages

I think people might be missing that part of the cost of shipping is also handling. They charge for the box and packing materials.


Tallow wrote:
I think people might be missing that part of the cost of shipping is also handling. They charge for the box and packing materials.

Not to mention the labor costs involved.

Scarab Sages

drkfathr1 wrote:
Tallow wrote:
I think people might be missing that part of the cost of shipping is also handling. They charge for the box and packing materials.
Not to mention the labor costs involved.

I'm pretty sure the overhead of labor is figured into the payroll budget, not the shipping costs.

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