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By rpcelectronics
I have been buying parts for my company from SparkFun for a long time. In general, I have been very happy with pricing, delivery time and pretty much any problem I have ever had has been dealt with quickly. However, I have to comment on the recent shipping charges. They are starting to get out of hand. I just purchased almost $230 worth of ICs and the shipping for UPS GROUND was $16. The last time I ordered almost an identical order, I was given the option of economy and it was only $5. This time, if I wanted USPS, I was stuck with the $32 express option or go FedEx/UPS. UPS was the cheap option at $16.

Look, I understand costs, believe me! I am always battling costs just to stay in the game and trust me, I'm far from rich. Up until now, my flat shipping rate started at $7 and climbed a dollar every $100 more that a customer spent. This covered the $4.95 USPS priority shipping charge, packaging and labels nicely. Even with the rate hike up to $5.15, I am sticking it out with my current rates, because I don't want to scare away customers over a couple more dollars on the shipping end. No, I'm not losing money, but I'm also not wringing them dry either.

I don't know. After being a long time customer, it just struck me the wrong way I guess. Thanks for letting me vent a little :D
By CS Paul
Sorry to surprise you like that. The situation you describe came about from a recent change to our Economy shipping option. When we originally started using it, it was with the expectation that we could file a claim for a package that was lost. In practice, that has proven to not be the case. After losing a number of orders with no recourse, we imposed a $100 limit on the Economy option.

Again, sorry for the surprise. We just couldn't justify the amount we were losing on it.
By rpcelectronics
Paul, thanks for the explanation. That makes more sense now. I'll just have to make sure to work that into my future pricing projections.
By MichaelK83

I'd like to point out that the problem is much bigger for international orders. For an order above $100 my shipping options are now in the $40-$50 range. That's as high as 50% (!!) of the order value! Even if I stick with orders under $100, the cheapest shipping options (USPS First-Class Mail International) is around $18, which is still pretty high (close to 20% of order value). I don't know how many of your customers are international, but we desperately need better shipping options. I love sparkfun, but if this situation remains, I will unfortunately have to reconsider future purchases, because this is just too expensive for me. I hope it will not come to that.

Of the top of my head, I can think of two possible solutions:
1. The cheap solution - allow for cheaper shipping options for orders above $100, but under the condition that you will not be responsible for lost orders. I know I am willing to take the risk on myself, and there are probably others like me.
2. The expensive solution - if your international market is large enough, perhaps it's time to invest in some off-shore warehouses in a place that has more affordable international shipping options. For example, Hong Kong have very cheap international shipping AFAIK.
By CS Paul
Off-shore warehousing has been discussed, but we're really not near size for it to make sense any time soon. We do have a well developed distributor network. Have you looked at any of their websites?

We've tried telling people that we won't be responsible for lost packages. They just call their credit card companies and get the money back through them. If we can't provide a tracking number, there's no proof that we mailed it, and the customer wins the dispute every time.

Sorry I can't be of more help.