Barbara Carroll works as a building manager down in Atlanta Georgia whose responsibilities include keeping the janitorial supplies properly stocked. Looking to avoid a drive to the store, Carroll decided to buy some toilet paper through Amazon. Just like countless times before, she put what she wanted in the cart, three cases of TP for $88.17, hit “Place your order,” and went on with her day. Boy was she surprised when she checked the bank statement to see a charge of over $7,500! Going into her account and looking closer she realized that while the toilet paper was less than $90, the shipping was $7,455. That’s a little bit more than what she felt the delivery warranted. But it’s Amazon, they’re huge, they’ll take care of it no problem, right? Not so right. Since the order was done through a third-party seller Amazon is being less than helpful. They can charge whatever they want for shipping. (Update: After two months and countless news reports on it, Carroll has been refunded for the order.)
How Can I Avoid That?
You probably don’t want something like this to happen to you, few people do. So what can you do to avoid this kind of trap?
- Always check your order totals. Sites will tell you right before completing the order what exactly you will be charged. Even on what seems like a safe bet, like Amazon, people like Barbara get tricked into being over charged every day. Surprise fees are common tactics to get people to pay more (usually not $7.5k but still). The low price gets you in, then shipping and handling jumps on at the last second to make the company money. This is even a concern with free items online. Commonly seen with watches, a company will give their product away for “free” but then charge a crazy amount for the shipping and handling. So in the end you are just buying a cheap watch in a different way.
- Use a credit card. Credit cards provide more protection than debit cards or gift cards. In situations like this where the seller isn’t going to help you can work with your bank to fight the charge. This fraud protection is only found with credit cards, paying with a debit card is basically paying with cash. Check with who you have your credit card through to find out your exact benefits.
- Shop with SupplyHouse.com. When you know you are buying directly from a reliable company (especially when you have before) it’s unlikely you will be hit with a surprise fee. It’s when you are buying from a marketplace of third-party vendors each with their own rules an no real accountability that it can become tricky. They can spring up and disappear without a line of contact. While we don’t sell toilet paper, here at SupplyHouse we have no surprise fees, employ a dedicated support staff ready to sort out any issue you may have (along with answer any other questions), and offer free shipping for orders over $99 in the Continental US. Free is better than $7,500. Stop by today for all of your plumbing, heating, and HVAC needs.