On “Postage & Packing”

I’ve been reading a lot of books, papers and blogs recently about online marketing. It’s probably true that many sites have really nailed the whole user experience thing. Sites such as Amazon are great at getting us to them – their reputation, our loyalty, high search rankings. And when we are on-site and we find what we want, there is plenty of reassurance that it is the right product – photos, descriptions and, especially, user reviews. We trust these sites. We trust them not to sell us fakes, or skim our credit card or sell our data to fraudsters.

But they are all rubbish when it comes to delivery.

I guess we all realise that “postage & packaging” is really a stealth mark-up. Somehow, we convince ourselves that if it isn’t included in the advertised price then we don’t need to include it in the cost of purchase. So, we get charged an extortionate price for them to put the goods in a cheap cardboard wrap and send it in the post. You want it in three days rather than five? Sure, that’s double. Overnight? Yippee, more profit.

And why can’t they be upfront about the dreaded p&p? Why wait until the very end of the buying process to add the delivery tax? Amazon have a particularly good scam: buy three things in the same basket, unwittingly from three different suppliers (when you thought you were buying from Amazon!) and pay three delivery taxes. Oh joy unbounded!!

And then comes the ritual of doorstep delivery. Despite the fact that they remain stuck in 1960s industrial relations, hell-bent on self destruction, the favourite deliverer remains the Royal Mail who now deliver once per day at noon.

When I’m not in.

So, armed with my “sorry I missed you” card, I have to wait until Saturday morning, drive to the central Post Office (ten miles round trip, say two quid in diesel), park (add another two quid for minimum of an hour) wait in line, show an ID and collect my goods.

What!!! I pay through the nose for postage and packing, then I have to pay more to go and collect it?

Look, if you’re reading this and you work for an online retailer:

– Show me the price inclusive of reasonable delivery – next-day great, day after ok, anything longer forget it.

– Delivery is not the same as dispatch. I don’t care when you dispatch it, I’m only interested in receiving it.