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can you charge someone without showing shipping costs?

Posted on 2014-04-18
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Last Modified: 2014-04-19
I have a client who is trying to get me to build an ecommerce site without showing the shipping charges.  This breaks online ethic standards in my book, but I would like to know if it is even legal to do.  Is this common (i have never seen it)

They basically want to take the charge, give them the chance to choose their shipping option, but not reveal the cost.

Their reason is because they don't know the shipping cost until they put the package together.  The store I have built from them is integrated with all shipping services so I can calculate these costs up front, but they prefer not to.

Basically, I need some fuel to back to them with to say, "see, this is why you can't do that"  Any thoughts?  Or am I the one who is off here.
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Question by:Shaye Larsen
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jhyiesla earned 400 total points
ID: 40009249
I'm not a lawyer so I can't comment on the legality of such a thing, but this may weigh with them.  If I was a buyer looking to purchase from them and they can't tell me up from what my shipping charges are going to be, I'd move on and I suspect that most people would. I understand if they need to build some handling charges into what UPS or USPS would charge to actually ship the package, but they should build that into the price of the item or tack that on as an up front charge to the real shipping fees.

This is a bad business model.
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LVL 36

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by:Kimputer
Kimputer earned 400 total points
ID: 40009446
Any survey or focus group research will show this is an extremely dumb move. I can't imagine anymore than 5% of the visitors checking out actually continuing to the payment page with these kind of hidden cost.
You can even prove it to them by have a shipment charge page main page (even they won't reveal the prices, you can still put something on that page, maybe a sort explanation). The only thing important is that you can show them this will be one of the most visited pages.
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by:junipllc
junipllc earned 400 total points
ID: 40009453
Every e-commerce site I've ever done, worked on, or heard of discloses shipping charges up front. And I've been around the block a few (too many) times.

Mike
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LVL 84

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by:Dave Baldwin
Dave Baldwin earned 400 total points
ID: 40009684
I don't know of any 'legitimate' business that does not show the shipping costs.  Even eBay requires their users to show the shipping charges as a separate item.
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LVL 54

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by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
Scott Fell,  EE MVE earned 400 total points
ID: 40010476
What typically  happens is you develop an algorithm to calculate the shipping charges.  The shipping charges can be well above and beyond the actual shipping charges in order to take into account miscalculations and prevent you from eating the costs.  

There are api's within ups and fed ex to figure this stuff out.

I agree it is a dumb idea, but you can have a message stating something like, "We want to take the time to give you the best, most accurate shipping charges.  Once we process your order, we will contact you via email.  The typical shipping charges for X are $$$, Y = $$$ and Z = $$$.

Actually, the fine print of any merchant agreement I have seen includes not charging customers for mail order until the item is shipped anyway. So there is that.
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