In s couple of our last projects, we’ve seen some significant discrepancies from the shipping cost estimates that we provided and the final shipping cost charged. There are a number of reasons for that, for which I’ll do my best to outline.
1. Outdated Estimates
Shipping cost estimates that we provide are stated to be valid for about 30 days. While certain amounts like the fuel surcharge amount vary on a daily / monthly basis, the initial shipping cost estimates provided by the carriers are generally valid for a year. However, if it’s been longer than a year since your quote it’s likely the initial base charge has gone up by around 3-5% as the carriers increase their rates yearly.
2. Variation in shipping locations
Our estimate on shipping uses a 20% West Coast / 80% East Coast (zones 3 and 8 on the FedEx / UPS delivery zones) estimate to get the average charge. The vast majority of the Kickstarter’s we work with are approximately in that region, but even a few % points difference (e.g. 17% West Coast / 83% East Coast) will make a difference in the average cost of a shipment.
On top of that, Hawaii & Alaska are significantly more expensive to ship to and aren’t included. Of course, they are anomalies (in a 500 order Kickstarter shipment, we might see a total of 3 such shipments) but they do move the noodle a bit.
Another common problem is APO boxes. These are only delivered by USPS so pricing on this is often higher for delivery than for our normal shipments.
3. Shipping weight
Obviously, an incorrect weight provided to us for quoting from the actual product will result in a different final shipping price. However, it’s also worth noting that there’s issues with volumetric weights and packaging weight. Packages will either be charged based off their volumetric weight or their actual weight, whichever is higher. In addition, if your package is close to the nearest pound (e.g 2.8lbs), once the shipping box and packaging material is added, it’s often possible for such a shipment to cross over to the next weight category (i.e. final weight might be 3.1 / 3.2lbs which would result in you being charged for 4lbs instead of 3lbs).
4. Miscellaneous charges
These miscellaneous charges come from a variety of add-on services offered by UPS. This can include anything from address changes mid-shipment, shipping address corrections, extended area surcharges and undeliverable mail charges.