Shipping Charges Outrageous

April 9, 2007 at 11:14 PM · I ordered a mute from a national mail order music company for $10.95 or thereabouts. The shipping cost $7.95. The mute came US Mail with no postage amount on it. I took it to the post office and asked how much this cost to send? Their answer was around 50 cents. when I queried the company about this they said that the shipping is based on item price and so-called handling. The mute works as advertised, I love it, but no store or Luthier locally had any.

Has anyone else encountered anything like this?

Replies (28)

April 10, 2007 at 01:38 AM · well, if you do not get negotiate an all inclusive cost with the merchant, you can expect surprises. caveat emptor.

which merchant? so we know who to avoid?

April 10, 2007 at 01:44 AM · i have seen merchants that have a tiered standardized handling charge system. thus any amt (for goods) under a certain amount will be one handling charge.

this case is indeed a little silly. the order was probably filled by a part-timer with an hourly rate of 600 dollars. could be one of the tax attorneys that i know:)

April 10, 2007 at 03:21 AM · This is standard practice in many industries. I recently went online to order some small bolts (specialized cycling parts). The bolts cost $6 for 6, but the shipping was amost $10. They could have fit in an envelope--it should have cost 50 cents! So I had a local shop order them for free.

I look at it this way: lots of times I order stuff and shipping is free. Strings from Shar are free shipping for orders over $40. I received a 30 lb. photo printer with free shipping--could easily have cost $30. Shipping charges never make any sense. The best thing to hope for is that it all evens out in the end.......

April 10, 2007 at 03:27 AM · Sometimes it pays to off to ask the shop. In my case, I was contemplating ordering a carbon fiber fine tuner from Luscombe violins in Canada, but the cheapest shipping rate to the USA was $15...for a $15 tuner that weighs less than a gram! So I emailed them stating that THEY stated that is was less than a gram and asked if the standard rate applies. They said they would ship for $4. I'm happy, they're happy. End of story. BTW, carbon fiber tuners are not a bad invention.

April 10, 2007 at 04:17 AM · It was a major company whose name starts with an S. The mute is actually superb, though, lots of positive comments. They emailed me and said the shipping and handling was based on their item price. Oh well, I tried.

April 10, 2007 at 05:22 AM · I recently made the mistake of adding two bow stoppers (that weigh almost nothing - lighter,I think, than a mute) to my order of several individual strings from perhaps the same company that starts with an S. The person who took my order didn't mention the shipping charge, only the total. When I received my order I found out that I had paid $8.95 shipping. I should have just ordered the strings (free shipping)and waited to order the bow stoppers with something else. I emailed the company suggesting that the people who take the orders should mention the shipping charge. But I never got a response.

April 10, 2007 at 06:02 AM · Moral: never order something without first knowing the shipping charge. You can/should always find out what shipping is going to be before clicking the magic "Submit" button. Example: last Friday I cancelled an order from the state of California for a $4.95 map when the shipping charge came in as $7.96 additional. And I told them why (a good policy with merchants, obviously had no impact in my government example).

By the way, said company does clearly state that adding non-string items to a strings only order subjects everything to regular shipping charges. It's their privilege to make that their policy, and it's my privilege to buy from somebody else.

April 10, 2007 at 07:57 AM · If you think that your shipping is expensive you should try international postage costs for violin stuff, it makes yours look like small change. But on the good side even with expensive international shipping most things still turn out cheaper than buying locally.

April 10, 2007 at 09:13 AM · Jasmine, thats so true! For me the shipping charges make everything more expensive than buying locally. The funny thing is that sometimes buying form a smaller place will actually reduce the charges.

I used to buy books mail-order long before Amazon etc. who would wrap up the books and take them to the Post Office and charge me whatever the post office charged them. That is good, honest service!

Places like Amazon end up being expensive for overseas buyer because of their postage plus per item handling charge: adds up to hefty shipping fee, wiping out all their discount!

You are in Australia, but for those members who are in Europe, it worth looking out for places like or who offer free shipping to anywhere in Europe.

April 10, 2007 at 10:05 AM · In the 80s there were a bunch of photography equipment dealers in NYC doing mail order. They'd all try to have the lowest advertised prices, in big bold type in magazines, but the "shipping and handling" would be $50-$75 or more! I assume from running each other into a hole advertising the lowest price. It was still cheaper than buying locally though.

April 10, 2007 at 10:09 AM · A bit of topic:

Emmanuel wrote about carbon fibre fine tuners.

Please elaborate! What are the benefits for the sound?

April 10, 2007 at 10:16 AM · I don't know why but here in Australia pretty much everything is outrageously priced, like for example a set of high end Pirastro cello strings are $350+ AUD whereas you can get them from the US for well under 2/3 that cost including shipping.

Jim was talking about photography equipment, don't get me started as that is a whole new area of over the top pricing in AU compared to any other country

April 10, 2007 at 11:03 AM · The shipping and handling charges are annoying, but what they're really charging is "handling" since the shipping, unless you're requesting an expedited process, is minimal. Handling's where they make their profit, particularly when the prices (such as in strings) are so discounted. And some big sheet music stores (I think) don't have a big inventory-- they have to procure the music from the publisher before sending it to you, which is why has varying lead times for the shipping of music.

I prefer the minority of mail order firms who put the full price up front, shipping and handling included. Too bad L.L. Bean doesn't sell sheet music and mutes. (The mutes would sport flying duck icons.)

Well, the reality is what you're paying for is convenience. Can you hop in your car and for less than the S&H price (factoring gas and the value of your time) buy those mutes or that copy of Vieuxtemps 5? I can't, so I end up doing the mail order thing.

I pays to compare S & H prices, particularly when buying sets of strings, which weigh very little.

April 10, 2007 at 11:17 AM · you just know some merchants will come up soon with ,,,shipping is free with handling charge.

April 10, 2007 at 12:36 PM · Don't know which "S" company you dealt with, but some of them have free-shipping weeks from time to time. This should be a lesson and reminder to all of us to ASK. If you use online ordering, typically the shipping pops up as you type through the pages to send payment, so you can always cancel if it is highway robbery. The big "S" that I sometimes order from, Shar, had free shipping last week, so I sent for some stuff on my wishlist. Sue

April 10, 2007 at 01:03 PM · for 2 years now I have been intending to ship my Musafia case back to Italy for a "rehaul" - guess what is the reason for my indecision.

All together, shipping and estimated reconditioning, @ $300. Ouch.

April 10, 2007 at 03:38 PM · My wife is going to order the Zyg Violin book for me from Amazon, but she's waiting until she wants something so the bill gets above $25. and then she gets free shipping.

Jasmine, can you get somebody in the USA to buy the strings for you and mail them to you?

Also, my son filled up his Mitsubishi (13 gallons)yesterday in Orlando, Florida, where he is based with his film company, and the cost was a bit over $70.00. Gas there is $5.00 / gallon.

April 10, 2007 at 04:00 PM · ray, to make things more complicated:), watch out for this...

with some online vendors, once you make a commitment to buy by clicking that button, even with clear knowledge of shipping and handling charge to pay, you will then be confronted with a mandatory insurance fee not disclosed initially:)

i guess when vendors try to compete with low ball pricing, they have to make up somewhere.

April 10, 2007 at 04:10 PM · A certain National Strings Mail Order/Internet Company, "S", is offering free ground shipping for the month of April. Sorry Ray.

April 10, 2007 at 04:20 PM · Just be glad you don't live in alaska. The same postage stamp but MUCH more to ship almost anything regardless of true shipping cost. It's just a sneaky rip off. We have learned to be really careful but sometimes you have no choice.

April 10, 2007 at 06:14 PM · Ouch, Ann. Thanks for the info. As I mentioned before, the mute itself is great.

April 11, 2007 at 12:55 AM · >Moral: never order something without first knowing the shipping charge. You can/should always find out what shipping is going to be before clicking the magic "Submit" button.

Yup. Been there. Cost me $5.95 to learn this (on a $1.99 item), but did I ever learn.

April 11, 2007 at 09:46 AM · Jasmine,

I have just checked out the Dance of Delight website. They say that for Australia (an example they give), shipping would only about 7 pounds for a bow & rosin (again in the example given). The only drawback is that as it is a fairly new business, they do not have many string brands as yet, but they seem to be adding things all the time.

The free shipped Rosin I ordered arrived within 3 days.

April 11, 2007 at 10:39 AM · Hi,

I've shipped a number of artium violin bows to the states. I include shipping in the price. Are customers in the U.S. having to pay any taxes or duties?

April 12, 2007 at 02:14 AM · Shipping is never free. Someone is paying a carrier.

Handling is never free. Someone is paying for packing material and time.

My preference in business is to indicate charges at the front end. This keeps my clients from going berserk when upexpected charges show up!

On the other hand, if terms get linked to ordering, I suggest looking at those terms. I run into this a couple of times a year, generally when someone expects a refund including shipping, custom work, custom materials, etc when they send something specially ordered for them back after a month.

April 12, 2007 at 11:04 AM · If I can sell a bow I don't mind losing a little profit. I've never had a customer looking for a refund but if i do I certainly won't ask for a refund of the shipping costs. Have you found customs etc asking the receiver for a fee?

April 12, 2007 at 11:18 AM · i don't remember paying anything when receiving shipment from canada. but every time i ship something to canada, the receiver gets robbed royally.

April 13, 2007 at 10:25 AM · I am in the US.

For incoming shipments, I pay a brokerage fee, collect shipping, and duty. These often add up to 10% or more. This is on modest import shipments. 40 guitars, for example.

Except postal service. Postal service deliveries of small amounts of stuff seem to come directly here without additional costs.

I don't know why this is.

Items I send to Europe typically have VAT and duty applied.

Same with Canada.

I suspect their postal service is more closely linked to their customs.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Silent Violin
Yamaha Silent Violin

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Find a Summer Music Program
Find a Summer Music Program

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases Business Directory Business Directory Guide to Online Learning Guide to Online Learning

Dominant Pro Strings

Antonio Strad Violin

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases


Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Metzler Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin



Johnson String Instrument and Carriage House Violins

Potter Violins

String Masters

Bein & Company

Annapolis Bows & Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine