How much is convenience worth to you?

by Karen on November 12, 2013

Dollar billsI am allergic to paying for shipping. At least that’s how it feels when I get to the checkout page for an item I want to buy online, see the shipping charge, and back out at the last minute.

Shipping feels like such a wasteful way to spend money to me. If I can purchase the item for the same or close to the same price in a store without paying extra for shipping, I will do it — even if it’s inconvenient for me.

But I know everyone doesn’t feel this way. You could make a pretty compelling argument that $7 is worth the convenience of having the items shipped right to your door. Kacie at Sense to Save has been experimenting with grocery delivery. So far she’s been able to get free shipping for her groceries, but I know there are people out there who would rather pay that fee to have groceries delivered to their doors rather than trudge out themselves. Obviously, grocery shopping is a much more labor-intensive endeavor than picking up a few things at a store, so I can see how this could be a fee worth paying. Grocery delivery isn’t available in my area, unfortunately, but there are weeks when paying an extra 10 bucks to save the time it takes to shop for food would be worth it to me.

There are two factors I consider when I decide whether it’s worth it to pay an upcharge for convenience — time saved and percent markup. For example, if I’m paying a $10 markup to have $100 worth of groceries delivered to my door, I’m paying an extra 10% to save 2 hours of time. Depending on what’s going on that week, it might be worth it to me.

But usually the shipping charges are a much higher percentage for less time saved. For instance, yesterday I was shopping a sale at a clothing store, and the shipping charge was $7 for my $25 order. That’s a 28% markup, and it would likely take me 15 minutes to pick up the items in the store since I knew exactly what I wanted. Even though it was inconvenient to head out with my 3-year-old and 2-month-old, I couldn’t bring myself to pay that $7 in shipping. It may “only” be $7, but if I spent $5-$10 on shipping every time I made a purchase, it would add up astronomically.

I will also pay more for merchandise than I planned just to avoid shipping charges. If I have to buy $50 of merchandise to get free shipping, but I only have $35 of items in my cart, I will add $15 more in merchandise to avoid the shipping charge. I’d rather pay $50 for merchandise than $42 for $35 in merchandise plus a $7 shipping charge.

The only time I pay shipping is if I can’t get the item in a store or the online price is so good that even if I pay shipping, the total cost is still less than I’d pay in store.

There are lots of other situations where I won’t pay a convenience fee. I paid my water bill in person every month for two years to avoid a $3 convenience fee (I live just a few blocks from my city’s utilities office). Thankfully, they finally began offering auto-debit with no fee, so I don’t have to remember to go to the office every month on the 15th. I will drive all the way across town to find an ATM that doesn’t charge a fee when I need cash. I never have pizza delivered and always opt to pick it up myself to avoid the $2 delivery charge plus tip to the driver.

How do you feel about paying for convenience? Is it worth the money to you?

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Sense to Save » Blog Archive » Are you willing to pay for shipping and convenience?
November 14, 2013 at 1:34 pm


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