What is shipping surcharge?

A shipping surcharge is an additional fee added to a shipping cost by the carrier. Shipping surcharges compensate for extra expenses involved in additional handling, special service, unusual delivery, or other expenses inherent in shipping products with exceptional requirements or circumstances. There are several types of shipping surcharges that are commonly added to shipping fees. These include:

  • Delivery area surcharges, in which a carrier such as UPS or FedEx must deliver far outside their usual delivery range
  • Additional handling surcharges, for packages over 48″ long
  • Signature requirement surcharges, which vary depending on whether the carrier needs to get the signature of the person whose name is on the package, if the signature must come from an adult of 21 years of age, or if any signature will do
  • Residential surcharges, for deliveries made to a home or a home-based business
  • Declared value surcharges, to help protect parcels with contents worth at least $100
  • Print return label surcharges, for shipping with a provided return label
  • OS Extra Surcharge, which is a catch-all for additional fees for international shipping, freight, or other circumstances

To fully understand and prepare for shipping surcharges, ask for a full list of them from every carrier you use, and make sure you keep track of the surcharges you pay. Some merchants decide to charge additional handling fees on orders that will end up incurring a shipping surcharge to help offset the cost, but this needs to be balanced against the amount customers are willing to pay for their orders.

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