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Never take free shipping for granted! That’s what a Georgia woman learned after being charged more than $7,000 in shipping for about $88 worth of toilet paper on Amazon. It turns out, any shopper could wind up paying an outrageous shipping cost if you don’t pay close attention to the total cost of your order.
Barbara Carroll is a building manager who placed an order for three boxes of toilet paper. The boxes were delivered to her home, but days later she noticed thousands of dollars deducted from her bank account.
“There was this order for three cases of toilet paper for $88.17 and shipping $7,455 for a total of $7,543.12,” Carroll told WSB-TV. “After I screamed I thought, ‘Oh this is not a problem, this is Amazon and Amazon will take care of it.'”
Initially, Amazon did not offer Carroll a refund.
In a different online shopping nightmare, a couple from Gallatin, Tennessee, was recently charged more than $1,000 in shipping for some paper plates! Lorie Galloway, a Prime member, bought heavy duty paper plates for $24 and free shipping — or so she thought. Lorie’s husband ended up noticing the $1,080 shipping charge.
What’s Behind The Excessive Shipping Fees?
In both of these recent cases, third-party sellers appear to be behind these shocking charges. According to Amazon, third-party sellers are independent sellers. Roughly half of those sellers keep their products in Amazon warehouses for Amazon to ship — the rest use Amazon’s website for sales, but ship items from their own warehouses.
For items sold directly by third-party sellers, the shipping time and price can vary.
Amazon does have clear guidelines for its sellers. Regarding excessive shipping fees, Amazon says, “sellers cannot set excessive order fulfillment and shipping costs.”
Amazon did eventually refund Carroll for the shipping cost of the toilet paper.
As for the paper plates, The Galloways reached out to the third-party seller to dispute the charge for the paper plates unsuccessfully. That’s when Amazon agreed to open an investigation.
Amazon concluded that the Galloways were not overcharged for shipping. According to Amazon, the seller said they’d “sent the plates with expedited service,” as selected by Lorie Galloway. However, Galloway insists expedited shipping was never a part of her order.
The Galloways did later get word from Amazon that the shipping would be refunded.
How To Avoid Out-Of-Control Costs
There are a number of ways to ensure you know the exact cost of your order on Amazon, including shipping. The first is paying close attention to that last screen in the order process. Always review the order before confirming any purchase.
According to Amazon, never make a payment directly to a seller by bypassing the Amazon checkout process. If a seller asks you to send funds using a different payment method — stop the order and contact Amazon customer service right away.
Consumer experts with WSB-TV suggest paying with a credit card for all online purchases instead of a debit card since using a debit card is like paying with cash. Credit cards give you an extra layer of protection if you notice unexplained or unusually high charges.
If you want to avoid third-party sellers, or just stay informed about who you’re buying from, read the information on the product page. For example, AmazonBasics lightweight on-ear headphones are shipped and sold by Amazon according to the product page.
Mpow active noise cancelling bluetooth headphones are sold by Patozon and fulfilled by Amazon. Keep track of those three key words: shipped, sold and fulfilled.
If you’ve already made your purchase, you may notice a missing Amazon box when your package arrives. One writer says the paper towels she ordered from Amazon came sealed in Target tape! Bottom line — Amazon has the reputation for keeping third-party sellers in check, but you also need to do your homework.