Harry & David Deliver Happiness

They are happier if you forget what was free

My order for the expensive Fruit of the Month selection went smoothly until it was time for Harry & David’s telemarketing person to process my credit card payment. When we got to the end, the $317.95 catalog price for 12 monthly packages climbed above the $400 line. “How can that be? Answer: Shipping and handling (S&H) plus taxes.

What about the free delivery note on the catalog in the middle of the cover shown here? The consumer must ask for it—otherwise regular shipping charges apply. I told the agent I wanted what was promised. Poof! $74 was deducted from the bill. Harry and David had been ready to collect 23% more for the delivery.

Harry & David’s main business is direct marketing and e-commerce. It does grow some of the food it sells, but sub-contracts most of it. Harry & David (the two are long gone) started more than a century ago with pears.  The food quality is still top-notch.  Whether Harry & David keep the free delivery promise depends upon whether a consumer remembers to ask for it.  If the consumer doesn’t ask, Harry and David won’t tell. 

Consumerist Takeaway: E-commerce entrepreneurs look for ways to slip in hidden S&H charges at the end of a transaction because by then the consumer’s attention is on delivery details.   The souped-up S&H charges are implied as actual costs of shipping, with sizeable profits invisibly added in. 

NOTE: “Fulfillment abuses” of consumers by corporations is a subject in my The Consumerist Manifesto Handbook, now available as a book or e-book. To order or read a sample, enter the title into www.BN.com or www.Amazon.com.



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