Would you pay a $350 delivery fee for a $125 order?

Sent by Jonathan Stark on June 18th, 2019

The karate school that the kids and I attend is running a charity event to raise money for kids with type 1 diabetes. For every donation, a karate student will break a board to signify that we’re all doing a little bit to “kick diabetes” 😊

In preparation for the event, all of the students (something like 400 total) participate in classes to practice breaking stuff. Most everyone will be breaking pine boards, but some of the adults are also allowed to practice breaking cement.

There’s only one supplier in the area that sells the cement that we break in class. It’s a big industrial supply yard in a not-so-nice area of town that is about 30 minutes from my house. Taking an hour out of my day to load up my almost-brand-new Outback with 500lbs of cement is not my idea a good time.

So, I called to ask how much it would be for them to deliver a bunch of cement blocks to my house. The exchange went something like this:


Me: “Hi! How much would it be to have a pallet of 100 karate cement blocks delivered to $address?”

Clerk: “You can’t do that.”

Me: “Oh? Why not?”

Clerk: “It’d be $125 for the cement and $350 for the delivery.”


I found her choice of words especially interesting - i.e., “you can’t do that” - when in fact, I could do it if I wanted to… she just considered that doing so would be certifiably insane. Spend almost three times more for delivery than on the item itself?! Nuts!!!

Or is it?

I have picked up cement at this place before. There are lots of reasons why I would like to not do it again:

So… the question is not:

Does it make sense to spend $350 for delivery of a $125 order?

but rather…

Is it worth $350 to me to avoid this experience?

Here’s the thing:

The amount of the order is completely irrelevant in this equation.

Whether the 100 blocks cost five dollars or five thousand, the delivery charge is an independent consideration.

I wouldn’t be paying for a guy to load up 100 cements blocks and drive them to my house… I’d be paying to not be the guy. I don’t care how much the order is. I especially don’t care how much of the $350 would be profit for the supplier. I just want the outcome, which is to arrive home from work to a pallet of cement that “magically” appeared in my garage.

Yours,

—J