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Jan 11, 2012 12:20 PM

Williams Sonoma Shipping Charges (A tip and a warning)

Given a couple of years of Williams Sonoma gift cards, I decided to splurge on the 9-1/2 quart dutch oven in Dijon. It’s available only online.

Incredibly, their shipping charges are 11% of the order. Which for my dutch oven, worked out to be $37.50. That’s ridiculous given the real cost of shipping UPS. So, I asked for a supervisor who agreed to deduct half that.

So, a helpful hint for Chowhounders. And a note to Williams Sonoma: You might want to take a look at the marketplace. If I didn’t have the $200 in gift cards, I would never have bought from you.

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  1. Shipping can get real expensive at times. I try to wait until the "free shipping" offers pop up - of course, that won't help you with the gift cards from WS unfortunately.

    I ordered a Christmas tablecloth through WS before Thanksgiving. I'd waited for years to get this particular one and could finally splurge. The shipping was around $18.00 and I accepted it, as I wanted the item which was on backorder. While I was waiting for the email that it had shipped, I noticed that if I ordered it online I could get free shipping. My item had been on back order forever, and I had no idea when it was going to be shipped, so I called them to see if they could apply the free shipping to my order. The rep was nice, but said that she couldn't do that - if it was an issue of an item that just went on sale she could adjust the price, but the shipping was already applied. I didn't get upset or anything, and I told her okay no problem and can you give me some idea when it will finally arrive?

    I got it in time for Christmas, and I looked at my bank activity online at some point and noticed that she did indeed deduct my shipping. I'd like to think that it was because I wasn't a beeotch and she was happy that I didn't kick up a stink. Saved me some money, so that was a nice holiday surprise.

    2 Replies
    1. re: breadchick

      @ Breadchick. I had the same experience in re how nice the sales manager was. She told me she was operating under the rules given to her. I get that. I figured by posting here someone in some decision-making capacity at WS will realize that without my gift cards, I would have made my purchase on eBay or stopped at the LeCreuset outlet outside of town where I could have gotten a much better price...and not paid for any shipping.

      All that overhead in their physical stores...and they try to nickel and dime on shipping? Not a good policy in this marketplace. Glad I don't own the stock.

      1. re: SarahInMinneapolis

        What would make you think that chowhound is the place to post to get someone in power at WS to listen. Best to contact them directly. Last I checked WS doesn't own chowhound, nor have official representatives posting here.

    2. For 30 bucks you can get free shipping for a year, I'd have just signed up for that.

      4 Replies
      1. re: rasputina

        Nope. I won't support their existing shipping policy by buying into that. I won't be buying any future LeCreuset pieces from them. And to think, they could have bought instant long-term customer loyalty by waiving 18 bucks, never mind the full price. It's a buyers' market, people.

        1. re: SarahInMinneapolis

          Oh I get ya.

          sorry I bothered posting.

          I don't expect business to just bow to my arbitrary demands. No one forced you to buy the pot from WS. There are other sellers.

          1. re: SarahInMinneapolis

            I was under the impression that they did halve your shipping cost, based on your OP. So, your loyalty is where at this point? And yes, it is a buyers' market and I'd say with some confidence that the regulars at Chow are pretty savvy buyers.

            1. re: SarahInMinneapolis

              Why aren't they allowed to charge shipping on in-store purchases? They have costs (overhead of running retail space) that sellers like Amazon don't. So, certain things cost more. But the consumer benefits by having their stores be a test kitchen/showroom, something Amazon doesn't offer.

              I'm all for taking your business elsewhere, but next time you want to research Le Crueset pieces, where will you go to try them out? (I mean that rhetorically... not all of us have an outlet nearby... and anyway the last outlet I went to didn't sell all their pieces)

          2. It is not just the cost of UPS. Someone has to pull the product in the warehouse, label it and ready it for shipping. Probably have to do some other paperwork as well. These warehouse folks need to be paid. Free shipping MIGHT mean WS would have to cut back on the dozen or so glossy catalogs they have printed and send out each year where not much changes; MIGHT have to down grade their stores to resemble a Circle K/seven-eleven (depends who is reading this where); kill their website, and the list goes on. Shipping is really reasonable these days across the board. It is the added on handling charges that rack up the total cost.

            11 Replies
            1. re: dcrb

              Wowzer. Strange responses.

              Nobody under 35 or 40 cares about glossy catalogs......snail mailed to their homes. I started and ran a business that uses shipping. I know what the costs are.

              Have you heard of a little company called Zappos? They ship free and return free. And have so for years.

              Summary of my point: My prediction is WS is in trouble. They don't get the future, let alone current reality.

              My minor point was to empower consumers. And if you don't want to be empowered? Then you are saps. Happy to have you subsidize what I will no longer pay for.

              1. re: SarahInMinneapolis

                Sarah- does Zappos have a brick and mortar joints? If not, then they can afford to offer the freebies. Makes sense.

                1. re: SarahInMinneapolis

                  When I saw "warning" in your title, I expected to hear a story somewhere along the line that they made a mistake in your order.

                  To compare Zappos and WS is like comparing apples to oranges. Last time I checked, I couldn't find a Zappos in the mall that I could walk in and handle products, satisfy my instant gratification (dire needs), or give me instant refunds. I'm not going to say for sure that WS can survive without a web store, but I hate to see corporations in general start to think it's no longer "smart" to operate physical stores because of this "current reality".

                  During this past shopping season, I felt that WS was trying to entice us back to walking into a store. They gave us a $10 store credit for every $50 purchase, in-store only.

                  I'm totally OK with someone charging me $500 for shipping, as long as it's clearly advertised and I'm not being misled. Whether I give them my business is a different story. If I were you I would have either sold the gift cards on eBay for cash, trade for a gift card from a store/restaurant that you actually like, or get a brand new gift card (shipped free) and give to someone else who might love the store.

                  I appreciate your thoughtful advice for all of us. I just think that it's a bit unfair for WS. Afterall, January isn't known for shopping. WS, and various stores, were doing a 20% off + free shipping on all cookware two years in a row some time between Black Friday and Christmas.

                  1. re: SarahInMinneapolis

                    "Nobody under 35 or 40 cares about glossy catalogs"

                    What does age have to do with this?

                    "Summary of my point: My prediction is WS is in trouble. They don't get the future, let alone current reality. "

                    WS was in trouble (really), and may still be in trouble (I don't know). It is geared toward a very different crowd than or Zappos or others. Its goals were never about providing you the cheapest goods. It is model as a high end kitchenware store. In other words, it does the selection for you. When you walk in a Williams Sonoma, you know everything you see are high quality (at least expensive). That is the concept Williams Sonoma is selling you. Whereas online stores like Amazon is meant to provide you relative low price and huge selection, but it does not screen anything for you. Amazon, for example, provides you the cheapest to the the most expensive. You have to do your homework.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        I agree. Also, WS seems to be the sole agent for new equipment introductions like All Clad which gives them and their clients an air of exclusivity. And the catalogs do cost money to print and send. That has got to hurt profits somewhat.

                        1. re: dcrb

                          That is true. All Clad, Shun, Henckels ...etc, all have exclusive with high end kitchen stores like Williams Sonoma and Sur la Table. I wonder how the relationships go. Do the manufacturers launch their new conceptual cookware at Williams Sonoma? Or does Williams Sonoma requests and designs the exclusive cookware. In other words, how much does Williams Sonoma and Sur la Table are involved in designing new/fashionable cookware.

                          I know Williams Sonoma claims it is involved in the All Clad d5 design.

                          I have recently bought a Nordic Ware Egg Waffle Iron from Williams Sonoma, and I just do not see Nordic Ware initiated this. I am willing to bet WS did.

                          On the other hand, the $1000 Zwilling Henckels knife looks more like a Henckels's idea than a Williams Sonoma idea, but I could be wrong:


                      2. re: SarahInMinneapolis

                        And nobody at this home over 75 cares about those glossy catalogs, either. What a nuisance to get them stopped.

                        If one buys from W-S, I think a $30 fee for free shipping for a year is fabulous. Just today, after a free month, for $79, I signed up for Prime membership at Amazon. It doesn't even include shipping for all their items, either. (An added plus, though is 2-day shipping to your home.)

                        Shipping costs matters!

                          1. re: rasputina

                            Me, too!

                            First order after just signing up about an hour or so ago, I ordered some dill weed!

                            Sometimes I've noted that I will get an item in 1 day; hope that doesn't stop.

                            I don't know why I waited so long to sign up.

                          2. re: Rella

                            The catalogs are a bloody nuisance. One or two a year is more than enough. They are excessive about it. And I agree, if one is a regular WS shopper, $30.00 is cheap and a smart way to go.

                      3. If you sign up for their credit card you get free shipping and $25 off your first purchase. No $30 fee. Info on their website.

                        8 Replies
                            1. re: blondelle

                              Res ipsa loquitur. She spelled it wrong, but really - blondelle, me too. I had to look it up and still have no idea what the heck???

                          1. re: blondelle

                            no shipping info at all, or no $30 fee for their card info? I found info on both, I am not sure what the problem is, they seem to explain clear enough, the credit card is different then the $30 shipping free for a year.


                            they are very clear about the charges, while the prices may be high, they are listed, so I don't understand the problem. And its nice that they reduced the price for the op. I don't understand the lynch mob. I have never purchased anything from Williams Sonoma because their prices are far too high for me, and I likely never will for this reason, but there is no smoke and mirrors, I know they are expensive and am not surprised the shipping is either. They may be able to charge less for shipping, but that their target market already spends more then they should on the items, I would expect the shipping to be in line with that.

                            1. re: TeRReT

                              Have to agree With OP. The actual shipping charges are probably miniscule compared to the "handling" charge. When you are spending alot (relative, I know) of money on a high end item, it is ridiculous to be nickel and dimed. Anyone ever buy a Mercedes? They never nickel and dime their customers...btw, I never did, but my former boss did and I dealt with them all the time. She expected the best and they treated as such.

                              As an aside, I think the comment regarding age is referring that most younger people are more likely to order online than walk into a physical store. Heck, soon enough there won't be any phone books. Young'uns just don't use them. I would say persons in their 40's are probably the last generation to use them.

                              1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                Hmm, well, I can't see where I'll ever witness a Mercedes being delivered by UPS, but I seem to recall that there is a delivery charge on vehicles that is included when you buy a car. I can't say that Mercedes includes that, but I paid for a delivery charge on my Pathfinder.

                                Sadly, I couldn't get the Nissan non-stick exterior and it needs a good wash now and then. Not dishwasher proof, but no chipping on the enamel yet, so I'm good.

                                1. re: breadchick

                                  Lol. Funny. Of course, the point being that when you spend alot of money, you expect a certain level of "customer courtesy." Most companies, when selling high end items will gladly credit back something as trivial as shipping, or in the Mercedes case, free tune ups, oil changes, gourmet food and drink in the Service Dept waiting area. So, it would be surprising if WS did not at least discount, if not totally remove the s/h charge when OP complained to a supervisor. Which obviously, they did. Sadly, I think in these tough times, we will hear about these type of stories more frequently, as companies are less willing to compromise in these situations.

                                  The issue wasn't that there was a s/h charge, just that it seemed grossly expensive for the item. IMHO, WS did right by the OP.

                                  1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                    Thank you, Jerseygirl111. That was my point. I have a ten-year-old Land Rover that the dealership still gives me a free loaner on when I have it serviced. You can be darn sure that dealership has my truck-buying business for life. WS, on the other hand, now gets my browsing business but not my buying business.

                          2. OP - I agree with you. After our wedding, returning all of our gifts (stuff we didn't really want that much anyhow) allowed us just enough money to buy a 7.25qt Le Creuset oven from Macys. Even though I had to pay NOTHING out of pocket, it STILL hurt to pay like $80 over amazon value for the SAME item. I understand where you're coming from!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: LaureltQ

                              So, basically you're PO'd that someone gave you gifts that you didn't want and you got a oven from Macy's at no cost to you. It was a gift, so to speak.

                              I'm all for saving the money and looking for the best buy, but if someone GIVES YOU a gift and you return it for something that you CAN use - and somehow you think that it's your given right to complain about the difference with Amazon prices? (Okay, my brain is hurting and that was a really long sentence.)

                              Perhaps you may have wanted to leave out the whole "returning all of our gifts" part. That truly sounds ungrateful, however logical it may may be.

                              1. re: LaureltQ

                                When I got married I used a registry. I got things that I liked and use.