I have gotten in touch with a third party seller ( a hardware store in my case) and got them to combine shipping on 6 rolls of contact paper though. They charged me not quite 2x shipping on all 6 rolls and I went ahead and ordered them. Try contacting the the seller if it's a third party and see if they'll give you a break.
"was just about to buy 2 posters from same seller(generic) and same shipper(poster discount) but its charging twice for shipping both items. Is this normal?"
Some combine them and discount shipping accordingly; some do not. That's up to the seller, and I believe your Amazon order will ALWAYS show the shiiping applied to each item individually. If the seller combines orders, that'll be done after the order is submitted. At least that's what I've seen done the few times I've encountered that. If this concerns you, contact the seller directly and see what you can work out. They are under no amazon obligation to combine orders and reduce the shipping cost.
I've seen this kind of crooked pricing several times on Amazon, with third part dealers. $2 for a lego figure, plus $5 in shipping... that's $5 PER FIGURE! I didn't buy at that price. I find it bordering on the dishonest.
But another seller, from whom I ordered some cloth badges, charged about $4 for the whole order. That's an honest dealer.
Sometimes it seems dishonest; other times it just means that part of the cost of the item you're buying is buried in the "shipping" cost. Some may think that this practice, itself, is dishonest, but I'm not bothered by it. I look at the total cost, and if something is listed for $0.01, with a shipping cost of $4.99, I understand that the one penny price is not really the total cost of the item plus seller profit....
Please realize that Amazon set's 95% of the seller's policies and shipping fees, not the sellers themselves. However, most sellers are willing to work with you to refund excess shipping costs in order to get the sale (hey, it's easier for them to ship 10 items in one shipment than 1 item 10 times).
As far as the one penny books...you have to know they are only making money by the fees AZ charges for shipping and the price to actually ship. (meaning you will see this on some paperbacks, you won't see it on a heavy hardcover book)
Companies obviously profit from shipping; at least many do. Yes I have bought books of a penny plus shipping. There are three reasons for them to do that. One, they do not have to refund the shipping if the product is returned. Two, there is not sales tax on shipping, correct? Three, people assume that shipping is the cost of business and they often ignore it in deciding whetehr to buy something.
There are many items in Amazon I would buy more of but they charge shipping for each item so I don't buy anything or I buy fewer. And, in the shopping cart, Amazon does not make it obvious enough that there is shipping on a specific item. They show it, but not adequately enough. I had an item in my wish list and then ordered it. After the item was ordered I noticed the shipping. I have learned to not put something in my wish list if there is a separate shipping cost because otherwise when I order it I won't see the shipping until after it is too late.
It is dishonest when the seller charges more for shipping and handling than they pay out, and I get the impression that that happens a lot.
This sounds like an Amazon problem and not a seller problem. I typically go to the seller's main website and order there when this happens and usually receive lower prices and sometimes a promo code for free shipping.
I'm a seller - sometimes I get this too. What the buyers don't realize is that Amazon sets the shipping prices. Sometimes they're too low to cover the shipping (I just sold an 8# book, cost over $5 to ship media mail), and sometimes they're too high. For a large volume seller, the over/under charging probably averages out, to a small seller, it doesn't.
About your posters, they are probably somewhat costly to mail - more than $3.99, but shipping 2 posters is probably less than $7.98. A previous comment says it's dishonest to collect more in shipping and handling that actual cost... but they're not realizing that sometimes packaging alone costs more than $1. Just look at the total for your order and decide if that's what you want to pay. If you want to negotiate the shipping, why not email the seller and ask if they'll give a small refund on shipping since they'll be able to ship them both at the same time. As a seller, I frequently voluntarily give shipping refunds without the customer asking, or I'll upgrade the shipping to priority if that's economically feasible.
ETA: since my original post, the cost of shipping and packaging has increased quite a bit. As a seller of textbooks, the shipping charged to the customer rarely covers the postage including insurance and tracking. My complimentary shipping upgrades have been increasingly rare. I would still encourage a buyer to look at their total cost (including shipping, without requesting a discount) and decide for themselves if it is the price they wish to pay before finalizing their order.
>>>> It is dishonest when the seller charges more for shipping and handling than they pay out, and I get the impression that that happens a lot. <<<<
I think you're a little cynical.
Does it happen? Of course it happens. But not that often.
On Amazon, the way Amazon handles payments, each item has an associated shipping (& handling) fee, and the way Amazon's check-out and payment system works, multiple items from the same seller aren't combined. And when the vast majority of sellers don't get to set their shipping (& handling) fees themselves, you can't blame this on the seller.
(Also, in many cases what Amazon pays the seller is *less* than what they actually pay for shipping, not to mention costs associated with shipping, like boxes, packing material, and such.)
But the rest of the world isn't working on the Amazon model.
On eBay, some sellers may over-price shipping to make up for a low sales price, which saves them commission.
Do some sellers load the shipping costs to save on sales tax? Well, since sellers only have to collect and remit sales taxes for sales within their own states, and it's the buyers who pay the sales tax anyway, I very much doubt that anyone does that. And that's assuming you're talking about a state where the item is taxed, and the shipping isn't. That's a pretty convoluted scenario.
Most of the time in the real world, what you're paying for shipping and handling is pretty close to what shipping charges (or postage), plus other shipping costs (materials and labor) actually are, or you're paying less.
Because so many larger online sellers have resorted to "free shipping", I think many people have devalued shipping costs in their mind. "If <insert merchant here> is giving it away for free, it can't be that much of a cost, right?" And when their best reference point is the unrealistically priced First Class letter stamp at 44-cents to anywhere, people simply don't realize how much shipping really costs.
I worked in a hardware store 25 years ago. We sold paint virtually at cost (occasionally even at a loss). But we made a significant mark up on everything from paint brushes to drop cloths to thinner. People shopped around for the price of paint, so you had to be competitive. But they generally just bought the rest of their supplies wherever they ended up buying the paint, so it was easier to make your profit there. I don't think that's dishonest. And I suspect that virtually ever retailer has some version of that.
I see it as the same with shipping. SOME people price the item, but don't pay attention to the shipping costs. Some retailers cut their margins on the item and try to make the profit back on the shipping. It's just up to the customer to pay attention.
I chose my words carefully. I was quoted out of context. I certainly tried to make it clear that what I was saying does not apply to every seller. I did not say or imply that all sellers charge more for shipping and handling than their cost; it is obvious that that is not true. I said that when they do, it is dishonest. There are some things, such as books and electronics adapters, that the cost is a penny. I sincerely doubt that they get only a penny. Let me also state explicitly that I understand that sometimes it is not easy to be exact. That is understandable.
If Amazon is the culprit by requiring a seller to charge shipping for each item, then it seems foolish for a seller to do business in Amazon when Amazon has the policy of not charging shipping on $25 or more.
Warren Holzem says I am cynical for saying that some sellers charge more for shipping and handling than they pay out, then proceeds to list instances of it happening. I don't know how prevalent it is, but the important thing is that when it happens, it is dishonest. If Amazon does not have a way for a seller to offer free shipping when a specified amount or count of items are sold from their store, then they need to modify their software.
I was going to mention eBay but decided it is getting off-topic. Yes, it is very prevalent in eBay that the shipping and handling is inflated. I don't know all the details about that. I would expect eBay to attempt to not allow it if they are losing commissions, but eBay seems to be supporting it instead. I don't trust eBay very much.
But you have the "impression that that happens a lot."
All I'm saying is that while it does happen, it doesn't happen "a lot". What happens far more often is that what you're paying for "shipping (& handling)" doesn't cover the actual costs.
>>>> but the important thing is that when it happens, it is dishonest. <<<<
Is it dishonest that the retailer is charging you more for the item than they paid to buy the item? If it's not dishonest to mark-up those costs, why is it dishonest to mark-up shipping costs?
What's dishonest would be to not disclose the shipping cost until after an item ships (which does happen, although not on Amazon), and mark it up.
As long as the bottom line price is disclosed to the buyer it really doesn't -- or at least shouldn't matter -- to the buyer how it's allocated.
How it's allocated may be of concern to someone earning a commission on part of the sale, but not other parts of the sale, or to taxing agencies who can collect tax on part of the sale, but not on other parts, but it shouldn't make any difference to the buyer. The bottom line is the bottom line no matter how convoluted the calculations to get to it may be.
Question: "Is it dishonest that the retailer is charging you more for the item than they paid to buy the item?"
Answer: A retailer's cost is never disclosed, therefore it is understood and expected that is is not disclosed. It is also understood and expected that shipping and handling is the actual cost of shipping and handling; when that is INTENTIONALLY not true, it is dishonest.
"Some may think that this practice, itself, is dishonest, but I'm not bothered by it. I look at the total cost, and if something is listed for $0.01, with a shipping cost of $4.99, I understand that the one penny price is not really the total cost of the item plus seller profit...."
I am bothered by it. It tells me something about that company and it's marketing practices. That's not the kind of company/people I prefer to deal with. What if there's a problem? I make sure to avoid such listings unless the total cost really is much cheaper than other options (seems never is). These kinds of slimy merchants just try to distract you with their listing and fool you into spending more money. I go with the more "honest" listings.