One of the biggest hidden costs to shopping online is dissatisfaction.
That’s because if you don’t like an item, or it doesn’t fit or the color is all wrong, you often have to pay hefty shipping fees to return the item to the retailer. But a new subscription service launching today allows you to pay $49 a year for an unlimited number of returns to any retailer.
The big revelation is that it also works on Amazon.com.
The program, called Return Saver, was launched today by Middletown, Conn.-based Clarus Marketing Group. Members of the return shipping service will receive free shipping on packages up to 50 pounds, packed in a standard-size box, and returned to an address in the contiguous U.S. using FedEx Ground.
To use the program, customers must print out a return label from its website, and then drop the package off at any FedEx location.
The interesting part about this program is that it works on pretty much any website, including Amazon.com, which despite having very generous shipping options doesn’t make returning particularly easy. Currently, Amazon will deduct the cost of the return shipping from your refund, even for those who pay $99 a year for Amazon Prime.
Many free shipping programs have cropped in recent years to help retailers compete against Amazon, but this new return shipping service is not one of them.
For example, Clarus Marketing Group’s other program, freeshipping.com, which costs $13 a month, offers free shipping for a number of retailers, including Sears, BestBuy and Target. Another example is Shoprunner, which offers free two-day shipping across a number of online stores, including GNC, PetSmart, Neiman Marcus, Toys R Us. It tried to capitalize on Amazon’s announcement earlier this year that it was raising the price of Amazon Prime to $99 a year, by giving away its service for free for a limited time.
So, if you can stomach another annual fee, this service might pay for itself pretty quickly. A one-pound item being shipped in an envelope via FedEx Ground costs a minimum of $7, so based on that very conservative estimate, it would roughly take seven returns for it to pay off.