A very special shoe
November 29, 2007 7:29 AM   Subscribe

70 Euros to ship a shoe? What the heck is going on here?

That is not a typo - it's just one shoe. My boss left a shoe in a hotel in Rome that he is very keen on getting back. Apparently it was a very expensive shoe.

The hotel manager said it would cost about 70 Euros to ship it to the US. What!?! I checked the Fedex rates, and he is indeed correct. That's about US$140. Why is the rate so freakin' high?

Before I spend thirty minutes on hold with someone from Fedex who will probably not have an answer for this, can someone enlighten me? Thanks.
posted by Evangeline to Grab Bag (55 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Because it's what the market will bear.

You're flying a small package for 3717 nautical miles on a jet.
posted by grouse at 7:32 AM on November 29, 2007

Well I'm guessing it won't be the ONLY package on the plane.
posted by Evangeline at 7:38 AM on November 29, 2007

So I spoke to someone at Fedex. She didn't know what euros are. She also confirmed the rate and said it's typical.

Anybody from Rome flying to New York soon?
posted by Evangeline at 7:52 AM on November 29, 2007

Well, it's only 1.5:1, so it's $105, not $140. If that makes you feel better.
posted by smackfu at 7:52 AM on November 29, 2007

NB: EUR 70 is more like USD 104.
posted by Utilitaritron at 7:52 AM on November 29, 2007

Smackfu, I just spoke to a Fedex representative on the phone, and she gave me a quote of $149.
posted by Evangeline at 7:54 AM on November 29, 2007

It may be that I misremembered the rate I got from the Fedex website. Apparently it was more than 70 euros.
posted by Evangeline at 7:56 AM on November 29, 2007

It doesn't matter. They are trying to maximize the profit from that planeload.

Let's think about it this way. They can send a certain number of units over per plane. They're selling each unit for $140. At that price 100 units will be sold. They make $14,000, which is enough to operate the plane.

Now, if they change the price to, say $70 per unit, they aren't going to double the demand. Maybe they'll be able to sell 150 units instead. That's only $10,500. But the plane costs $13,000 to operate so they're suddenly making a big loss.

All numbers are made up, of course.
posted by grouse at 7:56 AM on November 29, 2007

Ship via another service. There are other couriers or just registered post.
posted by dobbs at 7:56 AM on November 29, 2007

Any mefites in or around Rome who want to volunteer pick up the shoe at the hotel and then mail it for cheaper?
posted by hermitosis at 7:58 AM on November 29, 2007

So I spoke to someone at Fedex. She didn't know what euros are.

That should worry you..

Anyways, most people are surprised at what services they rarely use actually cost. Out of curiosity, how much were you expecting it to cost?

Maybe it would be cheaper for your boss to buy a new pair of shoes? Or even one?
posted by Nugget at 7:58 AM on November 29, 2007

Any mefites in or around Rome who want to volunteer pick up the shoe at the hotel and then mail it for cheaper?

Has the concierge insisted they use FedEx or something? Why can't the concierge just ship it via registered post?

Also, to the OP, have you requested anything that would jack up the price? Overnight? Arrival on a weekend, etc?
posted by dobbs at 8:06 AM on November 29, 2007

dobbs, overnight/express is the only option from FedEx in this case. FedEx only offers ground service within North America.

I would say use the post office, but my eBay selling experience (as well as reading eBay seller forums) has me not trusting the Italian post office with any sort of parcel (though, as long as the parcel is sufficiently insured, I guess it comes out even)
posted by winston at 8:16 AM on November 29, 2007

I'll be going to Italy over the Winter Break, but unfortunately not to Rome. If you can get the hotel to ship it to my girlfriend's house in Milano, I'll bring it back with me to Newark airport, where I have a long layover on the afternoon of January 2 and you or your boss can come pick it up. This is a serious offer. Of course, it will cost you something to get the shoe shipped to Milano, and something to get out to Newark and back, and possibly parking and tolls. It might be worth it to just spend the 70 euros ($104, btw, not $140).
posted by ubiquity at 8:19 AM on November 29, 2007

We ship stuff to my sister in Belfast and there's no getting around it via standard shippers. You can try USPS (if there's a way to do that), but they tend to lose stuff. DHL seems to have lower international rates, what with them being the German post office and subsidized and all. Some of it is the cost of customs and red tape, some of it is pure profit and the rest is somewhere in between.
posted by yerfatma at 8:23 AM on November 29, 2007

AskMe is not an outlet for your frustration. "Can somebody please enlighten me?" is a rhetorical question. You're just complaining. I'm going to hazard the guess, without looking at your user page, that you're from New York, right?

Now, even though you haven't even asked me to, I was nice enough to go over here and check. Sure enough, without insurance, it costs 43,72 EUR to mail through Poste Italiane a package of less than half a kilogram from Italy to the United States, or 49,40 EUR with insurance. That's about $73. I'm sorry; that might seem egregious to you, but it cuts your cost in half, and I don't know why one earth you asked for FedEx when shipping this silly shoe. If you need to know, this service is called Paccocelere Internazionale.

Be nicer next time when asking strangers to do favors for you.
posted by koeselitz at 8:24 AM on November 29, 2007 [2 favorites]

My boss doesn't want to send it by regular post. Apparently it's a very, very special shoe - maybe it has magical powers. Maybe it's like the monkey paw, and you get three wishes.

Obviously the one shoe he does have won't do him any good now, and I don't know of any place you can buy a replacement shoe! I'm guessing $150 is less than half of what he paid for the pair. What's frustrating is that my boss has money out the ass. $500 for a pair of shoes would be nothing to him, and yet he's still grousing about how much this is going to cost.

No, I haven't requested any special services.

I think I was expecting it to be around US$50. I'm just a cock-eyed optimist.

The concierge didn't tell me which courier service he was using, actually. I checked Fedex because I figured that it had to be cheaper than what he quoted me, but it was about the same.

I'm going to check with DHL - it's the other courier my company uses. That's as far as I'll go. I'm not traipsing around town to drop it off at someplace that's cheaper. This was not part of my job description.

And somehow this has turned out to be ALL MY FAULT.
posted by Evangeline at 8:28 AM on November 29, 2007

Be nicer next time when asking strangers to do favors for you.

Good Lord! Please forgive me. Perhaps I didn't frame the question correctly. I wondered if there was a reason WHY it was so expensive, and I thought it was implicit in my post that I was looking for another method.

Yes, I'm in New York. I'm originally from Alabama, which I imagine makes my behavior seem even more egregious to you. A southern girl should have better manners, after all.

And "enlighten me" is not a rhetorical question. It means "explain this to me".
posted by Evangeline at 8:33 AM on November 29, 2007

Bless you, ubiquity, but I have decided that I'm not going to put anybody to any trouble.

It was a very kind offer.
posted by Evangeline at 8:37 AM on November 29, 2007

Also, think of it this way - if it was 70 euro a couple of years ago, that would be $70-ish, which wouldn't be too far off your $50 expectation.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:44 AM on November 29, 2007

Sorry, Evangeline. You're not being that bad. I'm being a putz. It's okay-- I know how frustrating it is when you're blamed for something that's not your fault. I think I need to wait until later in the morning before I start taking questions on.

I guess your boss is very attached to this particular shoe, but Poste Italie insures up to $5,000. If it's lost, and if the pair cost him less than $5000, it will be replaced, but I can understand how little he'd like to deal with that headache. Not to mention the fact that I don't even know what kind of hassle you'd go through as an American trying to make good on an insurance claim in Italy.

And, finally-- it's not your fault. Just remember it when you talk to your boss, and if he talks as though it is, remind him of the fact, and remind him that you're the one that's doing the footwork (ha) to make it right.

Bosses who lose shoes in Europe and then demand that their employees fix it are awful. You have my sympathy.
posted by koeselitz at 8:47 AM on November 29, 2007

What brand of shoe is this?
posted by boo_radley at 8:52 AM on November 29, 2007

No worries, koeselitz. I'm a bit out of sorts about this, and I can see how my original post might sound kind of angry and nasty.

Now let's go have a drink.
posted by Evangeline at 8:52 AM on November 29, 2007

I have no idea what the brand is. I think they must have been cobbled by very special elves.

Oh, I refuse to keep stressing about this. He's just gonna have to pay the damn money.

Thanks to all for your answers and research.
posted by Evangeline at 8:55 AM on November 29, 2007

I buy and sell shoes all the time on eBay, and $100 is at least double market price for international registered shipping for a whole pair. Given the recent shift in the dollar to euro conversion shipping is however getting more expensive from outside the US when expressed in dollars. Obviously though shipping a pair of shoes is easier for an eBayer seller than a hotel clerk, who isn't set up to do it efficiently.
posted by roofus at 8:55 AM on November 29, 2007

Postage in Europe has always been wacky. When I lived in Switzerland it was going to cost me 80 euros to ship a package to Canada, so I went 20 miles across the border into France and sent it for half the price. When you're the only game in town, you can charge whatever you want.

You might want to get a price on a pre-paid box through the italian post office, you can usually put whatever you want in them, and it's one fixed rate.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:06 AM on November 29, 2007

Italy is notorious for losing packages in the mail, both outbound and inbound. I'm even talking about using the Vatican post office is still sketchy.

My parents mailed me a package using the US postal service in January and it arrived May 28 (this was a couple of years ago, but still). Fedex is the best way to send it, honestly.

Bear in mind I used Fedex to ship a projector bulb to Australia (total weight: half a pound) and it cost me $123.

Yeah, international shipping is a beast.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:13 AM on November 29, 2007

How times do change!

Please forgive a derail: in 1965, I went on an 8-week student tour of Europe. Somewhere in Italy, I threw away a pair of worn-out shoes. Not long after I got home, a package arrived: the hotel had mailed my shoes.
posted by Carol Anne at 9:26 AM on November 29, 2007

Unicorn, I'm a tad confused. I recently had DHL send a one pound package to Tokyo and it was $30. You may be getting shafted.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 9:28 AM on November 29, 2007

Carol Anne, I just assumed the hotel would mail it. It's a luxury hotel, and my boss was there for our partners' retreat. We had over a hundred attorneys staying at their hotel! I suppose they can't be mailing every last thing people lose, but I was still surprised they didn't offer.

Not only that, but when I originally phoned the hotel to ask if they'd found it, I was put on hold for about five minutes, and then someone came on the line and said they did not. My boss refused to accept this, so then I emailed a woman in our London office who had arranged the accomodations for the retreat. She emailed the manager, and magically, the lost shoes were found.
posted by Evangeline at 9:38 AM on November 29, 2007

One possibility might be shipping it via the Vatican post office. If I remember correctly it has a better reputation for reliability than the italian postal service.
posted by Jahaza at 9:53 AM on November 29, 2007

Well, if your boss wants FedEx, then your boss'll have to pay for FedEx. Sounds like it's as simple as that.
posted by YoungAmerican at 9:55 AM on November 29, 2007

Jahaza, I feel like since the hotel hasn't been very helpful so far, they'll probably balk at the idea of taking it to the Vatican post office, but thank you for the suggestion.

Do you know what just occured to me? How do you lose ONE shoe? If you're packing your bag, and you pack one shoe, wouldn't you immediately reach for the other one? And wouldn't it be RIGHT NEXT TO THE FIRST ONE?

I dare not ask him that.
posted by Evangeline at 9:59 AM on November 29, 2007

YoungAmerican, this is the conclusion I've also reached, but I do try to accommodate my attorneys' wishes when I can, and his wish was a cheaper way to send it that is as reliable as Fedex.
posted by Evangeline at 10:04 AM on November 29, 2007

Too bad you didn't post this a few days ago; I was in Rome and live in NYC. Flew back Tuesday. I might have even been able to fit it in my luggage.

I'd echo the suggestion to call DHL and then just tell your boss he has to suck it up and pay. International shipping ain't cheap, especially when you want to, you know, actually get the thing that's being shipped to you.
posted by bedhead at 10:23 AM on November 29, 2007

As a datapoint, my mother was handed a list of things she couldn't send to me US->Italy. Shoes were on that list. Maybe bizantine import/export taxes figure into the price.

Go DHL if it's cheaper and a possibility, but I'd avoid the Poste, Vatican included, if your boss has to have the shoe.
posted by romakimmy at 10:32 AM on November 29, 2007

Not too long ago, I mailed several Polaroid SX-70 cameras to Japan via USPS Global Priority. They were not more than $20 each if I recall correctly. Obviously, the USPS doesn't mail from Europe, but I can't imagine regular post would cost anywhere near the Fed Ex rate. He may just have to hop around on one foot for a week or two.
posted by The Deej at 11:27 AM on November 29, 2007

Ah yes, but regular post is not good enough for The Shoe. You have not fully grasped the glory, the wonder, the magnificence that is The Shoe, but you will, my friend, you will.

Plus it glows in the dark.
posted by Evangeline at 11:35 AM on November 29, 2007

Why does this bother you? It's your boss's problem. Just tell him "They can do it but it'll cost about $150. What do you want to do?" He'll either say yes or no, but either way, it's his shoe, his money, his decision, and no skin off your nose.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:39 PM on November 29, 2007

Oh.... it's that shoe!
posted by The Deej at 1:40 PM on November 29, 2007

In more general answer to your question, FedEx doesn't (greatly) adjust its rates based on the contents of the packages - whether it's a broken coffee mug or Da Vinci's own astrolabe, it's charged firstly based on its destination, secondly on its size and weight, and only thirdly on value, in terms of insurance. This may seem expensive for a shoe, but if you were shipping a $10,000 diamond ring, the price (likely cheaper) would seem trivial.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:52 PM on November 29, 2007

aeschenkarnos, have you ever had an end-of-the-year job review? That's just one of the reasons my boss's problems are my problems.

But the truth is, I like to find solutions for people. It's what I do best at this job, and it's one of the few things about the job I find genuinely rewarding.

Normally, I don't mind going out of my way for the people I work for, but most of them appreciate it. He, however, does not, which makes this doubly frustrating.

But as I mentioned a few comments back, I've decided that he is in fact going to have to deal with this. I'm not going to stress about it anymore.
posted by Evangeline at 1:53 PM on November 29, 2007

Your boss's problem is that he's expecting overnight FedEx from another continent to cost the same amount as FedEx Ground from Boston.
posted by oaf at 2:59 PM on November 29, 2007

Ah yes, but regular post is not good enough for The Shoe. You have not fully grasped the glory, the wonder, the magnificence that is The Shoe, but you will, my friend, you will.

Could it be the Shoe of Salvation?

Sorry, just a random thought. Carry on..
posted by Nugget at 3:52 PM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

Could it be the Shoe of Salvation?

In just a few clicks, that will be mine.
posted by Evangeline at 4:16 PM on November 29, 2007

Sadly, international shipping is expensive. The faster you want it, the more expensive it gets -- planes ain't cheap to run.

(fwiw, I didn't see any of the rudeness in your question that koeselitz saw. And I have my own view about who's been rude in this thread.)
posted by robcorr at 6:35 PM on November 29, 2007

In just a few clicks, that will be mine.
posted by Evangeline

Oh yes... it will be mine.
posted by The Deej at 7:06 PM on November 29, 2007

FedEx is crazy expensive. It just *is*, I'm not sure why.
posted by divabat at 4:09 AM on November 30, 2007

It is expensive because people will pay it. That's the reason.
posted by grouse at 4:41 AM on November 30, 2007

Do a Ghandi. Get your boss to mail them the other shoe.
posted by DrtyBlvd at 5:28 AM on November 30, 2007

I've had poor luck with Fedex's Italian offices. Have you tried UPS and DHL?
posted by cactus at 5:31 AM on November 30, 2007

Maybe it's not his ownership of the shoe that's important. Maybe it's the fact that his shoes are separated. Find out what it will cost to ship the shoe he has to Italy to be with its mate.
posted by happyturtle at 2:26 PM on November 30, 2007

You might be onto something, happy turtle. He and his partner are adopting twin baby girls in January. Maybe the shoes symbolize the babies. Maybe he's projecting his fears about fatherhood onto the shoes.

Now if this were an episode of a sitcom and the shoe was a hamster, I could just replace the original with a similar hamster and no one would know...
posted by Evangeline at 5:23 PM on November 30, 2007

I have a friend flying from Rome to NYC in the next few days, if you still need it.
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:58 PM on December 9, 2007

A bit late to the party, but whatever.

FedEx is crazy expensive. It just *is*, I'm not sure why.

True that, especially internationally. It's expensive to have something shipped FedEx in the first place, and then, after you've received your package -- this is the thing that really, really sucks about FedEx -- without any prior warning, FedEx will send you a bill in the mail for another wad of cash, under the guise of "brokerage fees" (i.e. they sign a form at the border on your behalf, and charge you $100 for it; compare USPS' ~$10). That's how it works in Canada, anyway; I'm not sure about the States.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:40 PM on March 2, 2008

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