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Amazon FBA Shipping Charges: How to Avoid Unplanned Service Fees

Pramod Bhat
February 9, 2021

It is understandable to become overwhelmed with the various Amazon FBA shipping charges or fees as a new seller. After all, your goal is to find a cost-efficient way of selling your products without being weighted by skyrocket fees. However, if you fail to follow Amazon's guidelines, you have to pay the price--literally and figuratively.

Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) has different fees such as inventory storage fees, fulfillment fees, removal fees, long-term storage fees, and return processing fees. But the most overlooked are the unplanned service fees

What are FBA unplanned service fees?

At Amazon's fulfillment centers, there is no room for error since they have to meet the expectations of more than 150 million Prime subscribers who rely on their speedy delivery service. So, if you will be the cause of delay in their operations, you will pay dearly. This is why they came up with the unplanned service fees.

Unplanned service fees are sort of a "penalty" against sellers who don't comply with FBA's shipping and routing requirements and packaging and prep requirements. As stated by Amazon,

“When there are problems receiving inventory at the fulfillment center, we perform unplanned services to successfully process products into your sellable inventory. This may cause costly delays and affect your ability to sell products quickly.”

How does it work? 

Amazon tells you about your shipment problem (performance coaching) and charges you with a corresponding unplanned service fee. Shipment problems can be categorized into three groups, such as quantity discrepancies, labeling errors, and safety issues.

Every four months, Amazon measures your shipment problem rate for each problem group. After assessing your problem rate, they will assign a performance coaching level based on your problem history. There are three levels of performance coaching, namely, Standard, Elevated, and Critical.

Unplanned Service Fees - Missing Label


Unplanned Service Fees - Safety Problems

amazon unplanned fees safety

12 Ways you can avoid unnecessary Amazon FBA shipping charges

You can dispute unplanned service fees, but it would be better to prevent it from happening by doing the following:

  1. Don't use point-of-sale containers and open boxes.
  2. Make sure to remove old shipping labels, markings, or barcodes before reusing a box.
  3. Use only a rigid, six-sided box with flaps intact. Acceptable standard boxes are regular slotted carton, B Flute, ECT-32 (edge crush test), and 200 lb./sq inch (burst strength).
  4. Don't bundle multiple boxes together.
  5. Make sure the contents of the box don't move when shaken gently.
  6. Use packaging tape designed for shipping.
  7. Ensure each shipping label has a precise and complete delivery and return information.
  8. Provide accurate box weight and dimensions.
  9. Use only cushioning materials such as bubble wrap, full sheets of paper, inflatable air pillows, and polyethylene foam sheeting.
  10. Unacceptable cushioning materials are packing peanuts, foam strips, crinkle wrap, shredded paper, thermocol chips, and styrofoam.
  11. Avoid heavy and oversized shipping boxes, unless they contain one single oversized item.
  12. Properly package electrical, sharp, and liquid products.

Suppose you fail to comply with safety requirements, product preparation requirements, and product restrictions. In that case, Amazon has the right to refuse your inbound shipment to its fulfillment center. They might dispose of or return your inventory, or worse, block future shipments if you keep repeating the same offense. 

Moreover, Amazon may charge you a manual processing fee, label service fee, or prep service fee besides the unplanned service fee. So, yup, so much for surprised, hidden costs.


What if you choose FBM?

FBM stands for Fulfillment by Merchant, which is another shipping method allowed by Amazon for sellers who want to deliver orders by themselves. However, you need to be aware of the U.S. to Canada shipping cost if you choose this route.

Shipping costs vary from one shipping company to another. For example, the cost of express shipping Canada Post, called Xpresspost, ranges from $10.19 to $216.69.

If you have an efficient logistics team and reliable shipping company, FBM is for you. But remember that you won't have the following benefits that only Amazon FBA sellers enjoy:

  • Access to more than 150 million Prime subscribers.
  • A chance of winning the Buy Box.
  • Access to Amazon FBA's customer service and processing returns.
  • Getting at a higher position in the search results.

Does Amazon FBA pay for shipping? Yes! This is another benefit you will lose if you choose FBM. Amazon will not charge you for shipping the order to your customers.

Getting help from third-party prep and shipping service providers

Some companies offer customized and dedicated Amazon FBA services. All you need to do is send your inventory to these third-party firms, and they will be the ones to send it to Amazon fulfillment centers.

They can also prepare your shipment based on Amazon FBA guidelines or requirements. Furthermore, some third-party firms offer packaging materials that you can avail from them.

You can also have dedicated staff that will handle customs and export declaration. With third-party companies like this, all the nitty-gritty is taken care of by experienced Amazon FBA peeps.

Key takeaways

Always be careful and mindful when shipping your goods to Amazon's warehouses. Else, you will be dealing with unwanted and unplanned service fees that could eat up your profits. Also, ensure that you will share the Amazon FBA requirements with your chosen shipping company or third-party service provider to avoid being charged more. In this way, you can fully take advantage of the program minus the unwanted Amazon FBA shipping charges.

Do you have a hard time understanding and remembering Amazon FBA shipping charges? Stallion Express has a dedicated and experienced team willing to assist you with your Amazon FBA needs. For inquiries, you can call +1 877-863-7447 or email [email protected]

Get started today! Ship faster, smarter, cheaper with Stallion.

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