Smartphone accessories brand, called dbrand, and these folks are known for making some pretty cool cases, skins and more for phones and tablets. They ship worldwide, have a legion of fans who swear by their creations and the follower numbers do testify to the popularity—they have 2 million or so followers on Twitter and 822k on Instagram. Yet what has transpired on their Twitter account, which leads to a larger policy change, is not what you may exactly categorize as cool. After a customer pointed out that their policy for free shipping at $25 was indicating that he needed to spend another $0.05 to be eligible and that no products in that price range exist (obviously) on the site, dbrand took this rather badly and raised the free shipping requirement to $50. And that has led to two very distinct arguments playing out.
A dbrand user Saurav Shrestha pointed out in a tweet that his order for a skin for a Samsung Galaxy S21 was sitting in his cart and was priced at $24.95, at which point he was being asked to pay $5 as the estimated shipping cost to complete the order. He also raises a very valid point that to be eligible for free shipping and to eliminate that $5 charge, he’d have to add another item to the cart, and says most products on the site are priced around $10. Therefore, to save on shipping, he’d actually end up spending more. Simple arithmetic. $0.05 more is needed. Think about it. “This kind of pricing strategy is theft,” writes @realsshrestha in his tweet, with a screengrab of his shopping cart on dbrand.
At the time of writing this, News18 is able to confirm that the free shipping option is now (and still) only available if your cart has a value of $50 or more. Yet, a quick check on through the product catalogue on the dbrand website does have a bunch of products that are priced well below the $10 mark, including Apple AirTag Signature skins ($4.95). What the user most likely means is he didn’t find anything that would be useful for him, below the $10 price point. Not everyone wants a skin for the AirTag or the MagSafe charger.
The response from the Canada based dbrand was quite unexpected. And not in a good way. Here is what dbrand said in a retweet of Shrestha’s tweet. “You’re right, Saurav. Free shipping at $25 is predatory capitalism. With that in mind, we’ve increased our free shipping threshold to $50. You’re welcome?” What this now means is that anyone shopping on dbrand will have to spend at least $50 for free shipping, and not $25 as it was earlier. Exactly the sort of response that they would not teach you in business schools. That has actually opened up two very different lines of discussion on Twitter. Some blame Shrestha for dbrand raising the free shipping threshold. Others, and perhaps rightly so, call out dbrand for this sort of response.
In a similarly toned response, a user @zoneoftech replies asking, “Can we make that $100?” Another user @gpt_6 writes, “They price products 5 cents below to force you to buy 2 things for ‘free’ shipping. This IS predatory”. Dbrand customer @cjonesaudio says, “I don’t know how this doesn’t look bad on you, kinda regretting my purchase the other day now. Saurav is correct.” And we have to say that @JustRefleX does put things in perspective rather nicely, “He didn’t increase the minimum shipping cost. They did. Also stop buying cheap plastic wrap for 25$”, with a bunch of laughing emojis.
Yet, for what you may call as every voice of reason, there are people who are outright blaming the customer for pointing this out, rather than dbrand for this sort of a response. So much so that Shrestha had to post another tweet which said, “Guys I’m really sorry they decided to punish you — their loyal customers — instead of me (I think I bought a skin 3 years ago)”. @tobiasdeppe2000 writes, “Nobody is forcing you to buy enough things to get free shipping, its you own chosing. If you have everything you want just Check out instead of buying things that you don’t actually need.” That follows @gogobrasil8_br who wrote, “If you don’t have enough self-control to know how much you can spend then heck, you shouldn’t be allowed to buy anything”. And this goes on and on and on.
There can always be the argument about whether someone who is spending almost $25 for a skin should be complaining about a $5 charge, and as some very learned folks pointed out, the (perceived) rich shouldn’t be complaining. After all, they are spending $25 or so on a piece of paper with an adhesive on one side and some colour on the other? That may very well be missing the point. It may be easy to point to a policy document, but to be asking for $0.05 for free shipping, just feels very wrong. Keeping in mind the pricing structure on the site, which in most cases, isn’t rounded off-$4.95, $24,95 or $29.95, for instance. A customer has the right to express their dissatisfaction with pricing, whether one may agree or not. Yet to increase shipping costs or change the free shipping policy for the worse and blaming the customer for it, is absolutely not welcome. Make of it, what you will.