Is the ARRL Listening About Shipping? Or is it just me…

A few months ago, I challenged the ARRL’s new mission to serve members in a more effective way by bringing “value” to members. I suggested that one quick “win” would be to stop selling through Amazon (at a 55% discount) and use that money-per-book to fund “free shipping” for members who purchase books. Many readers just didn’t read beyond the title of “free shipping” before raining down the it-will-just-be-passed-along-to-members rhetoric. This does not understand that the League would make a greater profit margin by selling at the 100% retail price (even with whatever discount the member may receive by being a Certified Instructor, etc.), charging no shipping, and still recouping a higher profit than the automatic 55% “loss” through the standard wholesale discount.

In one of my interviews with Howard Michel ARRL CEO on the ICQ Podcast, he said he ran the numbers and that it wouldn’t work out. I did not directly challenge him on that issue since it’s clearly his call. My thought was that it was a pure and simple strategy to demonstrate his new vision of “increasing value.” But enough with my recommendations, already!

ARRL Cyber Monday FREE SHIPPING on $50+ Coupon

However, perhaps it’s just me, but has the ARRL increased their free or discounted shipping stance in marketing publications? Like other League members, I’m sure, I received the above coupon code for Cyber Monday (after Thanksgiving). It’s FREE SHIPPING on $50 or more. That’s an incentive, especially with the new Handbook out and discounted temporarily at $40. So, I thought I’d grab another discounted book to reach $50 or more and get a FREE SHIPPING discount. On my daily driver desktop, I run Linux Mint on a Dell T-5500 8-core CPU with 72GB of RAM and a gigbit Internet service via ethernet to my commercial class switch. I rarely ever have buffering of websites from my end. Ever. But, boy, did I on this Cyber Monday order at! It took several HOURS for me to get the order through to checkout. I tried several different machines, in addition, just to ensure it wasn’t on my end. It wasn’t as I did a network speed operation test on getting packets to and from the server. It was on that end…because, no doubt, there was a boatload of customers ordering. So that’s the point of marketing offers, no? And I’m very happy to see evidence of it drawing a crowd at the virtual checkout page at the League’s website.

And, here are several more adverts e-mailed to members, all with $5 discounted shipping. So, has the ARRL been rolling out a version of this “free shipping” strategy? Well, only some offers reflect actually free shipping but a cap at $5 shipping is also a winning offer, too. I’m delighted at this marketing move by ARRL Product Development Manager Bob Inderbitzen, NQ1R. Keep it up, Bob! This increases value to members who receive the code coupons.

Frank Howell, K4FMH, is a regular contributor to and writes from Mississippi, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

2 Responses to “Is the ARRL Listening About Shipping? Or is it just me…”

  • Walter Stewart N0KBS:

    The cost of shipping is the single biggest deterrent to my ordering publications from ARRL. I’d be happy if they would offer sending books by media mail, a much lower cost alternative.



    Hi OM[en],

    Thank-u Matt, for publishing this article!!!!!! Of all the things in our – Ham – world, this is the most distressing.

    Frank, genius alike, rite?

    Putting aside orders whose cost increases by 100%, I have shouted in virtually all media – non-RF included – shipping = profiteering. I wd rather pay more for an item, especially spending > 100 bucks, to get “free” shipping. Call it psychology, dementia, fooling one’s self and/or spitting into the wind.

    Does this apply to ARRL? Rite at the TOP of my slab of granite, engraved in gold lettering. I have, literally, fought with ARRL personnel, trying to get them to justify/xplain outrageous, rip-off shipping penalties. Compared & contrasted with ARRL’s “mission”, purpose… dedication to the Radio Amateur plus the Amateur Radio community at large, potentially, prohibitively xpensive publications cannot b justified by anything other than FREE shipping.

    I ship stuff all over the world; differing materials, weights, companies etc., including books. I know what shipping entails.

    In toto, I thank both of u for saving my sanity, and permitting me to, still, perceive myself as a responsible, even deserving member of our most fabulous hobby.

    MERRY XMAS & Happy New Year cause of DX!


    Phil, WF3W

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