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Delivery companies add white gloves and extra fees

Adriene Hill Dec 22, 2015
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Perhaps this has happened to you: You scour the web for that perfect dining room table, find the dream one, wait for it to go on sale … and then watch your bargain disappear in a sea of shipping charges and hefty “white-glove” delivery fees.

And they’re not always optional. Some retailers require you pay extra for delivery services to do the unboxing and setup for you.

“You may not find them wearing white gloves, but they’re using care, coming inside your house, using booties so they don’t mess up your carpet,” said Satish Jindel, head of SJ Consulting GroupHe said the in-home delivery market — not to be confused with the leave-it-on-the-porch market — has grown into a $13 billion dollar-a-year business.

And many retailers are hiring third-party contractors to the job. Their segment of the market — roughly half — has grown 8 percent in the last year alone, as more of us get comfortable making big-ticket purchases online.

“It alleviates the need for someone else to come into the house if you can’t do the setup yourself,” said Georgia Tech transportation professor Chelsea White. So the service can be a selling point for some customers.

But don’t count on “white glove” fees to enter the realm of “free shipping” anytime soon. Delivery charges are one area where retailers rarely budge.