Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Garden Shred

I have been thinking about getting a garden shredder.

Not to shred DS's floral borders or ravage next-door's gnomes, but to deal with all our loppings & prunings.
With a big collection of trees & bushes, this is not a negligible item.
At the moment, everything above compostable size has to be trailered to the dechetterie, where I am a frequent flyer.

Shredder fanciers reckon that not only do shredders make your piles
(of branches) disappear, but that the result can then be used to make good compost, especially mixed with grass cuttings which should not otherwise be added over-enthusiastically to the compost heap (particularly not when DS is looking).
Beyond that, the shreddies can be spread on flower beds, where they look tidy, keep down weeds & retain moisture, reducing the need for watering.
Sounds too good to be true.
Which it is.

They forget to mention the noise, the painful slowness, the need to wear all sorts of protection, the doubtful ecological "bilan" (no good translation for that), the frequent jammings, the need for resharpening, the fact that stringy stuff stops the cutter by wrapping round it & hard wood stops the cutter dead, or that the output can be anywhere between mush & chunks.
I learned all that several years ago when I first got interested & borrowed one.
I learned it again last year when my neighbour bought one, then a second, and now passes his loppings through both in succession...
So logically, I should just forget the whole thing & keep on trucking, or trailering.
But logic is boring.
I have let myself be persuaded that the latest & greatest new Bosch AXT 25TC shredder has reached an acceptable level of performance.
It even won a Glee prize (Look it up), for what that is worth.
Unfortunately, there is the price.
Bosch mention 499.99€ & our local DIY store has it for just over 500€.
No way.

Surprisingly, I couldn't find it significantly cheaper on Internet in France, Germany or Belgium.

Then I looked in UK & it is all over the place at less than £300, which is not much more than 330€ at today's rate.
Plus post & packing, of course, for a 30 kg packet.

And that is the point of this post, following on from the previous one about the growing significance of shipping costs for Internet shopping.

I sorted out the half-dozen sites with the lowest take-away prices, around £280, then started digging for shipping costs.
Even within UK, shipping varied between free & impossible (to outlying places).
Not surprisingly, several UK sites do not ship to France.
For the others, the charge varied between £46 & £17.
£17 has to sound reasonable for 30 kg from UK to France, especially compared with 17€ for 48 gm from Germany to France (see previous post).
So I ordered a shredder from Garden Centre On Line, for £279.99 + £17.99 = £297.98

Actually, I ordered it on a Saturday by internet & paid by debit card from a UK account.
I have their confirmation of the amounts.
But the transaction failed because (& that took a long time to trace) our UK bank has been slightly mis-spelling our address for the last 20 years.
Just doubling an "L" which, coming from Lloyds, might have been a natural mistake or an in-joke.
In all that time, nobody had ever noticed & it had never mattered, but for on-line transactions, it matters.
So, after straightening out Lloyds, I had to order it again by phone, still at the same price, and the £297.98 was debited on Monday.
Imagine my surprise, as they say, to get an e-mail on Friday, saying: "Hi, Thank you for your order unfortunately the shipping cost for this item to France is 117.99GBP leaving a balance of £100GBP to pay please advise if you wish to ahead with this purchase and pay the additional shipping. Regards, Customer Service"
Having imagined my surprise, you can now easily imagine my reply, which certainly did not include paying another £100.
I would be interested to find out just what happened there, but I never will.

Next on my shredder-shop list was Lawson-HIS, so I checked their site again & it really did say £281.75 + £17 shipping (up to 30 kg, whereas Bosch says it weighs 30.5 kg).
I e-mailed for confirmation & they confirmed £281.75 + £17.08 = £298.83
Dubious, I asked them to please recheck the weight & shipping charges, which they did, so I ordered it from them.

My conclusions are that shipping charges can vary wildly.
That some sellers (the ones who ship free & publicise that clearly on every page) have understood the significance.
That others still have a lot of catching-up to do.
That there is a big potential for a very efficient distribution system, which has not been invented yet.

Parting thot: "The meeting of preparation with opportunity generates the offspring we call luck." - Tony Robbins

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