onlinemetals.com — online ordering of metal stock
I have bought several times from onlinemetals.com over the years. I though the shipping was quite expensive, but I just assumed it was because these were pieces 6 and 7 feet long. Other than that, I was satisfied.
I recently wanted to get several small pieces of several different types of brass, bronze, steel, and stainless steel, from their "random 10-12" size selection. In other words, end pieces. The entire order would have fit in a USPS large flat rate box. This shipping for the first piece, 1" bronze tube, was $23.85. This is for a hollow tube less than a foot long. Maybe that's a minimum shipping charge? Nope, the next piece I added to my cart, just one little 10-12" piece of 1/2" steel round bar, caused the shipping to jump to $38.60! Each subsequent item I put in the cart caused the shipping charge to jump up nearly as much as the piece of metal cost. This is all small stuff; diameters in the 1/2" to 3/4" range, all 10-12" long.
After the shipping cost got up to about $45, the next piece I added caused the shipping to jump to $65! This is all for stuff that would fit into a flat rate box. Their web site says USPS shipping is available, but it wasn't an option at checkout.
I called the company to ask about getting this order put into a flat rate box. Their "customer service" could not have been more disinterested in being helpful. The woman just kept repeating her mantra "we don't ship via USPS". Her demeanor throughout the conversation was "this is how it is and if you don't like it, we don't care". How hard is it to ship USPS? They provide the boxes for FREE, they will deliver empty boxes, and pick up filled boxes for shipping.
I also was interested in purchasing one of their "value packs", which sound pretty good. They have 5, 10, and 20 pound "protoboxes" which contain a variety of sizes, shapes, and alloys. They offer these in each of several metals, including brass, steel, and stainless (separate protoboxes for each metal). I called the company again, to ask if they label what the materials are in each box. Again, total disinterest in being helpful and couldn't care less about customer satisfaction. I tried to explain that, without labels on a box of random pieces of different alloys for each metal, there's no way to be sure what alloy I would be trying to work with. All I could get from this woman (not sure if it was the same one or not - certainly the same attitude) was "perhaps you can tell the alloy from looking at the piece."
Their "About Us" page brags about their wonderful customer service and how customer service is the backbone of their business. All total BS. I wrote an email to their sales department about my dissatisfaction with being overcharged for shipping and with the indifferent attitudes I encountered. I got an auto-reply, claiming that they would be getting back to me very soon. Well, that was about a month ago, and I haven't heard from them yet.
I bought my metals from another supplier, and I won't be using onlinemetals.com again until they fix their bad customer service and stop gouging customers on the shipping.