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9/30/2005
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Dell Halts Some Free Shipping

In a cost-cutting move, Dell will stop free home delivery of its entry level systems within two weeks, reports say.

In a cost-cutting move, Dell will stop free home delivery of its entry level systems within two weeks, the Round Rock, Texas-based computer maker told the Reuters wire service Thursday.

Instead, Dell will use the U.S. Postal Service's (USPS) new "Hold for Pickup" service, which debuted Thursday. Dell customers can either pay for shipping -- $99 for 3 to 5-day shipping for a desktop, according to Dell's current pricing -- or pick up the computer at their local post office after receiving a notice.

The change takes effect Oct. 10, a Dell spokesperson told Reuters. "We are always looking for ways to pass savings on to our customers," she was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Like many consumer and small business computer and peripheral makers, Dell offers free shipping on some of its desktop and laptop models. The post office pickup option will be available for all consumer Dells, said the spokesperson.

The new shipping option is designed, said Nick Barranca, the USPS vice president of product developmen, to provide "cost savings to the shipper, customer convenience, and security for both the business client and the consumer."

Under the Hold for Pickup plan, goods are shipped to a local post office where they're held for up to 10 days. The shipper notifies the buyer of the office holding the package; if it's not picked up within 3 days, the USPS sends an additional notice. After that, the product is returned to the shipper.

If the test with Dell works out, the USPS plans to offer the option to other interested shippers, which reportedly include fruit shippers worried about their products freezing in northern climes at the holiday season.

Dell currently uses United Parcel Service (UPS) for the bulk of its shipping. Dell, in fact, is among the 20 biggest customers of UPS. Dell computer shipments to business customers, and at least for now, some residential customers, will continue to be handled by UPS.

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