Thursday, October 7, 2010

Think Smartpaks are expensive? Part II

First a math disclaimer: The figures from my Smartpak post had a math error (shocker). I overstated the costs of getting all three supplements from Smartpak, charging $7.95X3=$23.85 instead of the flat $7.95 fee. 

Anyway, in my last post I found that Smartpak packs cost the same, or they're cheaper, than buckets from other companies. When you're calculating costs for supplements, the key factor seems to be shipping costs.

Shipping: The not-so-hidden costs
My last post showed that s we don't pay extra for the convenience and value of Smartpak packaging. Instead, shipping costs seem to determine how Smartpak will compare to other options (e.g., Dover, Valley Vet, etc). For a single supplement, companies that offer good deals on shipping might have a cost advantage over Smartpaks. Highly concentrated supplements, such as Farrier's Formula Double Strength, can be shipped more cheaply because they weigh less, and becuase you order less often, shipping costs go down.  But wait! Here are some other considerations...
  • Do you use more than one supplement? If you use more than one supplement, the Smartpak's flat rate shipping rate will offer a big cost advantage over ordering multiple buckets.
  • Barn Buddies. The barn buddies shipping program reduces shipping costs dramatically, because costs are shared among boarders.  
  • Coupons. Go to, type "smartpak coupon," and use one of the free shipping coupon codes.
  • Fresh monthly shipments. Is your feed room controlled for moisture/heat? Are buckets properly sealed between feedings? Supplement quality can degrade in poor environmental conditions. Smartpaks keep things sealed and your monthly shipments ensure the product doesn't degrade.
So, when it comes to supplements, that's the scoop!

Sorry. Couldn't resist.


    1. I stopped using SmartPaks because a glitch in their system cost me $140 in bank fees, which they refused to pay back despite an initial offer to do so. (Speaking of hidden costs...) But after I ordered my horse's garlic supplement from an independent local company, the powder magically stopped appearing in a stale, crusty cube in his feed bucket, the way it was when his SmartPaks arrived. It makes me question just how fresh is "fresh" !

    2. $140 in bank fees? Was it for an overdraft? That's a lot of fees -- how could sp have induced that, I wonder...

    3. I put my regular order on hold because I had some emergencies and knew I'd be cutting it close until payday. Apparently their system never registered the hold, so they sent my order out as normal, but since I was away I had no idea until I came home and saw the charge on my bank account. In the meantime I had 4 other small transactions that didn't clear because of the SP charge, so I got hit with 4 bank fees. (I hate the way my bank handles things, but that's another story...)

      Initially I had called to see if they could hold and refund the order, and they offered to make an exception and cover whatever bank fees they had inadvertently caused. Great! But after a week of going back and forth, they said they could only pay half, and that, after some haggling on my end. I hadn't been expecting to get credited at all, but when the rep told me they would cover it, I guess I thought they meant it.

      It's not the first time I've hit a glitch with their site -- it doesn't seem to like Chrome -- but no one could assure me that it wouldn't happen again. Apparently I'm supposed to call/e-mail and double-check that every change I make actually goes through in the system. What's the point of having an automated system, then?

      I spend some $100 in supplements per month, and since it happened back in August, they would have made it back already.

      After seeing and smelling the supplements I've been buying locally now, I'm actually starting to think it's for the best, though...

    4. Ugh. That's rough, I have sometimes had trouble with changes to my order (of my own doing, not a fault of SP). Routine/auto orders of any kind require a bit of vigilance, and I've missed the window to make changes before the ship date.

      I'm sorry for what happened to you !!!

      I've not notice any freshness issues personally -- and I prep and feed 20 horses on weekends. I try to stay away from powders if only b/c there is so much loss at feed time...

    5. My husband has an Animal Science degree. He's always been very anti-supplement. However, he's noticed how much better our mare is, when on MSM and how well she eats the pellets. I've ordered a lot of stuff (a lot of small orders) and I've never had a problem with changing my order or the price. I also live by the mantra "Trust, then verify" (we're a military family). Instead of making a change through their online system, I always call them. Why not? There's always a super-nice person on the other end to chat with! :) I will continue to use SmartPak for my supps and for other stuff (their gray SmartPink and SmartBlue fleece sheets? just ordered one of each, with FREE EMBROIDERY!) Sucks that you had a problem. Thankfully, it's not the norm.

    6. Once again, an interesting analysis. Most of the time I can get good deals at my local tack store--which will match any Internet price I find and, of course, not charge shipping. They have pretty good stock on most things I need.

    7. Thanks for the analysis - I've always wondered how supp prices would compare. Luckily my horse just gets a vit/mineral supp that I buy from my local feed store.

      Annnd - SP doesn't ship to Canada...which is probably a good thing. There are a bunch of things I would like to order from them besides supplements...

      Shipping in Canada is a killer - stuff coming from the US, where possible gets hit with all kinds of fees. We also rarely get free shipping on anything, from any online supplier.

      You guys in the US are lucky when it comes to flat-rate or free shipping!!!

    8. Hi Now That's a Trot -

      My name is Donnie Steele and the I'm the Director of New Media at SmartPak. I'd like to apologize for us processing your order that you had clearly wanted to put on hold. Additionally, I'm sorry that we didn't resolve the situation more completely to ensure that you were fully satisfied.

      If you have a moment, I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to help make the situation right by you. If you want to give a me a ring at 774.773.1174 or even email me at we'll try fix this to your satisfaction.


      Donnie Steele

      Donnie Steele
      Director, New Media

      SmartPak - Smarter Horse and Dog Care
      40 Grissom Road, Suite 500
      Plymouth, MA 02360
      Direct Dial: 774-773-1174

    9. To repeat what Laura said: it's too bad Smartpak doesn't ship to Canada. Shipping outside of the lower 48 is usually exhorbitantly expensive, so I'll still be going to out local feed shops for my horse's supplements.

    10. I like SmartPak, but the only reason why I stopped is that Valley Vet puts a percentage towards my breed's association. So it helps them out.

      Plus I don't really want to pay every month for supplements. So I just rather buy a bucket every 3 months.

      I'm the only person who feeds my horse, so I can control the situation easier.

    11. Wow SmartPak sure is up on their web2.0! I'm impressed that they are trying to fix the issue that NTAT had... but still, if they would only ship to Canada!

    12. Amanda it's remarkable how this blog gets around -- did you notice Heather Blitz left a message on one post? I've had other brushes with greatness from blog articles on famous folks in the dressage world. I think a lot of companies must track the buzz on the net re: their companies...

    13. I've been to many business seminars that emphasized the importance of monitoring what is said about you and your business online. It's not hard and it sure is helpful, although sometimes it is discouraging as well.

      Kudos to Sp and Donnie Steele for catching this.

    14. Truth be told I would be more impressed if they had made an effort when I was considering closing my account (which I have), and not just when I happened to mention the incident in public.

      Sorry to hijack your comments Stacey!


    Hi Guys, Your comments are valued and appreciated -- until recently I never rejected a post. Please note that I reserve the right to reject an anonymous post.