I last bought that at the local Fields Home Center, an Ace Hardware affiliate , and there was no extra fee. Oregon likes fees, too, and I thought California had been overregulated... Where are you located?
Definitely give that a try, but if it's coded into their database, they won't be able to nix it for you.
Some businesspeople love to add "fees" on top of "prices", as it makes them feel that customers will not notice the "fees". Treat the fee as price and shop for lowest price on comparable products. I generally agree with your indignation.
It's that or charge higher prices to cover associated costs of doing business; the number of reg's and compliance issues has skyrocketed so there is a real cost to doing business.
Whether an individual product is/isn't necessarily the hazard, it's a general overhead.
As a personal preference on the consumer side, I'd just as soon have the fee buried in the price quoted, but it's a business decision each has to make as to how they want to price product/services.
My general observation has been the larger the business, the more likely to have the separate fee structure. And yes, many (but certainly not all) online suppliers have similar structures. Then, of course, w/ online purchases you run into the issue that the shipper may also have a HAZMAT fee even if the vendor themselves doesn't so by the time you're done "you can pay me now or pay me later" by swapping lower product cost online with higher shipping cost against the higher local cost including fee so it may end up as nearly a wash, anyway.
Hazmat on shipping, or because it's for scary processes that melt metal, or what?
If it was on shipping, and you're in the US, then it was bunk. If it was retail, then as others have mentioned it probably varies by state. It's been a couple of years since I've bought welding rod, but I haven't been hit by such, and I live in Oregon, where sometimes the motto seems to be "we're not like that right-winged California place".
While they deny their entirely LEFTIST doctrine... Actually, most of Oregon is conservative. Only the two largest (unfortunately) cities are pure Left, Portland & Salem, and that swings us blue. Arrrrrgh! Down here, I think 90% of us are ex-pat Californicators.
It's totally up to the retailer/shipper; there are no mandated such fees; only as noted earlier that there are so many rules/regs now that apply that many have started to simply charge another separate overhead charge to cover that part of their doing business.
I am in Pennsylvania. Looked online and all the prices I can get are higher even after the hazmat fee is added in.
This is like my garbage company, they put in a $100 plus fee for "fuel surcharge". started when diesel hit $4 back when. They keep the fee in, even now. Called around, and the other garbage guys were more expensive then my guy with the ridiculous fee. (I get billed yearly, it's not part of my city taxes.)