What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “free shipping?” Most people think that the cheapest price will always be a “Free Shipping” deal. While there are some great deals out there that do include the shipping cost, they aren’t always the best value.
The Core Problem with “Free Shipping”
The underlying issue with deals that claim to offer free shipping is that, of course, the shipping isn’t really free. What we mean is that the goods are delivered either via the post office, UPS, or Fedex, and you can be sure that whoever delivers the item is charging for it.
So what does that mean? Usually, it means that the seller has baked the cost of shipping into the base price of the item. Many sellers do this because they understand that buyers want to know the bottom line price up-front, without having to calculate shipping. Since the actual shipping cost varies with the distance that the sold items travel, they typically pad the price at the amount of their average shipping cost for the item.
So, if you are shopping somewhere where shipping is free regardless of order size, you probably aren’t saving money versus another online store that calculates shipping at purchase time. Be sure to do a true comparison of the two.
One exception to this rule is shippers that provide free shipping if your order exceeds a certain amount. In this case, the shipper is encouraging you to buy more, so that they have more profit to compensate for the offer of including the shipping cost. When a seller operates this way, sometimes there is a “good deal” to be had. Of course, you still have to shop around and compare.
Watch out for Amazon’s “Prime” Program
Amazon.com happens to stock a great assortment of K Cups, and can be a great place to find deals on your favorite single serving coffee. One thing to watch out for, however, is their offer of “Free Shipping” in exchange for joining their “Prime” program. The program charges you $79, and in exchange, gives you free second day shipping on all items for a year. If you purchase on Amazon regularly, this can appear to great deal. But, look into the program carefully, as Amazon has been caught more than once charging their Prime members more money for a specific item than other people who aren’t in the program. This story from an Amazon Prime member shows screenshots of a watch, and it costs $3.69 less if he visits Amazon.com from a computer where he’s never logged into his Amazon account. Amazon admits to the practice in this CNN interview.
No Comments »