When Free Shipping Isn’t Free

Almost every site offers some kind of free shipping, whether it’s a regular
option or a special deal with minimum purchase. But sometimes when these
deals seem to be too good to be true, they are. Here are few helpful tips to
make sure “free shipping” doesn’t cost you; it’s mainly common sense, but it’s
still worth remembering, especially when you’re neck-deep in frantic holiday

Make sure it applies to your item
Many stores offer great online discounts, and many stores offer free shipping.
Unfortunately, the two are sometimes mutually exclusive. Many big ticket items,
like TVs and DVD players, may be on a special sale, but many times those sales
make them ineligible for free shipping. Always double-check your final total to
see if you’re getting one or both.

Make sure you’re not paying extra
We’ve all done it — we have $40 worth of items in our cart, then we see
those “free shipping” deals with purchase of $50 or whatever, and we can all
usually find a $12 item to put us over the edge. But make sure what you’re
buying is really worth the deal. Buying $40 worth of stuff may cost $7 in shipping,
but isn’t that better than buying an extra $12 item you neither need nor can use
just to get the “free” shipping? Answer: Yes, to the tune of $5, specifically.

Make sure it’ll still come on time
Many online stores offer free shipping, but it’s often free ground shipping —
meaning it often takes 7-10 business days to arrive. That’s no problem if the item
you want is in stock and you’re buying early enough, but too many people have
bought too-popular items too late, and watched them get delivered on December
26th. Just pay attention to your items’ in-stock status, as well as the calendar!

Shipping deals you oughtta know about
From now until December 20th, Wal-Mart is offering free shipping on everything
they sell, with no minimum. As above, make sure your items will still arrive by
your due date. If you need things more quickly, some online stores allow you to
get unlimited free two-day shipping for a yearly membership fee — for example,
Amazon offers their Prime membership for $79. It sounds like a lot, but if you
order from Amazon once a month — if you normally spend $7 for shipping per
order — it pays for itself, and you get all your items in only two days!


69 thoughts on “When Free Shipping Isn’t Free

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