Fun Facts

Free Shipping – Why It’s A Myth and Why It Costs You

You’ve seen it said on many Web sites: “Free shipping!” Do you ever wonder how they can do this? 

UPS charges for shipping, FedEx charges for shipping, so does Airborne Express, DHL – heck even USPS charges for shipping. Frankly, we are not aware of any shipping company who provides their services for free. So here’s the cold hard facts – someone has to pay for the trucks, planes, salaries and rising price of fuel. What these merchants can do is reduce service or pass on costs in some other way. Usually it’s added in to the price of their items.

How did this unsavory situation come about? In the early days of “the new Internet economy,” some morons got the idea that cash infusions from duped investors allowed “managers” and “executives” to ignore basic business principles.

One of those basic business principles is covering your costs in your pricing structure. This forced some honest and competent merchants to adopt the same “free shipping” slight of hand – just to be able to compete with those who started this whole mess. Those who didn’t bury shipping costs in the prices of their products either gave lousy customer service (because something had to give) or they went out of business.

But you don’t pay for shipping when you drive down to the local Stuff R Us and buy something, right? Wrong. How much does it cost you in mileage (figure the current federal allowance for mileage)? Factor in the added time to drive there, park, and drive back. The time “in store” is probably greater than the time you spend on a Website making a purchase. Plus, there’s always that idiot who thinks your door or fender needs to be dented or scratched. Even if you walk to the store, you pay for shipping costs because the items at the store had to be shipped there. Bottom line – shipping is factored into the cost of each product. But with a website, there is no need to ship merchandise to the store or to pay someone to unbox it and put it out on display.

We really hate it when a competitor flashes “Free Shipping” in front of customers, because it simply isn’t honest. You still pay for shipping, even if they don’t break it out separately on your receipt. More than likely you’re paying for shipping in the overall price for the item you are purchasing that covers their shipping charge.

We charge for shipping, but we also help you select the product that’s right for you. Try that with your local grocery store or online web store. I’ll save you some time, you won’t get any help. You’re completely on your own and have no else to blame but yourself if you pick something out that you don’t like. A business that is doing “Free” Shipping” can’t do that, especially when alcohol is involved. Many states have strict rules that prohibit the return of alcohol.

Amazing Grapes has always fought the “Free Shipping” fiasco. It’s funny–a competitor who charges more with “free shipping” included is always more expensive for the equivalent purchase at Amazing Grapes where we itemized what the shipping costs your receipt. We fear that they often get the sale based on their offer of “Free Shipping” – that isn’t free!

What really happens is your money gets “freed” from you! To really twist the knife, a fair number of people use the excellent wine descriptions and images given by Amazing Grapes, then buy from the competitor, even if the price is higher because shipping is “Free.” And instead of getting that badly needed wine when they badly needed it, they find themselves waiting for weeks and still paid more for it!

Does this make any sense to you? Don’t let false claims of “Free” allow you to have a bad buying experience!

Now, to be fair, not all merchants are being deceptive when they offer free shipping. Some merchants run specials on overstocked items, new products, loss leaders, and other items just to boost sales or turn over inventory. That’s legitimate and we do it to from time to time. They are trying to move product, not make a profit on it.

But, when the normal shipping policy is “Free Shipping” . . .  they aren’t paying it! You are and that can really cost you.