You've seen it on many Web sites: "Free shipping!" For whom is this free?
UPS charges for shipping, FedEx charges for shipping, USPS charges for shipping, Airborne Express charges for
In fact, everyone who does the shipping charges for it. Someone
has to pay for the trucks, planes, and salaries. And the rising price of
For shipping inside the "contiguous 48" of
the USA, it's usually about $8 or $9 for UPS Ground for the first couple of
pounds and so much a pound after that.
How can any merchant give you "free" shipping?
Answer: They don't. What they do is reduce service or pass on costs in
some other way.
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 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)?
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. The items at the store are shipped there. Shipping is factored into
the cost of each product. But with a Website, there is no need to ship
merchandise to the store or pay someone to unbox it and put it out on
At Mindconnection, we originally stocked only downloadable courses (Mindconnection's and Dr. Jay Prince's) and downloadable books (Mindconnection's
novels and classics, plus Saber Books). So, there was no shipping involved.
Then, we began making arrangements with other merchants,
Mike Holt Enterprises--to market their products if they do the order
fulfillment. Plus, we began selling nutritional
supplements on the mind-body connection theory. All of these have
shipping costs. Someone has to pay them. That someone is always the
customer, one way or another.
When a competitor flashes "free shipping" in front
of customers, we really hate that because it simply isn't honest. You still
pay shipping, even if they don't break it out separately. Only, you don't pay for your
shipping--you pay a shipping price that covers their butts if someone remote has a high
shipping charge. Or something else gives, and it's something they're not upfront about.
Most folks, for example, don't consider customer service. We charge for
shipping, but we also help you select the product that's right for you,
straighten out warranty issues, provide product support when the factory
is closed or won't do it, and usually pay your restocking fee if you return the item! A business
that is doing "free" shipping can't do that.
Customers keep telling us our presale product
information is the best out there. Putting that together isn't free, and we
don't use "free" shipping funds to shortchange you pre-sale.
Bookmarki has always fought the "free shipping" fiasco. It's funny--a
competitor who charges more with "free shipping" included than Bookmarki does
with shipping shown on your invoice often gets sales based on price. Huh? Well, there's
that deceptive use of "free."
What really happens is your money gets
"freed" from you! To really twist the knife, a fair number of people use the
excellent descriptions given by Bookmarki (and used as the basis for our own) or call them for a product
inquiry, then buy from the competitor even if the price is higher because shipping is
"free." And instead of getting that badly needed Code book when they badly need
it, they wait four weeks and still pay more for it! Don't let false claims of "free" allow you to have a
bad buying experience!
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. They are trying to move
product, not make a profit on it..
But, when the normal policy is "we
pay the shipping," they aint payin' it! And that can really cost you.