Though they are few and far between, one of the main arguments I hear against online shopping is the extra fee for shipping. And the thing is, YOU ARE RIGHT, it’s complete BS. And yes, I do understand that there is a price for the convenience of having something directly mailed to my home, instead of going out in my car and buying it myself. But I’m learning very RARELY does the item in question actually cost as much to ship, as they charge you for it. Some places boast a certain price of flat fee shipping, but in reality that only benefits you’re ordering several things. If you’re order one shirt, “$8.95 flat rate” is not a deal
The thing that I find most unfair about the various shipping costs is that, as I mentioned in my last post, there is MORE online – more sizes, more colors, more variety. In many cases I’m not ordering online out of laziness, I’m ordering online out of availability. Hey, if I could find my abnormal bra size in your store, I WOULD buy it there. But I can’t, and now I have to pay $10 more than the average woman would, to buy it online (see where I’m going with this, it’s very clearly a civil rights issue in disguise).
So while I continue to lobby for equality on this matter, here are a few ways I’ve found to cut that shipping charge out of your order.
1. Make their minimum – Many, if not most online retailers have a “free shipping for orders over x amount of dollars” deal. In many cases it’s absurd, something like free shipping for $100 purchase, to encourage you to hit that mark and of course BUY MORE! My trick is to do so, but do it for places that will take returns in store. So for example, Banana Republic has a “free shipping over $50″ deal all of the time. If I’m buying a dress or shirt that is $40, I’m going to find something else I might be mildly interested in, just to make $50. Then if it comes in and I don’t like it, I have the option of returning it to the store, without having to pay shipping back either, and still having dodged the original shipping cost.
In fact, for Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic and Piperlime, their minimum is $50 across all four of those stores (that’s right, they’re owned by the same people and offer a shared shopping cart). You’re bound to be able to find a combination of things between the four retailers that can equal $50, and if you don’t like any of it when it comes in, you can return it for the full amount, with no hassle or money lost on your part.
2. Contact THEM – Every retailer, but especially the ones who make most of their money in e-commerce, want to boast their great customer service. In some cases it’s true, others it isn’t, but as my mother told me about broccoli, you won’t know until you try it. In a few cases when I’ve had a problem, I have used the “Contact Us” option available on most sites and it’s turned out well. If you make the argument that you “tried to find what you want to order in your local store or boutique, but it wasn’t available in [your] size, and to have to pay EXTRA for it when the store wasn’t carrying the item, isn’t fair..” usually the customer service rep will throw something at you for this. And usually it is either a code, or the option to reply to that email with your order number and they’ll take off the shipping cost. But as I said, it can’t hurt to try.
3. Those emails I told you about…. – Most of the free shipping I find out about is through the mailing list emails I mentioned in my last post. Unless you check your favorite retail sites every single day, it’s likely you won’t know about when you have this option for free shipping. And sometimes even THEN the deal is not advertised on the site, it might only have been sent out in emails that day.
4. When all else fails, GOOGLE – Searching for free shipping codes is as easy as Googling it. Some of the less organized and shoddy sites might come up, but sometimes you’ll find exactly what you were looking for. One great thing I discovered recently isn’t Google at all, but rather it’s from one of its competitors. Yahoo! has a great shopping section, packed with deals and coupon codes that update all day long at deals.yahoo.com.
5. The beauty of Amazon – This will only apply to students, professors, or recent students of any kind. Amazon.com has what is called Prime, a subscription service that allows you to get cool stuff like free two day shipping, very cheap one day shipping, and unlimited streaming of movies and tv shows. This service costs $79 a year, and if you shop on Amazon a lot it’ll likely be worth it for you. HOWEVER, STUDENTS, YOU GET THIS FREE! I’m not kidding. If you have an .edu address you can sign up to get Prime free for six months. I think this was a promotion they started to encourage students to buy text books on the site, but it definitely comes in handy for a million other things.
6. Shop on sites that offer free shipping both ways – I’ve noticed many sites doing this now, including Amazon Prime of course, but also sites like Zappos and Nordstrom. Both of those boast free shipping and returns, as well as excellent customer service which I can completely attest to.
7. Store Delivery – If you’re still looking to get your items without the shipping costs and all else has failed, see if the retailer offers free store delivery. Many places like Best Buy, Payless, and some other major department stores actually cater to those people who find what they need online before in store. Same as Banana Republic now has “reserve in store,” where you can do just that online and then pick it up.