mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Friday, June 25, 2010

If the fine print taketh away, I taketh away my business...

So last week I got an email from a company I'd purchased from in the past, telling me that they missed my business and that they were giving me a 20% off coupon, plus their normal free shipping for purchases over $25, to get me back. They sold a product that I was eventually going to need more of, so I clicked on their link, found the product, calculated that it would be a few dollars less than other places after the discount, and put it in my cart.

And then I promptly got a message telling me that they could not offer free shipping on certain large and heavy items, including the one I'd just put into my cart.

Now, I'm an occasional eBay seller, so I'm pretty familiar with the cost of shipping. And I realize that there is a certain threshold at which it gets significantly more expensive to ship items. I wouldn't begrudge a company from advertising free shipping on most items, but not being able to offer it on, say, a pallet of concrete blocks or an 8-piece sectional.

But I knew about how much the item I was looking to buy was, and it wasn't nearly large enough to be oversize/overweight (which for UPS is over 70 pounds or 70" in girth). That's because the item I was looking to buy was a 5-pound jar of whey protein for protein shakes. (I've been doing some strength training and have added a small amount of protein supplements to my diet in the hopes of building some muscle).

That makes me suspect that their "heavy" items aren't so much things that cost more to ship, but rather things that are very price-competitive and that they want to be able to advertise a low price on for comparison shoppers but not actually have to deliver on.

The retailer, for those who are wondering, was . Suffice to say, I didn't buy it from them - with shipping, the price is about the same as from amazon, who has more of a selection of flavors, and from whom free shipping really is free.

I wonder how many other customers are like me, and if their little free shipping game is costing them more customers than it's attracting. I certainly would be reluctant to buy from them unless it was an amazing deal, because it seems like a very shady way to run a business.


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