Zappos Zaps Price Protection Policy, Free Overnight Shipping

Update: Zappos will still surprise customers with free overnight shipping, but it is no longer a perk they will actively promote.

Online shoe store Zappos.com, renowned for their otherworldly ‘just-say-yes’ customer service philosophy, no longer offers free overnight shipping or a 110% price match guarantee. Tipster Julie forwarded her conversation with a Zappos CSR confirming the policy shift.

Here is the chat you had recently at Zappos.com
Julie has joined the room
Kathy has joined the room
Kathy: Thank you for contacting Zappos.com! My name is Kathy. How may I assist you today?
Julie: I was wondering if you still offer the 110% price match guarantee?
Kathy: Hello Julie, I’ll be happy to help. We no longer offer our Price Protection Policy.
Julie: Oh! Okay, thank you. When did that end?
Kathy: It ended on February 14th.
Julie: Ah okay. Bummer. Thank you!
Kathy: You are very welcome. Please let us know if there is any thing else we may assist you with.
Julie: Will do, thanks!
Julie has left the room

Sure enough, there is an official announcement:

We will no longer be promoting “Free Overnight Shipping” and we no longer will be promoting our price protection policy. Instead, we will be focusing more on our “free shipping” and our expanding selection of merchandise.

When asked to explain the shift, Zappos informed us that their public relations person was out enjoying the three-day weekend.

Comments

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  1. DeltaPurser says:

    That sucks! I’ve purchased from Zappos twice… both times because they offered the over-night shipping option on shoes that were otherwise not that cheap… “Free Shipping” usually menas slowboat these days, to that means I would have to wait 7-10 days to recieve my shoes that I paid FULL retail for. Not so good… Now I will be more likely to go out and actually shop around before purchasing – that way I will get the shoes I want for the same price without having to wait over a week.

  2. MentallyRetired says:

    Just ordered from Zappos Thursday at 8 PM, chose standard shipping and the receipt said to expect them in 4-5 days. The order was delivered Friday around 3 PM. Not sure about the price guarantee (their prices have always seemed pretty good to me and I’ve never used that service) but the free overnight shipping is still in effect even though they aren’t promoting it.

  3. chiieddy says:

    I still prefer to buy shoes (and most clothing) at B&M stores because shipping ends up canceling any deals, plus I never am quite sure I’ll like what looks good on the web (or stick thin model) until I get it on me.

  4. Juliekins says:

    I was the tipster in this case. I’m totally bummed about this, as I really loved shopping there and would gladly go through the hassle (if you can call it that) of calling to get them to match prices if another store beat them.

    Seeing as how endless.com still has a 110% price match and free shipping (sometimes they have negative $5 overnight shipping!) and piperlime.com a 100% match and free shipping (both do free returns) I am not sure why Zappos thought this was a good idea. If I had realized that Zappos had ended their policy, I would have ordered from Endless. They wanted $4 less for the shoes I bought.

  5. KJones says:

    I said this once before.

    A company builds a reputation, giving itself a good name. Then when it has enough goodwill in the public’s mind, it starts living off its old reputation while cutting back on service, all in the name of reducing costs and increasing profits.

  6. davere says:

    Outpost.com used to have free overnight shipping. People used them all the time. They eventually ended that and most people dropped them. Eventually Frys bought them and the brand disappeared. I wonder if Zappos will go the same way.

  7. firefoxx66 says:

    Yea, the only reason I ever bought from Zappos was when I needed some shoes and needed them fast, since obviously, you do NOT save money on that site. Without free overnight shipping, they’re going to have to cut costs big-time in order to get my business again.

    Also, without free overnight shipping, why should I buy SHOES online? All companies make shoes slightly different sizes – if I’m going to have to spend two weeks trying them on, shipping them back, getting another pair… Why bother?

    Sorry Zappos, you lose!

  8. goodcow says:

    Hmmm.. my first reaction was that Endless must have stopped their 110% + Overnight shipping and this was Zappos matching to save money, but that isn’t the case.

    Oh well, I perfer Endless anyway because I’m an Amazon junkie.

  9. Ragman says:

    It’s a wonder how impatient people are that they can’t wait a week to get something in the mail. It used to be 6-8 weeks for mail delivery of stuff like that.

    Why don’t you try them on at a local store while price checking, and then you’ll know what size to order online. Besides, you can find out if the local store will price match the website.

  10. Imaginary_Friend says:

    @firefoxx66: Too true! ITA.

    I guess when we hear about the inevitable bankruptcy, they’ll blame it on the Credit Crunch instead of their own short-sightedness.

  11. Juliekins says:

    @Ragman: My options for shoes like this are two local stores that will absolutely not match prices, and they’re often at least $10 higher than Zappos. They also tend to be filled to the brim with badgering sales staff. But hey, they’re local, and they’re in our Historic Downtown District, so really I ought to feel privileged that I have the opportunity to even set foot in their store, because don’t you know they are Local and did they mention they’re Downtown? Because they are. I shop them during the annual sidewalk sale in July when they are super busy (too busy to follow me around) and they have deep discounts. Otherwise, it’s not worth my time.

    My other option is to make a 40 minute drive to Nordstrom’s. Last time I was there, the sales douche made fun of the shoes I was wearing and tried to sell me a pair of (f)Uggs after I had specifically asked for help finding pointy toed dress boots. Ass. I had a gift card, or I would have walked out on the spot.

  12. laserjobs says:

    I guess we just need to subsitute Endless.com for Zappos now. Another problem solved.

    Endless.com
    Free overnight shipping, 110% price guarantee, and free return shipping

  13. Dashrashi says:

    @Ragman: Because Zappos stocks shoes my local stores couldn’t possibly stock, primarily for space reasons? If my local store stocked thousands of different kinds of shoes, I’d obviously try them on there and just order the right size. But they often don’t carry the shoe I want, which is why I have to go online to find them.

    Buying shoes online is obviously a hit-or-miss proposition, which is why Zappos made it so easy to get them quick and return them quick–because of the relatively high likelihood they wouldn’t fit. Now they’re not doing that, so I’d imagine they are going to lose business from the time-crunched and risk-averse.

  14. cindel says:

    I used Piperlime now for luxury shoes but shoemall.com and shoebuy.com are much cheaper than Zappos.

  15. azntg says:

    @Ragman: Ya gotta get with the times, you know? It used to take several months to get to America from Europe or Asia. Sure as hell don’t hear people saying that when traveling! The same should apply to packages in this high speed world!

    Zappos is slowing going into a downward spiral. They kinda shot themselves in the foot by phasing out some very redeemable traits that gave them a competitive edge against B&M’s.

  16. ImmaterialGirl says:

    That’s interesting because Piperlime recently instituted a price-match and free shipping policy. I liked their selection but the lack of those two policies kept me from purchasing from them for the longest time.

    Guess I’ll be sticking with Piperlime and Endless from now on.

  17. mrjimbo19 says:

    The timing on this change strikes me as more of an economic choice then a greed power play. I remember reading on here a while back about this company and how great the service was for ordering items. I fail to see how changing the shipping from overnight to standard really changes how they treat you… it saves them money (that may allow them to keep operating with the same level of customer service) that they may be able to pass on in price savings. As for the pricematch policy that seems odd, a lot of retailers will bury their pricematching policy but they still have one.

  18. Youthier says:

    Aww, sad. Their overnight was AMAZING – I ordered shows two weeks ago on a Wednesday at 10pm. I expected the overnight shipping to show up on Friday and they were there Thursday afternoon.

    If they’re continuing free shipping, I’ll keep using them.

  19. Weirdsmobile says:

    I have a friend who works for Zappos, and the way she explained it was, the price protection was more or less killed by greedy resellers. Apparently people were buying massive amounts of shoes and other items, finding deals on them, cashing in on the price protection, then reselling the items on eBay. The online deals were particularly problematic because you could find super cheap counterfeit products online and convince gullible customer service reps that they were the real thing. In many cases they ended up essentially giving the items away. We’re not talking about individual bargain hunters here, but people that literally earned their living off of taking advantage of Zappos’ price protection. Pretty crazy. Couldn’t last. Don’t expect it to last too long at Endless, either.

    As for the death of overnight shipping, it became more trouble than it was worth, mainly because of the tons of whiny-ass customers they had to deal with any time something didn’t get delivered within 24 hours — which, considering the degree of competence we all know and love from UPS and FedEx, was not uncommon. The last time I heard anything about this, they were supposedly going to keep doing overnight shipping, just not promising or advertising it, so they don’t have to keep giving out $100 “please don’t hate us” coupons. Not sure about that, though.

    I think all of this is part of their overall movement away from competing on price and further toward their focus on service. You can’t please the bargain hunters anyway, because service is not the draw for them, and you can’t make any profit from them and still be a customer service-oriented company. I think they’re trying to make Zappos more of a pure service focused brand, and moving the price-conscious folks over to their 6pm.com brand.

  20. Mrs. Stephen Fry says:

    I order shoes online a lot, but I stopped using Zappos some time ago. They charge a lot more than piperlime and shoebuy, and their service has gone down the toilet.

  21. legerdemain says:

    I’ve made a few purchases from Zappo’s over the past year. I care about service, and their 110% price match, free overnight, and good attitude all worked to actually expand my shoe budget. To put it another way, Zappo’s was so good, they didn’t just capture the money I was spending on shoes, they made me spend more, and buy more shoes than I ordinarily would. I also chose them over their competition when I bought my Garmin Edge 205 GPS cyclometer. They had free overnight, and beat their competition with a price match of over $130 difference.

    I’ll miss them – I need a pair of running shoes, and New Balance sizing makes me buy odd sizes (13 EE, if you’re wondering). I’ll check out this Endless.com everyone is talking about.

  22. Altdotweb says:

    Fuel surcharges are probably the reasons. 50 cents a transaction on a business model that is based on volume adds up to real numbers on the end of a balance sheet. Those added costs could kill even great companies.

    If customers are going to jump ship because of the shipping change, it’s better to try that and have a slow sink instead of not trying and having a fast one.

    Hard to imagine that 2 extra days to get a pair of shoes would cause much disloyalty.

  23. @Altdotweb: I agree. Zappos still provides free shipping both ways, of which I personally have taken advantage of more than once (apparently, size 12 doesn’t mean the same thing to all shoe manufacturers!) The “overnight” shipping was a neat perk, but certainly something I didn’t need. I can’t think of any situation where I’d say “Ohmygod! I need to have these shoes within the next 24 hours or my life will be ruined!”

  24. theantidote says:

    I don’t know why they decided to stop price matching but the free overnight shipping was always on a promotional basis I think. They were probably losing too much money by doing it and decided to go back to regular free shipping. I used to order from them before they did free overnight and it still usually came the next day or at most within 2 days. It’s not really a big deal.

  25. nycpec says:

    FitJulie,

    Nice tip..almost purchased from Zappos…I never heard of endless.com…

    Thanks…I like that site..

  26. Crazytree says:

    the assholes at fatwallet killed it.

  27. SaraAB87 says:

    I like Zappos due to the huge selection of shoes and sizes. Shoe shopping for me is not fun or enjoyable because I do not fit in anything on the store shelves. There is just nothing in my size, I can’t imagine what I would do without Zappos. If I didn’t give up on buying womens shoes a few years ago I would probably drive myself crazy here.

    I have an extremely difficult time finding sandals, and even if I buy mens they are still not wide enough. I went to I do not know how many shoe stores last spring trying to find sandals, probably wasted a ton of gas and time and came up empty handed. So much for that, heres hoping I find at least one style that fits me then at least I can buy several pairs and be set for a while.

    My only complaint about Zappos is they don’t have every size in stock, so if yours is gone you are out of luck. I will have to check out endless.com though.

  28. SpaceCat85 says:

    I just noticed that the free overnight shipping was gone when I ordered a pair of shoes from there the other night. The killer is, I wouldn’t have missed the last of the free overnight shipping if I hadn’t procrastinated for a day.

    They do carry more oddball colors for the various shoe styles I’ve bought, and none of the local stores carry the brands/styles I like (i.e., decently-made dress shoes with well-padded insoles), so I’ll probably still shop there first unless they do something more serious like messing around with their (very good) return policy.

  29. JMH says:

    I guess Endless will be ending the free overnight shipping soon too.

  30. elisa says:

    @SaraAB87: I have the same problem as you, my feet are wide enough that even the “wide” sizes in Naturalizer and Easy Spirit don’t fit. And the few WW shoes I’ve found were too wide. I also need (relative) comfort, eg good insoles and a bottom that’s flexible. What few shoes I have I’ve gotten by trying on hundreds of shoes and getting lucky. (Do you have any tips?)

    I’ve never checked into online shoe stores, but if it’s free shipping, I guess I’ll start trying…But overnight shipping would’ve been nice, especially since I anticipate having to kiss a lot of frogs before finding the right shoes.

  31. SaraAB87 says:

    I cannot give any tips except buy mens shoes over womens, but you might not be able to do that because of work and such. I wear an 11-12 in womens and most shoes stop at size 10 and you can’t even find 10s because they are gone so fast. Shoe manufacturers just don’t understand that women in America have large feet and need larger shoes. My cousin is only 10 years old and wears an 8 1/2 in womens already. I ordered a pair of propet sandals over the summer that I had to return, but they did fit well being a 112E so I guess that is my size, one that does not exist in normal retail stores. They just weren’t that comfortable.

    A good walking sandal for summer walking for women in my size just doesn’t exist so I buy mens. I have been buying mens for like, 10 years at least and no one has made a comment on my feet yet. For some reason last year I just couldn’t find any sandals that fit, for some reason everything is now just slightly too narrow. I am going to go for some keen zerraports from zappos soon, they are pricey but if they fit it will be well worth it in time and lost gas money.

    This is going to sound strange but I also like to customize the bottoms of my shoes and since doing this my feet don’t hurt anymore. I cut up the 84 cent insoles from walmart, grab a roll of duct tape and place them in my shoes as I desire. This is also how I got by on old sandals last summer. Won’t help you if the bottoms on your shoes crack though. That used to happen to me with sandals so now I try to find sandals with thick bottoms, but since the selection is so limited I have to focus on finding something that is wide enough and then work from there.

  32. Nikki4me says:

    Zappos has been a dream come tru for me. My size 8 extra extra wide size simply isn’t available in stores. When I first began ordering from Zappos, there was no promise of overnight delivery. No problem, but a great surprise when they arrived the next day (possibly because their distribution center is about 4 hours from where I live).

    I’ll keep ordering from them because of the no-tax, no shipping policy, and thank heaven they have my size.

  33. BugMeNot2 says:

    For me…Zap is the only place i cant find shoes in my size… 11 EEEEEE, i hope they don’t screw with their polices too much… :/ on that note..does anybody know of other online retailers that carry 5 and 6 E shoes? Would be great if they were cheaper then zap.. but either way.. i really love my propet summer walkers…amazing to finally have a shoe that doesn’t smash my foot horrible (i was wearing some knock off crocks that they made super wide for bout a year before i got the propets)

  34. camille_javal says:

    This is pretty timely for me – I just ordered a pair of shoes on Zappos yesterday, and chose the free shipping – I noticed the fact that it was no longer free overnight, which sucks, but a big part of the perk of Zappos for me is finding particular things I can’t find anywhere else. Then, last night, I got an email that read -

    Although you originally ordered Standard (4 to 5 business days) shipping
    and handling, we have given your order special priority processing in
    our warehouse and are upgrading the shipping and delivery time frame for your order.
    Your order will ship out Monday, February 18th 2008 and be given a special priority shipping status so that
    you can receive your order even faster than we originally promised!

    Interesting – and, my order already had a tracking # at 2:33am EST this morning, despite my having ordered at 12:45pm on a Sunday, and the fact that today is a holiday.

    So, Zappos is still looking pretty good.

  35. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    I’m not sure how Zappos.com shipped but FedEx and UPS have really jacked up their rates along with all their “surcharges”. FedEx now gives you a fee but then adds up to 3 surcharges: fuel, residential, and “outside of delivery area”. We used to ship from NYC to California for $9.90 for 2-day delivery. Today, three years later, that same package is $23.90. So they’re probably a victim of shipping vendors.

    I’d love to know how Amazon can still afford to use their Shipping Prime program and 2-day UPS me a $9.00 book. I can only assume they worked out some overall flat rate whereas quantities and distances don’t concern them.

  36. camille_javal says:

    @stanfrombrooklyn: Amazon appears to be using DHL more – which is how Amazon got a pissed off note from me last week after DHL once again delivered something late and looking like it had been attacked by a team of cloggers.

  37. Juliekins says:

    @camille_javal: I got that very same message, camille. Checking my tracking, I see that the shoes I ordered on Friday afternoon are out for delivery this morning and were shipped “Next Day Air Saver,” which is how Zappos has always shipped to me–and I’ve always gotten my shoes overnight even when I ordered after the 1pm cutoff.

  38. ElizabethD says:

    Piperlime ftw.

    Plus, their packaging (tissue paper) is so snazzy.

  39. fizzyg says:

    Honestly, as long as they still offer free shipping and returns, I’m sticking with them. I wear a 10.5, which is impossible to find in most women’s shoe brands, and they carry several of the brands that do have them. Otherwise I have to order directly from Naturalizer or Nine West (dept stores don’t carry that size in those brands) and pay for s&h both ways.

  40. picardia says:

    @FitJulie: I prefer Endless too — I think the selection and search function are superior, at least for shoes. This seals that deal.

  41. vladthepaler says:

    Never heard of endless but perhaps I’ll try it… free overnight shipping was a real incentive to buy from Zappos, shame it’s gone.

  42. ElizabethD says:

    @fizzyg:
    OMG, I wear a 10.5 too! What a sad little club we belong to. I can never understand why most shoe stores simply skip that size and go from 10 to 11. Crazy.

  43. Taigan says:

    I used that price protection late last year to get $60 off a pair of shoes. Zappos often has the best price around, but it seems to me that when they are more expensive, it’s by a pretty large amount. And the free overnight shipping was invaluable. I’d still use Zappos, but when it comes to shoe shopping, I am a bit last minute, and might need to go to a physical store (ugh) if I can’t depend on getting my shoes the next day (without a honking overnight shipping charge).

  44. TPIRman says:

    This is somewhat disappointing news, but with the many people talking about jumping ship, I feel the need to chime in here and say that Zappos’ customer service is top-notch. In my experience, they always err on the side of the consumer.

    One recent experience: I ordered a handbag for my wife as a Christmas present for about $150 less than I could find it in department stores or on other sites. The bag arrives in excellent condition, but after a week or so, the pewter-ish color on the bag started to discolor and turn orange. I didn’t know if it was a problem with this one bag or a problem with the line of bags in general, but I emailed Zappos and explained the situation. I was worried that they wouldn’t accept the bag with significant signs of wear.

    Within an hour I got a response with a return label, no questions asked, and they said they would send another bag overnight — it showed up the next morning. They said that not only would they accept the first bag, but if the second bag discolored in the same way, they’d take that one, too.

    The second bag did end up showing the same problem (I’ve learned that a lot of people have had the discoloring issue with this model of bag), but true to their word, they took the second one back, too, no questions asked.

    If you place any value on customer service, it might be worth waiting an extra couple of days to know that the company you’re ordering from will back its products up.

  45. UpsetPanda says:

    I’ve had nothing but great customer service from both Zappos and Endless. I’ve been shopping for wedding shoes, and would check both sites as well as Piperlime every week for silver or white shoes to match my wedding dress. I think between Endless and Zappos, I must have ordered at least six pairs of shoes, until I found the right ones from Endless. Not one time did either company complain that I was returning so many pairs of shoes.

    Zappos taking away overnight shipping doesn’t really bother me because there really isn’t a reason I need shoes right now or else things won’t go right. Now, if two days before my wedding, my shoes break, I’ll be going to Endless, and not Zappos, but it doesn’t mean I won’t shop at Zappos anymore.

  46. hypnotoad1971 says:

    I have always had great service from Zappos. I wear size 15 and have a hard time finding a good selection of shoes but at at Zappos I can find just about any shoe I want. I ordered a pair of shoes Saturday night. Then Sunday I read this post. I was kinda bummed but when I checked my mail I found the following message:

    “Although you originally ordered Standard (4 to 5 business days) shipping
    and handling, we have given your order special priority processing in
    our warehouse and are upgrading the shipping and delivery time frame for your
    order.
    Your order will ship out Monday, February 18th 2008 and be given a special
    priority shipping status so that
    you can receive your order even faster than we originally promised!”

    I didn’t think much of it since they didn’t give a time frame for getting the shoes but later on Sunday I received a ship notice and found them at my door today.
    I was quite surprised and happy. I will continue to use Zappos. Thanks Zappos.

  47. purseobsessed says:

    Check out the official word from Zappos.com’s CEO:

    [blogs.zappos.com]

  48. dampier says:

    The song and dance routine from Zappos CEO where a downgrade in customer service and pricing somehow becomes an improvement in the Zappos experience is marketingspeak run amuck.

    I wrote Zappos last month terminating my account with them and taking my business elsewhere. Shoes are a commodity online and a large number of us buy on two factors:

    1) Total price out the door.
    2) Fast and low cost/free shipping.

    Everything else is secondary. I am non-plussed by the excuse-o-matic that Zappos has fired up to explain away the elimination of the only two saving graces of this company. Zappos pricing has always been well above the competition, and is frankly unjustified for an online shoe merchant. I didn’t worry about this too much because of their price match policy, which I used for every order I placed with them (I did about $350 a year with Zappos). My average savings was around $10-20 per pair of shoes. That’s not spare change.

    Late last year, Zappos solved their eBay bottom feeder problem by slapping a one price match per month limit, which solves abusive price match requests without abusing their customers. If counterfeit merchants presented a problem, exclude them from the price match program.

    Instead, they eliminated the entire program and the only remaining benefit of doing business with Zappos, free overnight shipping. If I am going to pay a premium price for my shoes, I expect them to be there the next day guaranteed (I don’t blame a merchant for a delivery screw-up that is out of their control.)

    So now we have a company telling customers it could take 4-7 business days for their order to arrive, at prices well above their competition. I am at a loss to understand the benefit of keeping the free expedited shipping a secret from a marketing perspective.

    On an order I placed today, Zappos came in at $40(!) more expensive than another major online retailer promising to have my order here by tomorrow. So if I am at the order screen and see a $40 Zappos price premium and a listed 4-7 day ship time, I am closing that browser window before submitting the order, making any free shipping upgrade irrelevent on an order never placed.

    This is a fatal error on the part of Zappos. If I want quality at a premium over price, I’ll shop locally. That is a no-brainer I am shocked they don’t understand.