Note The Scare Quotes Around Target's "Free Shipping" In This Headline

Lisa ordered a sewing machine and a dress from and had the silly idea that clicking on the “free shipping” option, purportedly available on orders over $50, would lead to free shipping. Lo and behold, she was stuck with $5 in shipping charges!

She writes:

Just a heads up on’s so-called free shipping. Their website readily promotes free shipping on all orders over $50. I ordered a sewing machine for over $50 then looked around the site for anything else I might want to add since I was already getting free shipping on the purchase. I found a $6 dress on clearance to add to my order and proceeded to check out. I checked the box that said to group my items into one shipment. The website totaled the order and applied free shipping to the entire purchase.

A few hours later I had an email from Target saying my dress had shipped by itself and was now showing additional shipping charges of $5. I called Target’s customer line and told them I had checked the single shipment box and should not be charged shipping if they chose to break up the shipment. They told me the issue was that my two items qualified for different kinds of free shipping. The sewing machine qualified for “Free Shipping” and the dress qualified for “Free Shipping on Orders of $50 or more”. I tried to explain that I spent well over $50 on my order to no avail. Since the sewing machine does not qualify specifically for the fine print “Free Shipping on Orders of $50 or more” (even though the item itself is over $50), the dress did not qualify for free shipping.

If that is how the free shipping was intended to work, shouldn’t the online check-out have calculated it this way instead of showing free shipping and then sneaking the extra $5 fee on a subsequent email? I wonder how many people don’t think to re-check their shipping receipt and actually pay shipping. Target eventually credited my account the shipping fee after a long battle with customer service. The issue could be easily solved if Target put anything on the item’s page that said “This item qualifies for free shipping but cannot be counted towards free shipping on other purchases” but I guess they prefer to be confusing and mislead their customers.

The policy is confusing and should be re-worded to “items over $50” rather than “orders,” if that’s how Target intends to roll.

(Photo: jking89)

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