Online sellers don’t offer free shipping with minimum spending amounts just to be nice. They’re trying to squeeze enough extra purchases out of customers to justify the expense of eating their shipping costs. Savvy shoppers can use such offers to their advantage, but they’ll have to out-smart the rigged system.
Savings.com suggests ways to avoid over-spending by falling into traps set by free shipping offers:
* Calculate how much you’re actually saving. Don’t let the “free” term blind you. Complete your order with the shipping method you’d pay for if free shipping wasn’t offered to see how much you’d pay, then back out of the order. That way you can figure whether or not it’s worth it to buy a low-cost item to vault you over the free shipping threshold.
* Expect delays. The trade-off for free shipping is that the seller will de-prioritize your order and send it the slowest, cheapest way possible. If you’re ordering something you’ll need in a timely matter, you’re better off paying for a shipment that will arrive at a specific time rather than gambling on the seller’s whims.
* Be prepared to pay for shipping. If you all you want is one thing, don’t yield to the temptation to buy another that you don’t want as much just to score the free shipping. Stick with your purchase or save it for later when you’re ready to buy something else.
5 Ways to Ensure “Free” Shipping is Really Free [Savings.com]