Free Shipping And Free Delivery Are Different Things

Kenny took advantage of a free shipping promotion from Best Buy to shop for a ginormous television. He found one that he liked, but the order had a $70 shipping charge. Wait, what? Turns out that getting a ginormous item like a 51″ TV counts as “delivery,” like a home appliance, not “shipping,” like a smaller TV. That makes sense, but it’s a distinction that should be made clear to the casual customer surfing the site.

He sent an annoyed, if a bit too informal, letter to Big Blue and Yellow. Here it is:

So I am really upset that Best Buy, which is consistently being called out by groups like for not doing so well right now has weird, if not ridiculous policies. Here’s what happened:

I decided to give Best Buy my business when shopping for a large 50+” HDTV. I go to and see FREE SHIPPING ON EVERYTHING AT BESTBUY.COM. So I find a 51″ plasma Samsung tv and decide to place the order. Cme to find out I am being charged $70 shipping….huh?!?

So I called best buy customer service and spoke to a man, who was more like a robot, explaining the same thing over and over…delivery and shipping are not the same thing! News to me, I never heard a company, like amazon where I am an avid customer, tell me that their super saver shipping wasn’t available for items that were too big because those items require delivery, not shipping…what’s the difference?

Needless to say I checked and amazon and both would deliver a comparable tv to me for free, no questions. The best buy rep didn’t even offer to waive the ‘delivery’ fee to save a $750 sale. Unbelievable and shocked, I told the guy I was going to buy from amazon (a rival of stores like best buy for show rooming), and the rep said, well if you change your mind, you can always call us back…..sorry I won’t be calling back and won’t be shopping at best buy anymore because there is no difference between shipping and delivering!


Edit Your Comment

  1. Blueskylaw says:

    What the right hand giveth, the left hand taketh away.

  2. TuxthePenguin says:

    Alert: Smart consumer finds that advertised sales has caveat, decides against ordering item, instead going to competitor.

    This is exactly the sort of behavior anyone reading the Consumerist should have.

    • JEDIDIAH says:

      True enough. However, the companies that try to take advantage of the unwary still need to be called out for it and shamed.

      Now I know (as if I didn’t already) that Best Buy should be avoided. Warn off your less paranoid friends and family. Stay away yourself for fear that they might try something more subtle that you miss despite being paranoid.

  3. RanChan03 says:

    my question is why is he getting a plasma O-o

    • bennilynn says:

      Why not? The ones over 50 inches are much, much cheaper than LCD/LED and they haven’t had the overheating problems for years.

      • deathbecomesme says:

        Issues with burn in for one. Burn in happens a lot faster with Plasma than it does with LCD/LED

        • Chmeeee says:

          How’s 2003 treating you? I hear the economy’s pretty good…

          Burn in is pretty much a non-issue with modern plasmas, unless you do something stupid like leave the same image frozen on screen for DAYS at a time. I’ve had a Panasonic plasma for about four years now. No burn in even with frequent multi-hour stints of the same game, leaving it on pause by accident for a few hours once or twice, etc.

          • deathbecomesme says:

            It is still an issue. like my comment said above “happens a lot faster with plasma” and it does. Ive left my LED on the same screen for 2 days by accident when I left for the weekend. Came back and not even a hint of burn in. Do that with a plasma and you WILL get burn in. We had a call from a guy that had a new Vizio plasma. Our IPTV set top box froze while he was away at work for the day. He came back to an image burn in.

            • synimatik says:

              You are wrong. You WILL NOT get burn in from that short of a period of time. You will get image retention, which is quite common and can be seen after just an hour sometimes when you turn the tv off. But it is only noticable when the tv is turned off for a few seconds. It goes away once the channel is changed.

            • Robert Nagel says:

              Why did he leave the TV on?

            • Blazzing T says:

              I have one of the first Fujitsu plasmas from 98 or 99 era and it has had
              Zero issues. It is now relegated to the garage but it still has a very good picture. you don’t want to know what that baby cost when I bought it.

              Having been in the home theater design/build business since 1988 and having seen and tested many neat audo/video toys I would not buy anything but plasma in a flat panel television.
              My opinion for what it’s worth.

      • GenXCub says:

        I haven’t seen the recent numbers, but wouldn’t the Plasma cost you more after 2 years or so with the higher power usage? That’d be my only comparison.

        • I look at both sides of the story says:

          “I haven’t seen the recent numbers, but wouldn’t the Plasma cost you more after 2 years or so with the higher power usage? That’d be my only comparison.”

          I bought a higher end 60″ Samsung plasma TV two years ago to replace a higher end 55″ Sony LCD. The plasma TV gives off hardly any heat. The screen feels only slightly warm in most areas except where the electronics are located — the bottom of the screen and in two other areas. The Sony LCD gave off a wall of heat which was great in the winter.

          With a contactless infrared thermometer, I measured the temperature of the plasma TV. The areas where the electronics are located were in the 90s. The other areas weren’t much warmer than the ambient temperature. The vents in the back of the TV give off only a negligible amount of heat which was confirmed by the thermometer.

          That said, I should point out that I only watch TV at night where the brightness levels are set to very low.

          The plasma TV picture quality is so good, that watching movies in a theater is always disappointing. For movies that I really liked, I’ll rent the Blu-Ray when it’s released.

        • Chmeeee says:

          Supposedly the actual power usage on a Plasma is very similar to LCD. People are thrown off by reading the peak wattage and comparing that to an LCD. An LCD will pretty much always draw the same power, where as the power drawn by a plasma is directly related to the brightness of an image on screen. All black = near zero. All white = near peak.

          My 42″ Panasonic plasma is rated for a peak draw of 290 watts, but measured on a Kill-A-Watt, actual consumption hovered in the 150 range. I think that’s similar to what a similar size LCD would draw.

    • cosmotic says:

      Hes probably trying to save money and get a better product at the same time.

    • Chmeeee says:

      Personally, I prefer plasma as long as it’s not in a bright room with tons of windows. The blacks are better and it doesn’t need any of that overprocessed 120/240HZ BS to work around motion issues.

    • not creative j says:

      Many friends asked me the same thing, then I showed them my plasma set, and they understood. Several of them have now purchased plasmas to replace their “top of the line/best you can buy” led sets.

    • FreddyJohnson says:

      The picture on a good plasma is sublime, especially when watching movies. It beats the harsh, edgy picture of an LCD, and doesn’t have the “blue from an angle” problem that most LCDs suffer from, not to mention the Judder of an LCD that doesn’t enjoy frequency doubling.

  4. AdamBC says:

    >Needless to say I checked and amazon and both would deliver a comparable tv to me for free, no questions.

    I’d absolutely take the free TV over one that cost $750. Not sure why the OP thought it was worth it to pay for something free elsewhere.

  5. HeadsOnPikes says:

    Website says exclusions apply. The promotion page says that “scheduled delivery items” are excluded.

    Biggest problem with this I think is the use of the word “everything.” However, there’s always fine print and here, it’s not that fine.

    OP did the right thing by cancelling the order if dissatisfied, even if only on principle. But I don’t put too much blame here on Best Buy.

    • Ashman says:

      That to me is a classic advertising gimmick. I love those that say Everything and then in the fine print excludes 80% of the items in the store. Why not just say 20% of the items in the store on sale? Because that doesn’t get your attention enough. I consider it to really be false advertising. The word everything, entire, all are used way too much when in essence they are contradicting the word with the fine print. I also can;t stand those up to (x)% ads as well. They lure you in with a promise of big savings only to find out that you only save on the items nobody wants in the first place…

      I get those babies R Us ads that say things like that then in the fine print it excludes everything you would actually need to buy.

      I also love those personal rewards coupons you get sent, that are nice discounts on the stuff you never buy from the store, and then they throw in that one measly $5.00 off coupon that you can use on most things but still not everything.

      I think the Ralphs supermarket has it locked down as being the best when it comes to rewards programs, advertising and or coupons. They target them to what you buy. I wish more companies would do rewards programs that actually are tailored to your purchasing habits.

      Why wouldnt he just go buy the TV locally at a Best buy, or costco, sams club etc type of store, or simply ordered it off of Amazon in the first place.

      I bought my Last 47″ LCD off Amazon, and their price including the $100.00 white glove delivery service was still $100 cheaper. I priced my set at best buy for $850.00 before tax, I got it for $750.00 shipped with no tax.

      Was a no brainer and love the TV. Of course didn’t help me that I won a 47″ LED 3D tv from a promotion at work 3 months later. now I have two 47″ TV’s. been considering giving the non 3D one to my Brother, but I have also considered mounting both TV’s side by side just for kicks….

      • nodaybuttoday says:

        Yeah it’s why I don’t shop online at Toys R Us ever because it would say free shipping on EVERYTHING and in small print exclude a bunch of things. Like it said “video game consoles” so I ordered a video game since it made no mention of “video games”, wouldn’t go through, called them and they said video games count under video game consoles. Um, what?

      • nybiker says:


  6. Press1forDialTone says:

    Were they going to deliver it from a local store?
    If not, do you really want to ship a 50+ PLASMA (one of the delicate technologies)
    television to your house?
    It’s okay if you slap your forehead and go DOH!

    • AzCatz07 says:

      I had my 50-inch plasma shipped via Amazon last year. It was white-glove service, and they stand behind what they sell. So, why not?

    • Chmeeee says:

      I’d actually prefer delivery. If they break it, it’s their problem. If I pick it up myself and then I break it, then it’s my problem. I had a 53″ DLP delivered from Amazon many years ago and it came with their white glove service. They unbox it, put it on your TV stand, and allow you to verify that it works before they leave.

      • I look at both sides of the story says:

        “I’d actually prefer delivery. If they break it, it’s their problem.”

        Correct. Even if the TV isn’t broken, if there’s a problem with the TV while under warranty you’ll be asked who delivered and set up the TV.

        If you wanted to save a few dollars on the delivery fee and strapped the 70″ TV to the top of your Honda Fit then had a few friends carry the TV up 5 flights of stairs, you might receive some push back from the warranty people.

    • Kman says:

      Why not? I had my 52″ plasma shipped from amazon. My parents were reluctant to buy a tv online for the same reason, but I reminded them they don’t make them in the store, it’s still getting shipped at some point.

    • cactus jack says:

      I purchased a TV for my parents to be delivered and installed from Best Buy since I am 2 states away. Can I slap your forehead?

      • Wembley says:

        I also had a large flat screen TV delivered (from Amazon). They showed up at my doorstep in a large truck (like a moving truck) and had the TV strapped to the inside of the truck wall so it wouldn’t slide around (it was his last delivery of the day, so the rest of the truck being empty, I could see how well they secured it). The delivery guy was professional and insisted on carrying it to the door (even though I could have grabbed it in the driveway). Probably the most professional delivery I ever had.

  7. cosmotic says:

    Here’s where OP went wrong:

    “I decided to give Best Buy my business”

  8. jcoll81 says:

    “The best buy rep didn’t even offer to waive the ‘delivery’ fee to save a $750 sale.”

    Given the very slim margins, they were only going to make money on the delivery. While they might have lost your future business, they didn’t lose much on this transaction.

  9. Kingsley says:

    Good example of misleading the buyer. Best Buy’s specialty is misleading them, time has shown.

  10. lvdave says:

    Its just too bad BestBuy seems to be hanging on… I’m tired of reading these stories about gullible people going there and getting skrewed.. Why don’t they just do a “CircuitCity” already, AND unlike CC, not come back as a zombie website…

    • aaronx says:

      He didn’t get “skrewed” though. His purchase didn’t qualify for the promotion, so he canceled his order and took his business elsewhere.

    • bizzle says:

      “I’m tired of reading these stories about gullible people going there and getting skrewed.”

      Then you should read other websites.
      Because nobody comes on here to write about the millions of everyday, regular, average, good experiences that happen between companies and consumers everyday. The only ones you read about here are the ones bitching and complaining. Such is the nature of the internet and sites like this. You are led to believe every company is evil, incompetent and out to “skrew” the end user at every turn… because the people with the bad experiences are always the loudest by far.

  11. Mr Grey says:

    Back when Circuit City was a mortar store, my father bought a 63in Projection TV (it was a while ago) and asked for free delivery, the kid checked the schedule said it would take a week. My dad told the kid with the amount of money he was going to spending he thought it could be there a bit sooner.The kid said it would be week according to the computer schedule.

    The floor manager happened by, asked if he could help, and when looked at the potential sale he offered to have it delivered that evening. The manager told the kid when someone spends that much, you deliver it when they tell you to.

    From that day on that’s where my dad shopped for electronics. I kind of miss CC. I never had any trouble with them.

    • frodolives35 says:

      Good thing he didn’t try to use their extended warranty. I used to be an in home TV repairman and they were the worst about lying to the customers about whats covered. I once had a customer scream at me that the salesman said any problem with the screen was covered and if a cockroach was squished between the screens that should be covered. I politely asked him if he wanted me to take it into the shop while he worked it out with CC and he calmed down and said ok. Boy was he pissed when I would not unload the TV 2 weeks later with out a cash payment up front before I would even unload it. He knew cash was required when we set the appointment to return the set. I hated those guys from CC as they set me up for a lot of cussing as a 3rd party repairmen. It happened so often we had a cash up front policy for denied warranty repairs from their customers or else we would get screwed every time.

    • MuleHeadJoe says:

      I totally miss Circuit City … back in teh good ol’ days of consumer electronics, there were many stores I could go to to browse and fondle cool stuff and possibly even buy it! Now the only stores that carry physical components generally carry cheap chinese garbage (I’m lookin at you, Wallymart/Tarjay). I hate that I cannot find any sort of selection of home audio components in any physical stores anymore. BB carries just a limited selection of low quality junk just like WM/Tgt/etc., and the vast majority of it is various forms of iPod docking stations with speakers. I don’t own an iPod, don’t desire to ever own one. I want a high-quality component stereo system comprised of a radio reciever, amp/equalizer, cd player, maybe tape deck, definitely a turntable for my LP collection ;-) … I miss seeing the stacks & racks of Pioneer, Kenwood, Yamaha, JVC, etc. etc. components. I don’t know if anybody makes a full suite of home audio components anymore, but I am completely positive that no B&M store I’m aware of actually carries those components if they do exist anyhow. That’s just sad.

  12. dolemite says:

    I recall when I got my big TV a few years ago. It was on sale at BB and Amazon.

    Amazon was about $200 cheaper, right off the bat. Not only that, but I got a free blue ray player and 5 free movies. I also got free white glove delivery to my door. The guy brought it into my house, set it up, turned it on, programmed some features. Oh, and no sales tax.

    Now, why is BB foundering again?

  13. GandyDancer says:

    Best Buy … They killed Kenny!

    Film at 11.

  14. sparc says:

    I only see about 90 of their 600 TVs have free shipping listed on the product page. Not sure where the OP got confused. Mostly refurbished TVs.

    Even Amazon has exclusions for their free shipping. Not everything has free shipping.

  15. Jawaka says:

    So did he actually place the order or not? The shipping fee should have been included in the invoice before he hit submit.

  16. axolotl says:

    Should got a DiGiorno brand TV.
    It’s not delivered, it’s DiGiorno.

  17. Lombard Montague says:

    This is precisely why I don’t shop there. Whether it’s an “optimized” laptop or lying about what a warranty does and doesn’t cover, there always seems to be a hidden “fuck you” in every transaction.

    • luxosaucer13 says:

      Better than an out-in-the-open one, I suppose:

      “Sir, just to let you know, you’ll have to sign a new 2-year contract and get rid of your unlimited data plan in order to purchase your new iPhone 5000ZxT with free coffeemaker attachment.”

  18. GenXCub says:

    I’ve had good luck with for TV and shipping (some of them are free).

  19. marzolian says:

    Reminds me of a buddy who was shopping for a new car. He called a couple of dealerships and was being quoted a reasonable price. One of them, however, quoted the sticker price. He told them no, but he was hearing better offers somewhere else. The salesman said, “Tell me the lower price they’re giving you, and I’ll match it.” Buddy said, “No, thanks. If I find it somewhere else cheaper I’ll buy it there instead.”

  20. timp says:

    Best Buy…..No. Worst Buy…..Yes !

  21. wellfleet says:

    It’s truly tragic that in addition to not being able to get his TV from Best Buy, the OP is also afflicted with the inability to read. This promotion clearly states that scheduled deliveries are excluded from this promotion.

    Delivery and shipping are NOT the same thing. Shipping is your UPS/FedEx guy or gal throwing a package at your door and leaving it there. Delivery has one or two people bring in a box, unpack the box, take away the foam and all that crap, plug it in and make sure it works.

    • laurakat says:

      This. Amazon “White Glove” Delivery /= shipping either. Personally I would rather pay the extra to have a professional unpack it and haul away the garbage.

    • MuleHeadJoe says:

      regarding Shipping != Delivery … I’ve never known there was some kind of formally different definitions … is this a common differentiation? I buy lotsa crap from Amazon, but rarely buy anything large online, so I’ve never experienced this dichotomy myself. Largest thing I’ve ever purchased was a 42″ tv from Amazon … showed up at my doorstep with no extra cost as I’m an Amazon Prime scriber … I woulda said I got “free delivery” but now you people seem to be saying that’s not the case.

  22. Jimmy37 says:

    The closest I came to that kind of distinction was buying a treadmill. They had 3 levels of delivery – curbside, indoor, setup.

    Curbside was just that – the truck pulled up and dropped the 200lb box on your sidewalk. Indoor meant they moved it from the curb to any room you wanted. Setup meant they would then unpack it and get it ready to use. They even had additional charges to take it to an upstairs/downstairs room.

  23. 180CS says:

    “So I am really upset that Best Buy, which is consistently being called out by groups like for not doing so well right now has weird, if not ridiculous policies. Here’s what happened:”

    If he had LISTENED to ‘our group,’ this wouldn’t even be a problem. Not even going to read the rest of his article. He should just be happy that they didn’t chop it up and send him 10 boxes, some duct tape, and a receipt that states a return period ending the day before the item was delivered.

    I hope he got his money back and went to a better store.

  24. juggler314 says:

    People in power…are never wrong. And when you call a manager over they are pretty much always going to backup the person – not you.

    True story, I got pulled over for having a NY registration and NJ inspection (shortly after moving back to NYC). I got pulled over because they thought this was illegal (it’s not I argued with the cop who was adamant about it, he called over his “supervisor” who backed him up.

    Not surprising at all.