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Online Shipping Upgrades are a Ripoff

Written by Nickel - 6 Comments

If you’re anything like me, you do a lot of online shopping. You might also be as impatient as I am. So, have you ever been tempted to pay for upgraded shipping at a site (such as Amazon.com) when their free shipping will do? I’m not talking about upgrading to overnight shipping because you need it the next day. I’m talking about simply going from the free “Super Saver” shipping (or whatever the site in question happens to call it) to the standard shipping that’s billed as being one notch better. Well, I’m here to tell you that you probably shouldn’t bother.

Merchants often go out of their way to scare you into the shipping upgrade, often quoting delivery times of 7-14 days when you select the Free Shipping option, whereas the standard option promises 3-5 days, or something similar. As it turns out, both options often go via the same carrier, and at the same level of service (e.g., UPS Ground) meaning that the only way ‘Free’ could be slower would be if the vendor chose to sit on your order for a few extra days. In my experience, they never do. And why would they? It’s just taking up space in their warehouse. So… While there are sometimes good reasons to pay extra for faster shipping (like when you absolutely, positively need the item the next day), do yourself a favor… The next time you feel the urge to bump your shipping from free to standard, expedited, or whatever they happen to call the next level, just sit tight. You’ll most likely get your stuff just as fast as if you had gone with the free option, and you’ll save yourself a few bucks while you’re at it.

Published on June 27th, 2005
Modified on September 11th, 2006 - 6 Comments
Filed under: Frugality, Online

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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6 Responses to “Online Shipping Upgrades are a Ripoff”

  1. 1
    FMF Says:

    Sorry, I always go for the “free” shipping. It usually gets there much faster than I need it anyway.

  2. 2
    Mike Hillyer Says:

    My father is a package carrier for the post office, and I can totally vouch for what you are saying. He would try his hardest to educate people but they do not listen.

    For example, offices would pay the extra fee to have him pick up their letter/package rather than put it in the mailbox, but since the trucks to the next sorting station leave only at certain times per day, the mail in the box would go out at the same time as the mail he picked up directly.

    People need to realize that upgrading your shipping does not mean that they give it to a special courier who hops on a plane and then takes a car to your door, it all gets loaded into the same trucks and carriers as the regular stuff. Expediting usually has more to do with how directly it is delivered to you when it hits your city.

  3. 3
    The Comedian Says:

    I bought a small item off two weeks back using the super saver and they shipped it in one damn strange way.

    The package went via airborne express to a town just about 12 miles from me, then it was delivered locally as a piece of first class mail.

    Total time was 5 business days.

  4. 4
    The Comedian Says:

    Should have said “small item off of amazon two weeks back”.

    I lost the “amazon” in an edit.

  5. 5
    Jose Anes Says:

    If it is not here tomorrow… then it might as well be here next week.

    Super Saver Shipping (if Free) is the way to go!

    Money And Investing

  6. 6
    jots Says:

    i agree with you. i took the free option even tho i really wanted it (a new pda) quicker. i ordered it from buy.com on a monday and got it fed ex ground on friday-i was so surprised. i thought i had just got lucky but from what you are saying i guess i just “happened” to choose smart–glad i did. i couldnt afford the $7 bucks just to get it a few days quicker

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