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April 14, 2014

They Advertise “Free” Shipping But Default to “Pay” Shipping

Filed under: Electronics,Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:21 am

 A senior citizen friend was in need of a new TV, so MrConsumer found a wonderful deal on a 32″ Sony for only $199.99 with no sales tax and free shipping at Newegg.


Yes, it is reconditioned, but MrConsumer owns two reconditioned Sony’s and they’re fine. Using my friend’s AMEX (since it doubles the 90-day warranty that Sony gives on refurbished products while most Visa/MCs exclude such purchases from coverage) I ordered the item for him. To my shock and horror, when I scrutinized the receipt, I noticed that Newegg charged $4.99 for three-day delivery. I swear that the “free delivery” box was checked off or appeared to be checked off on the ordering screen. But, a closer look revealed not.



Despite being advertised as coming with free shipping, the Newegg system apparently defaults to pre-selecting a pay shipping option even when a free option is available. It may have been the blue arrow pointing to the free shipping option that erroneously gave me the impression I was all set.

Immediately upon noticing my error, I called Newegg. It was closed on Sundays. Drats. I tried “chat” and discovered it was down. Drats. I emailed them and heard nothing back on Sunday. Drats. I tried chat again, and this time got through and after a little persistence, the agent offered me a $4.99 credit toward a future order. She would not process a credit card refund, however.

At 5:30 a.m. Pacific time the next day, MrConsumer called Newegg, and spoke to a wonderful agent who agreed to make a one-time exception, and credit my friend’s credit card for the shipping. Great outcome, Newegg.

It should be pointed out however, (1) the item had not yet been shipped when these multiple requests to change the shipping method were made, and (2) that Newegg would better serve customers, particularly on items advertised as coming with free shipping, to have that option preselected by default.

Newegg is not alone in this gambit. Amazon also defaults to a pay shipping option even when the order qualifies for free shipping.

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  1. No different than updating software and needing to uncheck the box to install Chrome, Norton, or any other piece of optional software.

    Comment by mario — April 14, 2014 @ 7:25 am
  2. This isn’t just Newegg or Amazon, I’ve easily seen this on 4 or 5 websites. Always always always look at your totals before you click the final submit.

    Comment by Max — April 14, 2014 @ 8:50 am
  3. Yes, Amazon has done that for a long time. In addition, I’ve found that the ship time is the same for the freebie shipping, as the next lower option in the shipping options anyway.

    Comment by Dan Kap — April 14, 2014 @ 9:12 am
  4. I’ve noticed all this as well on numerous sites, including Amazon. Even if you go back and change something on an earlier screen it may not make you re-enter the shipping option to finish checking out, yet it will automatically default again to the paid option without your having asked for it to do so. I go through the same garbage with coupon codes. You can’t be too careful these days.

    Comment by Renée — April 14, 2014 @ 10:34 am
  5. I select the FREE shipping at Amazon. Only ored IN STOCKE items. Then following my orders with tracking.

    Sometime it is four or five days before the ordeer is pulled off the shelf and shipped.

    Comment by Old Goat — April 14, 2014 @ 10:41 am
  6. If you have Amazon Prime you have to choose the second choice on the list (the 2 day shipping) because with Prime, you pay for the privilege of getting it sooner for free. Well, it’s not really free, but you don’t pay any more than your yearly Prime membership cost. This plus all the free videos I’m getting from Prime might actually be worth the cost.

    Comment by Renée — April 14, 2014 @ 12:36 pm
  7. Thanks for the heads up. I was just getting ready to order a hard drive from New Egg. Amazon has really gone down hill. With their increase in the minimum order and how slow their free shipping has gotten I’ve actually started looking elsewhere for what I want first. My latest peeve with them is that they have been charging me sales tax even though their Fulfillment Center in my state isn’t even up and running yet!

    Comment by Catfishbrody — April 14, 2014 @ 12:55 pm
  8. Amazon does that too. free shipping if you spend 35 dollars but you have to be sure to check the free shipping option because by default it’s set at 2-day ship which isn’t free.

    Comment by Anna — April 14, 2014 @ 2:41 pm
  9. I hate Amazon for doing this and any other company that uses low tricks like this to trick you out of a few Dollars. Many will not notice at first. I did not notice the first time Amazon did this to me, only at checkout did I spot that the order was several Dollars more than I was expecting-So I cancelled the whole order.

    Comment by Marky — April 14, 2014 @ 9:31 pm
  10. I’ve been annoyed with Newegg and Amazon over this pre-select pay option bit for a while. Newegg almost got me on my last order, but mostly because they put the shipping part waaaaay down on the screen and if you don’t look when you scroll, it gets you. Amazon at least has all the pay stuff in a colored summary box at the top off to the right so it’s dead obvious they have charged you shipping. I’ve had no issue with the speed of either retailer using free shipping though. I ordered from Amazon on the 12th, $35+ order with free shipping and received it today. I made a free shipping qualified Newegg order < $10 on Friday and also received it today.

    Comment by jt4703 — April 14, 2014 @ 10:37 pm
  11. I have learned from software installations to always check for check boxes. I don’t like that the default option isn’t the free option, but this is one of those cases where the buyer should be paying great attention to the process.

    Comment by Wayne R — April 14, 2014 @ 11:33 pm
  12. You used an AMEX card. The first thing I would have done is called up Newegg and cancelled the sale, then alerted AMEX of the bait and switch. In a worse case scenario, AMEX would have credited back the shipping, even though they shouldn’t have to. They’ve done stuff like that for me. It’s less hassle and cheaper than processing a complaint claim for five bucks.

    Comment by JJ — April 18, 2014 @ 6:17 pm

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