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Amazon Raises Free Shipping Threshold to $35 Depending on Location

You may now have to spend more at Amazon.com in order to qualify for free shipping if you are not a Prime member. (Prime members pay $139 a year for free shipping with no minimum order size.)

For years, as long as a non-Prime member made at least a $25 minimum purchase, you got free shipping. Now there is a new $35 minimum but it does not apply to everyone. Who has to pay more? Believe it or not, that seems to depend on the delivery address — the zip code where you live.

For example, if you live in downtown Seattle where Amazon is headquartered, free shipping comes with only a minimum purchase of $25. If you wanted to buy this test item, you would need to purchase two packages to avoid shipping charges.

Amazon in Seattle


But, if you live in the next city over in Bellevue, Washington, you would need a $35 minimum purchase and would have to buy three of them to get them shipped free.

Amazon Bellevue

The same is true across the country, in certain geographic regions and in some neighboring towns. So for example in New York City, Manhattanites are treated to the lower $25 threshold, while those in Brooklyn have to spend $35 or more.


NY shipping charges vary

Live in Beverly Hills? You get the $25 minimum. But reside in Westwood right next door and you will need a $35 purchase to get delivery there free.

If you call Lincoln, Nebraska home, you have to spend at least $35 now to get free shipping to your house. But, if you live in Omaha, just 58 miles away, your minimum purchase threshold is only $25.

In Massachusetts where MrConsumer lives, customers in Revere only need a $25 purchase to get free shipping, while those in Lynn, the next town over, have to spend at least $35.

We asked Amazon why they implemented the higher free shipping threshold in some areas. Is this some type of market test? Is this just the first step in extending the $35 minimum to all non-Prime members? Or are they planning to make this two-tier system permanent?

In a statement to Consumer World, a company spokesperson said, “We continually evaluate our offerings and make adjustments based on those assessments. We’re currently testing a $35 minimum for non-Prime customers to qualify for free shipping.”

It is unfortunate when consumers are still struggling with inflation and higher product prices that Amazon has chosen to pile on and charge for shipping that previously was free.

What do you think of Amazon’s change?

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WSJ Goofs Reporting Walmart+ Discount for Seniors

On July 20th, The Wall Street Journal published a story claiming that Walmart was offering a 50%-off discount on its Walmart+ membership program to recipients of various government assistance programs including those on Social Security. Wow!

Walmart+, which is regularly $98/yr, is similar to Amazon Prime giving members free shipping even on small orders and other benefits such as a free Paramount+ membership.

WSJ - Walmart+ half price for Social Security recipients

At just $49, even MrConsumer, who refuses to pay $139 for Amazon Prime, might consider a Walmart+ Assist membership. But being a good and suspicious consumer, he wanted to review the fine print terms and conditions first.


Walmart+ Assist terms

In that alphabet soup of government programs, Social Security is not listed. And even in Walmart’s press release announcing the Walmart+ Assist program, there is no mention of Social Security recipients being eligible for it.

So why in the world did the Wall Street Journal, right in its headline, say that those on Social Security qualified? The reporter, a summer intern at the paper, probably thought that SSI meant “Social Security” when in fact it stands for “Supplemental Security Income” — a program that provides monthly payments for those with disabilities or blindness.

But, within two hours of our writing to her, the headline was corrected, and a note about the error was appended to the end of the story.

New Headline


WSJ correction

So the lesson here is… if a news story sounds too good to be true, sometimes it is.

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Shoppers Sue Retailers Over Sneaky Practices – Part 2

Last week, we reviewed a case brought against Safeway for allegedly deceptive buy one, get one free offers. This week we examine a class action lawsuit claiming that Best Buy changed its price matching policy midway through one consumer’s claim.

Apple iPad ProThis past February 4, a New York consumer with knowledge of Best Buy’s price matching policy, spotted an Apple iPad Pro for a great price ($555.99) at TigerDirect.com. But he wanted to buy it locally from Best Buy online where it was twice the price ($1099.99). He contacted Best Buy and was told to buy it online at the full price and then upon verification, they would credit back the difference under their price matching policy.

It was such a good deal, this consumer decided to buy another one online at Best Buy. He then traveled to his local store to pick them up. Tempted by the tremendous savings, he told the local store he would like to buy a third one too while he was there.

According to the complaint, the store refused to price match the third notebook as well as the first two. And other Best Buy stores he visited similarly refused.

At the time of his purchase, TigerDirect.com was one of the specifically enumerated online competitors that it would price match:


Stores Best Buy price matchesJanuary 2023 screenshot


And then, magically on February 6, 2023, Best Buy changed its price match guarantee on its website. What online retailer is now missing from the list? You guessed it, TigerDirect.

Best Buy Price Match Guarantee Feb. 23

We don’t know if Best Buy has a reasonable explanation for their actions in denying the refunds to this consumer, but there probably is another side to this story.

Feel free to comment about your experience with price guarantees in the comments.

Next week we conclude our three-part series with one consumer suing a big supermarket chain for selling flushable wipes that really aren’t flushable.