In an effort to drive up Prime subscriptions, Amazon recently increased its free shipping threshold from $35 to $49, a jump of nearly 30%. While book buyers can still avoid delivery charges on orders of $25 or more, most other products sold on Amazon will fall under the new shipping minimum.
This is a bold move for the online retailer who is often credited with driving the demand for free shipping when it originally offered its Super Saving Shipping rate of $25. With the current shipping threshold nearly double that, you may be wondering if Amazon is still the best place to shop.
Read on for seven ways in which Amazon isn’t the best deal:
1. Limited price-matching policy
In response to Amazon’s popularity with consumers, stores like Best Buy, Target and even Walmart will price match Amazon, making it easy for in-store shoppers to get a better price and have the product immediately. Amazon does offer a TV Low Price Guarantee for select television purchases, but otherwise they don’t price match their competitors on anything else.
2. Higher free shipping minimums
While Amazon was once known as offering one of the lowest shipping minimums of online retailers, that story is quickly changing. Target offers free shipping on orders of $25 or more, while retailers like Zappos, LL Bean and Nordstrom offer free shipping year-round. Many retailers waive shipping fees during holiday weekends and shoppers increasingly turn to deal sites like CouponSherpa.com for coupon codes to save on delivery charges.
3. Mirage of better prices
Despite popular belief, Amazon does not have the best prices all around. An article in TIME last year found Jet.com had better prices on select brands of laundry detergent, paper towels and gourmet coffee compared to Amazon. Jet’s shipping threshold remains at $35, making this relative newbie a better value than veteran Amazon on select products. What’s more, a 2014 report from Wells Fargo found Target and Walmart have better prices on shoes, home goods, health products and even electronics.
4. Slower shipping
Orders that meet or exceed the $49 threshold will still take the longest to arrive, with Amazon estimating 5-8 business days for free delivery. This again puts them at a competitive disadvantage with Jet, which promotes free 2-5 day shipping once the order threshold is met. Barnes & Noble promises delivery in 2-6 days. Other retailers like Target and Home Depot do their best to fulfill online orders from local stores to deliver faster.
5. Pricier membership costs
Though an Amazon Prime offers more than just free two-day shipping, most members value the delivery perk over access to music and streaming content. ShopRunner offers its two-day shipping membership for $79 per year (or free for AMEX cardholders) which is $20 less than Amazon and works with popular retailers like Toys ‘R Us, Staples and American Eagle. Even Barnes & Noble offers a shipping membership for just $25 which offers free 1-3 day delivery on all orders, plus 40-percent off hardcover best sellers and 10% storewide discounts.
6. Return shipping fees
Online shoppers are increasingly asking for free return shipping, a perk not offered by Amazon Prime despite the $99 annual fee. Target, however, offers free return shipping on all online purchases, no membership required. Plus, stores like Best Buy and Home Depot offer free in-store returns on online orders, making it less expensive in some cases for shoppers to order online from these retailers.
7. Dynamic pricing tricks
Like other online retailers, Amazon adjusts prices on popular items several times in a single day to maximize profitability, a practice commonly referred to as dynamic pricing. Buy at the wrong time and you could spend more than triple the lowest listed price without knowing it. Luckily, several online tools exist to help you combat these ever-changing prices. InvisibleHand is a browser extension which notifies you when something you’re shopping for is better priced elsewhere, while The Traktor checks price histories instantly so you know the best time to buy without leaving the site.
Andrea Woroch is a money-saving expert who transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers by sharing smart spending tips and personal finance advice. As a sought-after media source, she’s been featured among such top news outlets as Good Morning America, Today, CNN, Dr. OZ, New York Times, MONEY Magazine, Huffington Post, Forbes and more. For more info, visit AndreaWoroch.com or follow her on Twitter or Facebook for daily savings advice and tips.
Here’s A Hack To Get Free Internet On Your Next Flight
A few years ago, the airlines introduced Gogo Inflight Internet service, and it was a real game changer. While the service isn’t always the fastest, it’s a great way to pass the time on long flights, letting you stay current on e-mails, bang out a few blog posts, or just waste time on Facebook or Twitter.
The only problem? It’s ridiculously expensive!
As such, I typically load my iPad with movies and books beforehand, and just deal with e-mail and such once I arrive at my destination. But on a recent 6-hour cross country flight, I ran out of stuff to watch, so I decided to check out the movies that Delta had to offer. And that’s when I accidently discovered a loophole that gave me free Internet access.
You see, in order to watch a movie on your smartphone or tablet, you need to download the Gogo app. And when I clicked on the link to download the app, a funny thing happened – I started receiving notifications from Facebook?! That’s right, in order to download the Gogo app, they temporarily give you Internet access, which you can then use for whatever you want.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Connect to the Gogo Wifi network
- Head over to the Gogo homepage (it should bring you there by default when you open your browser)
- Browse the movie library and find a movie
- Click on the movie and select “Watch Now”
- After you type in the CAPTCHA code, it’ll ask you whether or not you have the Gogo app
- By selecting “Download on the App Store” you will be taken to the App Store from Safari
- Leave the App Store once Gogo takes you there
- You are now connected to Gogo Inflight WiFi and can browse freely
When you think about it, the method used here is rather straight forward. In order to download the Gogo app, you’re provided with temporary Internet connectivity. Once that’s enabled, you’re given a period of time to begin the download. But instead of using your Wi-Fi connection to download the app, you can start browsing to your heart’s content.
After about 15-20 minutes, the Internet will stop working, and in order to get online, you’ll have to repeat the process again. The first time this happened to me, I couldn’t believe it. But a quick Google search for How to Get Free Gogo Inflight WiFi showed me that this “hack” has been going on for some time now, and it appears to work on multiple airlines.
Naturally, we don’t condone the stealing of Internet service.. So use this information at your own risk. 🙂
This Guy Got Fired From His $200K/Year Job After Uploading This Video
A former CFO is now on food stamps after a video he posted on YouTube back in 2012 criticizing Chick-Fil-A went viral and destroyed his career.
Adam Smith was the CFO of a medical device manufacturer in Tucson, Arizona, and life was good. Until one day in the summer of 2012, when he decided to protest Chick-Fil-A’s anti-gay stance. Not by boycotting the fast food chain like most people would, but by being a dick and berating a poor drive-thru attendant who had nothing to do with it. And he videotaped the encounter for good measure, which he then posted on YouTube.
“Chick-Fil-A is a hateful corporation,” Smith said to the drive-thru attendant. “I don’t know how you live with yourself and work here. I don’t understand it. This is a horrible corporation with horrible values. You deserve better.”
He felt pretty good about his actions, but when he got back to work, he was in for a major shock. “I got into work and the receptionist, the first thing, big eyes, ‘Adam, what did you do?’ … she said, ‘The voicemail is completely full, and it’s full of bomb threats,'” Smith said in an interview with ABC News’ 20/20.
As a result of his bonehead move, he was fired from the company, losing his $200,000 a year salary, along with over $1 million in stock options! Soon after, they lost their home and were forced to move into an RV. A new CFO job in Portland seemed like a second chance for Smith, but two weeks later, he was fired from that job when his new boss discovered the video. And he’s been unemployable ever since.
It’s been almost three years now, and Smith still hasn’t been able to find a job. The family survives on food stamps, and it’s a chilling reminder that what you post on the Internet can come back to haunt you for years to come. Something to think about the next time you’re about to upload a compromising selfie..
9 Smarter Ways To Shop This Cyber Monday
Cyber Monday has taken the crown for the heaviest online shopping holiday for the past few years, with total sales more than doubling between 2006 and 2013. Last year, Cyber Monday generated over $1.7 billion in Internet sales and is poised to make history again this year as retail experts predict an increase in overall e-purchases.
To capitalize on the growing popularity of this online shopping event, e-retailers are promoting Cyber Monday sales like crazy and the overwhelming number of offers can make the buying process confusing if you don’t have a plan. Browse with less stress and know when and where to snag the best bargains with these nine savvy shopping tips.
1. Protect Your Payment
Whenever you are shopping online, always use a secure network (no Cyber Monday purchases during your visit to Starbucks!) and look for the “https” when checking out. If you’re ordering from a laptop or desktop, double check that your anti-virus and spyware software is up to date. For a list of the most popular cyber scams and what to look for, check out this advice from tech guru Shelly Palmer.
2. Price Plot and Bookmark
Research prices on the products you plan to shop for now so you can identify the real deals from the duds. Come sale time, retailers may inflate the original price to make a deal or sitewide sale look like a better value. After all, 40% off sounds more appealing than 15% off! Once you’ve found the products you want to purchase at the best prices, bookmark pages for price checks and speedier checkout.
3. Set Sale Alerts
Retailers fluctuate prices throughout the day based on what the competition is offering, so comparing prices and tracking sales is essential to knowing the best time to buy. To find the best price, install the InvisibleHand browser add-on which alerts you when an item you’re looking at is less expensive at another site. Avoid overpaying by using the free PoachIt Web tool which alerts you if something you bought goes on sale later in the day. You can then ask customer service to match the lesser price by opening live chat or calling customer service.
4. Sign Up and Follow To Save
Stay on top of Cyber Monday sales by subscribing to your favorite brands’ and stores’ e-newsletters. You may even get a new subscriber coupon code which you can often use on top of the sales. You should also consider following those brands and e-retailers on Facebook & Twitter for instant updates on Cyber Monday promotions throughout the day. Stores will be posting and tweeting new product deals and may even offer exclusive coupons to followers via their social networks. You can even create separate lists on Twitter to aggregate all the retailers in one place for faster browsing.
5. Stock Up On Codes
Keeping track of all the deals on Cyber Monday is overwhelming, especially if you’re working and don’t have much time during break. Use the Cyber Monday category on CouponSherpa.com to find all the best deals and coupon codes in one place.
6. Read Return Policies
Shopping online is incredibly easy. The return process isn’t as straight forward, however, so read up on the return policies of the e-retailers you plan to shop with. Look for free return shipping, or return-to-store options, to avoid a return shipping fee. If you’re buying electronics, beware of any restocking fees and know if you can expect a refund or a merchandise credit.
7. Check For Discount E-gift Cards
Shop sites like Gift Card Granny for any available online gift cards that you can apply to your order on Cyber Monday for extra savings. Since these act like cash, they are infinitely stackable too, and arrive in your inbox within minutes so you can apply it to your order almost instantly for deeper discounts. For example, you can save up to 5% off Overstock gift cards and 13% off Macy’s and JCPenney gift cards.
8. Beware of Shipping Costs
While many retailers offer free shipping on Cyber Monday, some others simply reduce their minimum order requirements. Factor in the cost of shipping while comparing deals so you don’t end up paying more at one store to cover delivery. Another way around shipping fees is to purchase from an online store who has a brick-and-mortar location in your area and select free site-to-store delivery. As retailers increasingly rely on their physical stores to fulfill online orders and delivery items faster, this is a great way to get e-purchases quickly while avoiding shipping costs. Plus, orders are often ready the same day so you also get the instant gratification of picking up your Cyber Moday deals quickly!
9. Wait It Out
If you aren’t wooed by the deals or simply don’t have time to shop because you’re stuck in meetings, don’t worry; there’s still plenty of time to get huge savings! In fact, some goods like jewelry and winter apparel are better deals the week before Christmas. You can also take advantage of Free Shipping Day sales on Dec. 18: not only do retailers offer free shipping with delivery by Dec. 24, but many offer extra discounts for more value.
Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc., who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. For more information, visit AndreaWoroch.com or follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.