That sounds really good if you are purchasing something on EBay or elsewhere doesn't it? You just know that the seller is giving you a real good deal that you just are not going to get from any other vendor that doesn't offer the same extraordinary money savings option! You are going to save some money and get something cheaper than you might ordinarily!!! What a great incentive - that is ....until you actually look deeper into the premise and promise of a money saving seller's offer of free shipping.
EBay is now pushing "Free Shipping" as a way to gain customers and drive sales for the sellers on EBay - and it will do just that until the prudent buyers out there get wise to this sales ploy. It does nothing to give any buyer a break on cost and does everything to put money in the pockets of the sellers using this sales ploy as well as EBay making more money from sellers who make the additional sales it promotes from unwary buyers. It's great if you happen to have "Power Seller" status and offer this tactic on your listings - EBay will give you, the Power Seller, double the discount on your final transaction fee to keep doing it!
Just who is saving any money using this sales tactic? Well I will tell you - it ain't you Mr. Buyer! There is no free lunch with "Free Shipping" as one might think. Consider any form of shipping , whether it be 3 Day Priority, Parcel Post or First Class Mail, etc. - none provide a buyer any savings when "Free Shipping" is employed unless the seller gives away his entire product profit margin. I personally have never met a seller out there that is so altruistic as to give away most, if not all, of their item profit margin to the tune of the total shipping cost while making a sale using "free shipping". That is unless, the item for sale was so over priced to begin with that the seller could do it without substantially losing their profit margin - so something else must be happening. What else could that be you ask???
The Seller places a fixed shipping charge into the item price to cover all shipping cost no matter where or how far it is expected to travel to be delivered.
Think about this example for a moment,...If shipping an item using the shipping calculator such as is offered on most EBay sale sites - anything at all - from Someplace, California....to Anyplace, South Carolina with a shipment cost of say.... $10.00 using Parcel Post. The seller charges $10.00 on top of his item purchase price of $21.00 to cover item shipment for a total $31.00. The seller gets the sale price of $21.00. Now the seller ships the same item using the calculator and ships the same item, the same way, to Anyplace, California. Shipping is $4.00 and the seller gets - you guessed it, $21.00. This is fair no matter where the buyer lives. All pretty standard and both buyer and seller are happy campers with no one losing on anything.
Employing the "Free Shipping" tactic, the seller now adds $10.00 (or more - if that seller is really devious) to ship a $21.00 item. The item ships to Anyplace, South Carolina and the cost is same as if the seller had used the calculator - no one is out any additional money.
NOW - The seller ships to Anyplace, California for $31.00 using "Free Shipping". Guess what? - the buyer in AnyPlace, California just paid an additional $6.00 profit to the seller over and above the $4.00 of calculated shipping for the same item that was provided to the buyer in Anyplace, South Carolina. In other words, California just payed $27.00 for the $21.00 item!!! This does not happen if a shipping calculator is employed as the calculator would adjust the shipping cost to meet the distance shipped. "Free Shipping" is adjusted by the seller and thus will only garner more money for the sellers pocket as the shipping distance from the seller's location shortens - regardless of the amount charged for the item or method used for shipping!
I have been (am) a Power Seller (off and on as total sale quantities dictate) in good standing with very high seller ratings. I have achived this point in my EBay standing using the calculator and fair pricing. As such, I plan to continue to provide the best possible prices for my products as well as the least expensive and most fair shipping costs available to ALL my customers to maintain that score, rather than play shake down games like "FREE SHIPPING" for more money from an unaware buyer's pocket.....
8/9/08 - Sidebar note: No one individual is or has been singled out regarding the above generalized text, however, there is at least one very insecure individual seller noticed so far that seems to think he has been..... "He who screams loudest is usually in the most pain."......
09/09/08 - If any honest seller (other than the afore mentioned) or buyer finds my opinion or this information "insulting" in some way, please let me know.
9/27/08 - The measurement request posted previously has been dropped as there has been no sufficient and usable response made to date. Thank you! - to those who did respond to provide a vote.