Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Perils of Online Shopping

On this, one of the biggest sale weekends of the year, I thought I'd take a moment to share some online shopping tips, tricks, and gripes that may help or hinder your deal finding.

My biggest online shopping pet peeve are outrageous shipping charges. It infuriates me, it really does. Iron Fist is one of the worst violators - $16 to ship ONE pair of shoes is neither justifiable nor legitimate - it's a profit-padder, pure and simple. Another one with outrageous shipping is AMIclubwear (who is already persona non-grata around these parts for other reasons so they will not be linked to.) I, as an individual, can print my own USPS Priority Mail shipping label and ship a pair of shoes to anywhere in the US for $8-10 with delivery within 2 days. Large companies get volume pricing so they aren't paying anywhere near that to ship. If a company wants more than $5 or $6 to ship a pair of shoes, walk away. It's not worth it - they're using your naivete to negate whatever discount dragged you to their website to begin with.

Non-stackable shipping codes are another irritant of mine and something you should be on the lookout for. I'm not talking about stacking %-off codes, I'm talking about when you can't stack a % or $$ off code with a Free Shipping code, or when websites that normally offer free shipping don't offer it if you're using a coupon. More companies are starting to realize the ridiculousness of this and have started to allow their free shipping to apply to discounted orders also. Sometimes, you can contact their customer service and get them to manually stack the code if it won't work for you at checkout. It's worth a shot.

Another type of non-stacking that bugs the hell out of me only happens at one website that I'm aware of: heels.com.  They are high priced to begin with, mainly because all orders include 2 day shipping, which is convenient, but not cheap. I get that. What I don't get is why I can't use my earned loyalty points dollars on any order with a discount. They have acknowledged that I'm a good, repeat customer, then completely hamstring how I can use that acknowledgement. They also won't let me use my 15% off for being a JustFab member with any other code, which is more understandable but still irritating as hell. Grrrrrrr :(

My advice is always try to stack codes; it can't hurt, and some websites do allow it. You never know until you try. Always make sure you take the shipping cost into account when buying stuff online. Even though I said walk away if the shipping charges are too high, sometimes, even with those charges accounted for, that particular site may still be the best deal. It's rare, but it happens. And, don't ever be afraid to call/email/live chat with a company's customer service and ask if you can stack the codes. If you ask politely, you'd be surprised what a lot of companies will allow. I've built relationships with customer service reps and managers all over the place from doing this exact thing. It comes in handy when there's a problem, too.

I'm working on compiling some of the good Memorial Day Sales and will post them tomorrow and Monday. But for now, I leave you with ShoeDazzle's Splurge BOGO sale. As of right this second, you do not have to buy two items to get the discount. It is working on single items - they're ringing up at 1/2 price. This may change at any minute, but as of this writing, it does work.

What are your irritants or tips and tricks for getting around goofy code rules?

Happy Shopping!
-A

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