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Amazon Quietly Lowered Its Free Shipping Minimum to $35 (fortune.com) 183

Retailers have been busy over the weekend with Presidents Day promotions and sales, but Amazon had a significant surprise discount of its own. From a report: In a blink-and-miss-it move, the online retail giant quietly reduced its free shipping minimum rate to $35. The change was picked up and reported by a number of news outlets over the weekend, and was spotted by Fortune as well during the online checkout process. Amazon confirmed the change on its shipping guidelines and options page, designating which items and regions for delivery are eligible for free shipping. Amazon's free shipping rate, arguably one of the promotions on the site that has been the most popular and vaulted it to its e-commerce throne in years past, has gone up and down over the years. The free shipping minimum has been as low as $25 in the past and was most recently as high as $49.
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Amazon Quietly Lowered Its Free Shipping Minimum to $35

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  • Nice. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by NMBob ( 772954 )
    Would be nicer if they rolled back the shipping on used CDs/DVDs. Used to be $2.99 (or lower), but went up to $3.99 a few or couple of years ago.
    • A big chunk of the shipping price for used items is passed along to the seller as a "shipping allowance" that may cover the cost of shipping the product. For CDs and DVDs sent as Media Mail within the US, it probably does. For books, it's less certain. Anyway, reduce that price, Amazon will reduce the shipping allowance, and sellers will remove a lot of their low-priced inventory from Amazon.
    • Postal rates went up. So has the cost of packaging. It's true that the cost of sending a used book or disc is probably closer to $3 than $4 even after the increases, but there is also the weird phenomenon of selling things for $0.01 plus shipping. That would obviously be an unsustainable business model if the cost of shipping and packaging equaled the charge for those things. If Amazon were to lower the shipping rate on those items, the sellers would just have to increase their prices to compensate.
  • by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Monday February 20, 2017 @05:15PM (#53902325)

    When free shipping went up to $49, I stopped buying as much from them. I might use them more again now, $35 was easy to pad a purchase to reach- $49 isn't.

    Good call Amazon!

    • When free shipping went up to $49, I stopped buying as much from them. I might use them more again now, $35 was easy to pad a purchase to reach- $49 isn't.

      Amazon's goal is to get you to buy more stuff than you need. What really irritates me is that I paid $119 for a prime account, and then a lot of things you look at are "Add-on Items", meaning that they only qualify for free prime shipping on orders over $25--but you can't buy them alone even if you'd be willing to pay for shipping. I needed to get some over-sized U-Bolts for my camper. Nobody locally carried them--Lowe's, Home Depot, Walmart, or the local hardware stores. Amazon had them for $8, but I had t

      • by wbr1 ( 2538558 )
        Do you drive 20 miles to go pick up a $3 jug of milk? Probably not, but if you have a larger list, it may be worthwhile to drive to a more distant store. Most add-on items are similar. Under $10 (most under $5). It is just not feasible to ship that for free by it self. The handling costs and even the deeply discounted shipping costs Amazon recieves would eat mor than the profit on an item that small.

        It is not that hard to add items like that to your cart or a wishlist, then buy them all at once or on

        • This would make a lot of sense to me, if the add-on item shipped free when I purchased any regular prime item that came from the same warehouse, but instead they tie it to a dollar amount purchased, which feels exactly like they're forcing me to play by rules I already bought a membership to avoid. What it makes me want to do is think of any add-on items I might want whenever I buy something like a TV that I know will ship in a separate box, or something like a micro-sd card that I know would ship in a litt
        • Under $10 (most under $5). It is just not feasible to ship that for free by it self.

          Yeah, but you're ignoring 2 points: 1) I already paid $119 for a Prime membership, which is supposed to give you free 2-day shipping and 2) I'd be willing to pay shipping for a low cost item, but that is not an option with "Add-on Items".

        • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

          Do you drive 20 miles to go pick up a $3 jug of milk? Probably not, but if you have a larger list, it may be worthwhile to drive to a more distant store. Most add-on items are similar. Under $10 (most under $5). It is just not feasible to ship that for free by it self. The handling costs and even the deeply discounted shipping costs Amazon recieves would eat mor than the profit on an item that small.

          It is not that hard to add items like that to your cart or a wishlist, then buy them all at once or on a larg

    • Agreed. As I'd imagine is the case with most people, I didn't know what to get some people for the holidays until closer to Christmas, so I wasn't able to make a single, bulk purchase. As a result, I never had a single cart that was anywhere close to the $49 minimum. It ended up being cheaper to buy individual items directly from the manufacturers than to purchase them a few at a time from Amazon. In the end, Amazon only sold me one item this last Christmas, whereas in prior years I've done the bulk of my s

    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

      Same here. In fact what happened is that if Amazon was going to ding me for shipping, I promptly went off to eBay, located the same item (usually from the same seller!!) offered with free shipping, and after a few iterations stopped bothering with Amazon entirely.

      So yeah... stop trying to make your profit on shipping, make the threshold realistic for smaller purchases, and you'll get me back.

  • what a coincidence! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Thud457 ( 234763 ) on Monday February 20, 2017 @05:24PM (#53902373) Homepage Journal
    Walmart's started advertising free two-day shipping with no membership required. [walmart.com]

    Not that you should be buying cheap crap from China from Walmart. For that, go to Harbor Freight.
    • Harbor Freight doesn't sell dog food. Or, if it did, I wouldn't buy it from them.

      Walmart just recently dropped it's $49 'Shipping Pass' program. And finally figured out that shipping dog food to Alaska via Fed Ex didn't make a ton of sense. Unfortunately.

      Was pretty cool while it lasted.

      • by Nethead ( 1563 )

        My wife found 30 lb buckets of kitty litter for $9.99 shipped from Jet one day. We ordered 6 of them. They put the buckets in boxes with padding. Now my mailman isn't speaking to me.

    • Walmart recently ditched its Prime competitor, shipping pass, [theverge.com] that offered free two day shipping for $49... half the cost of a Prime membership.

      They also recently purchased online retailer Jet (for $3 billion cash and $300 million in stock) to compete with the Amazon juggernaut.

      Amazon has fended off the other giant retailer very effectively, thus far.

      • Walmart recently ditched its Prime competitor, shipping pass, [theverge.com] that offered free two day shipping for $49... half the cost of a Prime membership.

        But Amazon Prime gives you a lot more than just free shipping. You also get free movies, ebooks, etc. Even if you just get Prime for the movies, it is cheaper than Netflix.

        • But I don't care about or use the Music and Movie crap. Prime is $99 a year. Why not offer the old $49 a year shipping only option again? I started my prime account in the beginning 1998.

          • Prime is $99 a year. Why not offer the old $49 a year shipping only option again?

            IF you really want to know, it's because at its original price, Prime wasn't cost effective.

            I started my prime account in the beginning 1998.

            Prime wasn't around until ~2005, you must have been thinking of something different.

        • I've never found a free movie I wanted to watch on Amazon Prime. YMMV.
    • Not that you should be buying cheap crap from China from Walmart. For that, go to Harbor Freight.

      For that, go to Harbor Freight.

      go to Harbor Freight.

      Harbor Freight.

      NEIN NEIN NEIN NEIN NEIN!

  • by Bryan Ischo ( 893 ) * on Monday February 20, 2017 @05:36PM (#53902411) Homepage

    This is one of the lamest Slashdot articles I have ever seen. In what way is this at all news for nerds? And in what way is this any more news worthy than 10,000 other random news items of day? What about if Walmart has a one-day sale on Nintendo games. Should we get a Slashdot headline article for that?

    msmash is not a competent Slashdot editor. I'm going to give Slashdot some feedback here.

  • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Monday February 20, 2017 @05:41PM (#53902449) Homepage

    I see a bit of a decline in online stores coming soon, not limited just to Amazon, because they have pushed the consumer too far. Here is why:

    1. They are selling too much low-quality crud:
    There are classes of items I can no longer buy online, because I have a 50/50 chance of getting a product other than what I actually ordered. Many e-commerce sites are copying the Amazon model of putting items on their sites, even if they aren't products the company sells directly. I can't buy USB cables, batteries, flash memory cards, or really any OEM parts online any longer. Even if the Amazon or Newegg store says it is an actual Samsung product, odds are good that I will actually get is a rip-off. I bought a rustproof aluminum part from Lowes, only to find it was actually iron so it rusted out. Now I find the same phony part at Sears.com. But it isn't actually a Sears product and it isn't in their stores.

    2. They are no longer the cheapest deal in town
    Several years ago I just went to Amazon for anything and everything, and just assumed it was the cheapest. That's no longer true. Even without shipping, I can usually find the item cheaper somewhere else. I'm even finding retail stores are competing positively on price. Now, this isn't true for electronics by any means, but see point #1 above. I'd rather pay $50 for 4000mAh a OEM battery at BestBuy than $10 for a clone that's 2500mAh but says 4000mAh on the case.

    3. No longer tax-free
    The tax-free days are over.

    4. Shipping costs
    Shipping costs are increasing.

    • These online stores were popular in regions that collected the tax. That tax is now being collected per the law that was always there but was previously applied in an impossible way, won't change that.

      Low-quality ripoff stuff is something that will damage them, I agree with that and have run into some of that BS lately. However, shipping affects non-online too, and "cheapest deal in town" is just market competition at work.

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )
      With Amazon, its not about the cost but the selection and convenience.

      I live in the UK.

      If I need something but don't need it right away (I.E. 90% of non-food items), it isn't necessarily much more expensive for the item at a store. The problem is that stores will only stock one or two brands and it takes time for me to get it. Not to mention the fuel I use going to the shop, every mile is another 30p to the price. However it's not even that.

      The left low beam bulb went pop on my car yesterday. The s
  • by The Cisco Kid ( 31490 ) on Monday February 20, 2017 @05:56PM (#53902505)

    Its not really free, you're still paying for it - The cost is just built into the product prices.

    I want to PAY the market cost, for MY CHOICE of shipping method and carrier.

    And I want to be able to specify that choice, and verify the pricing, BEFORE I enter a credit card number or any other financial info, and even without having to "log in" first. And I definitely don't want my card number stored from one purchase to the next, partly because I use disposable numbers, but also because for EACH PURCHASE I want positive control over the transaction. Its the same reason I keep my wallet in my pocket until the cashier has rung up my total at a brick&mortar.

    When Amazon offers that, then it will be news worth reading.

    • Its the same reason I keep my wallet in my pocket until the cashier has rung up my total at a brick&mortar.

      Then don't go to a gas station in the US. Almost all of them in this area have gone to a "pre-pay" mode, where they think you must be a criminal who will drive away without paying unless they make you pay first. Of course, when you want to fill up, you have to guess how much it will take. If you guess low, you don't get a fill. If you pay too much, you have to trust them to give you the excess back.

      I stopped at one such station the other day (because the Shell in town that doesn't pull this crap was closed

  • by ukoda ( 537183 ) on Monday February 20, 2017 @06:25PM (#53902633) Homepage
    Sounds like good news if you live in the USA but Amazon are still at a disadvantage for international shipping. I can get stuff shipped from China to New Zealand for free, even stuff costing a couple of dollars but anything I get shipped from Amazon is really expensive, if they will even ship outside the USA, most don't. As a result I usually try to buy from China first and only try Amazon if what I want can't be source from China.

    From what I have heard the Chinese government is effectively subsidising the shipping costs in many cases and that is probably the core reason US suppliers can not compete. From a consumer point of view the only downside is that it is very slow to arrive, but then again Amazon's cheapest shipping options are just as slow.
    • I made an Amazon.co.jp account just to preorder a Nintendo Switch (for some reason they're abundant in Japan). After (shipping (from Japan to USA) + duties/customs/export taxes, currency conversion fees etc.) ~= $18 the total was a few bucks less than if I'd bought one at a store down the street (if they weren't all sold out of preorders, that is.) I imagine the weak Yen is responsible for this. Oh and I get it 3 days after it's released. And I pay no sales tax (although my state does have a Use Tax so I pa

    • by LostInTaiwan ( 837924 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @06:53AM (#53904411)

      Sorry to break the news to you. US tax payers, like you and me, are subsidizing the packages shipped via the postal service from China :(

      http://fortune.com/2015/07/03/... [fortune.com]

      One of the core reasons why US manufacturer's can't complete is that our tax policy favors gains from the speculative market, ie real estate and stock market, over the actual manufacturing of products. Another core reason is that the American consumers simply wants cheap products made in an authoritarian country that is actively competing with us militarily and economically, with the goal of becoming the dominate power in the world.

      At the end, we only have ourselves to blame. We voted for the politicians who set fiscal policies that decimated our manufacturing base, and we simply like to buy cheap crap from China.

      Keep this up, and China will bankrupt us in the coming arms/space race, much like how we did it to the USSR.

      • by ukoda ( 537183 )
        Thanks for the link, your post needs voted up as informative. It does explain why you are at a shipping cost disadvantage. If that was fixed you still need to fix the attitude of most USA based sellers who only ship inside the USA. I assume the logic is the local USA market is big enough and international customer are too much hassle or risk.
  • I'm a Prime subscriber (for now), so I get free shipping on lots of stuff already, with no $35 minimum. But am I the only one whose "guaranteed" 2-day shipping often takes 3-4 days? I can't figure out how they guarantee their "guaranteed" delivery dates, since they miss the mark so often then do nothing for me in return. This didn't used to be the case.

    Am I being scammed if I subscribe for the 2-day shipping but barely ever use any other Prime features? I asked a chat rep recently about all their failed
    • Am I missing something about their guarantee, or do I have to bitch and moan every time a late package costs me money? Will they limit this, and do they compensate you in some other way?

      Yes, No, Yes and No. These and other questions can be answered on their help pages [amazon.com]. Open a chat with them and say "Order # xxxx was due xx/xx/xxxx, but has not yet arrived. The shipper is now estimating the due date as xx/xx/xxxx . Would you please issue me a prime extension for the missed guarantee? Thanks so much." Takes about 5 minutes and "earns" me a tax-free $8.25 off of a bill I would otherwise pay.

      • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

        Actually, what I would do is check with the carrier, and if it claims to be delivered but isn't, contact Amazon and ask them to overnight a replacement. They'll usually overnight products at no charge if you're annoyed enough to write them to complain about shipping delays even if you're not a Prime member.

        • They'll usually overnight products at no charge if you're annoyed enough to write them

          I went through that process for a $25 item that they said would arrive Monday but didn't. I would have preferred some money back on the order, but I wound up having the hassle of returning one of the original when it finally did show up. "Keep it to make up for the inconvenience" would have been nice.

          As to the original question: Amazon has two big outs they use when promising "second day" delivery. First, if the delivery is via USPS, they consider the item delivered when it arrives at the local post office

          • First, if the delivery is via USPS, they consider the item delivered when it arrives at the local post office, not at your house. And they often promise "second day by EIGHT PM", which means that any delivery to a commercial address where the receiving dept. goes home at 5PM is actually at least three day. And they know when an address is commercial.

            If they consider my post office my house, they're going to lose me for sure. I get the commercial address thing, since if they've delivered it to the address they really shouldn't be responsible for another company's internal package handling. But I don't have access to the back room of the post office, and they do not deliver to residential addresses after 5:00, unlike UPS. Hell, when they tried to blame USPS the last time, my package was still at a post office in another county on the night it was origina

        • Actually, what I would do is check with the carrier, and if it claims to be delivered but isn't, contact Amazon and ask them to overnight a replacement. They'll usually overnight products at no charge if you're annoyed enough to write them to complain about shipping delays even if you're not a Prime member.

          Thanks, but of all the times an Amazon delivery has been late, I've never had a case of them claiming it was delivered on time. They usually just say something like, "Sorry, the carrier was delayed," or, "Sorry, we'll look into it." The last time, they ended up issuing a one-month Prime extension, but only after too much whining. I did ask for a refund last time, since it was something I needed before a work deadline and had to scramble and buy a replacement locally, and they told me just to use the normal

          • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

            Usually in my neighborhood, if it says it is delivered (with the exception of "delivered to post office"), it means it got delivered to the wrong address. This usually results in it getting returned to sender after days or weeks, if at all. But your mileage may vary.

      • Yes, No, Yes and No. These and other questions can be answered on their help pages [amazon.com]. Open a chat with them and say "Order # xxxx was due xx/xx/xxxx, but has not yet arrived. The shipper is now estimating the due date as xx/xx/xxxx . Would you please issue me a prime extension for the missed guarantee? Thanks so much." Takes about 5 minutes and "earns" me a tax-free $8.25 off of a bill I would otherwise pay.

        Thank you, but as I said, they seem very reluctant to issue any refund or extension, in my experience.

    • What I've noticed is that about two years ago the reliability and consistency of Amazon's 2-Day "Guaranteed" shipping dropped dramatically. I used to have maybe one order a year arrive late. (And I shop on Amazon a lot... I probably average an order a week.) But in the last couple of years, I've been given so many of those "complimentary one-month prime membership extensions" that I'm not even sure when or, indeed, if I'll be billed again. And I've had more lost shipments replaced than I remember.

      I think th

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      I found that I could keep a free trial of Prime going for months just by complaining every time and item look longer than guaranteed to arrive. In the UK it's next day delivery on Prime, and every time you complain about a late delivery they give you an extra month free.

      I've done 5 month free stints that way, and when they expire if you just wait a few more months without buying anything they offer you another free trial.

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Monday February 20, 2017 @07:42PM (#53902905)
    they're an eCommerce outfit formed by an ex-amazon guy. Got a lot of capital so they can spend a few years trying to beat Amazon at it's own game of loss leading and .0001% profit margins. It'd be nice if somebody managed to compete with Amazon. I'm not looking forward to a time when they're literally the only retailer in the world.
    • I'm seeing more and more competition from Amazon every day from brick and mortar stores improving their on-line presence. Amazon is great but in many cases I either want to see what I'm buying before I get it (think clothing and other items where how it looks is just as important as function) or, more likely, I want something right away and I can order something on-line to pick it up at a local store.

      What I can do is shop online for something at home and then if I decide to buy then I can drive to the stor

    • they're an eCommerce outfit formed by an ex-amazon guy. Got a lot of capital so they can spend a few years trying to beat Amazon at it's own game of loss leading and .0001% profit margins. It'd be nice if somebody managed to compete with Amazon. I'm not looking forward to a time when they're literally the only retailer in the world.

      I've had a lot of luck with eBay, though I won't buy through them when I know I need something quick. I've never bought from Jet, nor do I know anyone who has, and they're owned by Walmart now, IIRC.

      Not a Walmart fan, can't stand their website, and have never ordered from them for home delivery, admittedly. I did order online for store pickup three orfour times, and each time was a pain because the employees seemed clueless as to how to find my order and took a surprisingly long time. I wonder whether N

  • or any other site are just part of the e-commerce shopping game.

    Many things that say free shipping are not really so when you go to check out. And what is with $20 items with $150 shipping costs? Why even show that, do suckers really fall for it?

    Caveat emptor applies to delivery too.

    • $20 items with $150 shipping charges, and non-free shipping advertised as free? I've had plenty of issues with them missing "guaranteed" delivery dates, but I've never seen what you're talking about. Are those through third-party sellers? I pretty much only use them for items they sell and ship themselves, or at least ones they handle the fulfillment on, and never run into that sort of problem.
  • That's why I order lots of small stuff on Aliexpress, they even ship a single piece of underwear for free.

  • by r1348 ( 2567295 )

    Last year here in Italy they raised the limit from 19€ to 29€.

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