This is a guest post by my wife who is going back to school and trying to save money on her textbooks.
Hoping to avoid long line ups at the campus bookstore and hoping to save some money, I did some comparison shopping on both amazon.ca and chapters.ca. I was happy to find a savings of 12.5% compared to the campus store. The textbook prices at both online book sellers were identical before applying Chapter's iRewards savings and since I don't have an iRewards card anymore and since the savings were only half of the cost of a new card, I decided to order my 5 books from Amazon.
All five of the books individually qualified for "Super Saver Shipping" (over $39 of merchandise) so my money wasn’t going to be eaten up by Canada Post. Three of the books were in stock and the other 2 would be shipped in 1-2 weeks. I still had time before classes started so there was time to complete the order.
The first option Amazon presented me with was to choose a shipping speed: FREE Super Saver Shipping: (averages 2-3 business days) or Express (averages 2 business days for $13.70) or Priority (averages 1 business day for $20.94). I decided to go with FREE. I like FREE.
The second option was to A: group the books and ship them all together or B: ship the books as they became available. If I selected B, it would cost me extra to ship the two books that weren't in stock.
What happened to the free shipping that was advertised for each of the books?
What Amazon was encouraging me to do was split up my one order for 5 books into 3 separate orders: one for the three books which were in stock and one for each of the 2 books which had a 1-2 week delivery time. Then the shipping would be free for all the books.
Not willing to risk getting the books late for classes, I changed my Amazon order to include only the 3 in-stock books (they arrived 2 days later) and ordered the other 2 books from Chapters. One of those books arrived 3 days later and the other will be shipped, without extra charge, when it is available.
In the end I saved over $70 by buying online instead of on campus, but perhaps my first lesson of the new school year is to make sure that FREE shipping means FREE, not FREE plus an extra charge.