questionswhich are you more likely to get?


$5 with free shipping. $2.50 with $2.50 shipping doesn't feel like a bargain, neither does shipping that 'costs' more than the item itself.


I have always looked at total cost. As all of your examples are $5, they are all equal so there is no difference in price (and I have personally paid $5 shipping for a free item but the item was priced at $8 everywhere else). But for me the value of the item must exceed the item price plus the shipping price - period.


Total cost is what I care about most. When the total cost is the same I order from the seller I like better.


There's no tax on shipping, so $2.50+$2.50 shipping would be a better deal if there is sales tax.


I would go with the most reputable company, unless there is a difference in shipping. Some "free shipping" means that you will get it eventually.


@elforman: Some states do charge tax on shipping. Some charge tax if shipping is combined with handling. Some charge tax on shipping if the item being shipped was taxable.

examples -

CT -


$5 with free shipping. It makes me feel like I got a $5 item for $5, as opposed to a free item for $5.


$5 with free shipping feel better. I don't like paying more for shipping than the item costs. If it was $2.50 + $2.50 I'd probably end up shopping around, since I'd feel like I'm buying two, but getting one.


All things being equal...all things are equal. If it's an item I might want to return or exchange, I'd want to pay the money for the item and get free shipping. If the item is taxable, I'd rather get the item for free and pay for the shipping. If neither applies, then it doesn't matter to me one way or another.


I'd rather pay for shipping because I like our UPS delivery driver.

Obviously, that's a joke, but it would be interesting to know how shipping is actually done behind the scenes when you do or do not pay for shipping. I wonder if UPS or Fedex get more when you choose one or the other.


@wnyx585am: UPS/USPS/FedEx/Others are not seeing a difference. Someone has to pay the shipping cost and it ends up being the company absorbing the cost. So really there is no difference at all.

To answer the original question, I look at total cost as well and will make my purchase accordingly.


I think it goes without saying that most companies have discount programs with Fedex and UPS... for companies like Amazon or Best Buy or the like, they are only paying about 15-20% of cost on shipping i.e. if it cost you 10$ to ship something Fedex it would only cost them 2$. That being said they roll the cost of shipping into the cost of the item. So judging by how many companies do "free shipping" they must have done some market research to see that more people are inticed by the word FREE in their purchase. It makes you feel like you bought the item and also got something on the side FREE... the mind of a "consumer" thinks they got more this way... even though they got exactly the same thing. It is like a tiny "victory" in the mind of mass consumers...


even though they're the same thing, i'm more enticed by the $5 with free shipping. the "free just pay $5 for shipping" makes me wonder what else they're trying to pull. the $2.50 each for item and shipping just seems weird


free with $5 shipping is just straight up dishonest in my book. Not only will I not buy that item, I'll avoid that company forever.
I'll buy $5 w/ free shipping.


I don't buy things I don't want/need. So if either apply, I'm getting it regardless.

I will say, however, that I'm more likely to go to a brick and mortar too buy.


@kamikazeken: Why? They have to pay for shipping. If it is an item in a box, the odds are it will cost them several dollars to ship it. When you are paying for something with free shipping, the cost of the shipping is being slipped in with the cost of the item. It's a wash either way.


If all things were the same I'd go with the most reputable company. If none of them are I'll spend a bit more to go with a trusted company.


It's a great question. A lot of thinking about the behavioral economics and pricing has been documented by Richard Thaler from University of Chicago (e.g., his book "Nudge") and many other academics. Your question would be a great experiment.

For myself, I'm thinking I would be persuaded more towards the $5 with free shipping choice. The higher $5 price suggests that the item has value, while the $0 with $5 shipping suggests that the item has no value.


Despite it all being equal, I'd get the one with free shipping.


It's been stated above, but here is my take on it:

$5 w/free shipping beats $2.50 w/$2.50 shipping, which beats $0 w/$5 shipping, but only if I might want to return the item. Otherwise they are exactly the same (I live in NY so it is all taxable).


It's all the same to me, really. Free shipping can tilt the scale, but I tend to look at overall cost


I only care about total cost: Item price + shipping/handling + tax + time to delivery.

I do resent over priced shipping and will pay a couple of dollars (total cost) more for an item with free shipping or reasonably priced shipping vs. buying from a store that has the lowest total cost but unreasonably high shipping costs. I'm not going to pay a company to treat me like I don't know enough to know the BS they are trying to pull.


I have to agree with the bottom line...even though free shipping is a big draw, if the item is overpriced then the free shipping offsets it. It's a total value thing.


This is a great question, as I sell a lot on Ebay and constantly ponder the impact of the answer. It's totally psycological, so I'm always trying to figure the best outcome. I always list high demand items with shipping because I think savvy buyers will look at the ultimate bottom line and novices will ignore it. I list cheaper and mass consumed items and with free shipping because it's less mentally-taxing for those looking for a quick buy. You can see from the answers above people naturally differ on the methods. It really depends on the item and demand.


If it's an ebay purchase, go with the $5 with free shipping. You don't get ebay bucks on shipping costs.

Though free with $5 shipping is better cost-wise for the seller, because they don't pay fees on shipping costs. But ebay now rewards sellers who offer free shipping by weighting their listings higher in the search results. Check your searches. They now default to sort by 'best match' even after you have changed it to 'lowest price' or 'ending soonest'. Do another search and it will go back to 'best match'.

Taxes are the same either way for me in MI because we pay tax on shipping. Bogus!