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Hmm, do I want the less expensive item or the free shipping?

I’ve practically given up. I feel the world of product pricing is all over the place, and I don’t know what to do, or how much attention I can or should give the subject.

I’m an Amazon gal. Prime, to be specific. Just am. Not that I love Jeff and his criminal-feeling –and certainly low-calibre humanity–acts of near-total tax evasion. I mean, what an *ss! Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.)

I know the online-ness of shopping is hurting brick-and-mortar stores, which, imnsho, were vastly overbuilt anyway and weren’t particularly worthy, deserving or necessary of keeping them all around. But the online-ness and multiple sources for the same products  with multiple sellers and multiple purchasing options are making it near impossible, at least for the likes of someone like me to figure out when I’m getting a reasonable price and when a price is jacked up.

Now, I’m hardly obsessed with getting THE lowest price on an item. I like a deal. Don’t get me wrong. And I certainly don’t want to be hoodwinked by deceptive product listing practices or aggressively opportunistic sellers, but, really, what does one do now?

At the moment — and what made me pause … and write this piece — was the pricing I was seeing when ordering one of my favorite white balsamic vinegars as a birthday gift for a friend. Which one to get?

same items, (wildly) diff prices

Have you had this experience? I’ve gone online and seen an item on Etsy listed for $349, only to see it listed at other online stores for $279, $485 and, then, on amazon, for $159. Same item! Same exact item. Same size and dimensions. Same photos shown. Same everything.

It’s crazy-making.

the false promise of free shipping

I, for one, had significant reluctance to pay for shipping over the years. “What? You’re going to charge me $8.95 to ship an item that costs me $6 to purchase and weighs a few ounces? What?”

I wasn’t the only one, I’m sure. But an ordered item does need to be shipped, and that costs money.  So sellers, understandably, started building shipping prices into costs, and–as has most certainly been the case with me — actually incentivized customers to buy more product to pass the free shipping minimum purchase amount. Yep, I fall for that one almost every time.

I’ve noticed quite a few times that an item on Amazon costs more than the same as the product from the manufacturer’s site or other retail store, but when I add in shipping, it’s the same cost. So Amazon’s “free” shipping, of course, isn’t free… as is logical. But alluring as it is to get “free shipping,” we aren’t. The prices of many items have just shifted upward lightly to cover the costs.

For example,


19.81 with $9.99 delivery

Or $29.99 with “free” shipping?

or $23.45 with $5.16 delivery?

Is it better to order from the manufacturer’s Amazon store? From their retail site? Do they make more money when they sell an item directly but incur more costs to warehouse and deliver it? Or is it more economical for the retailer to ship inventory to Amazon and have them deliver it? Does it matter? Is it something I should even put my already-prone-to-obsessive-thoughts mind on?


I DO know that Giuseppe Giusti makes some fine white balsamic vinegar though. Drinkable, I’d add. Very drinkable, but then again I probably have two dozen different tasty vinegars at home, a stash of sauerkraut and who knows what else in the pickle and fermented foods section of my fridge.


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