Mail order "variance"

Since quite a few people here have bought second-hand and by mail from dealers, was wondering about this. I just bought a fairly expensive “open box” item from a dealer. His ad stated “free shipping” on items over $100. I had spoken on the phone and a price had been agreed upon. The bill (from the sales receipt that I eventually received after requesting it) was for the agreed upon price but the price of the item had been reduced by about $45 and that had been applied to the shipping and insurance. I’m not sure how I feel about it, how would you feel?

I would feel just fine about it, how he invoices the bill is little concern to me if the bottom line price agreed to is the bottom line on the invoice.

I buy from a dealer on occasion who states he will also include the sales tax. When I see the invoice the agreed to price is the total but he has included the sales tax in the invoice since he has to pay the local sales tax as required by law.

In the UK it was quite common to part exchange a car at one price and on the invoice it was a different price. The cost to change was the same. It was all down to margins and bonuses.

It can make you feel as though you’ve got less, but you are not worse off.

I’d be fine about it. You get the item at the price agreed, you don’t pay the shipping costs. The seller does pay shipping costs, so has those on the invoice, which probably makes accounting cleaner on their side.

1 Like

Had a similar p/x deal where the amount shown on the invoice for my 2nd hand item didn’t match what we’d verbally agreed on. I mentioned it as conversation not questioning, the reply was that it makes their internal costing & accounting process easier. With hindsight I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s advantageous to them for the amount of VAT (UK sales tax) payable on the whole transaction.

This. While an ad might say “free shipping,” SOMEONE has to pay for it. Unless the shipping company is doing it for free, which obviously they aren’t.


I wonder if it is done this way as sales tax will not be charged on shipping so the dealer would make a small saving on tax to pay. Maybe to us, it would seem very very small but over a year of sales this could add up and in these difficult times could make a difference to the businesses profitability? Marginal gains all add up.

It’s done because it’s the right way to account for where the money is going.

Again, the dealer is paying for shipping. Free to the customer doesn’t mean free to the dealer. I don’t see why that seems so foreign to people. But it’s probably for the same reason that “FREE SHIPPING” works well in advertising.

“Free shipping” is no more free than “free tires” are on a new car.


Or a free wash and valet with a car service

1 Like

Perhaps the term “shipping included” would be a more accurate description of what was being offered.

1 Like

Makes me think of the buy one get one free scenario, its not and can’t be “free”

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 60 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.