Web retailing has made online shopping as easy as 1-2-3, but choosing from among the many shipping methods for that pair of shoes, tablet computer, or coffeemaker you ordered can be a bit puzzling. If you read the fine print, youll realize that delivery times are estimates based on multiple factors. Amazon, for example, leaves open the possibility that your order shipped free of charge might not arrive until a week or so later, so youre at the companys mercy.
So how much time will you really save by spending that extra $10 or even $30? Consumer Reports set out to learn about the differences in delivery options to find the sweet spot.
The bottom line
Unless you are a world-class procrastinator, theres little reason to pay a fortune for next-day delivery. Second-day service proved much more cost efficient, with the order arriving just 15 hours after the next-day package. This experience is in line with what weve seen over the years. In fact, when we conducted a similar experiment in 2006, the package shipped for free actually beat its costly counterpart to our doorstep.
Of course, there are no guaranteesespecially during the peak holiday season, when priority is likely to be given to customers who pay for freight. Hence one more reason to shop and ship early: the question becomes moot.