Staff Photos: Erin Evans
Above, Maria Holles, left, and Kenia Matos, both of Conyers, do some last-minute shopping Tuesday at the Mall at Stonecrest. Local retailers said they are preparing for an onslaught of shoppers as Christmas Eve nears. According to a survey from retail trade association National Retail Federation, less than 10 percent of people had completed all of their holiday shopping by the second week in December. Many are taking advantage of some late sales.
When Marion Coughlin went online to send her grandson a $45 gift, the cost to send it came as a shock.
Marion says, ""The shipping cost was almost $16, plus five-something for tax, and I was … astounded!"
Consumer Reports Money Adviser says there are a number of ways to avoid monstrous shipping fees.
Mandy Walker with Consumer Reports says, "There are sites that offer free or low-cost shipping, so check for those before you start shopping. Some, like Zappos.com, offer free shipping both ways, even if you decide to return an item."
Another site that's worth trying is FreeShipping-dot-org. You type in the name of a store, then you can see whether there are coupon codes you can use at the store's website to save on shipping.
And some websites will ship for free - but not to your house. Walmart-dot-com lets you shop at its site - then offers free shipping to a Walmart store, where you can pick up your purchase. Borders and Best Buy do it, too.
And if there's a must-have infomercial product on your list, beware of the shipping costs.
Infomercial: "And now the Awesome Auger is yours for only $19.99 plus shipping and processing."
Those shipping fees - listed as "separate P and H" - are tacked on to each item in this offer, including the "bonus" drill.
In the end, they boosted the bill to more than $56. That's more than double the cost of the original $19.99 product.
And a lesson to be learned from Marion Coughlin - shop early to avoid sending last-minute gifts to family and friends when shipping costs are at their peak.
Excessive shipping charges are the main reason shoppers don't finish checking out online, according to the Direct Marketing Association. If you think you've been charged shipping fees that are too high or misleading, make a Call for Action by dialing 457-8211.
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