Don't Waste Your Money: Free shipping isn't always free - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Don't Waste Your Money: Free shipping isn't always free

(WTOL) – Online shopping has been breaking all records this holiday season. It has become a billion-dollar industry. One thing luring shoppers to web retailers is free shipping, but free shipping can be costly.

This is the biggest time of the year for online ordering and so many stores and websites promise free shipping. But that free shipping often comes with catches, and many consumers end up with credit card bills much larger than planned.

Almost every online retailer is advertising free shipping. However, more people are finding themselves charged for shipping and handling despite the banners saying free.

"I was shocked that they charged me 29.98 for shipping," said Betty Crozier.

Last year Crozier ended up with a $30 shipping charge when she ordered a sweeper she saw on television. Apparently, the sweeper and the freebies that came with it all had processing and handling fees tacked on.

Those "P & H" charges are one way merchants get the consumer to pay, even though the shipping is free.

There are new limits on free shipping. Smart Money magazine said many merchants are now requiring a minimum purchase to qualify for free shipping. On Target's website this year, a customer needed to spend at least $50.

With the soaring cost of shipping, this is one freebie that is getting harder to find.

Bottom line: Always check for shipping, processing or handling fees before paying online. If calling to make an order, be sure to ask what the final charge is.

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