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Subject: Is free shipping going the way of the dinosaurs? rss

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T. Rosen
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Thought Hammer has just announced (or at least I just noticed) the following on their website (http://www.thoughthammer.com/):

Please Note: Due to the ever increasing cost of fuel, and the resulting increase in the cost of shipping, we will be raising the minimum order size for free shipping from $100.00 to $125.00 effective for all orders placed beginning on Monday January 30th, 2006.

While it's understandable that online retailers need to pass increased shipping costs along to their customers, and Thought Hammer certainly isn't the only one doing this (for example Fresh Direct, http://www.freshdirect.com/, raised its delivery prices for groceries), it's disheartening because I absolutely love free shipping on giant game orders.

First Fair Play Games (http://www.fairplaygames.com/) cancels their free shipping program altogether, replacing it with a percentage discount on large orders (5% on orders over $75 and 7% on orders over $150). Now Thought Hammer increases the threshold for their free shipping offer. What do you think, is free shipping going to end altogether eventually? I realize that in the meantime Funagain Games (http://www.funagain.com/) has actually initiated a free shipping program, but they claim it's only for January, and the threshold is $150, and their prices on individual games negate any potential benefit. Perhaps there are other free shipping program out there that I'm unaware of, or perhaps this Thought Hammer announcement is not the first step toward ending the program altogether, but it certainly doesn't bode well, and I'm curious what other people think. Then again, maybe I'm the only one who cares so much about free shipping.
 
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Philip Thomas
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Well, Shire Games is still offering free UK shipping on all orders over £40. I haven't checked other UK retailers.
 
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(The Artist formerly known as) Arnest R
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I just saw that www.milan-spiele.de also raised their threshold from 80 € to 120 € (for Germany).

cry
 
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mrbass
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Sounds reasonable to me. My last two orders were from boardandbits $10/shipping and timewellspent $15shipping minus -$5 for order over $100 so $10/shipping. My previous 2 or 3 orders were from thoughthammer though. Free shipping usually only applies to those who don't quite have to have it right now.
 
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Marc Gibson
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Free shipping is one of the primary reasons why I order from places like Thought Hammer. Generally it's not worth my while to only order one or two games for $50 plus the cost of S/H so I always waited until I have $100 worth of games I wanted to purchase. With the discounts offered online I could get 4+ games for the same price it would cost me to get 2-3 games at the local game store.

We'll see, I don't know if an extra $25 will be that big a deal to me in the long run. I can still get more games for $125 at Thought Hammer then I can at my FLGS. If they cancel free shipping it will lessen my incentice to shop online.

Marc
 
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T. Rosen
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Philip Thomas wrote:
Shire Games is still offering free UK shipping on all orders over £40. I haven't checked other UK retailers.


Wow, not bad. I didn't think of it before, but I guess the changes in free shipping programs at Thought Hammer, Fair Play, and Funagain don't matter to a large number of BGGers who live overseas. Glad you also enjoy the benefits of free shipping


Arnest R wrote:
I just saw that www.milan-spiele.de also raised their threshold from 80 € to 120 € (for Germany).


Interesting; sorry about that. I could probably find this out if I read the news more often (not Boardgame News that is, http://www.boardgamenews.com/), but is the cost of fuel also rising rapidly in Germany? I would presume so, but don't really know.


mr bass wrote:
Free shipping usually only applies to those who don't quite have to have it right now.


That's a good point. I'm not usually a patient person in other facets of life, but for some reason when it comes to buying board games, I'm willing to wait, and play the many games I already own, while I slowly build up a big shopping cart that qualifies for free shipping. I suppose this is evidenced by my two big purchasing splurges of last July and December, about which I made GeekLists of course (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist.php3?action=view&listi...) and (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist.php3?action=view&listi...). I suppose I'm the same way with video games actually, trying to stay 6 months behind the market, so that I can get everything for $19.99 rather than $49.99.


Marc Gibson wrote:
Free shipping is one of the primary reasons why I order from places like Thought Hammer. Generally it's not worth my while to only order one or two games for $50 plus the cost of S/H so I always waited until I have $100 worth of games I wanted to purchase.


I'm so glad to hear that I'm not the only one. That's exactly how I feel, not much reason to order two games now for $50 + $10 shipping, and two games later for $50 + $10 shipping, when I can just order four games together for $100.


Marc Gibson wrote:
We'll see, I don't know if an extra $25 will be that big a deal to me in the long run.


I agree. Raising the threshold by $25 certainly isn't the end of the world, but if it means that Thought Hammer is considering following in the footsteps of Fair Play Games, then it doesn't bode well, at least for those of us obsessed with free shipping.

Personally, I was hoping that the trend would be in the other direction, so that other stores such as Time Well Spent (http://www.timewellspent.org/), which often has the best prices of anyone and better selection than Thought Hammer, would start offering free shipping on large orders, rather than the reverse.

 
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Thomas Franke
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OT : Fuel prices
Thommy8 wrote:
Interesting; sorry about that. I could probably find this out if I read the news more often (not Boardgame News that is, http://www.boardgamenews.com/), but is the cost of fuel also rising rapidly in Germany? I would presume so, but don't really know.


I think you will be horrified about the fuel prices in Germany:
In my town it is around 1,28 EUR for one liter of 98 octane fuel (95 octane is 2 eurocent less). One liter, not one gallon.

 
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Jeff Wolfe
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caesarbgg wrote:
I think you will be horrified about the fuel prices in Germany:
In my town it is around 1,28 EUR for one liter of 98 octane fuel (95 octane is 2 eurocent less). One liter, not one gallon.


US equivalence: $6 per gallon.
 
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Philip Thomas
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On the other hand, the USA has some 10% of the worlds oil supplies, whereas the amount of native produced oil in Germany can be measured using a bucket.

On the waiting thing- Shire games delivered within the week last time I ordered. Of course, this is easier in the Uk...
 
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Travis Easton
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How much more mileage per gallon can you get on 98 octane fuel as opposed to the 89 we buy over here in the states?
 
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Here in Japan, gas is right at 5 US dollars a gallon.

I wish I got free shipping from Thoughthammer, but unfortunately I don't qualify since the items have to be sent USPS.


Ben
 
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Mark Rollings
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Philip Thomas wrote:


On the waiting thing- Shire games delivered within the week last time I ordered. Of course, this is easier in the Uk...


I ordered from Shire Games at lunch time on Monday and got my games by 10am today (Wednesday). I spent £47 and the shipping was free. What more can you ask?
 
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Quinn Munnerlyn
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Thankfully, I live right down the road from an online retailer (newspiel.com) I just place an order and run down and pick it up the next day.
 
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Tom Chappelear
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The calculation of octane in the EU is different than here in the States, since the units are metric. (Otherwise, they'd be using racecar fuel with 98 octane!) Someone asked the guys on Car Talk on NPR this question last week...
 
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Chaddyboy
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I always have pre-ordered games on hold at Thoughthammer, so I always have the option of adding to an existing order for 50 cents. The only problem is that I really don't know how long it's going to be until my orders ship.
 
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Ray
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On the flip side I had a $10 gift certificate for a 20 mile away brick and mortar store that I let expire because the price of gas and toll made it almost worthless.
 
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So does anyone know what happens to pre-orders made before that date? Would they still ship for free at the $100 mark when the pre-orders are fulfilled?
 
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Chris Shaffer
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Philip Thomas wrote:
On the other hand, the USA has some 10% of the worlds oil supplies, whereas the amount of native produced oil in Germany can be measured using a bucket.


Gasoline is expensive in Germany (and most industrialized countries) not because they produce less but instead because they tax it properly to pay for all the hidden costs of automobiles - road building, public safety, pollution, etc. In the United States of America, we shift that tax burden to other (often regressive) tax systems, such as sales tax and income tax.
 
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T. Rosen
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lightnng wrote:
So does anyone know what happens to pre-orders made before that date? Would they still ship for free at the $100 mark when the pre-orders are fulfilled?


I hope so! I pre-ordered El Grande, Goa, and Tempus, along with some others, back in October, 2005, and figure they should honor the free shipping terms that were in effect when I placed that order.


Chad Krizan wrote:
I always have pre-ordered games on hold at Thoughthammer, so I always have the option of adding to an existing order for 50 cents. The only problem is that I really don't know how long it's going to be until my orders ship.


Same here. Last year I preordered a whole bunch of games. Luckily, they were nice enough to split up the order for free and ship the games that had arrived (Reef Encounter, Caylus, Carc: River 2), instead of waiting for El Grande, Goa, and Tempus to arrive. Outstanding service.


Thomas Franke wrote:
I think you will be horrified about the fuel prices in Germany:
In my town it is around 1,28 EUR for one liter of 98 octane fuel (95 octane is 2 eurocent less). One liter, not one gallon.


You were right, that's really high.

Has it also been rising recently, which would explain the increased threshold for free shipping at www.milan-spiele.de, or do you think that change is unrelated?


Quinn Munnerlyn wrote:
Thankfully, I live right down the road from an online retailer (newspiel.com) I just place an order and run down and pick it up the next day.


Wow! I'm jealous, that would be really nice. Then again, I'd probably no longer have money for food and rent if I had a cheap source of games so close by, hehe.

 
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David Greene
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Tom,

I've been noticing this trend as well, but I am not all that disappointed by Thoughthammer's move. I've placed about ten orders with them so far, all qualifying for free shipping, and it is easy enough for me to wait till my order reaches $125.

Thankfully, thoughthammer has also increased its selection of games, and they seem intent on further increasing it. What bothers me a bit about thoughthammer is how many games they don't have at 35% off.

Thoughthammer's two big selling points used to be:

1. 35% off on most games
2. free shipping on all orders over $100

Now so many of their games are 30% or 25% off. This is what disappoints me about thoughthammer.

Many of you may have jumped on that great sale cardhaus.com was promoting to BGG customers only: an additional 10% off all their games including their sale games. Not only that, but at about the same time they ADDED FREE SHIPPING ON ALL ORDERS OVER $100, AND THIS OFFER REMAINS IN PLACE TO THIS DAY. I was very happy to place two $100+ orders with cardhaus.com while their sale was on.

Another thing I like about cardhaus.com is that they actually put items ON SALE, something that thoughthammer never does. I guess thoughthammer is too new to have ancient, aging stock. But I do love a good sale and a great value.

Boardgamesusa.com is currently offering free shipping on orders over $99, and they are offering 30% off list on just about their entire inventory. This is a big sale for them, and it lasts only till Jan. 31st. I already placed a $150 order, and I may place another.

You may want to check out boardgamesusa.com for their game Stack. Stack is a game played with 56 d6 dice in four colors. At 30% off, boardgamesusa.com is selling it for 13.99, which is 25 cents a die. This is a good deal. Use the dice for spares, to play Liar's Dice, or for other dice games. I also picked up a copy of stack with 1 inch dice, 56 d6 in 4 colors, for 23.99. I love dice, esp. big ones (and sometimes I have a habit of wasting money ).

If you like puzzles (not jigsaw puzzles but "brain teasers"), check out the great selection of them from manufacturer Magnif on boardgamesusa.com. These are fantastic puzzles, and cheap. And if you do like jigsaw puzzles (I don't), boardgamesusa.com has got millions of them.

Boardgamesusa.com is actually three sites in one. The other two sites are puzzlesusa and stuffkidslike. They have an interesting selection, and certainly not your typical BGG game selection, but if you are looking for something that is not your typical BGG-style site, this is one. They do also have a lot of BGG-style games, but not as many as other sites.

So keep your eye out for sales and special offers, including free shipping offers, and don't forget about cardhaus.com. They are trying to give thoughthammer a run for their money, and they are doing a great job.

And if anyone hears of other sales, or free shipping, post them to this thread.

David
 
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TheCat wrote:

Gasoline is expensive in Germany (and most industrialized countries) not because they produce less but instead because they tax it properly to pay for all the hidden costs of automobiles - road building, public safety, pollution, etc. In the United States of America, we shift that tax burden to other (often regressive) tax systems, such as sales tax and income tax.


Gas taxes are also regressive (they are essentially a specific sales tax) whereas income tax (which much of our road-building allocation comes from) is progressive. In other words, someone who makes $20,000 a year is going to have a much higher percentage of their income taken out for gas taxes than someone making $200,000 (rich people don't drive 10 times as much as poor people)...and since gasoline consumption is very close to essential to most people in the U.S. (it's a much better situation in Europe) the regressive nature of the gas tax should be taken into account.

All that said, I DO think gas taxes should be raised in the U.S. since little else but price seems to spur conservation around here...

 
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Charlesq
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This is a shame, I will probably actually buy less games at TH (where I usually get games). Most of the time, my total has been about 70-80 dollars, and I can convince myself to add a few more for free shipping. Now I will probably won't bother adding anything else on. (I have my next order planned out, and I need to order it before the 30th or else I will cut about $20 off)
 
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Nick Oettinger
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lightnng wrote:
So does anyone know what happens to pre-orders made before that date? Would they still ship for free at the $100 mark when the pre-orders are fulfilled?

People must have been asking this same question (I know I was wondering about my own pre-order with them), because the notice on Thought Hammer's site now includes the following sentence:

All order placed prior to Jan 30th, including unshipped pre-orders, will maintain the $100.00 free shipping threshold.
 
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Gavin Wynford-Jones
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To those of you who want free shipping and big discounts: would you like them to come round and give you back rubs as well....?

Sorry to be facetious, but you're asking companies in a small niche market to dig deep into their profit margins just to satisfy some feeling of entitlment to a bargain. If games are like many other commercial enterprises, a $50 retail game will have cost the reseller about $20. Out of that $30 markup, the company has to pay for storage, salaries, book-keeping etc. (I know someone in the UK wholesale side, and those are the realities there, so I assume they apply to the US as well.) The profit on the game is likely to be in the $10-$15 range after all expenses are taken into account.

Now do the math if they give you a big discount and free shipping.

The commercial reality is that giving away the store will, eventually, lead to there being no store left.

Ten bucks to ship a bunch of games is actually a bargain, guys.

Gavin
 
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Mark Rollings
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gavingva wrote:
To those of you who want free shipping and big discounts: would you like them to come round and give you back rubs as well....?

Sorry to be facetious, but you're asking companies in a small niche market to dig deep into their profit margins just to satisfy some feeling of entitlment to a bargain. If games are like many other commercial enterprises, a $50 retail game will have cost the reseller about $20. Out of that $30 markup, the company has to pay for storage, salaries, book-keeping etc. (I know someone in the UK wholesale side, and those are the realities there, so I assume they apply to the US as well.) The profit on the game is likely to be in the $10-$15 range after all expenses are taken into account.

Now do the math if they give you a big discount and free shipping.

The commercial reality is that giving away the store will, eventually, lead to there being no store left.

Ten bucks to ship a bunch of games is actually a bargain, guys.

Gavin


I agree with much of that sentiment. Those in the USA don't know how good they have already got it. Their games are priced at the same number of US dollars as they are in british pounds which makes them cheap enough already, then they want 35% off that and to get them delivered free!

I buy from an online store that offers free shipping over a certain threshold, but I don't expect to get 35% off the games too. It is unthinkable, not too mention greedy!!

My only absolute prerequisite for online shopping is that it should not cost me any more than if I went to a bricks and mortar store. Full priced games with free shipping gives me this, with the added luxury of a huge assortment.
 
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