MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK: The cost of free shipping

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Many of us are watching every dollar we spend, so when we hear free shipping, it sounds like a good deal. But some retailers are absorbing big costs - to get you to keep shopping.

For $20, you'll get two cans of Flex Seal, just pay the extra shipping. But how much is that shipping? The website shows shipping is $6.95 per can. So it's almost $14 to ship a $20 order.

"I wouldn't pay that, so I don't know why someone else would pay that," said Deann Kump.

Kump runs the business "Tutu Cute" out of her home.

"I ship out 40-60 parcels a day."

She sells to people all over the world.

"I have shipping, I have the post office charges, I have the envelopes, the shipping materials, the cost of gas," said Kump.

Every day, Kump fills orders and packs them with materials she has to purchase - that's the handling. She then drives to the post office, making sure every item has delivery confirmation, which adds to her out-of-pocket expenses.

But on her site, the more you buy, the lower your shipping costs.

"If they pay $1.50 for one of my hair bows, they definitely don't want to pay $5 for shipping, so the lower you have it, the better because then the customers will say, 'well , then I want to shop with her.'"

Her business is profitable and continues to expand year after year.

For 67 years, Arcet has been the largest independent welding distributor in Virginia.

"We distribute oxygen, acetelene, argon, welding rods and anything associated with fabrication, building or metal manufacturing," said Keith LaFemina.

And a lot of those things are heavy and aren't manufactured here.

Arcet recently got free shipping on 40,000 pounds of welding rod from Ohio. That's a freight truck that uses diesel gas that gets 4-5 miles a gallon, plus the driver's expenses. Keith estimates the true shipping cost to be about $1000.

"Nothing's for free, somewhere down the line they're recooping that cost," said LaFemina.

Postal carriers don't deliver for free, so when your retailer offers free shipping, think of it as paying a bundle price. Often, the cost of delivery is already factored into the cost you're paying for the product.

Copyright 2013 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.