When Buy 1, Get One 1 Offers Aren’t Really Free

This type of Buy One, Get One Free sales technique with insane shipping fees is out of control.

Quick recap — company is selling a lunch bag for $20. To entice you to purchase their product, they’re promoting a buy one, get one “free” offer.

Here’s why I hate this type of product advertising;

Packit Buy One Get One Free Advertisement

Misleading Price Offer

It states two products for $19.95 plus $11.90 P&H (postage and handling). But the small print under the photo with the * (astrix) tells a different story.

*Just pay separate $4.95 processing and handling

Oddly enough, even though the extra information is referenced with an astrix, there isn’t an astrix on the large price.

On their webpage, this is then followed with;

When ordering today, you will receive the PackIt® in your choice of three styles for just $19.95 + $11.90 P&H, you will also receive a second PackIt® in your choice of colors for FREE, just cover the additional $4.95 P&H (emphasise is mine).

Sales Tax May Apply
Please allow 10-15 days for delivery.

So, the offer IS NOT $19.95 plus $11.90 P/H, it’s $19.95 + $16.85.

High Shipping Fees

If the actual cost to the consumer is $19.95 + $16.85, why not just say that? The answer is simple: if a consumer see’s the full $16.85 shipping price, they’ll quickly understand that even though the second product is technically “free”, the company is recouping the cost with the extremly high shipping fee. In essence, the consumer is paying $18.40 for each product.

This is even more telling with the “Please allow 10-15 days for delivery.” Now, I’ve shipped a LOT of packages in my time so the extended delivery time tells me the company is most likely shipping the product using the cheapest option available. In which case, the high shipping cost means more money in their pocket.

Offer Design is (graphically) Misleading

In the above image, the offer shows three lunch bags even though the customer only gets two. This is a psychological trick to make the viewer think they’re getting more then they really are. And the company gets away with it because it says “2-Packits”. I call bullsh*t. If the offer is for two products, then just show two products.

Confusing language

The TV commercials use “S/H” (shipping and handling). The website uses “P/H” (postage and handling) but then spells it out as “Processing & handling”. What? Am I paying for “processing” & “handling” (which are essentially the same thing) and don’t have to pay for shipping/postage?

You Can’t Buy Only 1

This is the real kicker for me. It’s impossible to order only one product. It’s not even a choice. The consumer either has to order the BOGO free for $36.80 (plus any applicable sales tax), or not order at all.


I don’t know who came up with the marketing idea of offering one free, then recoup the cost in high shipping/processing/postage/handling rates, but I believe it’s bad marketing and simply wrong. And the solution is so simple — if the cost to a consumer is $36.80, then just say that.

I’d also like to note that the company selling the above product isn’t the only one doing this — I see it being used in TV commercials everyday and this was the most recent that I saw.

My recommendation

Advertisers: Be clear and transparent with your product offer. It’s not hard to do — really. And consumers will appreciate it.

Consumers: Don’t order products with offers like this off TV or from their associated website. Wait a few months and the product will end up on the shelf in Walmart or your local Dollar or discount store — for half the price and no shipping.

What’s your experience with this type of product sales? Do you go ahead and order knowing you’re actually paying for two products?

Please post your thoughts and comments below. Thanks!