(They had one vendor selling an item for $5.25, another for $5.47. Go with the cheaper one, right? Well, I put both in my cart, and proceed to the penultimate page, where all the shipping breakout I get is that my S&H total is $19.43, less supersaver discount for the items I'm actually buying from Amazon of $7.80. Which, since they can't be bothered to provide a subtotal, It's up to me to figure out means the third party shipping is $11.63. So the third party vendors are charging around $5.80 for shipping, on average.
I drop the $5.47 one from my cart, do the arithmetic again, and the third party shipping is now $7.67. Hmm.
Double-check: put the $5.47 one back in my cart; check the arithmetic again; third party shipping is now, again, $11.63.
Remove the $5.25 one from my cart, do the arithmetic again, and behold: third party shipping is now $3.96
So: The third party vendor selling the item for $5.25 charges $7.67 shipping: total $12.92. The vendor selling it for $5.47 charges $3.96: total $9.43. So going with what at first appeared to be the higher-price vendor saves me $3.49.
Fine, I'm okay with that. What I'm not okay with is Amazon hiding that information from me such that I had to go through this rigamarole to ferret it out. What, exactly, would be wrong with doing the obvious thing and itemizing the third-party shipping along with the rest of the itemization?)
I already mostly bailed on Amazon after amazonfail last year. (I highly recommend Powell's for books. Not being a behemoth, they can't always match Amazon's pricing, but they're an honest-to-god bookstore, run by people whose first love is books.) But Amazon remains too convenient for me to abandon completely. Or at any rate, was until now. I can only hope that Zappos continues to expand its product range, eventually becoming a general merchandise alternative to Amazon. In the mean time, I will continue to cut back on my business with Amazon: Their superficial convenience does not make up for going through this much hassle to find the actual price of an item.