I used to buy a lot of my supplements and other horse supplies from Horse.com because they were the cheapest source. They were always tricky to buy from (you needed to make sure you had the best coupon and try out various coupon codes) but I could usually get the price for something I needed down to reasonable and place the order.
In the past few years, as Riding Warehouse has started carrying more of the supplements I use, I have stopped using Horse.com. However, there are a few products Riding Warehouse doesn’t carry. I will do various searches and compare Amazon, Horse.com, ValleyVet, San Juan Ranch, SStack, and others until I find whatever the cheapest option is. However, the most frustrating things about purchasing from Horse.com are the tricks they play.
I work in Silicon Valley so I know a lot of the games that various e-retailers play. One trick is to offer different prices on different web browsers. So with Horse.com I need to check prices using two different browsers. For this example I’ll use the Cool Calories I was looking at buying for my husband’s horse, Eugene.
Chrome is on the left, Safari on the right. Cool Calories starts at $23.91 in Chrome and $29.89 in Safari. This is because the Chrome browser is offering me a special of 20% off + free shipping, while Safari is offering no discount. I am logged in to Horse.com on both browsers. Interestingly enough, the Safari page was opened by clicking on an email Horse.com sent me advertising 20% off + Free shipping:
I don’t know why the discount doesn’t show up in Safari when I click on that “Shop Now” link in my email. It’s not actually the same discount that I’m getting in Chrome either, as this advertisement is for 20% off + 25% off over $129. I’m sure I could contact their customer service and get them to apply the discount listed in this email, but that’s a lot of work that I don’t want to do.
Here’s the next trick Horse.com utilizes. They offer different pricing to new and returning customers. If you’ve used their site before, they figure they’ve “got” you and don’t need to offer their best deals. If I open an incognito window in Chrome and go to Horse.com, I now get 25% off or 30% off over $129. Without logging in. Here’s the two windows to compare:
Now my prices are $22.42 in Incognito Chrome, $23.91 in Chrome, and $29.89 in Safari. Let’s see what happens when I try to check out. Because Horse.com has more tricks up its sleeve.
In my Incognito Chrome window, I have selected check out as guest. In my logged in Chrome window, I have selected checkout using my account. Once again, Incognito on the left, logged in on the right:
Did you catch that? The cost to ship the exact same item to the exact same address is different in the two checkouts. This time the Incognito cart is more. In Incognito, it’ll cost me $15.99 for economy shipping. Logged in it will cost me $11.04. With shipping factored in, the grand total is now more for the 25% off item than it is for the 20% off item.
Annoyed yet? I know I am. But let’s dig in even further. What about that free shipping over $99 offer on the logged in Chrome page? In order to get to $99 I need to order 4 8lb bags and add a random pair of socks. Lo and behold, I get free shipping:
But that’s silly. Why would I order 4 8lb bags at $23.91 each when I could order a 20 lb bag for only 44.79? 32 lbs of Cool Calories will ship for free, but one 20 lb bag of cool calories, plus a shirt that I added just to get over $99 will cost me $10.70 in weight and oversize charges:
Because 20 lbs apparently cost more to ship than 32 lbs in Horse.com world.
Now, as if all of this isn’t exasperating enough, what if I try to checkout using a coupon code on Horse.com’s website? This is not even a coupon code from one of those aggregate coupon sites that so rarely work. It’s from Horse.com’s own site:
I’m going to try that middle coupon for 10% off + free shipping over $69. As a reminder, here was my total before the coupon:
So the 10% off is worse than the 25% off, but suddenly shipping only costs $5.99. To the same exact address. For the same exact item. My grand total is actually cheaper.
What if I try to qualify for the $1.99 shipping by adding 2 more 8 lb bags of Cool Calories? What happens then? Interesting things is the answer. Interesting things happen.
I qualify for the $1.99 shipping, but I get charged $5.40 for weight charges. Earlier, when I was checking out 4 bags of Cool Calories using a different promo, I got free shipping and no weight charges, but 3 bags under this code will cost me $5.40 in weight charges. Which is still less than the $10.70 they wanted to ship me the 20 lb bag.
This is all in that Incognito window. But now I’ve logged in and they know who I am. Well, what if I want to go back to the 25% off + 30% off over $129 deal I had earlier? Sucks to be me because it’s not available anymore. Even If I log out, empty my cart and re-load the page. I get the same terrible offer I got in Safari earlier:
I have to close that window and open a new Incognito window to get that offer again.
There’s actually a promo code associated with it. This promo code changes every time I make a new window, so I imagine it doesn’t work more than once. Let’s see if I can use it.
Back in Safari with no discounts or promo codes applied, my cart looks like this:
Down at the very bottom of the screen, I type in the promo code from the Incognito window and it works. I get 25% off, but the shipping has jumped back up to $15.99.
And I officially cannot take it anymore. I’ve decided to just stop shopping at Horse.com for good. In fact, I checked my order history and I haven’t used them since 2015. At this point, even if I could get the best price possible with them, it wouldn’t be worth the time it takes me to cross-compare everything. As someone who owns three horses with various joint issues and competes in multiple sports requiring different tack and attire (hello eventing and endurance), it’s Horse.com’s loss.
Now Horse.com isn’t alone in deceptive practices. I recently ordered from JeffersPet. They promise 10% off if you sign up for their emails.
When I entered my email and hit sign up I got confirmation that they’d added my email, but then I didn’t actually get 10% off. There was no code, my cart didn’t receive a 10% discount, and I never received an email from them with a code. I tried waiting 24 hours to see if I got an email code, but nope. And yes, I check my spam folder. I even received an email saying I’d left something in my cart and did I want to complete my order. Their price on the specific hay nets I wanted was the best even without the 10%, so I still placed the order, but I’m annoyed that I gave them my email for nothing.
Good Retailers to Support
Except for items they don’t carry, I do the majority of my horse shopping at Riding Warehouse. Not only are their prices fabulous, but their shipping is free over $50 with no over-weight charges. And it’s only $5 for 2-day shipping. Because I live in California – the same state as their warehouse – I actually get free overnight shipping. I can order something today and have it here tomorrow. And returns are completely free and every box comes with a return label so I don’t need to contact Customer Service to make a return. They almost always have a promotion going on and if you’re a US Rider member like me, you get a %15 off promo code you can use year-round.
Do you already shop at Riding Warehouse or do you want to try it? Well, I reached out to them before running this post and asked if they would provide me with a a discount code for my readers. They were all for it. Use DIY15 for 15% off orders at Riding Warehouse through August 31st, 2016.
Disclaimer: I am not sponsored in any way by Riding Warehouse. Side-note: Riding Warehouse, if you’d like to sponsor a mediocre rider with a belligerent mule, I would be all for that. But that seems unlikely, so this post is in no way financially driven. I don’t expect to get anything for it. I have won a few contests for gift certificates from participating in their Facebook and Review contests, but those are things anyone can do. I wrote this post because I’m sick and tired of the tricks and games some online retailers play and I want to support those businesses – like Riding Warehouse – that operate with their customers’ best interests in mind instead of trying to deceive people to make an extra dime.