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.
I also used to shop randomly at Horse.com and still will if the price is good and RW doesn’t carry what I want. So frustrating about the different Windows and different prices!
I love RW and will continue to support them indefinitely for the items they carry that I need.
In the last year I’ve found that I can get a lot of the supplements that I use from RW or San Juan and it’s cheaper than horse.com. I still get Horse.com’s email because I figured maybe they’ll have a really good sale. But it seems that’s not going to happen at this point.
Wow… I had no idea. I would love to see the algorithm they use to come up with those different totals – my head is spinning!
I’m curious as well. Especially about what algorithms they’re using to handle shipping prices.
Adding to the frustration, stateline tack is the same site as horse.com AND on lots of website the “lowest available price.” Its so annoying when they are basically saying, this item is too expensive and fancy for discounts.
If you’re seeing the same item on multiple sites at a “lowest price possible” and coupon codes/sales don’t work for it, it’s probably because the manufacturer has a minimum pricing requirement for it. Retailers can get into hot water for selling those under the minimum price, even if it’s just a one time sale or coupon.
I’m fine with those sorts of manufacturer requirements. What horse.com is doing goes way beyond that.
I have the same issue with Stateline all the time and it’s so frustrating, but they have the best prices on the fly sheets and supplements I use, ugh.
Stateline falls under the same umbrella as Horse.com so that is not surprising. I miss their old company before they were bought out. With six plus one on the way horses I do a lot of price searching, but I was not aware of some of these tricks. Good to know.
Stateline and horse.com are the same company. I don’t know why they haven’t fully merged and just have redirects at this point, but I guess it works for them.
This is like, A LOT of numbers and math.
I’m a SmartPak shopper, first and foremost. I find that RW doesn’t have the best selection of products, though their prices are better than SP, and RW’s shipping takes forever…I can order something from SP and receive it less than 24 hours later using their standard (always free) ground shipping. Sorry that buying your supplements seems so complicated, but glad you found RW!
SmartPak is considerably more expensive than RW. For example, the 20 lb bag of Cool Calories costs $71.20 on SP. It would actually make more sense to buy it from Horse.com and pay their outrageous shipping charges. I will say that at least SP just bundles the cost of shipping into the heavy bag and doesn’t do crazy shipping games like horse.com. And prior to about 2 months ago, SP didn’t have 2 day shipping so anything I ordered from SP would take 7+ days.
I primarily use SmartPak because I hate the games on other sites and they have the supplements I like and use. I also order direct from HorseTech because I like their service. I won’t order from State Line or Horse.com because the games frustrate me so much — I never analyzed it to the level you did; just found I was irritated every time I went to the sites so I quit going.
Riding Warehouse has been my favorite for a long time. They’re super nice, in stock items usually ship same day (or next day at the very latest), free shipping over $50, and they’re great about ordering things they don’t normally carry. They are the only online retailer that I can count on to have my order to me within 4 business days of ordering. Plus they’re very transparent with coupon codes – they want you to use them and there are always a few flying around out there! I always give RW my business when possible, and funnel as many people their way as possible (and not just because I have an affiliate link, but because I genuinely LOVE THEM and want their business to do well).
That said, it’s easy to find the 10% Jeffers code with a quick google search. I used it last week. 😉
Weird. I did a google search for the Jeffers coupon, tried 2 different codes, both of them were expired, and I gave up and just bought the hay nets because my order was pretty small and I didn’t care that much.
This is FASCINATING! And very weird; I can imagine lots of customers being driven off by the confusing coupons and high shipping rates.
Yeah. I’m not sure how often the promo of 25% off works when you get to shipping and it cost 15.99. For a $22 item. How many people make that purchase?
Interesting! I also love Riding Warehouse, I’m always impressed with how fast I get my orders from them considering I live on the east coast!
I think part of that is that their shipping department moves fast. They almost always ship my order same day instead of taking forever to get it out the door.
I haven’t used them yet. I use Smartpak A LOT. I have tried using horse.com as well and have found it as frustrating as you do, glad I am not alone! I have used Dover a few times, only when they have a good sale going on and I can find a coupon code. I buy most of my stuff at Quarter Horse Congress in October so I don’t have to buy during the year. Fly spray, supplements, dewormer, etc all come home in one trip with no extra shipping charges. This will mark the 2nd year I can’t do that, let me check RW out!
I ended up buying a different weight gain supplement at my local feed store. And I frequently pick up other supplements in person, especially the heavy ones.
WOW. I have used State Line in the past, and I know they’re the same as horse.com. If only I’d known to open 37 different browser windows, I could’ve gotten a deal! 😉 I truly hope someone from there sees this blog post. The complete lack of integrity is disappointing.
State Line and horse.com are the same. I highly doubt my blog will get any response from Horse.com, but if it does, I welcome their attention. They should know that this sort of thing actually turns customers away.
WHAT THE FUCK
i love riding warehouse. $5 2 day shipping is my JAM. I just wish they had EVEN MORE stuff.
ditto your frustration at signing up for an email and not getting a 10% off that was promised. i HATE when they do that.
This ^ $5 2 day shipping is the best. I have even gotten stuff in one day before!
For me, being in the same state, I get free overnight shipping. It is so amazing. And they don’t just do overnight shipping, but take 2 days to process my package. I can literally order something this morning and it’ll be here tomorrow.
I find this fascinating. I don’t do a ton of shopping from online retailers because shipping to Canada (and the exchange) tends to be brutal. My favourite is Smartpak, there website has said “shipping to Canada is coming soon” for years.
Having worked at a previous company that did business in Canada, I will say it’s a huge hassle. It’s not just shipping. You have to set up all these systems for handling payment and taxes for transnational sales. That said, SP is big enough, I’m surprised they haven’t gone for it yet.
I already avoided Horse.com but – wow. Thank you for this.
Continue with your avoidance. Nothing to see there.
I’m not a Riding Warehouse fan, but I definitely use Incognito mode to shop for airline tickets.
Oh yeah. I could pretty much write this exact same post about airline ticket buying. With them you also probably want to try resetting your IP or using a VPN, as they are even more sophisticated at tracking you. And be careful because even in incognito, too many clicks/interest in a particular flight will raise it’s price, regardless of how well you’ve hidden yourself.
Wow. Never even knew that this existed. I will have to try an incognito mode for online purchases and see what it does.
Definitely try it out. It’s especially great for airline shopping like L mentioned.
Holy. Crap. That is an awful lot of work for you to do. It made my head spin. That is all.
I really only did this for this much work for this post. Like I said, I don’t shop there anymore.
I was going to order some things from Horse.com a few months ago and I went around applying all the different codes and such and had such an awful time trying to figure it all out. My shipping would jump from being $10 to $50 (I’m in Canada). So annoying.
It’s so annoying, but at least they ship to Canada, so I guess there’s that.
I have two emails I get horse.com promos from and have noticed that they will be different. I didn’t realize their sketchy pricing went so deep. Thanks for the heads up! I love RW $5 2 day shipping. I’m impatient.
Me too. I want to get everything immediately.
Yikes. I wonder how much I could have saved going incognito
It’s always worth trying. Outside of horse.com’s various discounts. Some websites just set different prices on different browsers.
Wow, I’ve never used Horse.com but I had no idea that companies used those kinds of tricks, I will definitely be on the lookout in the future!
It’s good knowledge to apply to online retailers, not just horse.com.
Horse.com (which is actually stateline tack) also marks up prices if you try to go through ebates. I only use them occasionally if I really am finding a deal. Or for my Heart to Horse box because I love that thing!
I stopped using ebates for them because I never actually got ebates credit for the sale. Even if I cleared cookies, etc before using it. It looks like ebates has stopped offering horse.com anyway.
I LOVE Riding Warehouse. I only live about 2 hours south of them, so I suppose if I needed something right that very minute, I could drive up there. But then it would probably be over $50 in gas for just one thing, so I can justify other items and get it all the next day via Golden State Overnight.
Golden State Overnight is the best.
Love Riding Warehouse, hate Stateline/Horse.com – for all the reasons you stated.
Have you ever used MyBestHorse.com for supplements? Great prices, super fast shipping (to the east coast from California) and always a sample or fun little gifts in the order. I get powdered Vitamin E and powdered Hyaluronic Acid from them.
I hadn’t heard of them, but I will definitely check it out. Thanks.
Mybesthorse.com is a provider of “specialized” supplements at great prices with great services – I have known the owner and shopped there for years. Joan’s website is a little “basic vanilla” but it’s about the supplements and the horses. But they are specialized – for day to day flax-based mineral and other supplements I go to HorseTech.com – reliable, trustworthy, awesome supplements, free shipping and chocolate chip cookies with every order. 10% US Rider discount. (And if you are a rescue operation, call them about pricing.)
Wow this just blows my mind!! Thank you so much for sharing.
WOW! That must have taken you a lot of time, but it was fascinating to read. I am a long, long, LONG time Riding Warehouse shopper (like since they were Long Riders and had just a small tent – maybe even before the internet was invent LOL). I love them for all the reasons you mention – no gimmicks, just fair prices and fair shipping charges (if any).
Expedia frustrates me because they do the same thing. Every time you check on a flight, you get a more expensive price. We’re going to Africa next summer so I keep checking on prices. It drives me bonkers!
You really want to be careful with flight searching and at least do an incognito, but seriously consider a VPN if you can. The airlines are very sophisticated in screwing you over. Also, every time you look at the flights, the airlines consider that “interest” and they’ll raise prices even if you’re using ops or incognitos or whatever.