* My experience in shopping at Amazon.com (and through Amazon with 3rd party sellers) has been excellent --for over 15 years and through hundreds of purchases. I've not had to return anything sold directly by Amazon and the only two problems (that I can recall) with 3rd parties were quickly and cordially resolved.
* Over the past year, however, my frustration level with their obscure shipping costs reached a point at which I thought: "enough!".
* I was trying to purchase an outdoor television antenna --one with free shipping.
Free shipping use to require a $25 purchase --which we easily spent per order. Then it was raised to (just under) $50 --not at all unreasonable.
* A couple months ago (I'm vague on the details, and clarity is part of the problem here), I got the impression (after my purchase) that book totals weren't necessarily added in with other purchases --to qualify for free shipping.
The next time we ordered, I made a screen capture for an item which seemed to indicate "free shipping", but I couldn't get it to come out of the bill by spending more. I made that purchase anyway. Later, I did a back-and-forth with Amazon's help desk to learn what went wrong. I included the screen shot, but it seemed like I was simply being stone-walled. (Maybe I'd missed something obvious --which happens often enough :-)
* Sunday (2/12/2017), I figured it out --at least with respect to my attempted antenna purchase. When the product description stated (something like) "free shipping for qualified orders", the qualification sometimes turns out to be that I should also sign up for their "Amazon Prime". I ended up having to Google "Amazon Prime" to find out what their Prime status costs. As of March-something, 2017 it will mean sending Amazon.com a welfare check for just under $100 --for a year's subscription.
I do not appreciate being gamed into that.
* I tried to find out what the shipping on my antenna would be without sending them an annual welfare check but struck out --short of going through the steps of making my purchase, then backing out near the last step. Although I've gone through with doing that before, I just grew too crabby and weary of the process --and bought nothing that day.
---Hey, Amazon: just show me the guldarned total cost --with shipping!---
* Since then (as of 2/26/2017), I've returned for book and DVD titles, noticing ever more "free shipping with Prime" flags on those items as well. Since there was no indication that the old shipping bargain also held (free shipping with whatever total purchase is now required), I started buying everything used and from 3rd parties. (Such purchases are charged a constant $3.99 per item for shipping and handling --fair enough.)
* My time and equanimity is worth something, so I'll try to buy my antenna locally. (Or heck: I'll make one!)^
(Seeing no apparent or convenient way to email/contact Amazon.com,
I'll vent via this web page.)
^The next day, that's just what I did. See "my