Amazon “super-saver shipping’s” bizarrely variable latency

Generally, I love Amazon’s free super-saver shipping.  Amazon’s customer service is great (I’ve had to return things a few times, and they were always good about it), and the prices generally are tough to beat.  What I don’t get is the reasoning behind (and the implementation of) the following clause regarding super-saver shipping:

Please note that your order may take an additional 3 to 5 business days to ship out from our fulfillment center(s).

I always use super-saver shipping.  For the most part, I don’t need stuff in a hurry, and it’s not worth spending $5 to $10 on shipping to get it faster.  And actually, most of the time stuff winds up shipping out a day or 2 after I ordered it, not 3 to 5 business days.  However, I do notice that on more expensive orders ($200 or more, usually), the delay is always in that 3 to 5 business-day range.  How do they actually implement that?  Do they have some sort of daily queue, and cheapskates like me get put in the back every day, and if they don’t get to you, they don’t get to you?  And if so, how come cheap stuff gets shipped out quickly, but expensive stuff takes longer — different warehouses with different queues?  I mean, hey, it’s free, I’m not complaining — but I am curious how this works.  And I’m also curious how this is cheaper.  It sure seems like it’s just an artificial, added delay to my order, and I’m tempted to believe this is meant as a way to punish me into paying for shipping next time.  (They have my order history, obviously — do they look at that and try to profile me?)

This might all seem like crazy conspiracy theorizing, but marketing really does work like that.  Wal-Mart pioneered this sort of stuff — they watch inventory closely, they watch what gets bought together, and they micromanage sales and discounting to maximize correlative sales on higher-margin items.  Supermarkets do this on an inter-trip (rather than intra-trip) per-person basis with “loyalty cards”.  People are regularly either being actively coerced with their shopping habits, or the marketers are looking to take advantage of what they observe to be correlative habits.  I’m going to keep buying stuff on Amazon with free shipping either way, but I do wonder if any such advanced techniques are in use here.

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