No more free shipping with iHerb

I was trying to put together new order on iHerb, and i was startled to find that the shipping is no longer a flat US$4 for orders below US$40, or free for orders above US$40, as it had been for the past 6 years during which i have been a loyal customer. I’ve only just placed an order on 25 Dec 2016, but, apparently, iHerb has overhauled the business from 2017.

There is, unfortunately, no clear explanation about the exact change in the shipping fee calculation on the website, which is a shame. The claim in their announcement about what’s new in 2017 is this: “significantly lower prices across the majority of our products, better shipping rates to your country–or both!”. Yeah, right. The supposedly lower prices (i checked, some items are around 10% cheaper, but others are the same price or even more than before!) may not offset the shipping fee.

I played around by adding various items to the cart to see how the shipping fee changes. Obviously, adding heavy but cheap items (such as those contained in a glass jar) causes the shipping fee to shoot up, while adding light but expensive items (such as supplements contained in plastic containers) lowers the shipping fee. You get the idea.

It is still possible to get free shipping, but it seems to me that it is more worthwhile paying a little bit in shipping fee to ship more items in the same order. Here are some examples of the shipping fee you might expect to pay with the change in shipping fee calculation.

US$25 might be the upper bound of the shipping fee for shipping around 10kg of goods. US$23 is the shipping fee i was quoted when i added 10 jars of jam (the best example of cheap and heavy stuff that would not subsidize the shipping fee at all) that cost US$2.70 each to the shopping cart.
You can get some subsidy to the shipping fee if you include some supplements (light and expensive stuff) in your shopping cart
Just for illustration, i added one more quantity of a supplement into the shopping cart and got US$1 shaved off the shipping fee despite an 80g increase in weight

Another change i noticed is that the loyalty credit (which offsets your next purchase if utilized within a month) has been reduced from 10% to 5%. Okay, so, the prices are lower for only some of the products, but iHerb now always charges shipping fee, and dishes out half the loyalty credit they used to. Not a good deal, NOT AT ALL.

So what does this mean to iHerb customers (especially those of us in Singapore)? Well, i think it still makes sense to buy from iHerb, especially the supplements, but you have to be really selective about what you order now. To get the best bang for buck, it is better to ship a mixture of some cheap and some expensive stuff. I used to have to buy more than what i need in order to hit the US$40 required to get free shipping. Not anymore. Which is good, in a way.

Update 18 Feb 2017

Maybe there were too many complaints, or there was a drastic drop in business, iHerb has now reinstated free shipping, except, instead of a minimum purchase of US$40, it is now US$60. Well, at least they allow up to 10kg per shipment now, up from 6.3kg, and that makes it easier to hit US$60 worth of purchase.

US$60 for free shipping

Update 4 July 2017

I have just placed another order on iHerb and now free shipping is offered for orders US$40 and above for Singapore customers, and the maximum weight remains as 10kg. Good news.

New to iHerb? Get a discount as a first-time customer through this link.

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21 responses to “No more free shipping with iHerb”

  1. Jerome Avatar

    Same issue for Taiwanese customers, less discount and much higher shipping fee (twice the previous price).

    I may stop buying there as it is not that cheap now compared to local competitors.

  2. JM Avatar

    Same here. Just ordered. Expensive shipping fee to the Philippines. Last time ordering 🙁

    1. yenkai Avatar

      Hi JM, not sure about Philippines, but iHerb has reinstated free shipping to Singapore (with a higher minimum order), so it is again worthwhile for us to buy from iHerb. Thanks for dropping by!

    2. Mia Riz Avatar
      Mia Riz

      Hi. How does iHerb process the order? I mean I am planning to buy a Life Flo Rosehip Oil but I haven’t ordered from that site yet, so on my checkout the fees are the delivery charge and the price of the product itself. When delivered to the country (I am from Philippines), are there still other fee that I am going to pay?

    3. Mia Riz Avatar
      Mia Riz

      Fees like government charges?

  3. Sha Avatar

    Hi, what do you mean by :”while adding light but heavy items (such as supplements contained in plastic containers)”

    1. yenkai Avatar

      Hi Sha, I meant to say “light but expensive”. I have corrected my post, thanks so much for pointing out this error.

  4. Claudia Avatar

    Hi, I think I herb has introduced new individual shipping charges on almost all its products except a sell few that are marked as “shipping saver”. I just put and order through that would have been otherwise free according to compliance with requirements for free SingPost shipping, yet still occurred a S$20+ shipping charge!

    Do you know more about this?

    Many thanks for your insights, if any!

    1. yenkai Avatar

      Hi Claudia, I have no idea. The last time I ordered was probably February and maybe there were changes since. I was able to get free shipping with an order above US$60.

  5. Claudia Avatar

    Thanks, it looks like they’re trying different approaches and gauging the reaction/ impact it has on volumes. Anyway, still cheaper on some products..

  6. Mai Avatar

    Iherb just change its shipping policy again. It used to be free shippomg above $80 but now they charge chipping for every item. Which i dont think is worth it. Are there other similar iherb website? Can anyone recommen me?

    1. yenkai Avatar

      Thanks for sharing. I doubt there is any other websites like iHerb.

  7. Lee Avatar

    Hi YenKai,
    Delivery from iHerb had 2 items missing. This is from an order of only 7 items, some of which are much smaller, so it seems quite suspect. I’m pretty sure it’s not from the Singapore customs side as the box looked unopened. Also, 1 of the items has black stuff in the bottle and the date is 150617 so either the expiration is 2 years ago or in a week (from its arrival day) yet its product page on iHerb lists Expiration Date as Jun 2018. Have already paid iHerb for these, which accounts for almost two-thirds the total cost of the order. Sent an email to iHerb with attached photos, plus asked them if they have security cameras to check packers, but no reply. Also contacted customer service through Live Chat, but the rep Ivy Enaje kept misunderstanding the simple question and issue though it was repeated to her several times during a 40 minutes chat and her English was fluent, so maybe it was avoiding replying or a delay tactic? Very upset as I expected such a company to operate ethically and honestly, moreover the hassle to get it resolved when it’s their fault. Do you have any other corporate contact or info or ideas? Thank you.

    1. yenkai Avatar

      Hi Lee, sorry for the delayed reply. I do not have any contact or info for iHerb. I guess their cost have escalated in the past years and they are not able to provide the assurance they used to. A few years ago, when I complained about the expiry date, I received immediate refund. Also, an item that was had its packaging damaged en-route was returned automatically. Hope you will have a happy resolution.

      1. Lee Avatar

        Thank you for your kind reply. I finally called the shipping company (though it wasn’t their fault as the box arrived unopened so it’s clearly iHerb side) about it to assist. After that I got 1 response from iHerb, said the Madre Labs Toner (their own brand) in sale section “means the expiration dates for these products are really near” even though I pointed out its own product page listed/lists the Expiration Date as Jun 2018, which is misleading/deceiving. Sigh. Still no refund yet nor the promised email for it…

        Anyway thanks YenKai for your helpful excellent blog.

  8. Patrick Avatar

    Hi, Im from Philippines. I have some issue using my cards to pay orders from iherb. I used 4 different cards with different banks and yet still declined. Is there anyone from the Philippines that paid orders successfully? Can you tell me which bank or card did you use?

    1. yenkai Avatar

      Hi Patrick, I’m not sure if PayPal is available to you as a payment option. If so, you can give it a try. It is usually more lax. Other than that, you probably have to contact customer service to get help.

  9. Mr P Avatar
    Mr P

    Try Vitacost. Same type of site but flat rate of $9.99 shipping. You have to order enough to make it worth it, but unlike iHerb, the shipping costs don’t vary depending on which shipping cost method they’re trying out next!

    I check iHerb every time I order but doubt I’ll use them again. Shipping always works out more costly than Vitacost and many of Vitacost’s products are cheaper, especially their own brand.

    1. Akira Avatar

      Hi Mr P:
      I’ve played around with many other sites including Vitacost. It’s MOST worthwhile for customers within the US, not for international customers. The bulk savings from cheaper prices will be eaten up by the more expensive shipping charges used by Vitacost (for eg) as hey use DHL. The same items order with iHerb say costing around US$200, with free international shipping vs one from Vitacost with some US$40 savings in prices will even out more or less when their DHL courier shipping charges bumps up another US$60. So that’s the ONLY reason currently I’m tolerating iHerb for some regular stuff I get which is still cheaper @ iHerb. But if prices at iHerb keeps skyrocketing without good reasons, I rather NOT buy. Life goes on. Sick of greedy management forgetting loyal customers gave them good biz. Now they think slaughtering the golden gooses is the way to last through winter. Dumb !

  10. Akira Avatar

    Don’t be fooled. Despite their up and down shipping charges, many items have seen great jump in prices. If u check Vitacost or Lucky Vitamins..etc, iHerb prices can be 35-50% higher. Absurd! Like me, a heavy and frequent purchaser, go though your old orders and compare the current prices and you will find some if not most items with price jumps.
    So far, many international customers like myself tolerate iHerb due to the shipping charge convenience. If other similar sites offer better shipping rates, I will not hesitate to switch. Order very selectively and CHECK your prices from your older orders.
    iHerb has become truly GREEDY !

  11. Will Avatar

    I agree with the above reviews, in a matter of two months or less most of the prices iherb sells has increased unreasonably. And to top it all, shipping charges is now doubled. I have been buying from iherb since 2010 where anything above $40 is free or a flat $4 fee is charged. I was attracted initially to their no nonsense prices and free delivery. However today iherb management has deteriorated and becoming uncompetitive. I now hesitate to buy from iherb and plan to buy from my local store instead because the high shipping charge, increased product cost and dishonest business tactics sending expired products, etc etc. These does not justify my online purchases. If iherb has no care for loyal customer, so be it, so be it.

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