I guess I’m in the minority these days. Our family orders plenty of products from Amazon, but I can’t figure out why I’d want to sign up for Amazon Prime, their “all-you-can-eat express shipping” program. Here’s my problem: I order from Amazon when I don’t need the book today, tomorrow or even next week. If I need the book soon, I typically head over to my local brick-and-mortar store – there are no less than 5 within a 15-minute radius.
It’s also important to note that I’m the ultimate tightwad. I have no problem ordering one more product, if necessary, so that I achieve the minimum total required for free shipping. That’s generally not even a problem ever since Amazon lowered their free Super Saver Shipping minimum to $25 – my typical order generally has 2 books or more, making that minimum easy to exceed. Sure, the free shipping option sometimes takes a week or two to arrive, but I’m OK with that. Why would I want to pay $79 now so that I can have free 2-day shipping all year? Again, if I need the book that soon I’ll go down the street and buy it in person.
As is the case with just about anything, I’m seeing blogs that are both supportive and critical of this program.. I’m not sure why anyone needs to complain though…it’s not like you have to participate in order to buy from Amazon.
I’m simply too patient and cheap to fork over $79 for this deal. What’s your opinion?
P.S. – I absolutely love it that Amazon experiments with programs like this. I just don’t see this one working for me.
You're not alone. Pardon the insanely long URL, but here's my take on the program:
(memo to self: need shorter URLs on weblog)
Posted by: Dave Taylor | March 03, 2005 at 07:38 PM
Dave, I couldn't have said it better. I'm sure it's attractive to many people, but at least I'm not alone in skipping this program.
Posted by: Joe Wikert | March 03, 2005 at 08:49 PM
I understand why you wouldn't be interested, you have 5 book stores within 15 minutes of your house. What about people who have to drive an hour or two to get to the nearest city or town? Or the people who just don't want to go to the hassle of going to the store?
You also have to think about it from Amazon's perspective. How much extra is this program going to cost them? Probably not much when you consider that some people who sign up for the program aren't going to use it enough to justify the cost. So why not do it? If if gets new customers without chasing away existing customers and is relatively cheap then I think it's a great idea.
Posted by: Tim Harding | March 04, 2005 at 06:06 PM
Tim, I agree that it's an interesting program, and as I said in the original post, I'm thrilled that Amazon continually experiments like this. I was just wondering how many people were like me and couldn't justify the expense.
Posted by: Joe Wikert | March 04, 2005 at 07:37 PM
I can't justify it most of the time, and I haven't signed up for it either--for the same reasons you describe. Patient and cheap. I wonder how I'll feel the next time I need a present quick and don't have time for the mall, etc. Seems like there are times when it'd be useful.
But, for me, those times don't come around frequently enough to justify it.
Posted by: Bren | March 04, 2005 at 09:39 PM
Seems I'm in the minority here. Obviously, the Prime program doesn't make sense if you're only a light buyer. Me, however... I'm probably one of Amazon's top customers. I despise shopping in the real world, so I do all my shopping -- for everything -- online. And I buy a lot of books, CDs, and DVDs, which means I typically get 2-3 Amazon packages in the mail every week. (Those smiley boxes are great to recycle for eBay shipping, BTW...)
In my case, that $79 charge paid for itself in less than a month. I easily paid $100 or so in shipping a month based on all my normal Amazon purchases. Now, the shipping (2-day) is free, and it's easier for me to order onesies and twosies, thanks to the new Prime one-click buttons. (That's not necessarily a good thing... too easy to make impulse purchases.) Obviously, I'm not as cheap as Joe (is anyone as cheap as Joe?), but the program is paying off for this heavy buyer. In fact, I'm fairly sure Amazon is now losing money on me, in spite of all I'm buying. (Well, probably not...) Anyway, it's the perfect program for frequent purchases, probably not so for light ones.
But that's just my opinion. Reasonable minds may disagree.
Posted by: Michael Miller | March 05, 2005 at 08:54 AM
Its the functional equivalent of the B&N loyalty card program...except that it costs a lot more. In the same way that shipping charges cover lots of lost margin for Amazon, they have probably used the MBA power at Amazon to come up with the magic number of $79 as the better than break even point...
Posted by: Helmus | March 12, 2005 at 06:49 PM
I love Amazon Prime. I live near a bookstore, but they have lousy customer service. Shopping for books online gives me suggestions for books similar to the ones I like, reviews of people who have read it, and convenience. Yes, I could drive down to the bookstore, search through the shelves, and then stand in line to pay for my purchases. Or I can sit in my recliner, order using Amazon Prime, and get free two-day shipping. Occasionally I will use the 3.99 one day shipping when I'm in a big hurry. Plus the prices are usually less on Amazon so that they can compete with the bookstores. My two kids also are able to join under my membership, even when they don't live at home anymore, and reap the benefits mom paid for. I am almost to the renewal date for my Amazon, and will definitely renew. I spent $79, and figure I have gotten free shipping that would have amounted to over $500 (I buy a LOT of books. With all that recliner sitting, I need something to do!)
Posted by: Kathy Reed | August 06, 2006 at 11:36 AM
Amazon Prime is price discriminating.
Right now, I have two browsers open. One recognizes me as an Amazon user (and prime member), and is charging me $13.49 for a Kingston 1GB flash drive ("Kingston Data Traveler 1 GB USB Flash Drive ( DTI/1GB )"), and will let me ship via Prime. The other browser doesn't have Amazon cookies and therefore doesn't recognize me as a customer. It is charging $11.98 for the same item, and says the item cannot be shipped via Prime. So I save money on shipping with Prime, but have to pay a higher price! Is this not illegal, or at least unethical?
Posted by: Varangali | July 16, 2007 at 04:12 PM
Here's a useful website to search for Amazon Prime only items: www.amazanian.com
Posted by: ChrisV | July 15, 2008 at 10:47 AM
I also just discovered that Amazon.com frequently jacks up the prices for Prime members. I ordered a juicer for $187 with Prime free two day shipping. The Amazon.com price for a non-Prime member: $165. This probably works out to about the same price if I bought the item for $165 and paid for two day shpping separately. Since then, I compared other items and found similar markups, ranging from a dollars for lower priced items to $22 or more for higher cost purchases. It turns out that the $79 fee for amazon prime to get free shipping is completely deceptive - a blatant but difficult to detect scam. It becomes apparent only by comparison through a computer without the cookie (basically, one that has never been logged into amazon.com by a prime member; once it has, it is difficult to delete the cookie without reformatting the drive). There may be some value to Prime for convenience, but that's not how it's advertised and not the main reason why most people join.
Posted by: Linda | September 28, 2008 at 10:54 PM
Please disregard my previous comment. This was based on Amazon logins by a friend who is unfamiliar with the Amazon site. Some or all of the comparisons were faulty since the ones she looked up involved purchasing through Amazon third party merchants rather than through Amazon directly. I need to do more research to determine if there really is a significant pattern of price differences or not between prime and non-prime logins.
Posted by: Linda | September 29, 2008 at 09:42 AM