Monday, March 5, 2007

Amazon's Prime Program

A fellow PSAWSLD (*Price Sensitive Affluent/Wealthier Shopper Who Likes Deals) has pointed out an amazing one: upgrading to Amazon's Prime Shopper status. It seems that for $79 annually, you receive free 2nd day shopping on ANY Amazon purchase, and for $3.99, you can upgrade to Overnight Shipping. And amazingly, you can enroll up to three other members of your household in this deal. Once you set them up on your account, their shipments don't have to go to your house. Clearly this is more of a buying group than a family - they specifically mention that your household members will need to know your birthday to sign on through your account. Most family members know one another's birthdays, I'd say!
Obviously if you buy a lot of books, this pays for itself after the 20th book or so, but Amazon has expanded into every area imaginable. My friends use it for all sorts of household purchases, in addition to their academic lit purchases . It's also a time-saver, since it is fairly common to find an item on the net and discover the shipping exceeds the cost of the item, or just in general a rip-off amount. If you're like me, and stubborn about these things, this results in restarting the search. And it's an anti-Schwartzing technique, too: it eliminates a whole lot of options - you just go with what Amazon has to offer, and it's probably fine. ("Schwartzing" is named for Barry Schwartz, the Swarthmore professor who has written The Paradox of Choice - showing that when we have too many choices, it is anxiety provoking and actually decreases our happiness.)
It's hard to know how Amazon can make money with this arrangement, but apparently customers are loyal, once they have plunked down $79.
In my experience, once you pay the charge, you never think about it again, and enjoy the free shipping each and every time. (Of course it's only free after your 20th purchase, but it's not hard to imagine purchasing 20 items through Amazon in a year.)

Epilogue: I joined Amazon Prime for a trial month (free) and the first two purchases I attempted were not covered under their Amazon Prime policy. Apparently books generally are, but for other product, each vendor that subcontracts with them has its own policy. Caveat emptor!


Anonymous said...

Overnight shipping means your book probably must travel *on a plane* to reach you. From a global warming perspective, "overnighting" things to compensate for lack of advance planning is never really "free." Love the blog -- looking forward to continuing to read.

Betsy Teutsch said...

Good point. But I would be interested in a comparison between driving over to the bookstore to buy it since you're in a rush, verses waiting a day to get it overnight. Obviously the calculus depends on whether you would drive or walk to purchase the item.
2nd day shipping could be air if it's a distance, or ground, if not. It's often nearly impossible to tell where your internet purchases are actually coming from.

Anonymous said...

After a month free trial, I've decided not to renew my Amazon prime membership. I certainly loved the super fast shipping but I found myself spending even more $$ at Amazon just to make use of the shipping. Every day I'd find something to buy & after a month "free trial," I've spent almost $1,000 in things I probably wouldn't have bought. So the upshot is that not only am I canceling my membership but I'm avoiding Amazon like the plague. I don't like having to pay $79 just to spend more & get the merchandise quicker. Also, I noticed prior to signing up for prime that my regular Amazon orders were taking ages to arrive. Whereas I used to receive shipments within 3-4 days, I would get them 2 weeks later. So Amazon is now telling me in essence that I should pay $79 to get what I used to get before prime came on the scene. Sorry but no more shopping at Amazon! I've removed my credit card from my account & amazon is no longer on my toolbar!