UPDATED: We updated this post on changes to Amazon Prime in April, 2014.
The price of Amazon Prime rose to $99 per year in March 2014. But Amazon also introduced a few new services to entice its customer base to renew at the higher rate (and of course to lure new shoppers).
Amazon’s new services include:
- Amazon Pantry, a grocery delivery service that directly competes with warehouse clubs like Costco, BJ’s, and Sam’s Club. There is a $5.99 fee for every pantry order, which is as much grocery products as you can fit in a four-cubic foot box without going over 45 pounds. Read more about Amazon Pantry.
- Older movies and TV shows from HBO, which is sweet because HBO has refused to make deals with Netflix or Hulu.
Previously, I was ticked off about Amazon’s reduction in Prime benefits by making certain items “add on items,” which aren’t eligible for free 2-day shipping unless you order $25 worth of Prime-eligible items. Here’s what happened:
I was trying to buy “fast flow” baby nipples for Lucy from Amazon Prime last night when a very frustrating thing occurred. I aded four items eligible for Amazon Prime to my cart – but I didn’t qualify for FREE SHIPPING, which is the main benefit of paying $79 a year to be an Amazon Prime member.
What the truck? Grrrrr!!!!!
Apparently, last October Amazon drastically changed their Prime Shipping Policy, erasing much of the benefit of being a $79 Prime member.
Old Prime shipping benefits: FREE 2-day shipping on thousands of items, even if your total is less than $25. (Non-Prime shoppers get free 3-5 day shipping on almost all orders totaling $25 or more).
Current Prime shipping benefits: FREE 2-day shipping on thousands of items as long as your order totals $25. Lower-priced items, like baby nipples, even if they are eligible for Amazon Prime, are categorized as “Add-on” items, which means that they ship free if you add them onto any order of $25 or more.
Under the new Prime shipping policy, the only benefit is that your crap arrives in two days, instead of 3-5 days. Big whoop.
What ticks me off is that “Add-on” items don’t count towards the $25 total. (You have to read between the lines to grasp this from Amazon’s page about Add-on items.) Until I hit $25 of higher-priced Prime eligible products, those add-on items don’t even show up in my cart. There’s not even an option to pay a little extra shipping to get those add-on items. How frustrating!
I understand the business reasons for restricting Amazon’s Prime shipping policy. It costs the company when shoppers order lower-priced items and still get free 2-day shipping. But that’s how Amazon set up Prime in the first place! And that’s why it costs $79 a year!
To back track now is going to tick off a lot of people. And lead to many, many canceled Prime memberships. Daily Finance has a good post that goes deeper into the rationale behind the new policy and why it might lead to a higher free shipping threshold for non-prime members. Note, Prime members still have access to thousands of free streaming movies and TV shows, and a Kindle lending library.
Is the new policy a “bait and switch”?
That’s what many users on an Amazon.com forum claim. User Peregrinn summed up the dilemma nicely:
I can understand that Amazon has created a category of “Add-On” items that do not ship for free, even for Prime members. But I think there should also be an option to Add-On to a Prime order, even if that order does not add up to $25. A few weeks ago, I ordered a Prime item (about $10) and wanted an accessory that cost less than $2, but since it was an “Add-On” item, I could not order it. Instead, Amazon shipped the Prime item in a box that would have had plenty of space for the accessory, which I then bought from another merchant (who shipped it at no cost to me). Inefficient, and Ammy lost a (small) sale.
Have you experienced Amazon Prime’s new, more-limited, more costly, shipping policy?