Is Amazon Prime not what it’s cracked up to be?
As a long-time Amazon Prime member, I’ve generally been happy with the program, but sometimes questioned why multiple packs of certain items are sometimes more expensive than single items on a per unit basis. I also wondered if my failing to check other sites on prices was costing me money and noticed that two-day shipping promised on the product page morphed into three or four-day delivery on the order page.
Now comes an article from Fast Company in which Mark Wilson, a senior writer at the magazine, claims Amazon is not living up to the inherent promise of Prime, two-day delivery in exchange for an annual fee ($119 currently).
Among his complaints:
- Many items aren’t eligible for Prime service.
- Prime Pantry and Add-on items require a minimum purchase to get the best deal.
- Items that are labeled “Prime” aren’t necessarily going to arrive in two days because they are coming from third party sellers, so Prime is redefined to “FREE Four Day Delivery.”
- Prime items from third-party sellers are often unreasonably priced.
- Prime items that are out of stock are labeled as “in stock on xyz date.”
- Getting items sooner sometimes means a surcharge, even for Prime members.
- Amazon’s customer service phone number is hard to find.
In short, Amazon seems to be playing games with Prime members. Rather than having a straightforward promise and living up to it, Mr. Wilson feels that Amazon is nickel and diming all of us, in a variety of ways.
The New York Times, on the other hand, is out with a piece today saying shoppers find Amazon’s deliveries much more dependable than those of any other retailers, and that shoppers especially rely upon them when deliveries are needed by a date certain.
Amazon Prime’s “about” page makes it clear that nowadays Prime membership is much more complicated than two-day shipping. Amazon offers a variety of benefits for membership, including streaming video, digital books, Amazon TV, Whole Foods discounts and on and on. There are several pages of benefits, a host of shipping options and a load of fine print.
A separate page dedicated to shipping benefits notes that the two-day promise starts when the item is ready to ship. Also, not all shipping speeds and methods are available for all addresses. There is yet another page for fine print on that.
One has to wonder if Amazon Prime has gotten so big that the variety of benefits and fine print on membership is starting to weigh it down.
According to an article in Vox, there are now more than 100 million Prime members, and at least one analyst predicts it will go as high as 275 million. But there seem to be more than a few consumers who have issues with Amazon and Prime, for a host of reasons, and are cancelling their memberships.
- Amazon Prime is getting worse, and it’s making me question the nature of reality – Fast Company
- Slowly but surely, The Amazon Prime backlash is coming – Vox
- Amazon Prime – Amazon
- Amazon Prime Shipping Benefits – Amazon
- Amazon Prime Shipping Benefits – Eligible Items & Addresses – Amazon
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is Amazon Prime really about free two-day shipping anymore or is the variety of other benefits more important? Should Amazon streamline Prime membership to get back to basics or is it fine the way it is? Where do you see Prime’s greatest retention challenges?