tide in boxJames Froelich’s daughter asked him to buy her a magazine for the low cost of $5.21, but when he logged into Amazon to order the item, he saw a much higher price tag of $11.

The difference between the two prices highlights one of Amazon’s biggest challenges today: Explaining its very complex algorithm technology to a father who simply wanted to buy a gift at the lowest price possible.

The super-short explanation is that when logged in, Froelich, who is an Amazon Prime member, would see a Prime-eligible item as the top selection, but as he found out, that is not necessarily the cheapest item available in many cases.

“I too have noticed this many times in the past,” he wrote in Amazon’s help forums. “It should be illegal: You pay $80 for ‘free’ shipping,’ then you get higher prices on products than those people who don’t pay the $80.”

But as Amazon rejiggers its Amazon Prime program, and begins charging $99 for it this year, customers have begun looking closely at their purchases and asking whether it is worth receiving some of the program’s benefits, like free two-day shipping.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

As a result, the company’s help forum topic, “Amazon Prime Product Prices Higher for Same Non-Prime Item,” has become one of the most active boards on its site, registering nearly 250 comments since it started a year ago. It still receives nearly daily posts, with customers sharing a stream of examples of how they were purportedly robbed of lower prices.

The stakes are high for Amazon, as CEO Jeff Bezos made clear this morning in his annual letter to shareholders.

“More than one million customers joined Prime in the third week of December alone, and there are now tens of millions of Prime members worldwide,” he wrote. “On a per customer basis, Prime members are ordering more items, across more categories, than ever before. Even internally, it’s easy for us to forget that Prime was a new, unproven (some even said foolhardy) concept when we launched it nine years ago: all-you-can-eat, two-day shipping for a flat annual fee. At that time, we had one million eligible Prime products. This year, we passed 20 million eligible products, and we continue to add more.”

Amazon spokeswoman Julie Law quickly responded to my questions about pricing, so unlike some sticky issues, this is clearly a subject that the retailer is willing to discuss.

“Prime customers are not charged more for products,” she wrote, in an email. “Prime is an express shipping service – not a pricing program.  What often happens is that a customer does not realize they are looking at a Prime shipping eligible item that may be sold by several different third party sellers. They appear to be identical items at different prices – but Amazon’s more than 2 million third party sellers can set their own pricing on the millions of products they sell in the Amazon Marketplace.”

Lawsuit questions shipping benefit

The concerns posted by consumers in the forums echo those a lawsuit filed in February, alleging Amazon of encouraging third-party sellers to inflate prices to help cover the cost of shipping — even though customers who pay for Amazon Prime, are supposed to get that benefit for free. Last month, a copycat version of the case was filed, also in Seattle’s federal court.

amznpullKim Stephens, a Seattle-based attorney for Tousley, Brain, Stephens that is representing the plaintiff on that case, told ABC News: “The bottom line is the free shipping that Amazon offered to its Prime members wasn’t free,” he said.

It will be up to the court decide if Amazon is guilty of any wrong-doing, but as part of the case, Amazon may have to pull back the onion on how it recommends products, or else many die-hard fans may end up feeling deceived by the online retailer.

The topic is complicated, which makes it even more difficult for the casual shopper to understand what the tech giant is doing.

Amazon’s recommendations are part of Amazon’s secret sauce. It takes into account many factors when deciding which product should earn the buy button, including a seller’s reputation, price and whether or not it is an item Amazon stocks in its warehouse or if the product ships from the vendor’s fulfillment center.

Because of those factors, customers may not always be presented with the cheapest item. Not to mention, prices are always fluctuating, which makes this an even more complex problem. Amazon product pages often note when an item “may be available at a lower price from other sellers that are not eligible for Amazon Prime,” and this is an important warning for customers to listen to.


To demonstrate how it works, let’s take a couple of searches I conducted recently as a Prime member.

For example, when searching for a Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker, I was presented a Prime-eligible product that costs $49.95 for free two-day shipping. And, when I clicked on more options, I saw six other offers from different merchants. The top result was from a merchant offering Prime, but in close second was East Central Hoosiers, which was charging $38.01 plus $11.99 for shipping, for a total of $50.

In this case, as a Prime customer, I was saving 15 cents.

In another scenario, a vacuum cleaner filter from Dirt Devil was actually cheaper if you didn’t use your Prime account. The Prime item cost $13.49, and Larry’s Bicycles was charging $12.74, plus FREE shipping.

Free shipping: An issue of speed

But before you get your Prime-eligible panties in a wad over these examples, there are two major exceptions to think about:

Amazon Prime purchases arrive to your house in two days, and non-Prime eligible items, even with free shipping, are likely to take five to eight days, so if time is of the essence, then Prime still offers more value. As Amazon says, it’s a shipping program, not a pricing program. Plus, if you take advantage of any of the other perks of the Prime program, like free streaming video, or free e-book rentals, then maybe saving 15 cents is fair.

amzn2This all goes without saying, but clearly consumers always have the right to choose which seller they want to buy from, even though it takes a few more minutes to do so. But some of these consumers are angry and argue that it is Amazon’s responsibility to share the better price, otherwise, they feel they are being swindled. And since Amazon has the reputation for offering the lowest prices, then maybe the item behind the buy button should always be the cheapest?

Amazon also provided a statement on pricing: “We are obsessed with maintaining customer trust that Amazon will have the lowest prices possible,” said Amazon spokeswoman Law. “Amazon scours prices — both offline and online — in order to make sure we meet or beat the lowest prices out there.”

Another customer on the help forum summarized the Prime discussion succinctly: “I don’t feel like its a ‘scam’ necessarily, but I’m a prime member and I consistently see that if I select the prime option, the price IS higher than non-prime sellers, and the difference is usually about the cost of shipping. So it’s like the shipping is just built into the price. Kinda hard to feel like that’s worth $80 over the course of a year…”

Now that the price of Prime is $99 a year for consumers, many will be thinking long and hard about whether to re-enroll.

But maybe there’s a way for Amazon to get across why it operates the way it does, or to provide a running tally on how much consumers are saving. After all, it’s a fact: shipping is extremely expensive.

Somewhat amazingly, Amazon will ship you a two-pack of 50 oz. Tide laundry detergent jugs for about $18. Shipping all six pounds of that myself from Seattle to Florida in two days via the United State Parcel Service would cost $45 (for just one jug)!!! Realistically, it seems there’s no way that Amazon could foot the bill for “free” two-day shipping. If anything, a Prime membership over the year is maybe paying for the difference between regular shipping and two-day shipping.

First and foremost, Amazon is a technology and logistics company that has done an excellent job becoming an “everything store.”

What it hasn’t done well enough, it seems, is explaining to consumers what’s happening behind the scenes and why one particular item at a certain price is the one it is presenting to you first.

If it can accomplish that — and that’s a steep order — it can probably win back the hard-earned loyalty of some of these customers.

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  • rick gregory

    The psychology of this fascinates me. The Prime price hike is $20 per year, an amount that is objectively trivial. Even if you make $50k/year, $20 just isn’t material to your finances. But this is causing the same issue Netflix saw a couple of years ago – instead of just renewing because of inertia a tiny increase in the price of something causes a major rethinking of the value of a service, at least for some customers.

    As a followup, I’d be interested in knowing what the price effects of Prime vs non-Prime are for items sold by Amazon. I’d test this myself but I’ve never bothered with Prime.

    • Kary

      I would agree and note that like Netflix, Amazon added streaming video without adjusting their price. So that makes the comparison to Netflix even more apt, since Netflix made the same “mistake” when they added streaming to their DVD service.

      In any case, I save more than $100 a year just in toner. I bought about 14 cartridges last year and they cost $10-$20 less at Amazon than Staples or Office Depot. And because of the two day shipping I don’t have to order as early.

      Finally, I don’t think there is a price difference for items “sold by Amazon.”

      • fuck you

        But at what cost? Destroying any chance for anyone to make any money in a similar market? Giving your information away for free to any company that amazon wants to ‘give’ them? Supporting a corrupt evil company supporting child labor, etc etc.

        • D.T. Baker

          Really? That’s your screen name?

          Why don’t you just change it to “invalid subjective opinion” or “in need of a shower and a swift kick in the ass.”


        • Liam

          Everyone you order from online sells the information. As do brick and mortar stores with “reward” programs and dont forget your credit card companies.
          I like Amazon and all the convienience and hassle free experience that comes with it. I just dont buy the argument that Amazon is evil because others havd trouble competing with them.
          The reason they cant compete is consumers want to find the cheapest price and easiest shopping experience. Its just that simple. Dont like Amazon? Dont shop there. Shop somewhere else. Enjoy the hassles of bad customer service, bad return policies wierd shipping charges, hard to navigate return policies, lousy selections and higher prices. Ill just stick with Amazon.

      • L. Ron Twizzler

        One thing to consider: Amazon operates as a near-nonprofit, with an operating margin currently near 0.37%. The reason they’re willing to do this (for now) is because they’re trying to put companies like Barnes and Noble, Best Buy, Staples, Office Depot and other brick-and-mortar stores out of business. Once they do, they will jack their prices sky-high and you will no longer have a local store to visit to see an actual product before you go online to order it from Amazon. If Amazon wins, consumers lose.

        • abcdefgqwerty

          That is silly. If those stores closed new ones would open because there will always be demand for physical stores. That being said I dont think those will all close anyway. Not to mention other online stores can open too
          Also hasnt amazon already won? Look at their stock price what else is there to do.

          • Jeff

            Not so. Problem is us customers, we get used to a thing and we stick to it. So if Amazon ended up being the “Go to” for millions of customers, they would be hard pressed to go to a new store they are not sure of, not comfortable with.

        • Liam

          And if they do someone else will swoop in and undercut them.

    • fuck you

      Prime doesn’t save money, it’s only incentive to buy more from amazon. You’re not saving money. Amazon sells so much it costs them pennies on the dollar to buy things and ship them. Plus, the recent lawsuit against amazon from illegally charging you for shipping asks the question: What can’t they get away with and what are they doing right now that is illegal?

      • MA

        My recent complaint is that, mainly in small items, they ship FedEx Smartpost, not 2-day anything. This means that FedEx drops the package at a major USPS hub and you get it with the regular mail. In my case it has normally been a 3 or 4 day service. Granted, better than any ground service, but it bugs me the way they advertise it. The instant video and instant music are nice perks, but they are not the reason why I subscribed to Prime in the first place.

    • D.T. Baker

      Exactly. Prime is a good value for me, not for the shopping, but for the documentaries, books and some films included in the “membership”

      The shipping part, I occasionally do use; the 25% price increase does not alter my opinion of the value of the cost.

      Most people wouldn’t know the difference between price and value if it sat in their lap. Americans are becoming dumb and dumber. If it wasn’t true, the dummies wouldn’t rip off their 80.00 sports t-shirt and threaten to get their ass whipped by me for my saying it.


    • Bartholomew Bakr

      The psychology of “so what it’s only $20 so let the billion dollar conglomerate make millions more off the little guy” fascinates me. Btw – customers used to get free shipping as long as they bought over a certain amount. That was fair. That was not very long ago. Now you pay $100 for Prime for the same “privilege”. Total BS when combined with the equally BS “brokerage free”. After 20-years of not paying customs fees, I can only see this UPS-style brokerage fee as a cynical move on Amazon’s part.

  • spin master mike

    Amazon has been BUSTED. Prepare for the SPIN!

  • wildsubnet

    Articles that cite amazon discussion forums make me laugh…and 250 comments in a year is hardly a lot (there are discussion topics that generate 1000’s).

    I’m not sure what Amazon is showing these people, but when I hit an item I am frequently informed there is a lower non-prime price available. But unless it is substantially lower (and I can’t remember the last time that actually happened) I’m usually not interested for two reasons:

    1) It take a lot longer to receive it for the most part (a week or longer is common)
    2) Amazon’s customer service is, without a doubt, phenomenal on stuff they sell. Third party sales they’re pretty good, but you generally have to wait for the 3rd party seller to respond.

    So, yeah, if all you care is the lowest possible price and don’t mind waiting…then certainly shop around. Prime is fantastic. Two day shipping is the best…and sometimes it shows up in 1 day (no additional charge).

    • fuck you

      I get quicker shipping from other shops, Walmart, Staples, Newegg. I am a seller on ebay and usually even first class mail only takes 3-4 days cross country.

      1-2 across state. 1 day for instate. but I have a really good post office aswell.

      • Kary

        Do you even know what Amazon Prime is? It’s two day shipping shipped almost always the same day. Depending on what it is, they may only take one day. There is no one faster.

        Your name suggests you’re nothing but a troll.

        • Ducks223

          I am a prime member, I also often get quicker free shipping from Walmart (sometimes next day, sometimes 3 weeks ;)), Newegg (always next day), AppliancePartsPros (always next day),. I’ve had 2 day prime items take 8 days to arrive. So the question might be also asked, have you shopped anywhere other than Amazon? Just sayin’.

      • L. Ron Twizzler

        Amazon has a vested interest in shipping slowly to non-Prime customers in order to convince them to subscribe to Prime. If you don’t pay, they put you on the back burner, often taking 4 or 5 days just to fill your order. I joined Prime last year and I’ll cancel when it expires. Paying extra for good service is a rip-off. If it was really free, I’d consider it a fair deal. But it’s not really free when Prime customers are paying more than non-Prime customers for the exact same products.

        • Convoluted

          Yes, you’re absolutely correct. I noticed that soon after they introduced Prime, their “regular” service started sucking. It was really frustrating because I really liked Amazon, but they treated non-Prime members like dirt. I only joined because I bought a big item that would have cost a ton of $ to ship without Prime. Soon after that, I noticed how the prices for Prime items got higher (to cover the “free” shipping, obviously). Amazon will never admit to this, of course. Yeah, this article doesn’t really inform. And I’d also like to know what the “United State Parcel Service” is. Lame, very lame!

        • Liam

          They arent paying more if you carefully read the whole article. Not just the first sev tal paragraphs. Amazin doesnt hide the third party oricing. Its right there. Occasionally uou find its a better real like the one with cheaper price and free shipping but you sleays have the choice right there before you cluck on buy. These third party sellers often lower rhe price a few pennies to be the cheapest but when you add shipoing its more expensive and takes 3 times as long to get there.

  • Kary

    Doesn’t the Amazon site always provide links to the non-Prime buying options when you select a product that is Prime? So it’s easy to make the comparison.

  • JBozos


  • CBMH

    It all boils down to a year of video for $80/$99…that is what it is about.

  • Alex Vasilenko

    Um no, its a really good deal. You not only get the shipping, but the free book rentals for kindle, and the shows and movies you can watch on Amazon Prime.

    • fuck you

      I don’t think so. I’ve never shopped with Amazon, never will. But what are you getting with this deal? All you’re doing is giving free information to amazon affiliates. Amazon will never be worth any amount of money a year.

      • Alex Vasilenko

        I bought a car, never use it, say the car sucks because its just a bunch of metal.

      • Kary

        Wow, so you admit you don’t know what you’re talking about. Thanks for wasting all our time.

      • D.T. Baker

        If you don’t like it and don’t use it and “never will” why are you even commenting? You seem to know very little about the subject and your screen name if offensive. Why are you even here?

        I would wash your mouth out with soap, but I’d probably beat your face in with the bar, instead – and you could use a bath.


    • JW42

      I think the streaming sucks, it does not appeal to me, and I don’t have time for or interest in reading books. So the fee helps subsidize features I wouldnt use.

      • Alex Vasilenko

        Yeah in that case you are right. But I do use all the features, and just the free 2 day shipping itself pays for it.

      • Kary

        I think Netflix streaming is much better, and get Prime only for the shipping. So I too would appreciate a slightly lower price, but I’m not sure it would be that significant.

        • JW42

          I read an article the other day that estimated (and admitted that Amazon is not very forthright in giving the info) that the streaming services and books cost Amazon $50 of the Prime Membership fee. That is pretty significant. I do think the value in it depends from person to person and if someone does enjoy the streaming it is like getting the shipping benefits for free and makes complete sense. The converse is, if you do not value or use the streaming, then you overpay for just the shipping and Amazon itself will give you free shipping if you bundle and are wiling to wait through their delays. I never enjoyed the concept of having to pay to get my items shipped fast (because I have been spending several thousand dollars a year there and felt my volume alone should have been more valued)… all I really want is, once I place an order, that the business get that order to the shipping companies within a business day. Most do it… Amazon used to do it… but now Amazon clearly is holding this service from non-Prime members and since I definitely did not renew, I am back to being a non-Prime member and find their service very annoying. In the past 3 weeks since dropping Prime, I have cancelled a few Amazon orders after finding the same item cheaper elsewhere and getting free shipping too. I got a ShopRunner account and bought several items from NewEgg. Got good deals (as good or better than Amazon) and free shipping on other items from Barnes and Noble and Dicks Sporting Goods (Dicks was running a free shipping, no minimum order promotion). Most places give free shipping as incentives or issues free shipping coupons and ship out orders as fast as they can after they are received… only Amazon feels I should have to pay them for them to ship out an order quickly.

        • L. Ron Twizzler

          The big joke is that Netflix uses AWS, so your movie is being streamed from the same servers either way.

          • Kary

            I was actually referring to the web interface and selection of movies/shows, but in any case I think your information is incorrect, at least if Comcast is your ISP. Comcast and Netflix signed a deal within the last month regarding access to Comcast’s system.

          • L. Ron Twizzler
          • Kary

            My comment was in the context of why I have Prime (only for the shipping). So if you misunderstood, the fault lies with you.

            I don’t see a date on that webpage link. It very well may before the rather recent Comcast deal.

            But in any case, as to the quality of the stream, before the Comcast deal my Amazon stream was clearly better than my Netflix stream. Often the Netflix stream couldn’t buffer at HD quality, but since the deal I haven’t had that issue at all. Even so, I would more typically use Netflix, because I like their interface better.

          • L. Ron Twizzler

            You’re gonna need a bigger shovel, Kary. Just admit you don’t really know what you’re talking about.

          • Kary

            Wow. The person who didn’t know about the Comcast deal thinks someone else doesn’t know what they’re talking about! And the person who thinks a comment indicating which which service is better is only a comment on stream quality, thinks someone else doesn’t know what they’re talking about! ROFLMAO. Better head over to Tom’s Hardware guide to tell him 3/4th of his review is pointless! http://www.tomsguide.com/us/netflix-amazon-face-off,news-17838.html You don’t know squat, but that won’t stop you from making some other asinine comment shortly.

          • L. Ron Twizzler

            Ah, Tom’s Hardware Guide! You’re an expoit!

    • L. Ron Twizzler

      It’s a really good deal if you own a Kindle. And if you don’t mind paying for most of the movies you watch. And if you’re buying stuff you would have bought anyway and if, before joining Prime, you would have bought enough to justify paying a hundred bucks a year for “free” shipping. And if you understand that, as a Prime subscriber, you’ll often be charged a higher price than you otherwise would have been charged in order to offset your “free” shipping.

      To their credit (and because they’re being sued) Amazon has now begun warning Prime subscribers that they may be able to find an item cheaper from a non-Prime vendor. Which, of course, means you’ll end up paying for shipping. Which means you’ll pay approximately the same amount either way (often less).

      Search Amazon for “All-Clad BD55201.5 Brushed d5 Stainless Steel 5-Ply Bonded Dishwasher Safe 1.5-Quart Sauce Pan/Cookware, Silver”. Then note Amazon’s disclaimer:

      “Note: This item may be available at a lower price from other sellers that are not eligible for Amazon Prime.”

      If you click the “sellers” link, you’ll see that you can actually get the item for LESS (even with the extra shipping cost) than you can as a Prime subscriber. So, yeah–it’s a really good deal.

  • L. Ron Twizzler

    I added a couple of items to my shopping cart last night before I went to bed. When I tried to buy them this morning, I was notified that the prices (for both items) had increased. I logged out of my account, deleted all my Amazon cookies and shopped for the items again. Surprise! (not really) the prices had gone back down. I checked out, logged in and paid the original, lower prices. Screw Amazon for trying to screw me.

    • D.T. Baker

      I’ve had item in my cart for weeks at times. The prices fluctuate up and down, depending on a number of market factors. Further, I receive notice of the changes.

      1) Your blanket indictment is unjust and unwarranted.

      2) I am not involved with Amazon in any way beyond being a customer.

      3) Your supposition that Amazon is “trying to screw” you is ridiculous; you entered into a preliminary contract when you put the items in your cart. If you were in a mall and the stuff on the shelf was re-ticketed while you were walking to the checkout, they would not charge you more than what was on the the price sticker…also – the inverse applies. If the price went down, would you accept them charging you less? Of course.

      I swear, some people bitch just to hear themselves bitch.

      • Noya

        1) Your die-hard defense of Amazon make it hard to believe your second point.

        2) EVERYONE except you, apparently, knows that Amazon has been doing this for years. They track EVERYTHING you browse (and order, of course) and increase prices accordingly. I’ve been purchasing a health supplement for the past few months and I was just about to re-order it and bang, price is up AGAIN, from $12 to $13.50 to $16. The local store has it on sale for $17 once a month ($23 regularly).

        I first noticed it back in 2005. I was at my place and had been contemplating an item for a few days. Went to a friends house a few hours later for a poker game and hopped on his PC to show him the item…low and behold, it was a noticeable percentage cheaper than at my house. I couldn’t believe it. Did a simple web search and BAMM! Comments all over stating the same thing. Went back to my house a few hours later and there’s the item at the higher price.

        3) Amazon is a money-grubbing corporation just like every other and people like you blindly defending them are no different than the people that say Wal-Mart if good for America. It’s traded on the stock-market for Christs sake.

        • Ben Gozzi

          Whew, that’s a lot of words.

          No one is holding a baseball bat over your head forcing you to contribute to the profits of those money grubbing b|stards.

          You don’t know me, yet you judge my ability to understand Amazon? I have had several items in my “cart” for months, and the prices are all over the place – up and down. Also, I knew about “tracking” and back in the 1980’s when the rest of you idiots thought you were safe talking on the phone and they were using echelon in Alice Springs Australia and other offshore posts to record phone and telegraph data. I knew because I was, and have family, in Military and NSA – yet the accepted response was that anyone who thought the government was spying on its own citizens, should “wear a foil hat.” Now, CBS acts like they are your new friend by “breaking” news about Snowden, all the sudden YOU are all just “so enlightened” ??? HA! –Oh, but, “EVERYONE except you, apparently, knows…” you say. You don’t know what I do or don’t know. You blubbering a$$.

          Poor baby…Everyone markets – grocery stores, department stores…hell, there’s even ads on the gas pump handles.

          Often, I compare prices to Amazon, other online vendors and local shops. Because I live outside of a metro area, it is often beneficial to use Amazon- regardless that they have, in the past, conspired to steal your money despite that and probably in lieu of the fact that you weren’t paying attention.

          You live here, another stinky spoiled American and you bitch and moan that you can’t get more stuff even cheaper, having not a single god-dam clue how good we have it. Probably never been anywhere to see the absolute horror most of the rest of the planet has to live in and when you’re not watching dancing with the stars or some idiot chase a ball around, you barely drag yourself out of your castle long enough to vote for these same a$$holes over and over without any consideration that they are giving it all away.

          Go through the dumpster behind Office Max and steal a piece of cardboard. Make a big sign. Picket somebody, picket anybody, picket everybody…Pick at your nose, If you think it will help.

          I don’t care where you waste your filthy money on more useless stuff – go get another charge card and a storage locker for all I care.

          We’re lucky to have any choices at all –

          (avatar is a piggy-capitalist supporting hoar still sort of married to a misogynistic mustache.)

          • L. Ron Twizzler

            Oops. You forgot to not use your second I.D. to reply. BUSTED. Loser.

          • dbaker

            I did not care which account i used. it’s all b.s. from you.


          • L. Ron Twizzler

            Oh, excellent. A THIRD account. I’ll bet you and your “friends” win tons of arguments.

          • Ben Gozzi

            what do you know?


          • L. Ron Twizzler

            A powerful argument. You’re a master debater.

          • Ben Gozzi

            Not on here I am not – it’s not a debate, you are just arguing.

            Buzz off.

          • L. Ron Twizzler

            I beg to differ. I suspect you spend most of your time master debating.

      • L. Ron Twizzler

        You love Amazon. That’s nice. It’s important to have something to really care about.

        “I swear, some people bitch just to hear themselves bitch.”

        Yes, some people are like that, aren’t they?

        • BenGozzi

          Poor thing, big bad internet confused you and capitalist pigs took advantage of your foolishly excessive expectations.

          Put on your spider man jammies and go to walmart


          • L. Ron Twizzler

            Petulance noted, Ben Gozzi/D.T. Baker/dbaker. Do you spend all day switching accounts so it will look like someone agrees with your moronic comments? Seems kind of insane to me. And pathetic.

          • Ben Gozzi

            Yep, you know everything. Hillary is your goddess.

            Get your Sponge-bob jammies and get the vote out.

          • L. Ron Twizzler

            Hillary? You mean Hillary Clinton? What does she have to do with any of this? You are seriously nuts.

          • Ben Gozzi

            Nothing at all to do with any of it. Just arguing for argument’s sake – to keep you in your comfort zone.

            Eventually you will…

            Buzz off.

            (avatar is a hack)

          • L. Ron Twizzler

            You’re a hack.

          • Ben Gozzi

            Whatever you say….you believe.

  • Shop Gal

    25% price increase? No thanks. I use ShopRunner
    instead. Why even deal with the fee hike when ShopRunner lets Prime members try 1 year free? The link is: http://www.shoprunner.com/amazon-prime.

    • Eddie

      I signed up for ShopRunner after the announced Amazon Prime increase. The main difficulty is that ShopRunner doesn’t have anywhere near the number of available product as does Amazon. I want to love ShopRunner, but I’ve found the product selection considerably limited when compared to Amazon. Part of me is thinking of just sucking it up and renewing for the $99 OR simply to save the $99 and get free shipping which I will just wait a few more day for.

  • Ann

    I will never order another thing from Amazon I was charged $83.74 that was not authorized on my Debit card for
    Amazon Prime that I never signed up for. My Bank and I are disputing this charge. There will only be bad reviews from here on in. You don’t take people’s money with out authorization!!! This is a JOKE!!!!

  • Phil Winkel

    People downright don’t understand how Prime works. When you are logged in as a Prime member, it gives you the lowest possible price available with Prime shipping. When an item is available with Prime shipping, it means the seller shipped this item to Amazon’s fullfillment center, and they are paying amazon an additional fee in order to provide their item with Prime shipping.

    If you do not have amazon prime, then the price you’re seeing is the lowest price available. The lowest price available is almost ALWAYS lower than the lowest price available through Prime.

    The prices amazon charges for sellers to store items in their fullfillment centers (and offer Prime shipping) is typically $1 + a certain percent of the sale. But basically, on a $20 item, in order to offer prime shipping, Amazon is getting about $5 out of that sale. SO what this means, is basically any item that is really inexpensive, basicaly $10 and lower, is going to have it’s price jacked up a little weird. Consider it convenience tax or whatever, but it’s not practical to ship extremely inexpensive things (pretty much, $10-15 or below) to Amazon’s fullfillment center. If you’re shopping for really inexpensive items on amazon prime, the sellers need a crazy good profit margin to be able to offer it at retail price through amazon prime.

    So basically, prime is a good deal, people have no idea how it works, this whole article sucks and you need to go learn how prime works and how ridiculously great value Prime is when you use 2 day or 1 day shipping extremely often.

  • Andrea Gee

    I have a Prime membership and I have never been given an option for 2 day shipping. My options are always Free Standard Shipping (3-7 days) or 2 options for expedited shipping for an additional fee.

  • Bash

    I joined prime for free shipping. I check out product cost me 5.99 and shipping was 5.99. There was other choices which cost about 10.49. I went back after a day cancelled my membership. Thank God for eBay, Newegg, micro-center, Walmart etc. competition is healthy for the consumer. The instant video are so old and most I have seen 10 years ago.

  • Jason

    Anybody else notice that since the price hike on Prime, Amazon has started making the free shipping option take much longer than it used to? Used to when I’d order something with free shipping it would be here in a week or so. Usually shipping in 2-3 days and taking 3-4 more to get here. Nowadays it’s a week or two before they even ship it. I placed an order on June 6th and as of today, June 17th, it’s still sitting there. In stock, but not shipped. Yesterday was actually the first day in the delivery window that it was supposed arrive, and it hasn’t even left the facility.

  • abcdefgqwerty

    I dont see the point of prime. The prices on most things are marked up to cover the shipping like they said so whats the point to get things a little faster? May as well as buy them at store if you want speed.

  • Jeff

    The writer has this wrong. You do not save .15 cents in her example for the Slow Cooker. You actually have spent more money to get the item shipped to you faster. In her example she failed to mention that you pay $75 a year for Prime. Which to me states I did not get “free 2 day shipping”, I paid extra to get it. In my view the Slow Cooker should cost a Prime member $38.01 w/free shipping. As a prime for a few years I’ve been highly happy with the speed of the shipping, but sadly devastated by the cost difference Prime Members have to pay. My example would be peanut butter at a local store $3.50, Amazon prime $10.00, then don’t forget that I paid the prime membership. I ended up buying from the local store. I’ve always been amazed at how an Online (in essence a warehouse) charges just as much as a Brick-n-Mortar store. Amazon does not have near the overhead as a chain store has. I have ended my prime and will start looking elsewhere online for deals, including local stores. Bottom line, the Prime should be sold as “Expedited 2 day shipping” and the word “free” taken out.

  • Student Services

    Amazon just redid their terms and conditions to crack down on fake EDU email addresses for student accounts and to not implement a better policy. Anyone who signs up now recieves a free membership AND a referral credit ($10) in the hopes that more and more people will follow referral links and also provide them.

    I followed this link:

    I immediately recieved my free account and about a week later recieved an email with a code for my credit.

    Please note: Must provide VALID edu email address

  • GoodGriefs

    Just offer a refund for their prime membership if they are not happy with the program and its rewards. Amazons customers have been touted as the best in the world. It sounds like a few eBay customers have found their way over there.

  • Chuck Traywick

    It is a scam. Especially is you get into a show that is streamed. Take the show Damages that was “part” of Prime and suddenly in the middle of a weekend they pull it from Prime and now to finish watching what you started you have to pay $1.99 an episode. So, irritated, I called them and they gave me a boiler plate story that the subscription for Damages did not renew, which I doubt. So I cancelled Prime and was told I would not get a refund for the portion of my annual subscription we paid for. Was under the impression that I could cancel at any time and implied there would be a refund for unused Prime remaining months. Not true. So to me this a classis bait and switch scam. The only way to get the attention of companies like Amazon is to cancel and not use them anymore. Which I intend to do. They sell nothing that we cannot get elsewhere.

  • firemanemt

    I too have found Amazon Prime to seem like a scam. I used to buy a certain fabric softener but it is now only available exclusive for prime members. I contacted customer care they said nothing they can do. I have also found they are very quick to withdraw money from your cards/accounts but very slow to refund it.

  • David k

    It is a joke don’t use amazon if u must have it on time . I use prime and they have missed two deliveries for Xmas delivery

    Don’t buy anything if it must be delivered

  • Robert Stever

    I’ve saved thousands in shipping costs by using prime, the $100 a year charge is less than 1/10th of the cost in savings from paying for shipping. Then again I believe Prime is directed at the heavy shopper and not the casual shopper. I’ve bought large speaker cabinets with free two day shipping (150 lbs shipping and delivered within the two day time-span, no one anywhere else has been able to do this without charging up the wazoo in shipping “fee’s”).

    And before snarky comments come up; I do look at the other seller’s prices. Usually the 1 or 2 bucks saved gets eaten up by time and shipping costs for large/heavy items. (example as of 1/2/15: http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B000V2QVDW/ref=olp_tab_new?ie=UTF8&condition=new )

    • Noya

      Based on your comment, you are NOT the type of Prime member that Amazon wants. Amazon wants the light shopper that pays for Prime. You getting 2-day shipping on 150lb speakers negate any monetary gain they would receive from a light shopper (say once every month or two). But it doesn’t matter, because Prime has been bleeding red for years, which is why they increased the price last year.

      I hope you have a decent power amp and you’re not running those off a all-in-one receiver…they need 200w RMS minimum to sound anywhere near their potential.

      • Robert Stever

        “I hope you have a decent power amp and you’re not running those off a all-in-one receiver…they need 200w RMS minimum to sound anywhere near their potential.”

        I design power amplifiers for a living. I also test audio equipment and electronic test equipment from audio to microwave.

        “Based on your comment, you are NOT the type of Prime member that Amazon wants.”

        I think it is directed towards my kind as I save money which is the point of Amazon. You are entitled to your opinion as well am I.

  • http://kirsanov.net/ Dmitry Kirsanov

    At least in Europe, it’s more often that Prime takes the same amount of time as non-Prime. Sometimes they are sending you each item separately even if you request it to come as one package, and hence it adds more hassle with receiving.

    I did my math for the last year, recording times it took to actually deliver an item, the difference with the price etc. I cancelled my Prime and got refund after Amazon wasn’t able to ship item for 3 weeks.

  • Mary

    It’s just insane!!!

    Just noticed the prime membership fee taken from my bank account! I was absolutely not aware of being a member! It’s a great shock and now, browsing the amazon website- everything is now like a prime-banner. One wrong click and they have you.

    It’s just so terrible thing to do, laying those prime banner traps everywhere on the website! I hate you amazon.com!

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  • Debbie Rhodes

    For anyone who has frequently shopped Amazon, they should know there are all kinds of price options as well as shipping. I quit Prime when they went up without notifying me and they billed me for $129.00! I am just more careful now than before as that shipping does add up if your are not.

  • Packard27

    H*ll yes Amazonprime is a scam.

    I ordered a couple of books through Amazon a few months ago and yesterday I found an unexpected $99.98 Amazonprime renewal fee attached to my VISA account.

    I am guessing Bezos and his Amazon folks used some sleight of hand Website subterfuge to sign me up passively without ever asking me to request the service. They then used my credit card info to charge me for the annual fee (that I never wanted or asked for).

    Pure bush league..especially when it is played out by a multi billion dollar Fortune 500 company.

  • Tyler Davis

    I like amazon prime. I agree that a $20 hike is trivial. I think it’s worth it though. The few things I order pay for my membership. Then I get streaming music, movies, books, tv shows, etc on top of that. It’s not much more than other streaming services for what you get. Here is a pretty good site that helped me http://amazonprimereviewer.com/, they are offering a free trial right now too, here is a pretty easy youtube video about that https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8jgU7paA5w

    I like the discussion! Great article! Keep up the great work! Thanks!

  • TJRB

    Just reading this and checking prices. What I see now is shipping, bundled, read that hidden with each item, into the price, especially with those items marked free ship at $35.00. I have seen free ship at prices pass the MSRP. On small size items. It is clear to me I would be paying shipping on each item. This must be a cash cow for Amazon, get you in the habit of adding items for a free ship, add a little more beyond that, hey, it’s free. Neatly ignoring the accumulated shipping could pass the cost of a bundle shipped box.The perk of a Prime membership may not even be used as you could have well payed for 2 day ship in that running shipping total.

    MEH, methinks Amazon has past its Primes, yes there is a pun there.
    There is a reason that Amazon Logo has that crap eating smile.

  • death

    Amazon Prime is a rip off. you’d have to order a lot of stuff for it to be worth it. its $100 a year….you get free 2 day shipping but you just paid $100 that $100 is all your shipping costs.

  • Ed Webb

    Prime member, wanted to order Oster CKSTSKFM 12w-ECO Amazon price 28.90. Lowes price 19.99 plus 2.00 tax=21.99 Only a fool would order this item from amazon.

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