Time is a precious commodity, even on the weekend. So as I woke up Sunday morning and contemplated the errands on my list, I immediately thought about the new tool at my disposal: Amazon Prime free same-day delivery.
Yes, free same-day delivery. On a Sunday.
I grabbed my phone from the nightstand, launched the Amazon app, searched for the Fitbit charger and bicycle accessories on my shopping list, filtered the results by “Prime FREE Same-Day,” checked out from the app … and it was delivered to my doorstep at 5 p.m. the same day. For free. On a Sunday.
Here’s how I spent my Sunday, with my family, while Amazon’s delivery infrastructure ran my errands for me.
OK, so there’s actually more to the story, and at least one big lesson to be learned from my experience: Keep a close eye on prices, and compare the selection available for free same-day delivery to the selection available for free two-day delivery. Then ask yourself if you really need it today.
Here’s why: The official Fitbit Flex replacement charger was available for free same-day delivery on Amazon at a price of $19.99. But if I had been willing to wait one or two days, I could have gotten a highly rated generic version of the charger, from a different seller, for less than half the price, $7.79. This version was available for free one-day delivery (tomorrow), but not free same-day delivery (today).
That’s a subtle but important distinction to watch as you’re browsing the Amazon catalog. The notes about one-day and same-day delivery can look very similar, especially if you’re ordering quickly or browsing on a mobile device.
This price difference isn’t true for all products. (It wasn’t the case with the bike accessories that I purchased for free same-day delivery, which were available from just one seller and were the same price regardless.) Amazon says more than 1 million items are eligible for free same-day delivery, but even at that, the selection doesn’t encompass the entire Amazon catalog. So I effectively ended up paying more than $12 for “free” same day delivery, because of the price difference.
Surprisingly, some of Amazon’s flagship products — including its Kindle Paperwhite and Fire TV devices — aren’t available for free same-day delivery yet, as New York Times reporter Nick Wingfield noted in response to GeekWire reporter Tricia Duryee’s coverage of the launch last week.
Selection of same-day stuff is pretty weak @triciad. Found some Legos and best seller books. No Kindle or Fire TV same day. What the?
— Nick Wingfield (@nickwingfield) May 28, 2015
Amazon launched free same-day delivery in more than a dozen metro areas across the U.S. last week. Free same-day delivery is available to Amazon Prime members, who pay a $99/year subscription fee. Packages are guaranteed to arrive by 9 p.m. if you order by noon.
Prime members need to order at least $35 of eligible products to get free same-day delivery. If your order doesn’t total $35, you can still get same-day delivery, but you’ll pay for the delivery — $5.99 per order. Non-Prime members can also get same-day delivery for $8.99 per order plus 99 cents per item.
For anyone who’s curious, my package was delivered by the OnTrac shipping service, not by Amazon itself. (The company has been testing its own delivery service in San Francisco.) The delivery person rang the doorbell and left the package on the front mat. As he was walking away, I asked him if it had been a busy day. He said yes, and quickly walked back to the delivery vehicle, with more packages to deliver before the 9 p.m. deadline.
A short time after my package was delivered, I spotted a U.S. Postal Service worker delivering packages in my neighborhood. It’s official: We’re living in an Amazon world.