5 Reasons Why Amazon Prime Is a Terrible Buy

Updated November 12, 2020 by Kyle
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A couple days ago I saw that Amazon.com is considering bumping up the price of their Prime Membership by $20 or $40 bucks. It is currently $99 annually, so it will potentially be $109 or $119 per year. This story got me thinking about the Prime Membership, which for those of you that don’t know, gives members unlimited free 2-day shipping, some free Kindle books every month, and access to Amazon instant streaming (think Netflix after it got shot, run over, then run over again). Is it worth the money every year? Does it make you overspend? Does it make you a lazy shopper? To those 3 questions I say No, Yes, Yes. Keep on reading to see why…

1. Amazon Already Has Free Shipping on $25+

I mean sure, the free 2-day shipping all orders is a great incentive, but are you aware that Amazon already offers free shipping on $25+ orders? For those who say, “But most of my purchases are under $25 and won’t qualify for free shipping.” To them I say make sure and combine orders until you reach the $25 threshold.

Have a little will-power on purchases and wait until you have several items you need to buy before you make an order.

The idea that you must have something in 2-days means you should probably be heading to your local Walmart, Target, or grocery store to buy it.

If you are a shopper that buys stuff online and always “Needs It NOW” and you’ll happily pay for expedited shipping to make it happen, then the Prime membership will definitely save you money, but I think this is a pretty small percentage of the population.

See Also: 6 Brilliantly Slick Ways to Get Amazon Prime for FREE

2. Prime Membership Makes You a Lazy Shopper

This may be the single biggest reason why the Amazon Prime membership is a bad buy.

Put simply, it makes many consumers flat out lazy. They don’t compare pricing anymore, they don’t haggle for a better price, they don’t take advantage of retailer’s price match policies, and they sure as heck don’t seek out coupons in order to get the best deal possible.

Instead they head straight to Amazon.com and click a single ‘Buy It Now’ button and viola!, it magically appears on their doorstep two days later.

Many shoppers at this point will make the argument that Amazon always has low prices so I don’t need to be a smart consumer. WRONG! Check out my article Price Smackdown: Walmart.com Vs. Amazon.com which clearly debunks this myth.

3. Amazon.com is a “Walmart-Wolf” in Sheep’s Clothing

When it comes to branding, Jeff Bezos and the marketing team at Amazon are absolute geniuses.

Over the years they have kept the brand “cool” in the eyes of consumers while the Walmarts of the world are seen as a company who ruins the little guy, pinches suppliers to death, and offers low paying jobs and sub-par health benefits.

One of the ways Amazon pulls this off is by not having a human face on the business. There is not some minimum-wage earning oldster greeting you when you shop at Amazon.com and there is very little written about the Amazon warehouse employees.

Employees toiling in the gigantic Amazon warehouses have very little voice and Amazon likes it that way. See True Stories of Life as an Amazon Worker from Gawker to get a glimpse behind the Amazon curtain.

So why do I bring this up? I don’t want you to just accept Amazon and the Prime membership as a alternative to the Walmart culture and way of doing business. In the end, there is not a huge difference between the two.

4. Ridiculously Easy to Overspend

I’m going to get a little psychological with you for a minute. I believe that many Amazon Prime members feel they need to shop with them as much as possible in order to recoup the membership fee.

I have talked with enough loyal Amazon shoppers over the years to confirm this phenomena.

So what is the outcome? People buying everything under the sun from Amazon, often paying much more than they would at their local store, in order to get the free 2-day shipping. Overspending up the wazoo.

I would also make the argument that the biggest reason for Amazon potentially raising the cost of the Prime membership is because they know people will end up buying more from them in an effort to make sure they “get their money’s worth”.

5. Prime Streaming is a Joke

If you’ve ever tried the Amazon Instant Streaming feature you already know what I am talking about. The selection is weaker than Michelob Ultra Light and it’s clearly an add-on designed to entice you into buying a movie or TV show because you’d rather shoot yourself than watch one of the free ones.

If you already have cable or satellite TV the Prime Instant Streaming will probably never be used. But if you don’t, you could definitely find something to watch for free. Just don’t expect anything made in the past several years.

BONUS: Prime Membership Savings Tips:

If you’re on the fence about dropping the cash on an Amazon.com Prime membership, I have a few tips to minimize your costs.

1. Free 30 day trial. Amazon offers prospective members a free 30-day trial. I typically recommend shoppers to sign-up for their trial just before Black Friday so they can do all their Christmas shopping and get free 2-day delivery.

But since we are in mid February that doesn’t make a lot sense. Once you start your free trial, track your purchases and your savings in terms of shipping costs.

Add them up at the end of the month and times it by 12 to get a rough idea of your annual savings.

2. Invite family/friends and save. Not many shoppers know that you can invite four family members or friends into your Prime membership with you.

So theoretically you could split the costs and only pay $15.80 per year making it a total no-brainer.

It is also worth noting that only the primary member gets access to the free streaming service.

3. Get Amazon price alerts. If you end up (or already are) a Prime member you need to be using CamelCamelCamel.com as it allows you to create Amazon price alerts on products you want to purchase.

The website then emails you when the price drops below a predetermined price point. It’s a sweet little free tool with a totally stupid name.

Ask the Reader: Are you an Amazon Prime member? If so, do you think it is worth the current $99/yr price tag? What about if they raise the annual fee to $119? Also, do you think it makes you overspend and not research the best price?


By Kyle James

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Marisa

The BEST thing about Amazon Prime isn’t even Prime. Its access to PrimeNow service which is the closest thing Ive experienced to perfection, for anyone who is busy, doesn’t have a car, is disabled or older, or has health issues its a God Send. After I had my daughter and couldn’t drive I used it for everything. Now that I can get around I price shop. I can add all my groceries, toiletries and other items in my cart when I make my grocery list through the week then head to the store when I have time and compare items. 9/10 the item is the same price or cheaper on PrimeNow and I purchase it that way only buy vegetables in the store. PrimeNow list local stores like my local, individually owned organic grocer, Mexican supermarket etc that I can order from. The Amazon warehouse here carries obscure products like organic low carb ice cream, protein powders and organic meats that I cant get here (or half to drive half an hour to a whole foods to pay 2.5Xs the price). Also has restaurants, bakeries and even alcohol, straight to my door for FREE, essential for parties. If I buy one dinner from a restaurant on PrimeNow rather than UBEREats, Eat24, DoorDash or Grubhub my membership has paid for itself that month.

I also LOVE the original series on Amazon Video. Bosch and the Man in the High Castle, those two series alone make paying for those months worth it.

Bought a mattress, got it the same day. Had a minor problem, Amazon offered to let me keep it for free to donate or dispose of and receive a new mattress free of charge. Probably saved them a ton on pick up but still rather generous to offer to send a new one for free I would have spent more on just the mattress without Prime not even mentioning gas and struggle of loading a mattress.

Prime is a no brainer for students. I got half off my Prime membership because I’m a grad student so $5/month for two day shipping, unlimited Grocery, restaurants and Amazon warehouse deliveries right to my door within two hours? I’ve even been able to use it to send groceries and a gift to my friend when she was ill just by changing the delivery address.

Also a no brainer for virtually any business. I own a bakery and use a lot of obscure items or craft items like foam cones and spheres and floral tape. I save using amazon (even when I compared to using an in store coupons at the local craft store) and a lot of times I can get bulk pricing on just a dozen items. I don’t have to buy in bulk, drive to the store, haul the boxes in side, store more than I need or wait. I was working on a Bridal Show piece all night only to find I’d run out of tape. Placed a same day delivery order and my specialized craft tape was waiting for me when I woke up. Also things like bulk specialty chocolate and flower or cake fillings are cheaper on amazon prime. Ive seen things listed on websites for 3/4 of the Amazon Price only to have them be $20 more expensive when you add in their expensive slow shipping and forget trying to return something heavy.

If you are at all a smart shopper you will save using the service.

Customer service is remarkable as well

pamela svec

I agree! Prices on Amazon are not so great anymore. I find them often cheaper at Walmart.com, where I can order and pick it up for free.. or ship free for some. Ebay and other companies are also less expensive often! It can make you lazy for sure. Also, I am very tired of paying for TV shows I think should be included and YES the price is getting ridiculous! It was about $60 when I first got it.. that was ok.

Dominick

You have cleary never lived in a rural area where the nearest Walmart is an hour drive away, hardware/auto parts stores 30 minutes or more, etc. To that end, when you need something and you can drive and hour both ways or have it delivered in two, it saves in time, vehicle maintenance, vehicle wear, and fuel. It’s conpletely worth it.

Not everyone is in a suburban area where stores are close by and abundant. I do shop around though, and if the item is cheaper (shipping added in) than Amazon’s price, I’ll buy from another online retailer. The other benefit are user reviews, a reasonable way to compare quality and functionality. Something you don’t get at Walmart 😉

Bryan Lemke

I just found out another way Prime is a terrible buy – Their 2-day shipping only applies AFTER it leaves their warehouses.

This is what I was told by an Amazon rep just now. Why is my 2-day order not arriving for a week? He told me the 2-day shipping only applies after it leaves the warehouse. He said there are a number of reasons it might take a few days to leave the warehouse, but it was still fulfilling their 2-day promise.

I called back to speak with another rep and was told the same thing. The second rep told me that the item wasn’t in an Amazon warehouse and that the seller had to ship it to them first…even though it says ‘Fulfilled by Amazon’ and says it’s in stock.

BOTTOM LINE: The once great Prime membership has become a hollow-promise-filled, expensive alternative to smart online shopping.

By way of update, I contacted the actual seller from Amazon (via their website) and they’ll overnight the product to me for $5. It seems Amazon is becoming the poster boy for bad online shopping. I cancelled my Prime order today.

BillyBrah

The 2-day shipping doesn’t even work anymore. 7/10 items tbis year alone were “delayed during shipment.” The streaming video is a JOKE, and now they want Prime members to pay even more for access to half-way decent selections. I got tired of it all and cancelled Prime. They won’t let you tell the truth about any of this when they beg you for reviews. Now, I’m back to either shopping local or to the real McCoys online such as NewEgg or manufacturer sites. The only good thing about Amazon right now is returning items.

ElwoodP

Completely agree it’s not worth it (writing from UK). At first look it seems like you get a lot but… Agree with all your points on free shipping its not as good as it seems. I’ve been price checking during my trial and find that Prime items often seem to be marked up to include the shipping fee in the price (when you check against price direct from manufacturer for example).

Streaming is as you say a joke. They are basically just trials and you will have to pay for most content. What a faff if you are used to Spotify and Netflix with their upfront pricing models. Prime is basically a cynical ploy to hook you into their rather shitty all in one services which will continually try and rinse you of more money.

Felicity

I don’t know if they still do this, but in two different years when 2-day shipping took longer than 2 days, I called and complained and Amazon extended my Prime membership for one month. They actually offered a monetary option, but I’ve forgotten the exact amount was.

Prime currently costs $9 and change each month, or the cost of 9 McDonald’s coffees. I’ll make my coffee at home for 18 cents a cup and buy Prime instead. It’s worth it to us to be able to get something in 1 or 2 days that we shopped for in our recliners versus fighting traffic and spending gas money and time. If I can get something through walmart.com site to store, I do, if I’m going to be in Walmart anyway. However, most of the things we’ve ordered were not available locally or on walmart.com or were but were cheaper on Amazon. They’re still saying it will be $99 to renew in early January 2018, by the way. If it goes to $119, I think I would probably still use it, but I haven’t decided.

Felicity

Clarifying my comment: Amazon is showing that my Prime membership, which renews in early January 2018, will be $99. It wasn’t some announcement from Amazon about Prime cost for 2018. I realize they could change that before I renew, also.

Chris

The overspending argument is a joke. If anything, you spend less. How many times do you go to a walmart to get 1 thing, and end up leaving with 20 bags?

Chris

Prime membership makes a lot of sense to people who dont have cars. Believe it or not, not everyone has a car. And spending $99 for prime is lot cheaper than spending $20,000 on a car to go to walmart.

Mona

Walmart also ship free.

Chris

The big problem with walmart is the lines. I don’t want to wait on a line for 45 mins just to get a dvd a I can pre-order on amazon for cheaper, and get it release day.

Chris

That haggling argument makes no sense. You can’t haggle at walmart. The price is what it is. Amazon is not a flea market, and neither is walmart. Go try haggling at walmart, see how that goes for you.

Chris

The “compare pricing” argument does really work with prime. Other sites might charge a few dollars more, but with shipping charges. So whatever few dollars you save on other sites, you end up paying more with shipping.

Chris

The difference with “compare shopping” is that a lot of other sites, and even stores, don’t have better prices than amazon. And the few sites that do, charge for shipping, take 2 weeks to ship it out, and you fill out all your credit and shipping information. And often times, you dont get tracking with your order. And if there’s a problem, they usually have awful customer service. It’s ultimately a safer bet to go with amazon.

Chris

The whole “they ship for free at $25” argument makes no sense. What if you don’t need $25 worth of stuff? What if I only need detergent? Why wait until you have $25, only to have to ship in 2 weeks? Not everybody has a car to go out to the store anf get detergent.

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