Get Cheaper Amazon Prime *Without* Instant Video!


tl;dr If you have no need for Prime Video, you can ask Amazon for a discount. They'll knock £30 off the price - taking it down to £49.

I spoke to customer services - here's the transcript (edited for clarity) :

Amazon Prime Video Transcript-fs8

To be clear, Amazon weren't forthcoming in whether this was available to everyone. I suggest you ask Amazon very nicely!

In my case, I haven't watched a single Amazon video. I don't even think I've logged into the service. Both Amazon and Panasonic refuse to support my TV. Even if they did, the list of shows available really isn't particularly to my tastes.

Ideally, I'd like to unbundle their useless photo service (I host my own) and their Kindle Lending Library (I have an actual Library Card which has more benefits).

Still, I can't grumble. £50 Prime is a pretty good deal. Isn't it?

Is Prime Worth It?

I loved Amazon Prime. The day we moved house, as we sat exhausted on the sofa surrounded by boxes, I pulled out my smartphone and went crazy. The next morning, even more boxes arrived. Everything from cleaning products to doormats. Over the next few months, that's just how it was. If I saw that we needed something, a couple of clicks on the mobile website and - hey presto - a box would appear the very next day.

I didn't bother to compare prices with other sites - just click and wait. Once (and this is truly tragic) I was feeling a bit peckish on a Saturday afternoon, come Sunday morning the Amazon man dropped off a kilogram bag of chilli puff-rice crackers. Mmmmmm chilli crackers.

For fifty quid a year, it was absolutely perfect. Next day delivery on just about everything - from a single lightbulb to a cross-trainer, from last minute birthday presents to cooking supplies. Click, wait, get.

Then they went and screwed it all up.

They put the price up to eighty-quid. Their rationale was they were now bundling their crappy video service with it. Fine, I guess, but not for me - as I described in detail earlier on my blog. They refuse to support any of the devices I own and, even if they did, there's nothing on there I find of value.

Last year I wangled an extension to my existing price of £49. This year I've done the same.

So, the conundrum. Is it worth paying £50 a year for "free" next day delivery?

The central lie of Amazon Prime is "One-Day Delivery at no extra cost for eligible items."

A lie? I think so. It makes it sound like Prime items aren't more expensive than their regular brethren.
Prime Cheaper

That £4.99 product can be had for £4.25 - a 15% discount - although delivery isn't next day.

On a small pack of rawl plugs, you're paying £2 for Prime's next day delivery.

For more expensive items, like a PS4, there's generally not price difference. But it really does add up for smaller items. And that's kinda the joy of Prime - I can order a single rawlplug, if that's all I need, without having to faff around on the high street.

Given the extra cost of (some) Prime items - is it worth paying for the service?

It's time for some maths! YAY! MATHS! (NB, these numbers are very fuzzy.)

Let's start with the number of items I've purchased from Amazon in the last year. The US site allows users to export a spreadsheet of their orders. The UK site doesn't offer such a facility. Thanks Amazon for truly demonstrating your commitment to the World Wide Web!

According to my account, I bought around 80 items using Prime in 2014. Crikey. I may be an addict....

Anyway...

The extra cost of Prime for each item was ~50p - £2.50 - although not every item charged extra for being available on Prime.

The cost of next day delivery for non-Prime items is between £2 and £10 (!).

If you regularly pay for next day delivery, it's probably cheaper to get Prime.

If you don't need next day delivery...?

Hmmm....

Very very very roughly - Prime costs me £90. £50 for membership and £40 in extra charges for next day delivery. Over all the items I buy, it's probably a good deal... I'd pay more if I didn't have Prime...

Ultimately, what I'm paying for is knowing when delivery will take place. I work from my home in Oxford, an office in Slough, and an office in London. I don't like buying something, then waiting until I'm in the correct location to pick it up. I like placing an order on Saturday and having it arrive on Sunday. Saying that an order will take 1-3 days makes it hard to plan where I have to be in order to get my item.

I'm fundamentally lazy. And I wonder - is that worth the extra cost?

Dear Amazon

If you're reading this blog, here's my wishlist!

  • Unbundle Prime delivery and video. Sure, offer them together at a discount price if you like - but good products don't need to be forced onto customers.
  • Let customers export their data - in CSV or similar format. Take a look at midata.
  • How about making Prime prices the same as regular items? That'd be nice.
  • If an item isn't available on Prime - perhaps refund (some of?) the delivery charges.
  • Stop making it hard for customers to decide whether they want to give your their custom. The couple of hours I've spent writing this blog post could have been spent browsing your website.

3 thoughts on “Get Cheaper Amazon Prime *Without* Instant Video!

  1. I was almost agreeing with you until your comment on rawl plugs. We will soon not have the ability to enjoy a local hardware shop where you can have the pleasure of talking with another human being about the joys of different rawl plugs, plumbing parts etc. It's bad enough having shops like Homebase without Amazon.

    Terence, you're not lazy. You do 100x more than the average person. But I do suggest that you take the time to visit your local hardware shop before they go extinct. You'll generally be able to get just the number of things you want (rather than a bag of 25) with that real smell of cut wood that you always seem to find there.

  2. Thanks for the useful post. For the sake of experimenting, I made my request for a partial refund on Prime by just being polite and saying I had no use for the additional services and just wanted Prime. I was told that no, I couldn't get a partial refund, but he could cancel my Prime subscription altogether - He would've said this knowing very well that I wouldn't cancel, as I use Prime almost daily.

    I then gave him a link to your post and after a few minutes of delay, he responded:
    "Normally, we do not issue a partial refund for the prime membership, because prime is an all you can eat package.
    The link that you provided was given to a customer as a one time exception as the customer was very frustrated about the charge of the prime membership.
    However, I'll make an one time exception to our policy and issue a partial refund for your prime membership."

    So thanks for the post and setting the precedent to make the discussion easier for the rest of us 🙂

    Cheers,
    Vero

    1. Fantastic news, Vero! And thank you for reminding me that I had to request my refund 🙂

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