Sunday, December 13, 2009

Amazon Prime Rip-Off Prices

Something I've seen recently on Amazon Prime are flagrantly inflated prices from participating merchants. If you look carefully, you might see a warning from Amazon,
Note: There are lower-priced buying choices available from other sellers that are not eligible for Amazon Prime.
But from the prevalence of the practice it appears that few people notice (or that enough don't notice that the vendors still make huge profits from their inflated prices), and the size of the "note" suggests that Amazon is cool with that.

I would propose three simple remedies that would restore some honesty to Amazon Prime:
  1. If another vendor offers a lower price, that information be provided along with the price. "Price: $35.93 & eligible for free shipping with Amazon Prime; Available for other vendors for $14.99 plus $3 shipping."

  2. If a vendor's Amazon Prime price exceeds the MSRP, that information be provided right next to their price - Price: $35.93 (MSRP $14.99) & eligible for free shipping with Amazon Prime"

  3. If a vendor is found (algorithmically) to engage in excessive pricing as compared to either the MSRP or to other vendors offering the same product, they be excluded from the Amazon Prime program.

After all, the idea of Amazon Prime, at least as pitched to the consumer, is that you're prepaying for shipping - not that you're paying extra for the privilege of getting ripped off by Amazon's dishonest "partners".


  1. The recent stunt I have been noticing Amazon pulling is concerning the "Amazon Prime free two day shipping."
    I have recently ordered several items, only to have them arrive VERY late (weeks) or for me to have had to contact Amazon after I noticed that the "estimated shipping date," for an "Amazon Prime, free two day shipping" item, was two months away on my invoice!
    They informed me that the "guaranteed two day delivery" is now "two days from when (they randomly decide to) ship."
    In other words, I place the order and there is no guarantee whatsoever as to when I will get my package, despite me paying $80 a year for my "Prime" membership which is supposed to include free shipping.
    I am getting ratehr sick of this scam and their customer service operators, who do not speak English, simply INSIST that it IS "two day shipping" they just no longer guarantee the date the item will be shipped.

    1. I've seen products listed as Prime with fine print to the effect that the product is out of inventory or that the product "usually takes X additional days to ship". I do think the fine print should be more conspicuous. To the extent that you're arguing that such products should not be described as "Prime" even if they will be shipped under the Prime program when they're back in stock, that's not an unreasonable position to take - just as they have add-on items, they could provide a similar designation for late-shipping items.

  2. Actually, Aaron, I've experienced the same thing as Corey for several months now, and I am very very careful to choose only items that are marked as "in stock" and "Amazon Prime." I have now had shipments for ALL THREE of my sons (whose birthdays are in Jan & Feb) arrive late because of this failure on Amazon's part to live up to the guarantee we pay extra for.

    We will not be renewing our Prime membership this time around. I'm glad to see we're not the only folks getting upset about this.

    And thank you, by the way, for pointing out the other problem with Amazon Prime, which I had not noticed and will now have my eyes open for.

    1. I'm not arguing with you. Amazon has improved its labeling since the first time I was snared by the "Two Day Shipping (but it may be 3 - 4 weeks before this product ships" promise, but as I indicated above there's still plenty of room for improvement.

      You're also correct that you have to be careful to identify which products are and are not part of Prime, as it's easy to click a product without noticing that it doesn't have the Prime label. You can limit search results to Prime products, but sometimes I still catch myself not noticing that the reasonably priced options aren't part of Prime until I'm about to order.

      I also think Amazon should ban vendors who sell knock-off products and parts as brand name or OEM, but they seem to be very slow to act against such vendors.


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