Entrepreneur and small business owner, Beth has experienced the highs and lows of being one's own boss.
What is Amazon Prime?
Amazon is a major player in online shopping. It has a reputation for speedy shipping, low prices, and good customer service. It offers free shipping if you spend a relatively small amount. However, this service is a loss-leader. Amazon Prime is a way for the company to cross-subsidize its free delivery offer.
Prime members spend more than twice as much per head compared to non-subscribing customers. So in order to encourage sign-ups, Amazon offers a free 30-day trial membership of its Prime service.
- In 2019 Amazon’s Prime membership program has 103 million members in the US, up from 58 million in 2016.
- Amazon has 45% market share of US e-commerce sector.
- Prime members spend an average of $1,400 per year, compared with $600 for non-Prime members.
— Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) survey March 2019.
Is the 30-Day Trial Really Free?
When you sign up for a 30-day Amazon Prime trial, you also agree to pay a subscription if you continue the service beyond that 30-day period. So you must make sure you cancel the payment authorisation asap.
You can tick a box to receive a reminder when your free period is about to end. However, I recommend you don't wait for this reminder before cancelling. You may not receive the email or may simply forget to act on it. My technique is to cancel the pending subscription as soon as I have activated the free trial period. That way I get the benefit of Amazon's Prime trial offer, without having to pay anything for it.
If you should change your mind later and decide that after all you do want the service, then it's simple to restart the subscription with one click on your account page.
How Does Amazon Prime Work?
This is my experience of the Amazon Prime service when I signed up for ta free 30-day trial in the UK.
I had been a regular shopper with Amazon for many years, and I'd often seen Prime membership advertised, but thought it too expensive. I had always opted for free delivery and had no problem reaching the minimum spend needed to get that service. However, the previously reliable delivery service had gone from taking 3 days to taking 7 or more days to reach me.
I dithered over subscribing to the free trial. Then I saw adverts for the annual Prime Bargain Day. Once a year selected goods are offered at 20% discount to Prime members. To my surprise the items on offer included things I was about to order anyway. By taking the month’s trial, I could immediately make a 20% saving on my shopping. So, I signed up.
Amazon Prime Day Sale Bargains
The selection of goods included in the sale is huge, but you have to be a Prime member to get the discount. If you've never been a member before you are offered a 30-day free trial of the service.
I read the small print carefully to make sure I was not committing myself to longer than 30-days. The website asks for your credit or debit card details before you complete the sign-up. This is because Amazon hope you'll forget to cancel the payment mandate after the trial. If you don't cancel, the free offer automatically converts into a paid membership.
Being a savvy shopper, after registering with the service, I immediately went to the “cancel your trial Prime membership” option in my account. By cancelling straight away, I retained the free period, but would not be billed when it ended. I figured if I liked the service I could always rejoin. The monthly fee was the same whether I took out continuous membership now or came back later of my own volition.
I ordered several sales items and got 20% off the bill as well as upgraded delivery. Membership of Amazon Prime means free next day delivery with no minimum spend. All good so far. Well not quite.
Amazon Prime Review: Is It Worth It?
Before I had Amazon Prime, my orders were delivered by amazon’s own delivery fleet. I could track the location of each item online. As I always opted for the (slow) free delivery, they would inch their way from depot to depot. They would eventually arrive at my home; unhurried but well packed.
Amazon promises “fast delivery and more” for their Prime service. I got the fast delivery but the “and more” was not quite what Amazon intended. The 30-hour sale had obviously proved very popular and the packers seemed to have been overwhelmed. They had skimped on the job. An Amazon order normally arrives packed in a sturdy cardboard box. Inside plenty of bubble wrap is used to ensure nothing gets damaged on route. This time the item had not been put into any protective outer wrapping at all. The retail shelf pack had simply had an address label slapped on and it was sent just like that. It stood little chance of arriving undamaged, but there’s more.
In order to ensure next day delivery, Amazon had subcontracted the consignment to another courier company. When I was handed the package, I could see that the end of the box was torn and broken. An unsuccessful attempt had been made to reseal it. I complained to the driver, but he would not allow me to reject the delivery.
To cut a long story short, I phoned Amazon. They apologized, and sent me a replacement the following day using a different courier. I know from experience they would have also done this if I had been a non-Prime customer.
Unless you need quick deliveries, I don't think next day delivery on its own makes the fee for Amazon Prime good value. If this is the only Prime service you intend to use, don't sign up.
Pros and Cons of Prime Subscription Service
- Free one-day shipping
- No minimum spend for free shipping
- Access to special deals
- Can get bulky and heavy grocery items delivered
- Free unlimited downloads
- Rushed service leads to mistakes
- You get free shipping anyway if you spend at least $35/ £20
- Encourages you to spend more than planned
- Not all items are cheaper online than your local store
- Shopping and spending online distracts you from other tasks
10 Hidden Amazon Prime Benefits and Perks
Other Prime Services
I have listed below the range of services included in the monthly Prime fee. The deal covers unlimited free downloads of audio, video and game content. This could be appealing if you have kids or have tech related hobbies. For me, they are less useful and it would be cheaper for me to pay for the few downloads that I want.
Unlimited cloud storage is another plus that sounds good. But you would lose your content if you decided to stop your subscription at some point in the future.
On balance, I won't be signing up for Amazon Prime as I wouldn't make enough use of the “extras”. However, if I wanted to make a lot of purchases at a busy time of year like Black Friday or Christmas, joining Amazon Prime for a short time could be worthwhile to get quicker deliveries.
Signing up for a free trial 30-day trial is worth doing. It gives you the chance to see whether paying a monthly fee would benefit you.
What Does Amazon Prime Offer?
The cost in 2020 for Amazon Prime membership is $12.99 per month in US and £7.99 per month in UK. Or you can pay an annual fee of $119 or £79. The subscription service includes the following:-
- Free next-day delivery
- Digital credits for choosing free-no-rush shipping option
- Unlimited deliveries with no minimum order size
- 'Try before you buy' fashion service with Prime Wardrobe
- Instant access to video streaming with Prime Video
- On-demand, ad-free music streaming with Prime Music
- Unlimited reading on any device with Prime Reading
- Unlimited listening to original audio series from Audible
- Free game content every month, exclusive discounts with Twitch
- Free unlimited photo storage through Prime Photos
- 30-minute early access to select Amazon Lightning Deals
- Groceries though Amazon Pantry and Amazon Fresh
What Happens If You Forget to Cancel Your 30-Day Prime Trial?
It's a good idea to note the end of your 30-day Prime trial on a calendar. You'll receive a reminder from Amazon when payments are about to be taken, so you should make sure you cancel the subscription when prompted. There is no good reason why you would not cancel the service in good time.
However, it's possible that Amazon's reminder gets delivered to your spam folder and you are charged for a Prime service you do not want. Do not panic. You can cancel at any time, so do so as soon as you realize the mistake.
If you've forgotten to cancel, a month's subscription payment will be taken from your credit or debit card as per Amazon's terms and conditions of service. You can ask for it back, but if you complain in an agressive manner, you are unlikely to get a refund. However if you are polite and courteous, Amazon staff will often be willing to return any payments already taken.
Prime Wardrobe Try-Before-You-Buy Service
Amazon continues to add to its portfolio of products. The latest addition is a try-before-you-buy service for clothing and fashion. It is currently offered in three countries; US, UK, and Japan.
Named Prime Wardrobe, the service allows you to order between 3 and 8 clothing items with no upfront payment. You then have 7 days to decide whether to keep or return them. The more items you keep, the bigger the discount you are given on their purchase price. You can access Prime Wardrobe with a 30-day free trial subscription of Amazon Prime.
How Easy is it to Cancel the Free Trial?
It's very easy to cancel your free subscription. But remember to do so before the 30-day period is up or you will be charged for the following month. Go to your Amazon account page and find the menu tab marked "Prime". There you will be able to cancel the trial with literally just a click of a button.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.