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Amazon Offers 2-Day Shipping For $79/Year 325

Posted by timothy
from the that's-actually-tempting dept.
stevejsmith writes "Amazon.com has announced their Amazon Prime service. For $79, you get free two-day shipping on all items, upgradeable to overnight shipping for $3.99 per item. The offer applies to most media (books, DVDs, CDs, etc.) and can be shared among "up to four family members living in the same household." Apparently the only way they will enforce this family-only sharing clause is by mandating that your "family members" know your birthday."
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Amazon Offers 2-Day Shipping For $79/Year

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  • Family Members (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fembots (753724) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:25PM (#11555007) Homepage
    Isn't a better way is to let you nominate 4 Amazon users under your account, and you can only change these users once every x months or pay a fee for each change?

    The service is limited to family members living in the same household, that means goods will(should) always be delivered to that one address, and I don't see many people can abuse it.

    Enlighten me please.
  • by American AC in Paris (230456) * on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:25PM (#11555009) Homepage
    Unless it can transform from a tractor-trailer into a bow-wielding vixen, I'm not interested.
    • I'm not sure I want my bow-weilding vixens to be transforming into tractor-trailers anyway...
      • I'm not sure I want my bow-weilding vixens to be transforming into tractor-trailers anyway...

        ...but think all the double entendre fun you could have!

        "Wait 'till you get inside! Cozy, yet surprisingly roomy!"
        "I'm into leather. Heated seats, too..."
        "It's very pleasant in the rear--I could spend all day there!"
        "I enjoy sex with motor vehicles!"

        (uh--scratch that last one.)

  • I have bought many items over the years from Amazon as I'm always relatively pleased with their prices and ALWAYS pleased with their service... Just yesterday I purchased a new GPS for myself. Being an avid geocacher [geocaching.com] I am always upgrading my GPSr to make my life a little easier.

    This particular upgrade wasn't just for geocaching but more for actual navigating. My fiancé needed to use autorouting to get around town with her sister dress shopping and autorouting would be the best way. What a great ex
  • by techsoldaten (309296) * on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:25PM (#11555015) Journal
    Does Amazon Prime compete with Optimus for leadership of the Autobots?

    Perhaps he is the UPS truck to Optimus's tractor trailer?

    M
    • Yes this is a bad name. I tried reading their product desciptions, but my mind kept drifing away to day dreams about Amazon Prime, the leader of the female warrior tribe of Transformers. Mmmm sexy, sexy Maternatrons.
    • The Barbeaubot will surely rule them all with the D Cups of Justice.
  • by chris09876 (643289) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:26PM (#11555019)
    That's not a bad deal... I can see this being especially useful in university residences. Just get one person in the building to buy a membership and collect their $2 from everyone who wants to use it... and free shipping for the rest of the year!
  • small book stores (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CAIMLAS (41445) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:26PM (#11555020) Homepage
    This might be greatly advantageous to small bookstores (new and used), if they can get any title for a person within two days and not have to order in bulk, etc.

    I wonder if this rate deal covers the "used" 3rd party books.
    • The terms and conditions specificially state that books sold to businesses for resale are not included in the program.
    • Don't think so. (Score:4, Informative)

      by mckwant (65143) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:41PM (#11555187)
      I did an order a while ago for some books through some of the resellers, and their S&H is separate from Amazon's. Turned out to be cheaper overall to pay the $0.33/book extra to Amazon, and ship for free.

      YMMV.
    • How would such a bookstore make a profit? Most bookstores order wholesale, not retail.
      • Wholesale stock.

        Retail special orders in 2 days, with no commitment to purchase.

        Stores don't use this sort of thing to make money, they use it to earn customer loyalty. The customer knows they can get books of the internet. The store's there to let them touch and feel, and hopefully offer someone who has read it to talk to.

        They get all their books in one place, and if they decide they don't like the book once it's in there hands, they can refuse. The store has a wider selection, and can always resto
    • Or course, those customers would be better served going to Amazon by themselves in the first place...

      Also, I don't think the free 2-day shipping covers marketplace items, so used books don't qualify.
  • Uh Oh (Score:5, Funny)

    by nightterror (199513) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:26PM (#11555028) Homepage
    Im in enough trouble trying to remember my wifes birthday as it is....
  • by FingerDemon (638040) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:29PM (#11555049) Journal
    Well, that eliminates my family from participating.
  • by ucblockhead (63650) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:29PM (#11555053) Homepage Journal
    Seems to me you'd have to spend on the order of $1500/yr in merchandise in order to make this worthwhile. And then, it'd only be worth it if you would have paid for two-day shipping otherwise.
    • For people (like me) who order just about everything they buy from Amazon, $1500/yr is not a large amount.

      The two-day shipping deal is even better than it seems on the surface, though. You don't have to consolidate your orders. You don't have to place orders for $25+ to get free shipping. When you select two-day shipping, they not only use quicker shipping, but it leaves the warehouse more quickly as well. You and your family can split the cost.

      This is quite a deal, IMO.
    • Shhhhh! (Score:5, Funny)

      by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:46PM (#11555264) Homepage Journal
      You're not supposed to do the math!
      • I did the math. This is awesome. Just last week I needed some books ASAP that I couldn't get locally. I've already spent like $25 this year on express shipping from Amazon. I will save way more than $79 with this. It's brilliant for Amazon too, I'm sure I'll buy way more stuff from them now knowing I can get anything in 2 days for nothing extra.
        • Re:Shhhhh! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @07:02PM (#11556129) Homepage Journal
          You are a marketing department's wet dream. They get you to pay for something and then you give them more business to justify having made your purchase. Think about it.
          • Re:Shhhhh! (Score:3, Insightful)

            by rm999 (775449)
            Yeah - that's the point. Some people will sign up for this deal, and in the process give amazon more business. Hopefully, those people thought it out and will save money from the deal. Seems win-win to me. Instead of driving to walmart to buy a widget for 3 dollars, they can go to amazon and get it for 2 dollars without paying 5 dollars shipping. Anything that screws over walmart is good in my book :)

            At the same time, I know this deal would be terrible for a person like me - Most of the things I buy are mo
    • The funny part is 80% of the time I get my book the *next* day, with the free shipping.

      What a deal.

    • by fv (95460) * <fyodor@insecure.org> on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @07:59PM (#11556886) Homepage

      Your $1500/year assumption also assumes that the price will stay $79/year. Their ad calls this a "special introductory price". The worst thing is that unless you pay enough attention to cancel before hand, they will charge the next non-special, non-introductory fee to your credit card in exactly 12 months without any notification to you. From the Terms and Conditions [amazon.com]:

      "YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR MEMBERSHIP WILL AUTOMATICALLY RENEW AND YOU AUTHORIZE US TO CHARGE TO YOUR CREDIT OR DEBIT CARD (WITHOUT NOTICE TO YOU) THE THEN-APPLICABLE ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP FEE AND ANY TAXES, UNLESS YOU NOTIFY US BEFORE RENEWAL THAT YOU WANT TO CANCEL YOUR MEMBERSHIP."

      They don't provide (AFAICT) any option to buy just one year. By purchasing Amazon Prime you are giving them permission to choose any price and charge it to you next year. They may also "in our discretion change these Terms ... or any aspect of Prime membership without notice to you ... YOUR CONTINUED MEMBERSHIP AFTER WE CHANGE THESE TERMS CONSTITUTES YOUR ACCEPTANCE OF THE CHANGES." So they can change their terms without telling you, then you automatically accept if you don't immediately notice and cancel. Great!

      I hate it when companies try to pull this. Forcing an annual set fee on people is bad enough -- but to raise the price arbitrarily and still charge people's card without notification is outrageous. This is the kind of thing sleazy porn sites do (or so I hear :).

      There may be some advantages to this program, but I certainly won't sign up until they let me buy ONE YEAR at a known price. None of this blank check nonsense.

      -Fyodor
      Concerned about your network security? Try the free Nmap Security Scanner [insecure.org].

  • Last Time... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CastrTroy (595695) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:30PM (#11555059) Homepage
    Last time my girlfriend (yes, I have one) bought something at Amazon, shipping only took 2 days anyway. What are we paying for here? In Canada, they use Canada Post for delivery, which will usually deliver stuff to most major centers in 2 days. Some places take longer, although probably not over 5 days.
    • I live in the UK and have had similar experiences. Their super saver delivery quotes (I think) 3-5 day delivery, and usually turns up in 1-2 days. The only exception to this was around the Christmas period when it took 3 days.
    • I think the big win here is on consolidation -- if you order a bunch of things, in and out of stock, you get the in-stock ones in two days and the others two days after arrival.

      Under the current system, you do get pretty much everything within two days of shipping but that can take a while if you don' pay for multiple shipments.

    • Things are different here in the US. Ground shipping at "regular speed" is pretty slow and can take up to 5 business days to arrive from the warehouses (which are not in major centres for obvious reasons) to a major destination like Seattle.

      It's a big country, and it sucks if you are in logistics.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:31PM (#11555077)
    For $79, you get free

    It's amazing how marketing has managed to distort the English language. Hey, I'll work for Free/Hr.

  • by jgerry (14280) * <jason,gerry&gmail,com> on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:31PM (#11555079) Homepage
    At about $7 per expedited shipment, you'd break even after about 12 orders. But it only makes sense if you order about once a month from Amazon (I do), and you're compulsive and always want your stuff quickly (I do).

    I scanned my orders from 2004 and I spent $95 on expedited shipping costs, so for me, it might be a good idea.
  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:31PM (#11555084) Homepage Journal
    News for Shoppers. Ways to save.
  • Two-day shipping (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:33PM (#11555094) Journal
    I have never bought two-day shipping for fed-ex or ups packages, yet receive everything within 2 business days of physical ship. Not just amazon either.

    I once used two-day shipping with USPS, they lost the package, and found it again two weeks later. They kindly told me that two day shipping does not guarantee two-days to get there. I asked what the two-day shipping meant then, and I got a trout look.

    Does two-day shipping price really mean anything?
  • So will birthdays become like serials numbers?

    Birthdates are the new serial numbers.
  • The small print (Score:5, Interesting)

    by the_mighty_$ (726261) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:34PM (#11555104)

    The free shipping/$3.99 overnight is only available if you purchase directly from Amazon. i.e. it is not available if you purchase from third party Amazon Marketplace or zShops sellers.

    For many items, Amazon is actually competing with third party sellers that are selling on their site. This new service might be the incentive necessary for many people to not buy from third party sellers, but to only buy from Amazon which will result in more money for them. That could be one of the reasons behind introducing Amazon Prime.

    • There's already reason to order from Amazon when some of their third-party sellers have the same item. The fewer businesses that have your shipping info the less junk mail you'll receive. I already look for the item directly from Amazon, because they already have my address. I'm getting catalogs from some of their third-party sellers and I'd rather not.
    • 3rd party books often sell for a *fraction* of Amazon's price, especially if you don't have any issues with lightly used books. It's going to take a lot more than "free" (which it isn't) shipping to convince me to buy from Amazon instead.
    • For many items, Amazon is actually competing with third party sellers that are selling on their site.

      Not bloody likely considering the fees that Amazon charges both to the seller and for S/H on each order (of which they keep a portion--it is not 100% passed thru to the seller). Either way Amazon wins.
  • The New WalMart (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ChicoLance (318143) * <lance@orner.net> on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:36PM (#11555134)

    People are making jokes about this, but this idea could change some of the methods of online/webbased stores. Just think, without having to worry about shipping charges _at all_, then I wouldn't have to worry about making a $5 order for a little kitchen gadget. I wouldn't have to run to the store for something, just go online, and it will be here in a couple of days.

    This should really increase the sales of some of their smaller items. If I've got to get a couple new drill bits for this weekend's project, I can just click and get it and not have to run to Home Depot.

    This is a cool idea if it makes the consumer think first about ordering online, and not as a second or third choice.

    • Re:The New WalMart (Score:2, Insightful)

      by danrik (568865)
      Excellent point. I think that this is really the reason for the move. There are also numerous times that I spend a lot of time when purchasing online to find the best shipping deals - places that are close to me and standard shipping vs. places that are far away with express shipping. This type of deal could really sway folks, especially in situation where the shipping price is the deciding factor in the choice of online merchant.
    • This is a cool idea if it makes the consumer think first about ordering online

      Please, we are called "customers".
    • Re:The New WalMart (Score:3, Insightful)

      by igrp (732252)
      Just think, without having to worry about shipping charges _at all_, then I wouldn't have to worry about making a $5 order for a little kitchen gadget. I wouldn't have to run to the store for something, just go online, and it will be here in a couple of days.

      Personally, I would love that. There's a lot of stuff that I need or like but don't need right away (actually, mostly anything outside of groceries).

      The problem here is, however, that Amazon still has to pay for the shipping. And even if they can bri

  • I don't get it... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tekiegreg (674773)
    My packages from amazon come in 2-3 days anyways typically. Maybe once in awhile they drag their feet out to 5 days but if it's urgent I'd usually just pay the extra $ for 2 day or overnight anyways. Sorry Amazon I'll stick with your standard model. Though I especially like the Super Saver shipping on packages I don't care too much about when they come anyways :-)
  • by cshay (79326) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:38PM (#11555159)
    I've noticed that when I order stuff with Supersaver free shipping during a non-holiday period, the stuff arrives amazingly fast.

    Considering that, I think you would have to order huge amounts of items per year for this to be worth it.

    • I agree with you. I use to be one of Amazon.com's prime Next Day FedEx shipping when they had it. But when they switched to UPS, I'd pay for the 2nd day shipping and never receive the item (well, receive it 4-5 days out after numerous exception errors--it never made it on the truck--from UPS. Finally, I just decided no more urgent shipping, and to use the Free Shipping whenever possible (for me that's about 75% of my orders). Well, since I've been using Free Shipping almost all of my items arrive within tw
    • I've noticed that when I order stuff with Supersaver free shipping during a non-holiday period, the stuff arrives amazingly fast.

      I'm sure this depends on where you are. Typically if I use their Supersaver shipping, it's a real crapshoot. Typically, when I do Supersaver, it ends up getting shipped via Airborne/DHL. This has two problems:

      1. For some reason, packages shipped to my office (zip code 03755) have a disturbing tendency to get shipped to the DHL office in Enfield, NH (just down the road), and t
    • Or, alternatively, if you and a bunch of roommates are college students, you can use this to save money on textbooks (although you save more money from buying used on Amazon rather than their list price.
  • This would be a great service - but not for me. Sometimes living on an island in the middle of the Pacific ocean has disadvantages.
  • by Have Blue (616) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:47PM (#11555276) Homepage
    Was anyone else expecting a first-person adventure game based on the venerable Amazon series?
  • When it takes them a week to "ship" the item. Both B&N and Amazon have this nasty habit of taking forever to ship many items. They give you *free* 3-day shipping, but they take 2 weeks to get started on it.

    Here's another annoying feature I found (this one at B&N). I ordered a LOT of books (about 15) and took the free 3-day shipping. They had to break the order up into 3 shipments at different times (over about 4 weeks). EVERY SINGLE TIME they "shipped" (gave me my tracking number) on a wednesd
  • Well, although it took little energy, I had to click to "Learn more about Amazon Prime" before I realized they only ship to continental US. So, Alaska & Hawaii (not to mention US Territories) miss out again! It's too bad we still can't sign up for the same deal and just pay the difference in 2-day/overnight shipping. Considering we don't have a ground option to begin with(here in Hawaii), this would be a nice token gesture.

    *sigh*

    Oh well, I'm sure hope these work-provided mai-tai's can ease my pain.
  • Get a whole extra day of "free" shipping

  • Tell your friends, co-workers, etc. and order things for them overnight. Charge $5 under what Amazon charges, or your own small fee.

    You make a killing.
  • by digitalgimpus (468277) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @05:56PM (#11555392) Homepage
    I ask this simply because I don't know anyone who pays extra for shipping.

    These days it seems that you order online if you want a good price, and you go to the store if you want it quick.

    I personally calculate shipping into the price, and compare. It seems there's always 1 place that offers free shipping these days. I'll wait an extra day or 2 for free shipping.

    I got a LCD TV from Amazon.com. Did free shipping. 48hrs after I ordered UPS was at the door. Yea, that's right. 48hrs, and free shipping.

    In most cases I found it's well under a week.

    IMHO I would never pay extra for shipping. Want me as a customer? Think free.

    If they let me pay $x a year for all the shipping for a year (unlimited shopping and no shipping)... I would consider that.

    But not to make shipping faster. Never. And I'm sure I'm not alone.
  • Customer retention (Score:2, Insightful)

    by binder520 (767223)
    I see this offer as an innovative marketing mechanism aimed at increasing customer retention and rewarding their current list of loyal customers.

    Loyal customers already do most of their shopping @ amazon, so this offer will just be a way to save on shipping costs. The biggest impact is on customers that make a significant number of their purchases online, but not exclusively at Amazon. An offer like this might be enough to push them over the edge to become Amazon exclusive shoppers.
  • Anyone who wants to know my birthday, paypal me $20.
  • Great... (Score:4, Funny)

    by dmarx (528279) <dmarx@hushma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @06:29PM (#11555709) Homepage Journal
    Now I can't tell any non-family my birthday without Amazon suing me for breaking their copy protection.
  • Bugger (Score:3, Informative)

    by Simon Garlick (104721) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @10:51PM (#11558323)
    This program is limited to certain products sold by Amazon.com on www.amazon.com that are shipped to continental United States addresses
  • by honold (152273) on Thursday February 03, 2005 @02:07AM (#11559607)
    "Products are eligible for Prime only if designated on the website"

    eh?

Ernest asks Frank how long he has been working for the company. "Ever since they threatened to fire me."

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