Your Prime Membership May be Costing You More Than You Think
In the last couple of days, I have lost much confidence in Amazon.com. I have been a customer of Amazon from their first days, they were just a struggling startup. Over the years, I have purchased many, many books, and many more other items from electronics to optics. I have also been an Amazon Prime member where the members get free 2-day shipping for a fixed annual fee.
A couple of days ago I wanted to buy a memory card and the offer on the screen was not honored, neither the price nor the free shipping. On top of that, the item showed two different prices. The big price on top of the page in red was $28.10 and later on in “Frequently bought together section” the item was listed at $26. I called the phone support, and the agent tried to explain to me that the item was sold by an Amazon vendor, they don’t control the price, yadda, yadda, yadda… I indicated my displeasure to the agent and added that they were using double pricing or allowing their participating vendors to do it. Later, I indicated the same in a survey they sent to me.
A few hours later an e-mail arrived apologizing for the inconvenience, etc. and asking for me to provide the item number. I replied to the message with a detailed explanation, a link to the page, and a screen capture. Then I noticed that they wanted me to provide this information online, which I used to tell them that I had sent an e-mail. This morning an e-mail arrived, apologizing again, but telling me in no uncertain terms that I had to provide the information on their form. Which I did.
Yet another message arrived, profusely apologizing for the inconvenience and offering me $5 credit as a goodwill gesture. Thank you, but … read on. I went back to the Amazon site, searched for the same item again. This time, I found the same item at $23.11 and clicked on the link. Oh, what happened? The price went up to $28.10. Hmmmmm! I noticed that I was logged in to my account. After logging out I went to the product listing page, the $23.11 was still showing and a click on it brought me to a page where, lo and behold, the price was $23.11 and the seller was different.
Hypothesis: For Amazon Prime members the item is priced higher and a different vendor is promoted to make the sale.
To test the hypothesis, I logged in again with my Amazon credentials, reloaded the product grid page, clicked on the $23.11 item and sure enough, the price went up to $28.10 and the vendor switched again. So the test confirmed the behavior I saw a little earlier. I seemed to be charged different prices and directed to different vendors based on my login state. In short, part or all of the shipping costs seem to be added on the price of the product. I felt like screaming: SHAME ON YOU AMAZON!
Now, in case you think I am making all this up, I have the links and screen captures to prove it.
Link 1 http://amzn.to/cZZneo (logged out, search result, the first item is $23.11)
Link 2 http://amzn.to/a15jTM (logged out, clicked on the product link and see the same price)
Link 3 http://amzn.to/cZZneo (logged in, the same product and $23.11 item shows)
Link 4 http://amzn.to/dsWwx0 (logged in, clicked on the link of the above item and I see the price $28.10)
I was able to replicate the example on a totally different browser, Google Chrome which I had not used to look at these items before, ever.
Stay tuned, I will be posting more screen captures and recorded video of this unethical behavior. Needless to say, I stopped my auto-renewal of Prime membership, $79 a year down the drain!