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Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Why do or don't you shop at Amazon?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (37452points) January 3rd, 2023

Amazon is building a distribution center here, so I’m cogitating on getting a membership again.

Years ago, I had a Prime membership, but I canceled it when the price went up to $120/year. It’s even more expensive now. (How much is it?) I have been able to simply wait until I have $25-worth of merchandise to order to get the free shipping. Sometimes I will ask a friend to order for me, and they’re always happy to oblige.

I do not watch any TV, so I’m not really interested in their shows. I might be interested in the movies they have.

I do not need cloud storage. I have a subscription to Office 365 and get a bazillion gigs of storage that I use.

What other perks are there that I’m unaware of or have forgotten?

There’s the problem of their labor practices, but we have strong unions here and hope the distribution center here would unionize. We also have strict laws protecting workers.

It’s often said that Amazon is evil, but other than their abysmal labor practices, what else are they guilty of? This won’t be the only thing I think about.

Please tell me what you know about Amazon. Please tell me what you think of them, too.

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15 Answers

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

I bought a meat carving knife and a potato masher on Amazon over the holidays.

I use Amazon to introduce me to new books, and I have fun adding them to my wish list.

Locke's avatar

I recently canceled my Prime subscription and when I did, it was $16 a month (so $192 a year). I canceled mainly because I was not ordering enough from them to justify keeping the subscription. I don’t love Amazon’s business practices either and I don’t love the way they are becoming a near-monopoly in online shopping, and I’ve been making more of an effort to order from other sources, especially if it doesn’t cost any more (or the difference is negligible).

I will probably have to restart my subscription when The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel comes out with a new season, but I have no problem with temporarily subscribing to a stremaing service like Showtime or HBO or Amazon to watch one specific show.

At this point I only really use Amazon when they have something at a reasonable price that no one else has. Thankfully, I’ve been having better luck with alternatives lately.

canidmajor's avatar

I am in a state of perpetual moral quandary about them. I like Prime, and during the pandemic I ordered a lot of stuff from them, but because of their labor practices, I am backing way off, and really trying to go more with brick and mortar when I can, or order from sites that are smaller and more ethical.

But I still use them (damn, the convenience is seductive!) and I still beat myself up a bit for that.

Baby steps.

janbb's avatar

^^ What she said and also because I do use Prime on tv.

I balance the ambivalence by never buying a Tesla or being on Twitter!

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@janbb I like the way you think.

@canidmajor I’m similarly in a quandary.

@Locke Thank you.

@RedDeerGuy1 Thank you.

Entropy's avatar

So….complicated.

I will, IF IT IS CONVENIENT, use something other than Amazon. I always buy in bunches, so I’ve always got the free shipping. I will prefer something else simply because Amazon is very big, had cornered the marketplace, and is using their market power to discourage competition. I don’t know if I quite consider them a monopoly, but they definitely are on the border.

The problem is – what are my alternatives? So many small/niche sellers work through Amazon, and I don’t like creating a sign-in for every new website I go to or spreading my credit card around (and not enough of them use PayPal). The only semi-realistic competitor to Amazon is… Walmart.com. Which…not exactly a small cap competitor. Again, I’m a capitalist, I don’t have anything against Walmart, but the point of trying to use a smaller competitor is sort of undermined when that smaller competitor is Walmart. Also, Walmart.com isn’t as good. Amazon’s choices are almost infinite. Walmart’s very much aren’t.

So if I am buying something Walmart might have, I’ll do that…but otherwise, I’m too lazy to not use Amazon, and their selection is just too good and their prices are still competitive. That’s the good kind of monopoly. As much as I wish I could spread the love around more, Amazon’s simply outperforming it’s competitors.

Now, per Prime, my mother has a prime account, and my sister and cousin have a couple streaming services and I have a couple streaming services and we all share logins. So I do have Prime for streaming. It’s…decent. Alot of their offerings are for-extra-money, which I won’t do. But their originals are like any other streaming service. Some are quite good. I loved Hanna and Man In High Castle and a few others. I though Rings of Power wasn’t good, but wasn’t as bad as people say. They own MGM now, so if I’m ever going to get a Stargate series, it will be on Amazon. Some shows are quite bad. Don’t watch Tomorrow War for example.

But there are so many streaming services and they all have their niche hits. I really wish the streaming market were PPV based with a reasonable cost structure like MP3s. Bill me more when I watch your service more. Bill me less when I watch it less. Bill me zero when I don’t watch.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Entropy Thanks.

At this moment, I am leaning to not getting a Prime membership. I can continue as I do now. $192/year is outrageous. I pay for subscriptions to other things that I find I get more value from. I am working hard to pay off dental debt, and I want to concentrate on that.

RayaHope's avatar

I almost never buy stuff from Amazon because when I do seems like I get used junk most of the time. Why do people return stuff and then just turn around and resell it as new?

jca2's avatar

I have Prime and I used it a lot over the holidays. This question inspired me to look at my account and see what exactly I am paying, because when @Hawaii_Jake mentioned “192 a year” it scared me. I didn’t think I was paying that much. Maybe it’s because @Hawaii_Jake is in Hawaii, I don’t know but I’m currently paying $119 a year and it’s going up to $139 a year in March 2023.

I’m considering putting it on hold/cancelling it temporarily or permantly. A friend told me that you always have access to your purchase history so that’s good. She and her husband will often cancel and restart in order to save money.

I have found that for many things, the cost per unit at Amazon is not always the cheapest. With Prime, the cost per unit may be competitive if you buy in quantity, for example coffee maker water filters or paint brushes or stuff like that, but if you just buy one or three or other low quantities, the cost per unit is not that good. If I only want one or a few of an item, the best price is Walmart, and I’ll go to the store, or if I want a great price on a large quantity of an item (but limited choices of items), I can check Costco or Sam’s Club.

Before signing up for Prime, about 10 years ago, I was doing a lot of shopping from Amazon over the December holidays and I noticed that in addition to getting free shipping for having the $25 minimum, the shipments were coming really fast, like within a few days. I think because they have excess staff for November and December, they were really getting things shipped out quickly. Then once end of December came, things were taking two weeks to arrive.

I don’t use the video streaming service all that much. I know they also have music for streaming, which I don’t use. Friends use the Audible book service, but I get free books online from Libby and Hoopla, both free through the public library.

Locke's avatar

@jca2 Sorry, I was the one who brought up ”$192 a year”. That was an incorrect number. If you pay monthly, it’s $15 a month, so $180 a year. But if you decide to pay yearly, it works out to $11.58 a month ($139 for one year). The yearly payment is clearly the better deal, if you intend to use it. I was paying monthly because I wasn’t intending to use it for a year.

jca2's avatar

Oh ok, @Locke. I looked at my account and I’m currently paying 119 a year until March 2023, when it goes up 20 dollars.

SABOTEUR's avatar

I enjoy the satisfaction of fast, guaranteed delivery of things I want. I also enjoy the ease of returning and being reimbursed for stuff that don’t work as advertised. Their quality of service makes it difficult to order from anywhere else.

chyna's avatar

I use Amazon quite a bit. It’s really easy to find what I want or need on there and then comparison shop with stores around here. Generally, Amazon is cheaper. I used to order beads from China for my jewelry making and it would take at least a month to get the beads. Amazon carries the brand from the place I ordered from in China and at a much cheaper rate. Plus no shipping charges and I receive the stuff I order within 2 to 4 days.
Also, I don’t know if you have a Kohls store on the islands, but I can take any item I want to return to Kohls, without wrapping, without the box and they ship it back for me. Free.
Right this moment, I can’t think of any negatives, but if I do, I’ll come back.

smudges's avatar

Unlike @chyna, I can think of a negative….navigation!! I hate finding what I want. I’ll look through 5–10 pages and suddenly realize I’m seeing a lot of the same items. It gets so that eventually I’m seeing 10 new items and 10 or so items that have already been shown. Maybe someone has some tips for me, but I always dread when I shop Amazon; it takes me several hours to shop for 5–10 items.

Pluses (I’m not going to call them ‘positives’): Low price; they have literally everything you might need, including adult toys; free shipping when I use my sister’s Prime log-in ; I’ve never gotten “junk”, always new items; and as much as I hate spending the time shopping, there’s a magical feeling that comes over me knowing the world is at my fingertips.

It’s a love/hate relationship.

kevbo1's avatar

I don’t care for the Amazon brand. I’ll buy from them if it’s a deal or something specific that’s hard to find elsewhere via Google Shopping. On a local note, it’s notable that they built a five-story distribution center that mars Albuquerque’s western horizon.

As someone who remembers the evils of the “Sprawlmart” era, it amuses me that I find Walmart more appealing now.

I also do Costco.

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