I quit Amazon Prime a month ago and I haven’t looked back. Cancelling my Prime account was something I’d thought about doing for about a year, but I kept saying I would wait until our youngest son was out of diapers. I finally hit the cancel button last month and today I cancelled all of our Subscribe & Save items. Read on to see why I couldn’t wait any longer.
Why I Joined Prime
I joined Amazon Prime five years ago when my oldest son was born. I was eager to sign up for Subscribe & Save so I could save on monthly deliveries of diapers. To unlock the Subscribe & Save discount, you need five items in your monthly delivery, so I also subscribed to baby food, wipes, toiletries, snack food, and pantry staples. The free two-day shipping and free returns were a nice bonus too.
First Signs of Trouble
After our boys move onto solids and stopped eating baby food, I noticed I was having a harder time finding five items for the monthly deliveries. A lot of our staple foods were not available for Subscribe & Save delivery. Sometimes when the items were available, they were no less expensive than big box store prices, even with the discount. So I would scramble to find things to add to the subscription so I could unlock the discount and end up adding things I really didn’t want.
A lot of the items that are available in Subscribe & Save are sold in bulk. Shampoos will come in sets of two, Burt’s Bees baby powder (that I use as dry shampoo) comes in sets of three, Annie’s popcorn comes in a box of eight full-size bags, and cleaning products come in large bottles. More than once I forgot to skip a months delivery and ended up with multiples upon multiples of items that take me more than a month to use. I currently have 8 bottles of baby powder in my bathroom.
Amazon Is Not Always The Lowest Price
My family eats a lot of cereal. A LOT. I know what our favorite cereals cost at every store in town. And Amazon is always on the high-end of the range of cost for our favorite types of cereals. I’ve also noticed this for my favorite brand of tea.
Amazon does have some great prices, and if the items are offered with the Subscribe & Save program, even better. But it helps to be aware that Amazon is not always the cheapest, even with the subscription discount.
Let’s talk about the obvious: The biggest problem with Amazon Prime is impulse shopping. “Oh, this doodad is only $9.99 with Prime Shipping? Done!” Did I need this doodad? No.
Even after I started down-sizing my house, I have impulse purchased way more than I like to admit. When I was planning my son’s fourth birthday, I ordered 50 paper straws. I don’t know if it’s because I had trouble visualizing what 50 paper straws would look like IRL or because the straws were so cheap, but I now have about 30 straws waiting for this year’s party in my pantry.
My Favorite Brands Are Not On Amazon
What’s one big reason people shop on Amazon? To save money on popular brands. But not all brands want their merchandise on Amazon. Birkenstock is high profile example. The company does not allow their shoes to be sold on Amazon, and the CEO of Birkenstock is not a fan of Amazon. But if you go to Amazon right now and search for “Birkenstocks”, you will see 28 pages of results.
Birkenstock claims that Amazon doesn’t do a good job at keeping counterfeit merchandise off of it’s site. If you’ve shopped on Amazon and read the product reviews, you’ve probably seen people complaining about knock-off items. I’ve never felt that I’ve received fake items, but I intentionally don’t buy expensive make-up or beauty care products on Amazon for this reason.
A lot of the high-end brands that I like are not on Amazon, or if they are it’s usually offered by a third-party seller in one size (tip: this usually means it’s a professional reseller. Nothing against resellers, but if they find something with tags attached, they will sell on Amazon versus eBay to make more money).
To avoid getting scammed on big ticket designer items, I stick to the well-known high-end stores, consignment stores, or eBay.
The Problem With Free Shipping & Free Returns (for me anyway)
I am the first to admit that I am a very picky clothes shopper. I refuse to settle on quality or fit. I have been known to order two or three (or six) items on Amazon with the full intention of only keeping one piece, and then I end up returning everything because I was not impressed by the quality.
So what’s the big deal? Amazon offers free shipping and free returns, right? Constantly shopping online, placing an order, waiting for the order to arrive (although Amazon has the fastest shipping around), trying everything on, boxing up the returns, printing out the return label, then making a special trip to the post office to drop it off – that’s a huge amount of time! For me, because I am so picky, it’s faster for me to drive to a physical store and try on clothes than to browse and shop online (this isn’t just Amazon either, I’m pretty much done with online shopping).
Here’s an example from last year. I wanted a new dress to wear for our annual family photos. I’d lost some weight and I didn’t have a nice dress in my current size. I’m not joking, I ordered 10 dresses from Amazon. But I didn’t order them all at once. No, I spent days ordering and returning, then ordering another dress and returning. This process was spread over two weeks. I ended up keeping one dress that cost $60. I would have saved so much time if I had spent one afternoon shopping in a physical store.
And guess what happened to that $60 dress? I hand-washed it and it shrunk. Yeah, I said hand-washed and shrunk. I’m not still mad about it or anything…
Honestly, with all of the free shipping and free returns that I make, I don’t know how Amazon makes any money off of me.
What I’ll Miss About Amazon Prime
Let’s be honest, there are some good things about Amazon Prime, that’s why I signed up for it in the first place. Here’s what I’ll miss:
- Free two-day shipping
- Free returns (and fast, Amazon is so fast with the returns)
What I’ll Still Get with Amazon
Even without a Prime membership, there is still a lot I can get from Amazon, such as:
- Free standard shipping on orders over $25 – I can let items sit in the cart until I reach $25 or just pay shipping
- Great product reviews – Amazon has a great active community of users who love writing reviews
- Hard to find items – there are some things I know will be in stock on Amazon and I will go straight to Amazon for those things (it’s usually socks)