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Amazon Prime

The following article (written by Sophie Christie) was published in The Telegraph on 24 October 2014. I think this is a good read for anyone who is contemplating becoming an Amazon Prime subscriber.

After the article I offer my views on the service.

Is it worth paying extra for Amazon Prime?

Christmas is rapidly approaching, but ultra-organised shoppers might already be thinking of ways to cut the cost, particularly online, where almost nine in 10 of us buy our presents, as evidenced by a PayPal study last year.

One way is to eliminate the cost of delivery, which can often be £5 or more per package. Some retailers offer free delivery on spends of around £50-£100, but charge for smaller amounts.

Amazon, the online giant with more than 244 million worldwide users, offers an alternative to pricey delivery charges. Its “Prime” membership, which costs £79 a year after a month’s free trial, offers free one-day delivery on millions of items on its website, as well as access to 500,000 Kindle titles to “borrow” free of charge.

Users can also get unlimited “streaming” of 15,000 film and television titles with Prime Instant Video.

A Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (Cirp) poll this year underlined Amazon Prime’s popularity. Of 500 Amazon consumers between January and March, 42pc were subscribed to Prime, with 48pc of those owning a Kindle or other e-reader device. Cirp estimated that, as of March 31, around 2 8  million people in America alone were Prime subscribers.

Mike Levin, co-founder of Cirp, said: “Prime serves as a superb affinity programme for Amazon, as Prime members spend twice as much as the rest of Amazon’s customers.”

It may be great for Amazon but do Prime members get a good deal?

Delivery

Depending on what you buy, Amazon typically charges £5.99 for one-day delivery, £2.75 for first-class post (which takes up to two business days), £8.99 for express delivery (you will receive the item by midday the following day) or £14.99 for delivery on the evening you purchase the item.

So, using the one-day delivery charge of £5.99, you would have to buy 13 items a year to make the £79 annual membership worthwhile.

However, if you spend at least £10 each time you buy something, you qualify for free “Super Saver” delivery. This takes three to five days.

It depends on how quickly you want the item, but if you don’t mind waiting between three and five days, Super Saver offers a good deal. As most items on Amazon cost more than £10, it won’t be difficult to meet this threshold. And if you are buying now for Christmas the delivery time isn’t vital.

But if next-day delivery matters, Amazon Prime would be worthwhile if you buy more than 13 items each year.

Kindle titles

Prime members get access to 500,000 Kindle books to “borrow” from the “Kindle owners’ lending library”. You can borrow only one book each month. But there are unlimited e-reader subscription services like Scribd (£5.50 a month) and 24symbols (£7). Amazon also has “Kindle Unlimited” at £7.99 a month for as many
novels as you wish.

If you are happy borrowing only one book a month with Amazon Prime, you would save up to £84 a year, by not subscribing to a rival e-reader subscription service.

Prime Instant Video

On its own this service costs £5.99 a month, but as a Prime member you get it free. It gives you access to 15,000 film and television titles, among them shows such as The Walking Dead and Lost.

You could, as an alternative, buy the “seasons” of these shows separately to stream online or download. Season one of The Walking Dead costs £1.89 and season three costs £19.99. If you regularly watch shows and films online, Prime Membership, which includes Prime Instant Video, is more cost-effective than buying the titles separately.

Amazon’s competitor for streaming services, Netflix, also costs £5.99 a month.

As an Amazon Prime member streaming with Prime Instant Video rather than Netflix, you would save £5.99 a month, or £72 a year.

I joined Amazon Prime in 2010 and family members could also take advantage of the free, next day delivery on my personal membership fee of £49 per year. My husband and I are both avid readers; books in the main are cheaper on Amazon so we found this was a great incentive to stay loyal. Why?  Books have always arrived in pristine condition and whilst I miss browsing around a bookshop, it is wonderful to receive copies that have not been thumbed through and fingerprints left!

Over the years however, more and more of our shopping has and is continuing to be done on the Amazon site. So often items are much cheaper than anywhere else; 99% have arrived on time and with regard to the remaining 1%, Amazon has dealt with the problem quickly and efficiently.

Reading through the feedback on a few of the Amazon pages, it appears that some customers have more problems with deliveries than anything else. I do believe that this depends on where you live and certainly some couriers are better than others. However, I have always contacted customer service with any comment or query and have been totally satisfied with the outcome. Amazon welcomes constructive feedback as they want happy customers!

Then in 2014 I received notice that my Prime membership was going to include the streaming of movies (Prime Instant Video) for a new fee of £79 per year. As my renewal date was not due at that time, I was able to download and watch as many titles as I wanted; I suppose this was my trial period. How glad my husband and I took advantage of this offer.

So what about the money? If we take my personal orders only (not including a family member) during 2014, I placed and received 60 orders with Amazon. This totalled £1,404.22 with zero delivery costs. If we then assume these orders were placed without Amazon Prime, and a delivery charge of £5.99 was made for each of the 60 orders, then delivery costs would have been £359.40.

Deduct from this total £79 Prime membership - I therefore saved £280.40 and had streaming movies as well. Also Prime members now have the opportunity to store unlimited photos on the Amazon cloud drive - for free! What more could anyone want?

I believe Amazon Prime is the way to go - shop from home - have your orders delivered. Save on car parking charges, petrol, bus fares and/or shoe leather. Save your time and energy too but most of all save on high delivery costs. For £79 per year Amazon Prime really is worth it.

Go on, try your 30 day free trial now and enjoy.


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