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Businesses The Almighty Buck The Internet Transportation

Amazon Hikes Prime Membership Fee 276

Posted by timothy
from the what-the-market-will-bear dept.
An anonymous reader writes with official news that, as expected, "Amazon officially announced that it is increasing Prime Membership fees from $79 to $99. Amazon Students will pay $49, and participants of Amazon Fresh (the grocery shopping service) will continue to have a $299 fee. The price hike in Prime Membership is attributed to rising shipping costs, but some wonder if the 'real question around Prime is whether it's sustainable at all, even at a higher price.'"
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Amazon Hikes Prime Membership Fee

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13, 2014 @04:24PM (#46476709)

    I got the email today, just like everyone else that has Amazon prime.

    First thing I did was go try to turn off auto-renew. It turns out that they've hidden that feature, and you actually have to attempt to cancel your membership to do it. Then it gives you an option to end immediately if you qualify for a rebate or end at the normal time (6 months from now in my case).

    • by NotDrWho (3543773) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @05:03PM (#46477245)

      You must not use it much if an extra $20 a year is a deal-breaker for you. I use it all the time (along with the movie/TV streaming) and it's a helluva bargain, even with a $20 price bump. And I haven't even looked into the extras I could get on the Kindle.

      • by timeOday (582209) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @06:36PM (#46478179)
        I do order quite a bit from Amazon using my Prime account. The thing is, it wouldn't hurt me to wait a couple extra days for most of it. The basic problem with Prime is you are (pre-)paying for fast shipping for every Prime order, even when you don't really want it enough to pay for it.
        • by rmdingler (1955220) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @07:14PM (#46478525)

          The basic problem with Prime is you are (pre-)paying for fast shipping for every Prime order, even when you don't really want it enough to pay for it.

          I use it to purchase materials for jobs.

          It saves a lot of quality time as opposed to phoning and/or visiting a local supplier, let alone relying on the salesclerk's commitment to the importance of my individual order. I can look it up and get the order correct from nearly any obscure internet wholesaler, and then still order it through Amazon while taking advantage of their protective umbrella. If something available through Prime isn't right or arrives damaged, returns are easy like a Sunday morning.

          The upgrade from free two day shipping to overnight is sometimes as low as US $3.99. Prime is worth it for me.

      • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @08:29PM (#46478985)

        maybe my choice in video is different from most (I don't watch tv and find most tv shows in the last 10 yrs to be too insulting to stomach) but I can't find a lot on amazon/prime video I want to watch. I may have seen 10 movies and I can't find much else that is interesting enough to spend my time on.

        I do like 2day 'free' shipping and the fact that you get slightly better customer service (just mentioning you are amazon prime gets you a bit better treatment, I've found, when you call on the phone for a problem) is nice.

        $20 more is not going to break the bank, but its a pretty big price hike and I can see why some might be very annoyed at this.

        will they expand their video selection? that would certainly help. there's a lot more on amazon video than what prime offers.

      • by sexconker (1179573) on Friday March 14, 2014 @04:18AM (#46480651)

        You must not use it much if an extra $20 a year is a deal-breaker for you. I use it all the time (along with the movie/TV streaming) and it's a helluva bargain, even with a $20 price bump. And I haven't even looked into the extras I could get on the Kindle.

        "$100 is too much for Prime."
        "You must not use it much if an extra $20 a year is a deal-breaker for you."

        "$120 is too much for Prime."
        "You must not use it much if an extra $20 a year is a deal-breaker for you."

        "$140 is too much for Prime."
        "You must not use it much if an extra $20 a year is a deal-breaker for you."

        "$160 is too much for Prime."
        "You must not use it much if an extra $20 a year is a deal-breaker for you." ...

        You draw a line where you draw a line. Others may draw it somewhere else.
        But to say "+$X is still worth it" is retarded when you don't know where someone draws their line. It's especially retarded when they just told you that +$X was past their line.

    • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @05:10PM (#46477317)

      They've had the "turn off" option obfuscated for a while now. I accidentally signed up a while back and it took a while to find it. I do have it now, but doubt I'd enroll again. I've seen a Amazon prime "tax" in effect on pricing that makes me suspect I'm not really getting my money's worth.

    • by rahvin112 (446269) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @05:20PM (#46477407)

      Just "ended my membership by telling to to not auto-renew. I hate dirty tricks like that. I hope 50% of more of prime members do what you and I both did. Wall street thinks only a small group will quit but revenues will still double. If enough people quit it will actually cause revenues to fall which would be catastrophic.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @04:26PM (#46476729)
    Well, one would think that the new fee would be $97 to keep in line of being "prime". Maybe I'm being too literal here. :P
  • by jaymz666 (34050) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @04:31PM (#46476803)

    When I can place a single order and get each item in its own huge box with lots of padding and empty space, maybe they can work on that too

  • by The Cat (19816) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @04:34PM (#46476823)

    The book borrowing feature alone is worth it twice over.

  • by jeffmeden (135043) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @04:37PM (#46476871) Homepage Journal

    They have a horde of loyal customers who are willing to pay a FEE just to have "exclusive" access to free shipping and some media streaming. What about that needs to be "sustainable", the goal is merely to make people feel compelled to prefer to shop where they have a vested interest (also known as the human nature to "send good money after bad"). Are they collecting as much from the prime fee as it costs them to ship all that crap? Probably not, but that's hardly the point. The question to ask is: would they make more money if prime didn't exist? Meaning, would all those customers who bought with prime have just shopped elsewhere instead? The answer is probably yes, otherwise Amazon would be pulling the plug instead of doubling down and increasing the rate. The last thing they want to do is drive away customers.

    • by Delarth799 (1839672) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @04:52PM (#46477083)
      I read an article a while back that actually looked at this in depth. They said every time amazon cut the cost of shipping for customers their sales volume went up anywhere from 10% to 20% with each cut to shipping costs for customers.
      If anyone feels like they are trying to squeeze extra money out of Prime with this $22 increase they really need to pull their head out of the hole its currently in and realize that after the 8 or 10 years Amazon Prime has been $79 its finally going up a little bit. I wish gas prices would follow the Amazon Prime model and stay the same for 8 to 10 years.
    • by sandytaru (1158959) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @04:52PM (#46477093) Journal
      What happened was that Amazon expected more people to take advantage of the other Prime features besides free shipping. Instead, free shipping was by far the only thing people really used it for. Their streaming services don't have any of the things I want to watch, unfortunately, since the streaming rights to those shows were all gobbled up by the competitors.
      • by chihowa (366380) * on Thursday March 13, 2014 @08:09PM (#46478869)

        I'd love to try the streaming service more, but they seem to go out of their way to make it hard to use. Besides the limited library, the list of supported devices is tiny.

        They've recently made some changes that (deliberately?) broke support on xbmc, so we don't stream from Amazon at home anymore. For some reason, there is no way to stream to Android phones, even though their Kindle Fire is Android based. They're deliberately limiting their streaming customer base and acting confused that nobody uses it?

    • by Rinikusu (28164) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @04:55PM (#46477125)

      I can't speak for anyone but myself (and my facebook posting about this has generated quite a bit of discussion about this amongst my friends), but this will result in me spending less at Amazon, as well as not renewing Prime next year. Prime is great for things I don't need today, but would love by the end of the week (2-day shipping). It's great for the one time every couple years I need something tomorrow with $3.99 overnight. The video services I don't use (hulu + netflix), and I don't do the kindle sharing thing. The Kindle itself has replaced almost all of my book buying habits, with the exception of technical books, which I still prefer in dead-tree edition. This has reduced the need to actually ship things to me. Over the last year or so, I've begun exploring stuff like buying toiletries via Prime, just to make it semi-worthwhile. I still don't use Prime to order computer parts, or giant TVs and the like as I'd rather have a local return point vs. packing and shipping defective items, etc, but I could be convinced if the value was there. Basically, at $79 a year, I felt that was fair enough that I didn't even bother to create a new account with my educational email address to pay the student rate. At $99/year, that value proposition no longer holds true for me. Your mileage may vary, of course.

      So, after my Prime runs out, I'll be shopping more locally and maybe paying a little more, to get the things I normally would have ordered from Amazon. Oh well, such is life.

      • I'm the exact opposite. For me, the streaming is what I want and the 2-day shipping is just a bonus.
        Why bundle and force everyone to pay for things they don't use? Some people want the streaming,
        some people want the free expedited shipping and some people want the kindle sharing.
        It would be better to sell them individually and then maybe offer a discount for people that bundle.
        $80/year was not a bad deal for streaming as it was slightly cheaper than netflix with slightly
        better (for me) selection. $99 is a deal breaker for me as I only ever used the streaming and
        now netflix is cheaper and doesn't charge me a full year at a time.

    • Or they are willing to let customers go. If you only use it for free two day shipping, then maybe $99 is too much. Then you stop using the service. And Amazon profits go up.

      Here is why i originally bought Amazon Prime: because it was taking a week to get an order. Not because shipping took a week, but because packing often took a few days. Prime forces Amazon to prioritize my orders. That means costs beyond what they would be paying if they could ship 5-8 days. I can imagine these costs to be increasing over time, not paying the shipper mind you, but paying enough staff to pack so that my order leaves the warehouse in time for the shipper to get it to me in two days. All for $100.

      If I order a $20 widget a week, that is around $2 per package shipping, around $1000 revenue, and probably zero profit. Yes, amazon is shaking in it's boots because people who only use shipping are going to cancel.

      OTOH, if I didn't have amazon prime I would be more likely to shop elsewhere.

  • by JoeyRox (2711699) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @04:42PM (#46476937)
    Until Amazon can build out their warehouse network to support same-day and next-day shipping using local, low-cost couriers. Also why Amazon gave up their fight against internet taxation - with warehouses in every state they'll have to collect sales tax anyway.
  • by gatfirls (1315141) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @04:44PM (#46476955)

    If you are using the prime video, books, free shipping, then 99$ is completely reasonable, an exceptional deal actually. If you just use one or the other probably not. (isn't netflix alone like 90$ a year?)

    I can see them scaring off the people they want (infrequent shippers) and keeping who they don't (low value, frequent shippers).

    Also, I don't know why they stick with the yearly subscription. I can't imagine most people wouldn't shrug off a monthly increase from 6.50 to 8.25. 79$-99$ *seems* like a lot more. Actually at a monthly rate I think most people are bad enough at math they could get away with a much higher yearly rate in monthly payements.

    I dunno, I'm not a marketing guy.

  • by slapout (93640) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @04:46PM (#46476995)

    Drones are expensive

  • by bobbied (2522392) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @04:48PM (#46477025)

    So are we no griping about Amazon Prime costs? Not me.

    It's still a GREAT deal if you use their streaming video service. Netflix streaming only is about the same cost (a few bucks more for DVD's by mail) and they have a lot less stuff than Amazon, at least stuff I want to watch. The free shipping thing is of dubious value, at least for me, because most items are more expensive if they have prime shipping available. Some other Prime benefits help make my kindles more usable (Free books, downloadable video streams for off line viewing). But all these extras are over and above the video streaming.

    Where $79 would be preferable $99 is still cheap so I'm not complaining. We are still under $10/month here.

  • by hypergreatthing (254983) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @04:50PM (#46477053)

    on your computer because of their drm schema if you have one monitor connected via DVI.
    A lot of new products aren't shipped by them and don't qualify for free (79 now 99$ a year shipping price).
    I don't have a kindle.

  • by squiggleslash (241428) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @05:03PM (#46477239) Homepage Journal
    ...but we'll continue paying for it here I suspect. That doesn't mean I'm happy about it.
  • by Sechr Nibw (1278786) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @05:26PM (#46477471)

    Copied from forums:

    Quote from orick:
    If your current Prime membership is scheduled to expire on or after April 17th, and therefore would auto-renew at the $99 price, you can effectively lock in the $79 price by taking the following steps:

    (1) Look up your Prime expiration date. (Let's say yours is June 11th.)

    (2) Purchase a Prime Gift Membership here: []

    Set the delivery date as the date after your membership expires (in this case, June 12, 2014).

    Enter your own e-mail address as the gift recipient. It is okay if this is the exact e-mail address already associated with your Amazon Prime account.

    Place order (total will be $79).

    (3) Turn off your Prime auto-renew. (End membership - at expiration)

    (4) On the day after your membership expires, you will receive an e-mail from Amazon with the gift membership. Follow the instructions to apply it to your account.

    This is a pretty straightforward way to save $20.
    Source: []
    Quote :
    Go to Manage Prime Membership []
    Review the renewal date listed on the left-hand side of the page.

    If you currently have an Amazon Prime free trial, click Do Not Continue .
    If you currently have a paid Amazon Prime membership, click End Membership .

    Turn off your renewal using the link below the renewal date.

    Note: Your membership will expire at the end of the current period. It will NOT end before your current paid subscription is over, nor can you cancel it early for a refund.

    • by rmdingler (1955220) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @07:25PM (#46478601)
      I know when someone says they're not trying to be a dick, it usually means they're pretty sure what's about to come from their mouth/fingers has the potential to be misconstrued as dickish.

      I'm not trying to be a dick.

      What do you nerds do with all your money?

  • As an Australian (Score:5, Interesting)

    by trawg (308495) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @05:49PM (#46477725) Homepage

    ...that has recently moved to the USA, I am stunned by Amazon - I mean, I always knew it looked awesome but until I got here I didn't fully understand how much stuff was on there and how amazing it is to order basically anything.

    Prime simply adds to my amazement - I can order (almost) anything and it will arrive (almost always) 2 days later. My shopping behaviour has changed significantly, to the point where I'll not buy something while it's right in front of me in a store because I can just have Amazon bring it to my house a few days later, saving me the effort of carrying it around or trying to get it home (I don't own a car yet).

    Even at the new price it seems like a fantastic deal, and that's before I add the streaming video service, which I've also gotten a lot of use out of, despite having Netflix and Hulu.

    I guess I am surprised by the people complaining about the price hike. I'm back in Australia right now for a couple weeks and from the wistful look everyone here gets when I explain how great it is, I know they'd happily pay twice the new fee just to never have to deal with the local retailers ever again.

    Anyway, my 2c: this price raise would in no way dissuade me from renewing next year (if I'm still living in the usa).

    • by Ecuador (740021) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @06:45PM (#46478265) Homepage

      Hahaha, after years with Amazon Prime (from 2006) going back to a European country with no Prime was indeed quite annoying and I found it hard to explain to people what they were missing. Right now I am in the UK where there is prime, so I am again a subscriber although it is pricier and worse (way less stuff, higher prices, earlier cutoff for next day delivery) than the US.

      Now, for me though, it was even more amazing than your description. It seems that it depends on where you live, but I was in NYC and I almost always got my stuff next day using free prime shipping. In fact, my wife ordered once a silver necklace at 2am before going to sleep, and at 9am, a mere 7 hours later a knock on the door woke us up. Sure enough, the necklace had arrived!

      And that is not the only cool thing about it. I moved into a new house, went into amazon, the next day I had a projector, a projection screen (very heavy 120" with tripod), an home theater right at my doorstep. Free shipping. And a couple of months later my home theater amplifier had a problem and the manufacturer told me I had to ship it to their service (heavy amp, my own shipping cost), I wrote to Amazon asking whether they could help even if it was beyond the 1-month return window. They said they'd be happy to help and sent me a pre-paid return label, I sent it and got a full refund! Obviously, after that I bought all the big ticket items from Amazon. In fact, for computer parts I used to buy from NewEgg, but while their RMA was fast, you had to pay your own shipping back (also there was re-stocking fee IIRC on some items). But after having repeatedly excellent service from Amazon, I valued the fact that the item would arrive faster and would be shipped back free with a printable label if there was a problem for a full refund, so bought from Amazon even in cases where the price was somewhat higher.

      Streaming is just an added bonus. The Prime experience was worth it before streaming and it was a real bargain at that price. Oh, some people complaining about bad experiences with Amazon, confuse Amazon with Amazon Marketplace - which is like ebay basically.

    • by Tailhook (98486) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @06:51PM (#46478311)

      I am surprised by the people complaining about the price hike.

      People don't complain about price hikes in Australia? What are you using for money down there? Friendly smiles? You just grin bigger to cover higher costs? I'll bet that makes your face hurt.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <{ten.3dlrow} {ta} {ojom}> on Thursday March 13, 2014 @06:52PM (#46478319) Homepage

      to the point where I'll not buy something while it's right in front of me in a store because I can just have Amazon bring it to my house a few days later, saving me the effort of carrying it around or trying to get it home (I don't own a car yet).

      I have to get everything delivered to my place of work because I'm not at home to sign for it during the day, so end up carrying it home anyway. The nice thing about Amazon is that their returns system is good. They don't argue, you don't get some muppet in a shop who thinks you just don't know how to use it, no 28 day wait to have it tested.

  • by neo-mkrey (948389) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @06:05PM (#46477923)
    I truly feel I get my money's worth out of this. The same can not said of my overpriced ISP and my overpriced cell phone service.
  • by civilengineer (669209) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @06:24PM (#46478081) Homepage Journal
    The only reason I considered prime was for the lending library which is advertised as having 500k books to borrow. Turns out you have buy a Kindle device to use the library. You cannot use the Kindle app on your phone or non-Amazon tablet for it. So, I bought a Kindle and then realized they only let you borrow one book a month. So, the whole 500k books to borrow ad is a little misleading. Cancelled my trial of Prime and returned the Kindle. Netflix has better content for online videos and we don't need the free 2-day shipping enough to justify even $79 per year.
  • by bl968 (190792) on Thursday March 13, 2014 @07:05PM (#46478427) Journal

    "I warned you that if you increased the price for prime that this would happen, and I would cancel my account. I was not joking. It's also going to cost you my next tablet purchase. I was looking at a kindle fire hdx but without prime it's not as good of a deal as it would have been otherwise. I am looking at alternative tablets from other manufacturers now. I hope your 20$ price increase was worth the loss of my business."

"Be *excellent* to each other." -- Bill, or Ted, in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure