Amazon - The Readers Respond

Welcome to Saving Money with Andrew! If you’re new, you might want to check out my top 9 money-saving tips.

Despite containing no actual money-saving content (sorry!), last week’s post on Amazon generated a ton of engagement and interesting responses. For many of us, Amazon has increasingly replaced the local grocery, department, hardware, electronics, office supply, and book store, and something about it doesn’t feel quite right.

From one reader:

We examined our relationship with Amazon in February when our Prime membership came up for renewal, and we decided to cancel it. Except for two home gym items my husband couldn't find anywhere else, we have not purchased anything from Amazon since then.

I disliked the influx of resellers (especially in beauty products) and didn't like the off-brand cheap Chinese junk that was accumulating in our house. I did have a subscription for my protein powder that is difficult to find, but I have now found that it's cheaper to buy it directly from the company's website. You just have to plan ahead a bit so you can wait for a coupon code and the longer shipping time.

We did mourn the loss of some of the Prime TV shows, but we can get the PBS shows for our kids through the free PBS Kids app, and DVDs of the adult shows from our library.

I agree that shopping eBay, Target, or Costco instead may not be "better", but I feel better about not doing my part to make Jeff Bezos even more disgustingly wealthy and that one less major tech company knows everything about us. We are also fortunate to live in an area where there are competitive local businesses to purchase from and we certainly try to support them first.

More importantly, because we can't just buy things mindlessly and have them show up in 2 days, we've been much more mindful about what we *need* and have eliminated a lot of purchases. And that's really saving us money!

All great points, especially on Amazon having made the retail experience so frictionless that it encourages us to buy more.

For those trying to avoid Amazon in general, I urge you to make sure to use cashback where possible, consider buying discounted gift cards, and always check for coupon codes when you can (I like RetailMeNot). These can help bridge the gap to Amazon’s low prices.

We will continue to use Amazon (using the tips from this post), but I don’t fault anyone for wanting to diversify their purchases, or not shopping there altogether. Amazon’s amazing deals and low prices exist because they do have competitors, and keeping at least a little of your spend out of their reach helps preserve a competitive retail environment for everyone else.

Finally, there is something slightly unsettling about the long reach of Amazon’s tentacles. My parents try to avoid Amazon at all costs for reasons and recently bought an item on eBay for about a 20% premium to Amazon’s price. Two days later, an Amazon box arrived at their doorstep. Accounting for sales tax and the eBay commission, the seller had managed to make a thin but nonzero profit ordering from their Amazon account and having it shipped to my parents.[1] Sometimes, even if you do everything you can to avoid Amazon, Amazon finds you.

I hope this has been helpful. If you liked it, please share it with a friend! Also, please send me your feedback, requests, and success stories.

[1] Incidentally, this is also a blatant violation of Amazon’s terms of service (“Prime members are not permitted to purchase products for the purpose of resale, rental, or to ship to their customers or potential customers using Prime benefits.”)