Amazon Mishandles A Necessary Change to Amazon Mom

I’ve written before about the Amazon Mom program.  When it first came out, the deals were too good to be true.  They basically gave a free year of Prime shipping benefits, plus 30% just about any baby item, namely diapers.  As soon as the program came out and I found out about it, I signed up, and we’ve saved plenty in the meantime.

It was such a good deal that I figured it would really have to pay off big for Amazon, otherwise they’d probably scale it back or eliminate it.  I noticed the first signs a few months ago when some of the deliveries seemed to be taking place by non-traditional (read: cheaper) carriers.  Next, they cut the discount from 30% to 20% on items you weren’t already buying.

So, the e-mail I got last Thursday wasn’t really a big surprise:

The Amazon Mom program is changing in 2012 and we want to make sure you know about it. Some of these changes affect your membership. Here’s how:

  • Starting on January 24, 2012, the maximum discount available on diapers and wipes subscriptions will be 20%. This includes a 5% Subscribe & Save discount plus an additional 15% exclusively for Amazon Mom members who are earning free shipping benefits or have an active Amazon Prime membership.
  • Customers who join Amazon Mom in 2012 will get three months of FREE Two-Day Shipping benefits. Once the initial free period is over, customers can join Amazon Prime to continue to receive full access to Amazon Mom and Amazon Prime benefits.

Since your free shipping benefits have ended and you have not yet joined Amazon Prime, the additional 15% Amazon Mom discount on diapers and wipes subscriptions will expire on January 24, 2012.

We hope that you have enjoyed the value and convenience of your Amazon Mom membership over the past year. To continue receiving all the benefits of Amazon Mom, join Amazon Prime for $79/year. As a Prime member you’ll receive:

  • 20% off diapers and wipes subscriptions with Amazon Mom and Subscribe & Save.
  • FREE Two-Day Shipping on millions of items.
  • Unlimited instant streaming of thousands of videos with a wide range of content for the whole family, including Sesame Street and Phineas and Ferb.
  • A Kindle book to borrow for free each month from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.
  • Membership sharing benefits: invite up to four household members to share your shipping benefits for free.

Long story short, in order to get even the 20% discount, you have to pay the full subscription price for Amazon Prime.  To add insult to injury, Amazon also made it so you couldn’t get an ‘extra shipment’ of any item you were already subscribed to, effectively ending the program immediately.

Now as I said before, I get that they needed to make changes to the program if it wasn’t making them money.  My guess is that they hoped that the people that joined would buy a lot more, offsetting the ‘loss’ they were taking in the deep discounts.  I’m guessing that didn’t happen so the company felt it was costing them money.  Therefore, I can’t agree with the many other members who feel that Amazon should re-instate the program at no cost.  It doesn’t make sense.

I also get why they had to put a lid on the extra shipments.  You figure that if they gave people two weeks, people would simply stock up on items in advance of the January 24th cut-off date.

However, now that I’ve given reasons I sympathize with their decisions, I’ll say this:

I still think Amazon blew it.

Let me explain.

MSNBC.com wrote an article in the thick of the holiday shopping season about how mommy bloggers are becoming the biggest voice of influence when it comes to toys, and other kids products.  I have no proof of this, but I’m going to guess that 90% or more of mommy bloggers who have kids in diapers were a member of Amazon Mom.  Those mommy bloggers, who have a powerful and very fast growing voice, are now certain to express their displeasure to their readers.  Personal finance bloggers (of which I am of course one), are probably not far behind and are going to share their similar displeasure.

If Amazon doesn’t think that this will make a difference, they might want to take lessons from two little companies called Netflix and Bank of America, and how their unpopular decisions cost them big time.

I think Amazon needed to change the program.  I think with a couple of simple tweaks, they could have had a much more positive reaction.  If anybody at Amazon is listening, here’s what should have been done:

  1. The reduction from 30% to 20% on items was fine.  However, it should have been more properly communicated.  They never sent an e-mail or did anything to explain it, so when I went shopping and found new items were coming in at a bigger cost, this seemed a bit underhanded.
  2. If Amazon wants more Prime members and wants Mom members to pay the Prime membership cost, fine.  However, I think they should have offered Amazon Mom members a discounted membership, either by lowering the cost from $79 to $59, or by charging the full amount and offering an immediate $20 credit toward diapers or other baby items.
  3. As I said, I understood why they couldn’t allow people to stock up on items at will between 1/12 and 1/24, but they should have allowed each customer to purchase one item as an ‘extra shipment’ between those dates.  Personally, I set every item in six month intervals, and did all my ordering by adding ‘Extra Shipments’.  This worked out good for me because I never failed to miss an alert and therefore didn’t end up with product I didn’t need.  However, I knew that we would need a pack of nighttime diapers for our son soon, and planned on ordering them…this week.  Now, I can’t.  By allowing one purchase per customer, you allow the program to truly continue until January 24th.  By cutting that off completely, the January 24th date is just lip service.
  4. They should have agreed to price match in the event that customers were able to obtain better deals.  One of the common things I’ve seen in response to this change is customers who feel that there’s a chance that Amazon could get customers to pay into Prime, then raise prices even more so that the 20% isn’t truly a 20% discount, making the payback period such that it might not be worth it.

Would all Amazon Mom participants have stayed on board with the changes above?  No, of course not.  But, I’ve seen nothing but complaints blowing up all over the Internet since this was announced.  I think if they would have handled things as I suggested, you would have seen a lot more responses like ‘Oh that sucks, but I understand why Amazon is doing this, and they are showing that they want to do something for people in the Mom program’.

That would have been the tone of this article, anyways.

As it is, I’m not sure what we’ll do.  I’ve been debating getting a Prime membership anyways, so if I were to go by that standard, this would push me into getting one.  However, the way Amazon has handled this has actually disappointed me to the point where I don’t feel that they should be rewarded with a $79 charge.

It’ll definitely be something my wife and I will be talking about over the next few days.

Are you an Amazon Mom?  What are your plans for the changes?

Copyright 2014 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.
If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.

15 thoughts on “Amazon Mishandles A Necessary Change to Amazon Mom

  1. My Amazon Mom membership is up in mid-March, and I wasn’t sold on paying for Prime membership, anyway. I’d read somewhere that the total Subscribe & Save discount was dropping to 20%, but I’m super-mad about not being able to get an extra shipment at this 30% off price before it expires Jan. 24. Like you, I order everything through the “extra shipment” option. Boo to Amazon.

    • I did cancel the subscription and re-added it and was able to get a shipment. You do get the new one at 20% versus having had them at 30%. Which is a bummer but for a $22 order, it added $2.20 back on. Not the end of the world and still better pricing than I found elsewhere. Still, not the best way to handle customer relations.

      • > Not the end of the world and still better pricing than I found elsewhere.

        If you are basing your purchase on price, there is no reason for Amazon to cater to you. That’s never been their market.

  2. I agree, they handled it all wrong.

    I’m glad I ordered an extra shippment (with my 30% discount!) just before this rolled out.

    I will not be paying $79 for Prime to keep this deal. I might enroll later if I can get a student discounted rate (my husband is goign back to school this summer) but meh. It’s just not worth it!

  3. Oh and I ran the numbers to find out my break-even point. I would have to buy at least 1 box of diapers per month for 12 months for it to be a slight discount. I might use the free Kindle borrowed books, but I doubt I’d use the streaming.

    • I might use the streaming in which case part of the $79 cost could be applied towards that, but I’d have to take a closer look. At last glance, the selection of ‘Free to prime members’ stuff was OK but not great. We used to have Netflix and cancelled that a year or so ago, and really haven’t missed it. To get the streaming, we’d also have to get a Roku or similar box, adding even more up front cost.

      • Roku is only necessary if you want to watch on your HDMI TV. You can also hook up a laptop or computer to a big monitor negating the need for a Roku. I like the Amazon Instant Video selection, but perhaps that’s just a personal difference in programming we like.

  4. Good post. I’ve seen several articles lately detailing how difficult it is becoming for Amazon to make money. It will be interesting to see if they re-do this one.

    • They seem to be willing to do a loss leader promotion. Amazon Mom was probably a loss leader. Now if reports are to be believed, they’re basically breaking even or even taking a little bit of a loss on the Kindle Fire (with the same idea as with Mom, to get increased sales on other stuff down the road), which probably means they had less tolerance for the money they were ‘giving up’ on Mom.

      • I know many people would buyers would “Subscribe & Save”, then immediately cancel their subscription after the order. I think this has the unintended consequence of Amazon not being able to extend the discount if buyers are short sighted about their purchasing habits and loyalty to Amazon. If enough of this happens, that is grounds for eliminating a consumer benefit that never adds up for Amazon.

  5. Not on Amazon Mom, but I have thought about joining up with our soon to be baby on the way. Good insight into the program. Please keep us up to date on any more changes!

  6. This is very disappointing about Amazon Mom, but I have found great deals at totalhomecaresupplies.com Their top brand is called Cuties diapers and I buy the case for economy’s sake and a better deal. Cuties diapers contain aloe and chamomile built right in to the material and they are super absorbent! There’s a monthly coupon when you sign up for the email newsletter that helps me save even more and I LOVE IT!

    http://www.totalhomecaresupplies.com/ProductList.aspx?CategoryName=INCONTINENCE_BRIEFS_YOUTH

  7. As soon as the fees were implemented, I opted out of the program. I won a Kindlle Fire a few months ago and received 30 days FREE of Amazon Prime. Basically, Free is for ME. Paying $79/year to “save” money isn’t very appealing to me. Thank You for the article and updates.
    tanyetta recently posted..Christmas!!My Profile

Comments are closed.