Can You Get An Adjustment From Amazon If The Price Goes Down?

mb-201311policyWe had an interesting situation pop up last week that I thought I would share in relations to Amazon’s price change policy.  In 2008, Amazon stopped issuing adjustments if the price of an item went down after you had purchased it.  From Consumerist:

Only orders placed before September 1, 2008 are eligible for a price difference refund under the Post-Order Price Guarantee policy. As of September 1, 2008 we are no longer offering discounts if prices change on our website after you make a purchase.

It’s been quite a few years, but I do recall requesting a refund and getting one if the price went down within a few days of placing an order.

When they changed the policy, I sort of understood why.  Amazon changes prices all the time based on demand for an item, as well as supply that they have available, and I would imagine that competitor pricing is also taken into account. As technology has advanced, all of these variables can be tracked and likely adjusted by computers.  Responding to price adjustment requests requires a human to review and issue the refund, which sort of defeats the purpose of maximizing their use of technology, which is one reason Amazon has been able to grow to the levels that they have.

Plus, I look at it this way.  Customers only went to Amazon if the price went down.  What if the price went up?  Did Amazon send people knocking on doors to try to collect the difference?  Of course not!

So, if that policy is five years plus, why am I writing about it?

Simple.  Because we were able to get an adjustment.

Well, sort of.

The Purchase

My wife has a DSLR camera that I got her for Christmas last year.  She’s gotten really good at using it, but along with getting better, she knows the limitations of the lens that came as part of the kit.  She did some research and narrowed it down between two lenses.  The price of the one she didn’t get doesn’t matter, since she didn’t get it, so I’ll stick to the one that she did get.

While she was doing her research the price was $101.  After figuring out which one she wanted to get, she went to place the order, and it had gone up to $110.

Ugh.

I use a Firefox plugin called Camelizer that shows you the price history of an item.  From the looks of it, the ‘standard’ price was $110, as it was probably at that level for 60-70% of the time over the last 12 months.  It was as low as $95 and as high as $125.

We figured that even though she missed out on the better price, that she was paying the standard price was OK.  So, she went ahead and placed the order.

After a couple of days, she went on and the price was back to $101.

We laughed and shook our heads and sad, well what can you do?  After all they no longer adjusted prices.  In most cases, the story ends there.

But, in our case, we were lucky enough that it didn’t.

Why? Simple. Because the product hadn’t shipped yet.

I went to our ‘Orders’ page and had the option to cancel the order.  So, this meant that we could cancel the existing order and place another order at the lower price.  When we clicked ‘Cancel’, it did pop up a note saying that they could ‘attempt’ to cancel the order, but if it was far enough along in the picking and shipping process, it may not be possible.

I did a quick Google search and the advice was that if you got this message, you could do an online chat with a Customer Service Rep and confirm that they could do the cancellation.

So, I opened up a window, and started chatting with someone right away.  I didn’t frame it that I wanted to cancel the order, but instead said something along the lines of “The price on order xyz-abcd went down by $9.  Could you assist me in either canceling the order since it hasn’t shipped yet, so that I can place an order, or providing me a credit?”

The rep took a look.  Having read between the lines that one way or another we wanted to get this at the current $101 price, they did not move forward with canceling the order.  But, they didn’t give us a ‘refund’.

Instead, they issued a $9 promo code to us for use on another order.

Which is totally fine by me.  After all, we do a lot of holiday shopping at Amazon, so while it wasn’t a direct refund on this order, it all comes out in the end, and it will probably be used within a few days now that the holidays are ramping up.

I was thrilled with Amazon’s response on this one, but I also realized that it pays off to look at the entire set of circumstances.  Had the order already shipped, my guess is they would have said no.  But, because it hadn’t, because we looked at the price, and because we looked at our order status, we were able to wiggle through the cracks of their policy.

Readers, do you remember the good old days of Amazon’s price adjustment policy?

Is Amazon Prime Worth The Cost?

I’ve been a member of the Amazon Mom program for over a year now.  This has been a great savings boost to us, as we got 30% off diapers and other baby supplies, as well as a year free of Amazon Prime shipping benefits.

The free year of Prime just came to an end for us.  We still get to enjoy the discounted diapers and baby supplies, though they’ve recently cut it back to a 20% savings (hint: items that you subscribe too have stayed at the 30% off level, and I’ve been told that you can activate ‘dormant’ subscriptions, change diaper sizes, and those will maintain the 30% savings threshold as well, but your mileage may vary).  What we will no longer get is free two-day shipping on just about any item sold by Amazon.

This has definitely come in handy, and I’m not going to lie, we’ve probably bought quite a few things from Amazon over the past year that we might not have otherwise, simply because we didn’t have to worry about hitting the $25 spending limit to get free super-saver shipping.

We’re debating whether to add back the Prime membership.  This would cost us $79 (though I’m letting it expire in faint hope that they’ll offer a discount) which averages just over $6.50 per month.

In addition to the shipping benefits, we’d also get to enjoy the video streaming service that they rolled out.  As it so happens, the ‘free’ Prime that they gave did not include that little nugget.  We have indefinitely suspended our Netflix account, but getting Prime would make it almost a no-brainer to use the streaming video service (though we would also have to buy a Roku video player to handle the streaming).

How many of you use Amazon Prime?

How many of you have experience with the streaming video service?  With the Roku devices that we would likely need to purchase?

I’m curious as to what you think, readers: Is Amazon Prime worth the cost?

What’s The Latest With Amazon Mom?

It’s been a year since Amazon introduced their Amazon Mom program, where you got an extra 15% off baby items, including the biggest baby item expense of all: diapers!

I signed up a few weeks after the program was introduced and it has been an absolute lifesaver.  I’m curious, though, if anybody that signed up from the get-go knows what Amazon might be doing.

The initial sign-up granted you three months of the extra 15% off items in the subscribe-and-save program (which granted you 15% off to begin with, for a total of 30% off), as well as free Prime benefits so that you could enjoy free 2-day shipping on many items.   You could extend that for up to a full year by making regular purchases in the baby store.  This means that you could earn up to a full year of benefits.

Well, looking at my calender, I can see that we have a few weeks to go, but was wondering if anybody could chime in who was among the first to sign up, which according to what I could see, would have been about a week ago.  Knowing what’s happening will certainly help with planning whether we should buy a bunch of stuff before our extra 15% ends.

I guess I would see Amazon’s options as:

  • Allow more months to accumulate with the same benefits (extra 15% plus free Prime)
  • Allow the extra 15% to continue but remove the free Prime shipping benefits
  • Make you pay to be part of the program, which could get you the 15% and discounted Prime shipping
  • Let it expire altogether, in which case you’d be back to getting a maximum of 15% off
  • Something else

Anybody who’s initial year ran out have any insight on what Amazon is offering?

Is Amazon Getting Pinched On Shipping Costs?

One of the things that Amazon has been known for is free shipping on most orders over $25, or for all orders if you’re a Prime member.  It’s one of the things that set them apart, but I wonder how long it can last without being eliminated or changed in some form.

I ask because I’ve noticed a change in our shipping carriers that has to be a money-saving measure.

Previously, nearly every order we placed with Amazon was fulfilled by UPS.  In the last few months, though, I’ve noticed that they were fulfilled by ‘PRESTIGE’.

Prestige?

I had to look them up.  Their website looks legit but is pretty sketchy on details.  But, what I found out after some Google searches is that they pretty much contract out their deliveries to local couriers.

This made sense when I actually saw a couple of recent diaper shipments arrive, and they were unloaded either from a van or an SUV.  Both were unmarked.  I didn’t get a good look at the driver to see if they were even wearing a uniform.

I can’t complain, so far they seem to have done the same job that UPS used to do.

But, it makes you wonder, is free shipping starting to pinch Amazon’s margins if they’re going with lower cost carriers?  Can changes to their shipping program be far behind?  It seems crazy to think that they could give up one of the things that they’re known best for, but they quietly got rid of their price matching policy a while back and that didn’t seem to hurt them in the least.

Would changes to the free shipping policy for Amazon change your buying habits?  Have you noticed any changes to what shipping company is fulfilling your Amazon order?

Save Money On Amazon By Watching Price History

The other day I was doing some shopping.  There was something that I needed and Amazon is the cheapest I could find it.

I was all set to purchase the item, but I had a nagging feeling that the price was still a bit too high.

I had heard that there were some sites that you could use to track Amazon price history, so I used Google to find ‘Amazon price history’ and the first option was for a site https://camelcamelcamel.com/

I was able to check the price history, and find that I was, indeed, paying the highest recorded price for the item that I had entered.

Something on the right hand side of the page caught my eye.  It indicated that you could actually install an add-on onto my browser (Firefox) that would provide you the ability to pull information automatically, without having to navigate to a separate site.

The name of the add-on is ‘The Camelizer’.  In installed it, re-started my browser, and went to the Amazon page for the product I was looking at.  I clicked a little camel icon that now sits on my bottom status bar, and it pulled up the price history.  It actually brought up a four year history of the item, which is much more than I got on the web page.

I learned several things:

  1. The price of the item I was purchasing was extremely volatile, moving up and down quite often.
  2. The current price was indeed a high all-time price
  3. Affiliates that sell the item on Amazon seem to keep in line with what Amazon sells (it actually tracks prices separately for items both sold by Amazon and sold by affiliates)

I decided to wait.  I checked back in a couple of days and sure enough the price had dropped back to the most common price of the item over the last six months.

In the end it saved me about $2, but that was almost 10% of my item price.

Amazon used to have a price guarantee policy, where they would refund the difference in your cost if you spotted a price decrease over a certain period of time (7 or 14 days maybe?). They stopped that a couple of years ago which bummed me out.  Still, I think this tool can help make sure you’re not paying too high a price.  If you see a price that has recently jumped up, but the trend shows that it might likely return, you might want to take the gamble that you can get the item for a lower price by waiting.

I think this plug-in works on other sites like Newegg, Best Buy, and Overstock, so I’ll definitely be using it from time to time!

Amazon Customer Service Gets Five Stars Once Again!

I’ve talked a few times about how much I love Amazon.  There’s a good reason (actually many of them) that, whenever I look to make a purchase online, Amazon is always the first place I look.  While sometimes I do end up shopping elsewhere, usually for price, availability or otherwise, Amazon definitely gets a majority of our online business.

They came through yet again recently.

Last year, we bought a magazine subscription as a gift with a promo that Amazon was running that made it very cheap.  Everything went great.

A couple of months ago, I got an e-mail stating that, because I had purchased magazines from Amazon, that they were issuing a $5 promo code to be used anywhere on the site.

I thought that was pretty cool.

But, when I looked into the e-mail, I could tell that something was most likely wrong.  The promo code issued was ‘testing’.  Still, I gave it a try but sure enough, it was an invalid code.  I didn’t complain about it, but filed it away thinking that they’d probably get it right before I had a chance to get to it.

Sure enough, a couple of days later they sent an “Oops” e-mail, this time issuing an actual code.  It looked legit, so I kept it.

I made a couple of purchases in the mean time but actually sort of forgot about it until I was cleaning out my inbox and remembered.

I went to use it on a purchase and was disappointed to see that it came up as an ‘expired promotional code’.

I went back and read the e-mail and also clicked on the link that was provided that outlined the terms of usage.  Nowhere in there did it say anything about it being time sensitive or that it had to be used within xx number of days.  Since it was only about five weeks from when I got the e-mail, I figured it was worth a shout to their customer service e-mail to see if they would re-issue it, or if I had missed some fine print that made it clear it was supposed to have been used by the time I tried.

I outlined the situation pretty much as I just did, and within 48 hours I got a response.  They apologized for the situation, and indicated that they were issuing a $10 credit on my account, for which I didn’t have to enter a code and would not expire.

So, not only did they re-issue the $5 credit, they doubled it!

How awesome is that?!?

Way to go, Amazon.  Once again!