Shopping 
9
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Are “All You Can Ship” Deals Worth It?

Williams Sonoma Gift WrapI was poking around on Williams-Sonoma the other day when I saw that they have a new program called Williams-Sonoma Reserve. For $30 a year, you get free standard shipping on most items and no minimum purchase. It’s a riff off Amazon Prime, which gives you free two-day shipping on most orders with no minimum purchase. The difference here is that Williams-Sonoma usually charges you shipping, whereas Amazon waives it on orders over $25.

As more and more stores move towards this model, is it worth it?

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 Credit 
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Spend American Express Membership Rewards at Amazon

I recently learned that you can now spend your American Express Membership Rewards at Amazon.com as part of their Shop with Points program. When you couple it with free Amazon Prime for students (my wife is a graduate student), you have yourself a nice little two-day shipping fueled by points I was having difficulty spending.

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 Shopping 
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Free Amazon Prime for Students

Amazon StudentA few years ago, when Amazon first debuted their Amazon Prime program, I thought it was never going to take off. While I don’t know how many people have signed up, I’ve only tried it a few times and I still don’t get why someone would pay $79 for two day shipping when it’s free for 3-9 day shipping. There are very few things I absolutely must have within two days and, if there are, I can go to the local store to get them. However, having tried Amazon Prime on trial on several occasions, I agree that it’s a nice perk to have. I just can’t see myself paying $79 a year for it.

Fortunately, if you’re a student with a .edu email address, you can join Amazon Student. Amazon Student is a free program that gives you Amazon Prime for free for a year.

To sign up, you need to be enrolled in a college or university and have a valid .edu email address. In the signup process you have to give them your .edu address, your school, major, and class information to confirm your eligibility but otherwise you can use your normal Amazon.com account.
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 Shopping 
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$10 Amazon Prime Promotion

Amazon is running an Amazon Prime promotion where they will give you a one month free trial of Amazon Prime and a $10 credit towards products sold by Amazon.com. This offer is for new Amazon Prime members only and expires July 28th.

Amazon Prime is their fast shipping program that offers free two-day shipping on any order and $3.99 expedited next-day shipping. The program normally costs $79 a year.

It’s likely that signing up will have you automatically renewing. To change that setting, read these instructions from the last Amazon Prime promotion.

Continue to Free Trial Signup


 Shopping 
6
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Get An Amazon Prime 3 Month Trial Free

Amazon is running a $10 Amazon.com Prime promotion until the end of July.

The Amazon Prime Free Trial offer is back but this time it’s only 3 months. Amazon Prime is a program where you can get free shipping regardless of your purchase amount (if the products are eligible, most are) and discounted expedited shipping. A year’s membership costs $79. I reviewed Amazon Prime in terms of cost effectiveness a little while back before they started offering free trials.

Instructions:

  1. Log into your account.
  2. View your account information.
  3. Under the heading Subscriptions Management, click on Manage your Amazon Prime membership.
  4. You will be prompted to log in again.
  5. You should then see “You are not currently subscribed to Amazon Prime. Click here to sign up.” Click on ‘here.’
  6. You will now be offered a 3 month trial membership to Amazon Prime.
  7. You will be prompted for payment information.
  8. You will see “Thank you for joining. You’re now a member of Amazon Prime™ Free Trial!” Click on the link to manage your Amazon Prime account preferences.
  9. In bright green, you should see “Your trial membership will upgrade to a full membership for $79 automatically on [date]” and a button with “Do not upgrade.” Click that button.
  10. The bright green text should now say “Your trial membership will not upgrade to a full membership automatically on August 19, 2006.

You now have Amazon Prime for 3 months, absolutely free, and you don’t even have to worry about remembering to cancel it. You will receive two email messages letting you know when your membership is about the expire, you can ignore those.


 Shopping 
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Amazon.com Prime Free 4 Month Trial

To get a trial offer to Amazon Prime, put a bunch of items into your Amazon.com shopping cart, select one or two day shipping, and on the final checkout screen you should see the following text:

[Your name], you have been selected to receive a FREE four-month trial of Amazon Prime. If you sign up then you can get unlimited One-Day Shipping for $3.99 per item on over a million items sold by Amazon.com while your trial lasts.
»
Learn more & sign up (link added)

Click the link and a javascript-esq pop-up will appear with a HUGE “Sign me up — it’s FREE” button to sign up.

The free Amazon.com Prime trial lasts four months after which they will charge you usual $79 annual fee. They even promise to send you two reminder emails! For my thoughts on Amazon Prime, if you pay for it, read this post.

No Purchase Is Necessary!

Update: You can get the free offer by clicking this link:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/subs/primeclub/signup/main.html

And to prevent it from automatically upgrading you from the trial (free) to the actual ($79/yr), go to Your Account, scroll down and click Manage My Subscriptions, and then click the “Do Not Upgrade” button. I’d still double check after four months to make sure you aren’t charged.


 Reviews, Shopping 
2
comments

Amazon Prime: New Shipping Program

Amazon has setup an interesting new program called Amazon Prime: “All You Can Eat” Express Shipping. Basically you pay $79 per year and you get free two-day shipping on “over a million in-stock items” and overnight shipping for $3.99 an item if ordered before 6:30 PM Eastern. The only other noteworthy item is that you can add four additional members as long as it ships to the same address. There are also some restrictions regarding where you are shipping to (PO Boxes, APO/FPO addresses, etc).

Is this really worth it? I have purchased hundreds of items from Amazon and was always able to use the “FREE Super Saver Shipping (5-9 business days)” as long as it wasn’t a third party item. My initial belief is that if you want to instant gratification of receiving an item in two days (or one day) this may be a good program to join. If you aren’t as picky or in a rush most of the time, free shipping probably is good enough.

Let us analyze:
Book: Tournament Poker for Advanced Players (Advance Player) by David Sklansky ($19.77). It’s a 245 page book that weights 14.4 oz.
FREE Super Saver Shipping (5-9 days) – N/A (under $25)
Standard Shipping (3-5 days) – $3.99
Two-Day Shipping (2 days) – $9.48
One-Day Shipping (1 day) – $16.48

Well… we picked a standard book that was eligible for the free service (if we ordered more) and the two day shipping was almost ten bucks and the one day was nearly $17 dollars!

Electronics: SANDISK SDMSPD512768 512MB Memory Stick Pro Duo Card ($62.99). They pegged this card at a pound but it’s probably a fraction of that.
FREE Super Saver Shipping (5-9 days) – FREE
Standard Shipping (3-5 days) – $5.58
Two-Day Shipping (2 days) – $10.48
One-Day Shipping (1 day) – $17.48

Hrm… we can get it shipped to use in a week-plus or we can pay to get it ASAP.

Kitchenware: Circulon Classic 14-Piece Cookware Set ($199.99). This beast weights 31 lb. and needs to be shipped by itself but still qualifies for free shipping.
FREE Super Saver Shipping (5-9 days) – FREE
Standard Shipping (3-5 days) – $23.28
Two-Day Shipping (2 days) – $39.68
One-Day Shipping (1 day) – $76.68

Wow, 31 lb. sure is expensive to ship. I think we’re getting the idea here thought….

Amazon is probably tired of the free shipping number on their balance sheets getting larger and larger (according to this Reuters article [article archived] they lost $197M in 2004) and perhaps they’re trying to get some payment? Wrong. They believe this plan will cost them even more in shipping losses (free shipping, still free, pay shipping now makes 2 day free and even faster shipping cheaper) but Amazon is in the business of capturing market share, not showing profitability.

What does this mean for you? My initial thoughts were proved correct: Semi-instant gratification (2 days) or really-close-to-instant gratification (next day) has been made cheaper by quite a bit, especially for high volume consumers. The rest of us who aren’t in a hurry simply won’t benefit from the new plan, but we probably knew that before we started.

For more info, you can check out the Amazon Prime FAQ for all the other specifics we glossed over.


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