When Amazon Prime launched in Australia, much was made about its too-good-to-be-true pricing. Even after the $4.99 introductory offer ends, Aussie customers will still only be paying around half of what Americans do.
However, it's worth noting that the US version was originally priced similarly to Australia. Over the years, it has gradually increased by a few more dollars until an annual subscription now costs a hefty $US99.99. This begs the question: will Amazon pull a similar stunt Down Under?
Over on the US version of Gizmodo, tech journalist Adam Clark Estes explains why he's thinking of cancelling his membership.
"Before Amazon Prime Day rolls around next week, Amazon will charge me for another year of membership. That’s $20 more than what the company charged me last year and $40 more than what I paid five years ago, when I signed up for a free trial of Prime and forgot to cancel it, " Clark Estes said.
"This year, I think I might bow out."
Adam's beef isn't just about the jacked-up pricing (although that's obviously a mitigating factor.) Rather, he finds that he is going out of his way to buy stuff on Amazon - "not because it’s more convenient but because I feel the need to take advantage of my Prime benefits."
Clark Estes compared his Amazon shopping habits before and after becoming a Prime member. He was horrified to discover that his spending had increased from two items per year to 112.
"It’s still mind-boggling to me that I went from buying two things a year on Amazon to buying 112 things a year, undoubtedly because of my paid Prime membership... It feels crazy that I’m paying Amazon over $100 a year simply to encourage myself to buy more shit on Amazon."
This aligns with Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) data, which shows that Prime customers spend more than twice as much money on Amazon goods than non-members. In addition, when Amazon hikes the price of membership, those Prime customers end up spending more.
Clark Estes concludes that Amazon Prime isn't a great deal - it's a great trick.
"There’s also the fact that Amazon is the embodiment of the evil American corporation that I swore to avoid in my yunger years," Clark Estes notes. "This is the new Walmart, the new Viacom, the new Visa, the new Google, and the new Nike all rolled into one.
"Amazon continues to exploit its warehouse workers in extraordinary ways and apparently treats the contractors who deliver your packages even worse. And don’t even get me started on how Amazon has been hawking the data-hungry Echo, which is a potential privacy nightmare and yet another way that Jeff Bezos tricks you into buying more shit on Amazon."
Clark Estes acknowledges he is a picky consumer prone to blacklisting products and services, but his points remain pertinent to the Australian consumer. There's simply no way that Amazon Prime will remain this cheap in our country for long.
When the price inevitably creeps upward, we'll need to take a long, hard look at what we're buying, why we're buying it, and whether the service perks are actually worthwhile.