Ask Consumerist: Amazon Prime Throttling?

Teresa loves Amazon.com, but never became a member of Amazon Prime. In that service, you pay a flat rate and gets free two-day shipping on many Amazon.com items, upgrades to overnight shipping for just $3.99 an item. There’s also no minimum purchases required and a “members-only” one-click button on product pages.

Ever since Amazon introduced this service, Teresa has noticed her free shipping packages are taking longer to arrive. She wonders if Amazon.com is throttling the shipping for people not in the special shipping club.

Have any other Amazon Prime members noticed anything similar to what Teresa describes after the jump?

She writes:

    “Hi Consumerist,

    I have a question for you. I’m a long-time Amazon customer and a long-time lover of their free shipping. I know a lot of people love Amazon Prime, but I’ve never seen the value of paying a flat fee for the opportunity to pay even more fees just to get things faster. To me, a great value is “free.”

    Since the introduction of Amazon Prime, however, I’ve noticed my free shipping packages are taking much longer to get to me. I’ve been wondering if Amazon is throttling their free shipping packages in order to discourage customers from using it, and to further differentiate their shipping tiers. If that’s the case, then is “free shipping” shipping really “free”? Because it seems to me with throttling there’s a cost, even if the cost is time, not money.

    Regards,

    Teresa O.”