Want To Use Amazon Prime? You'll Pay $50 More For This TomTom Unit

Steve was going to split the cost of a TomTom GPS Navigator unit with a friend so they could give it to his sister as a gift. They were having trouble figuring out how to split it, though, because Steve—who is a paying Amazon Prime member—was being offered the unit for $300, while his random stranger friend was seeing it for $50 less.

Regarding Amazon Prime, I have always touted and encouraged others to purchase Amazon Prime because I thought it was an incredible savings. Two-day shipping was ALWAYS two-day shipping with no delays. Of course, it boosted the amount of products I purchased on Amazon, but I always believed they offered the best prices. However, when shopping for my sister’s birthday present for a Tom Tom One XL Navi system for her car, I noticed something incredibly shocking. As an Amazon Prime member, I was being quoted a HIGHER price for the same exact item a person who was NOT a member of Amazon Prime was looking at. A friend who would have been splitting the cost of the gift saw the item as $250, whereas I only had the option of adding the product for $300. I was incredulous.

It’s clear to us, and we hope to Steve, that this is not a case of Amazon offering different pricing to members and non-members—instead, it’s a case of a third-party vendor simply offering a better deal. When you compare the two screenshots, you can see that the cheaper option is actually being offered by another company, which can discount its merchandise all it likes and make up the difference in other ways—for example, with shipping fees (although in this case, free shipping is offered with the cheaper deal). Steve should just forgo Amazon Prime and buy the cheaper item.

con_tomtomapthumb.jpg con_tomtomrsthumb.jpg

But this does raise a question—is Amazon Prime a valuable product to purchase? This is the strongest example we’ve seen yet of its limitations. Sure, you may save on shipping over the course of your membership (provided you order enough from them)—but you’re stuck with Amazon’s inventory and prices if you want to use Amazon Prime, even when there are vendors who can offer better deals.

The appeal behind Amazon Prime is that Amazon’s prices are good enough to make this whole scheme work. Then there are gotchas like the TomTom.

Update: Based on the comments below, it appears a lot of readers feel that I’m saying that Amazon Prime customers can’t see or take advantage of the better deals on the site. This is not the case. I’ve edited the headline slightly and added more text to make some assumptions very explicit, and to better focus on the issue of whether or not Amazon Prime is valuable. —Chris


Edit Your Comment

  1. somuch says:

    Just to be clear– this is not an example of Amazon itself having two different prices for the same product. This is an example of how sometimes Amazon’s other vendors have a better price. Right?

    The possibility that Amazon charges different prices to different customers has been raised, but I can’t find any proof or information if that is still going on.

    I have prime and my UPS guy thinks I’m bonkers.

  2. y2julio says:

    umm the cheaper unit is not being sold by amazon. It’s a different retailer. how is this amazon’s fault?

  3. y2julio says:

    Seriously, How is this news?? Steve just sucks at shopping and at using the amazon website.

  4. ianmac47 says:

    Amazon offers the best price to members who are not logged in so that new customers come to believe that Amazon always has the best price for merchandise. Once customers are repeat customers and expect to receive the best price, Amazon does not offer the best price any longer, knowing that the repeat customer already believes they are receiving the best price.

  5. Chris Walters says:

    @y2julio & @somuch: Read the post after the two thumbnails. I’m pointing out that Amazon Prime locks you into Amazon’s inventory and pricing, which despite popular belief is not always the cheapest or best deal.

    I think the OP may have confused the two offers as both being from Amazon, but I make it clear in the post that that’s not the case.

  6. Dr_awesome says:

    if steve had just clicked on that “51 used and new” button he would have seen all of the available prices that amazon’s vendors have to offer.

  7. y2julio says:

    @Chris Walters: I still don’t see how amazon = bad. The buyer has various opportunities to select a different vendor. Even under the “add to cart” button from the Amazon prime page, there is different listings of the item from different sellers. It even showed another vendor selling one for $249.99.

  8. parad0x360 says:

    When I searched I got both results. I’m a prime member as well. My 1st result was from Amazon and the other result was from a retailer who sells through Amazon. This is how it always works…gotta keep your eyes open.

  9. parad0x360 says:

    @Chris Walters: Thats not true. Prime doesnt lock you into anything.

  10. y2julio says:
  11. humphrmi says:

    I’ve noticed that I get better prices at Amazon when I clear my cookies before shopping there. Then when I find the best price, I log in and buy it at that price. Of course, I don’t use Amazon prime as the lack of cookies defeats that service.

  12. milty45654 says:

    l3rn to use the internets steve…someone call the waaaambulance

  13. chrisgoh says:

    Um, you are not locked into buying from Amazon even if you have prime, just click on add to cart for any of the other buying options on the right side. Don’t go blaming Amazon when this is clearly a simple error on your part.

  14. camille_javal says:

    I’m pointing out that Amazon Prime locks you into Amazon’s inventory and pricing, which despite popular belief is not always the cheapest or best deal.

    except the “locks you in” language makes it sound like they actually hide these things from Amazon Prime customers – unless you have your search refined to only show Amazon Prime products (and then ignore the “51 used & new” link), I have to agree with the above poster who posits that Steve may be bad at Amazon.

    (and I will note, I usually *hate* the blame-the-victim comments with a passion)

  15. milty45654 says:

    Amazon can’t be at fault here. Prime can only be applied to AMAZON INVENTORY. They can’t guarantee 2 day shipping on a third party vendor…nub. So, learn to click on the “51 new and used” and you can shop from other offers. I can’t believe consumerist posted this and gave that nub a forum to post his “non problem”.

  16. milty45654 says:

    oh, I LOVE the blame the victim posts.

  17. somuch says:

    @Chris Walters: I still don’t get the “locks-in” part here.
    Prime customers have amazon listed first, doesn’t everybody?

  18. y2julio says:

    @milty45654: You don’t even have to click that. Amazon even gives you a short price list from other vendors underneath the “add to cart” button.

  19. y2julio says:

    @milty45654: How is Steve a victim? How was he victimized by Amazon.com?

  20. Chris Walters says:

    By “locks you in” I mean “you have to buy the Amazon inventory to receive the Amazon Prime benefits.” IOW, Amazon Prime does not give you free reign to purchase the best deal on Amazon and still receive the AP benefits.

    In this case, again as I noted in my post, shipping is free on the non-AP inventory, so there’s really no reason to use AP.

    However, imagine you are an AP customer. To maximize the value of your AP membership, ideally you want to take advantage of AP every time you order something from Amazon. The concept behind AP is that it brings you added value to each Amazon purchase because it saves you shipping fees when you shop from Amazon. In this case, AP conveys no benefit whatsoever to your purchase of a TomTom GPS navigator. You’re better off buying the Crutchfield one and taking advantage of their free shipping.

    Now imagine that situation happens repeatedly throughout the year—your AP membership becomes less valuable with each deal you find that offers better value outside the AP universe.

    That is the point of my headline and post: if Amazon repeatedly isn’t offering the better deal, AP is not a worthwhile purchase. The question then becomes, “Well, is this situation happening enough to ruin the value of AP?” which probably differs for each shopper and is outside the scope of this post.

  21. scoobydoo says:

    Sorry to say that everyone here is right. Amazon prime isn’t screwing anyone.

    In fact; Prime has NOTHING to do with the pricing AT ALL.

    Amazon sells it for $299
    Crutchfield sells it for $249 (through Amazon).

    It isn’t rocket science, yet whoever sent in the complaint clearly doesn’t understand how Amazon works (and sorry to say that the Consumerist doesn’t either).

    If you want it shipped free from Amazon it’ll be $299, or you can get it from a different vendor for less. Plain and simple.

  22. Chris Walters says:

    IOW, this is about Amazon Prime, not the TomTom unit.

  23. unimus says:

    How did this ended up on Consumerist? This is just a lack of proper research by the shopper.

  24. youbastid says:

    @milty45654: Except in this case, there is no victim to blame, only a self-professed smart shopper who clearly doesn’t know his way around amazon.

  25. Chris Walters says:


    Okay, well, I did what I could to explain it. You guys have fun.

  26. y2julio says:

    The point of Amazon prime is to save you on shipping charges if you frequently purchase from Amazon.com. Amazon Prime is not for you to receive lower prices or anything. Now if Amazon prime promised you lower prices from Amazon.com items and they didn’t then yes, you would be right.

  27. youbastid says:

    @Chris Walters: Well yes, but you could make the exact same argument about Super Saver Shipping – you can only get that with Amazon inventory, so you’re “locked in” there too.

  28. homerjay says:

    Am I the only one surprised that Crutchfield has the lowest price on ANYTHING?

  29. tinyrobot says:

    This is an unfortunate and misguided blaring headline for what I think is sadly a case of bad/misinformed consumer. I’ve been a Prime member happily for over a year now, and Amazon is never going to always have the best deal, but the site NEVER excludes other options, and in some cases actually defaults to another vendor instead of shipping for their own stock. In cases where you want the better price, you simply click the appropriate “Add to cart button” corresponding to the vendor/price you want, and eat the shipping. In cases where I want free speedy delivery, I eat the price increase and go with Prime.

    The screenshots in the original post even feature the Amazon price and the Crutchfield price on the sidebar of the pages where each respective vendor is featured. There’s no attempt to charge anyone anymore for anything here – it’s just what pops up as the default vendor for the item, which would make sense to default to Amazon when a Prime member is viewing the item since they’re paying for fancy shipping from Amazon.

    Seriously – you might want to consider updating/editing this post, since the headline is entirely misleading, and nibbles on Consumerists’ otherwise Kevlar credibility.

  30. youbastid says:

    I mean, I see your point, but I don’t think it’s of much concern unless there are far more items that are cheaper than Amazon’s inventory.

  31. Mr_Human says:

    But this is also true if you want to qualify for free shipping as a regular customer. You always have to use Amazon’s inventory. I’ve faced the same frustration. It’s hardly news. And Amazon doesn’t hide it. This article definitely has a misleading headline.

  32. y2julio says:

    @tinyrobot: I agree. The title is VERY misleading and Chris needs to edit it.

  33. EricaKane says:

    This post is idiotic. Amazon’s price is simply more expensive than Crutchfield. This Amazon Prime member could have bought it for $249 + shipping through Crutchfield.

    Somebody needs to wake up on this site

  34. nacio says:

    Why are you buying TomTom in the first place? does this guy live in Britain?

    Get a Garmin.

  35. chrisgoh says:

    @Chris Walters: That is the point of my headline and post: if Amazon repeatedly isn’t offering the better deal, AP is not a worthwhile purchase. The question then becomes, “Well, is this situation happening enough to ruin the value of AP?” which probably differs for each shopper and is outside the scope of this post.

    So the point you are trying to make with your headline is outside the scope of the post. Perhaps now you can see why everyone is saying the title is misleading?

  36. Chris Walters says:

    @youbastid: You don’t pay an annual fee for Super Saver Shipping. It is not a product Amazon sells. Amazon Prime is.

  37. montecon says:

    @Chris Walters: As a highly frequent Amazon.com customer and Amazon prime member myself I dont even consider 3rd-party vendors an Amazon purchase. Sure they are the ones that charge my credit card, but they are the equivalent of paypal in those circumstances. In a sense I view Amazon as offering two seperate and competing services on the same page, one where they offer products to purchase from themselves (with the benefit of AP), and a listing services where I can buy the same products, yes sometimes at cheaper prices, from other vendors. Maybe I just compartmentalize it differently.

    I completely understand your point, but I cant fathom how any of this is news for anyone who has used amazon enough for which Prime would be a consideration. The fact is 3rd-party free shipping is very rare (in my experience) and the reliability of purchasing from Amazon directly CANNOT be ignored. This is a bad example since Crutchfield is fairly reputable. But do you want to trust “DBROTH” and their lower prices to get you your product guaranteed in two days? A week?

  38. chrisgoh says:

    All Amazon is doing is giving you a way to purchase it from someone else who sells it for less. That is one of the great things about Amazon, they often have a great price, when they don’t they will facilitate your buying it from someone who is selling it for less.

  39. StevieD says:

    Can you say “sucker born every minute” ?

  40. unimus says:

    You’re never “stucked” with prime. The annual fee for prime is $79 but you can cancel it anytime and get the unused portion refunded.

  41. ecwis says:

    Whatever happened to the editor for the Consumerist?

    you’re stuck with Amazon’s inventory and prices, even when they’ve got vendors who can offer better deals.

    That simply isn’t true. As an Amazon Prime member you can still buy all the other goods. Maybe they don’t promote the other goods as much but I don’t want them to.

    When I’m shopping with Amazon, I only want to see goods that are directly from Amazon. If I wanted to shop elsewhere, I’d use Google to find the cheapest price.

  42. montecon says:

    Chris is right, though, that people should definitely really think about whether AP is worth it. If you dont need your purchases right away or find it useful, the free Supersaver shipping is great and usually only takes 1 or 2 days more than 2-day. Sometimes it’s just as good if you live close to a warehouse.

    But dont underestimate Amazon has really nailed down distribution and the only problems I’ve ever had purchasing from Amazon has been when I’ve purchased from “cheaper” alternatives on their site. There’s been at least a half-dozen times my order has been cancelled (days later!) for being “out of stock” since they dont update their inventory on Amazon quick enough.

  43. dantsea says:

    So just buy it from the independent vendor and select a cheap shipping option. You’ll come out ahead of the Amazon price.

  44. Mr_Human says:

    @Chris Walters: So what? I didn’t realize that the expectation that comes with AP is that all Amazon inventory products will always be cheaper. You have to admit that your headline is completely misleading.

  45. SomeoneGNU says:


    Facts!?! You can prove anything even remotely true with facts.

  46. Superborty says:

    @humphrmi: This is really scary if AMZN is giving new customers better deals. This would be a HUGE story if we can get some verification on it. I trust them for everything and am a Prime Member. Get to work Consumerist Team!!!!

  47. Michael Belisle says:

    @y2julio: Absolutely. The headline is totally betrayed by the photos. Note that the Prime offer does not say “Best Price” and Crutchfield is clearly listed. An enterprising Prime customer might wonder, “Hmm, what price is Crutchfield offering?”

    Amazon Marketplace plays by different rules, because you’re not buying from Amazon and shipping rates are set by the seller. Amazon Prime has nothing to do with the Marketplace:

    Products sold by third parties, such as Target, or through third-party areas, such as Amazon Marketplace, are NOT eligible [for Amazon Prime].

    I’m sorry Chris, this story may have had value, but the headline means I’m nominating it for the 2008 Worst Story on Consumerist.

  48. Chongo says:

    Finally us apple geeks can make fun of another group of people who love a product so much!

    I use Amazon Prime at least twice a month and I saved over 400 in shippng last year. I always looked closely at all offered prices before I purchased. Sometimes I ordered from AP even when the other vendor was cheaper. The reason being is that even with the 2nd day air option, I get it automatically upgraded to Next day air by UPS for free! (does being in Chicago have anything to do with this?)

    I would still suggest to people that they should get the AP service if you use amazon more then a couple time a month.

  49. D.B. Cooper-Nichol says:

    @Chris Walters: Yeah, we understand what you meant. After reading the comment threads and rushing over to check Amazon.

    The reason everyone is confused is that you made a story out of smoke and mirrors – there’s just nothing to this story when you write it clearly (“Amazon Prime, while offering free shipping, may not have best total price for one particular item. Prime may or may not be worthwhile for your needs.”) To make this “a story,” you had to come at it from a misleading angle, and frankly, a pretty egregious headline (I was in full freakout mode when I clicked on the RSS, and until I read the comments).

    Blaming the reader and treating them with disdain (“Sigh. I tried. Have fun.”)? If 90% of the audience doesn’t understand the message, maybe the problem was with the way it was presented. We didn’t all get stupid at once.

  50. y2julio says:

    @Superborty: read all the comments in this page.

  51. SaveMeJeebus says:

    Crutchfield? That thing’s still around?

  52. Superborty says:

    @montecon: I agree. I try to buy from Amazon even if they have a slightly higher price. They are completely reputable and get you the goods on time. Trust is a key thing when shopping online.

    One thing worth mentioning is that AP does not get you free second day shipping on all Amazon.com items. They exempt certain items and it can be a bit unclear (IMO).

  53. radio1 says:

    There is too much cross-pollination:

    Youbastid: You are not locked into Free ‘SuperSavingsShipper’. You can purchase whatever shipping you like for Amazon inventory product. Or if the order is over 25 smackeroos you can choose the free shipping. But the free shipping is slower.

    OP: If you shop at Amazon so much, how come you could not figure this out w/o complaining to Consumerist? You spent the 80-or-so bucks to get free two day shipping and discounted overnight shipping. That’s it. If buy a lot directly from Amazon, great.

    But to complain about a cheaper price when it says, ‘… FROM CRUTCHFIELD’, c’mon now.

  54. Superborty says:

    @y2julio: I have. This was in regards to getting a better price from Amazon if you clean out your cookies. This wasn’t the fact that Amazon doesn’t always have the lowest price (which everyone should know). Am I missing something??

  55. ryelvert says:

    I loves me some Consumerist, but y’all are way off base on this one. As many commentors have mentioned above, this is not trickery by Amazon. Any AP member should already know that there is a possibility that a third-party vendor will have a better deal, despite not having the shipping perks of AP. The third-party prices were clearly shown on that screen-cap. One just needs to know where to look. Don’t blame Amazon for Steve’s ignorance.

  56. Chongo says:

    @Chongo: I *SOMETIMES* get it upgraded… if you order early enough in the day it usually works.

    FWIW – I’ll attempt to stand in the middle and seperate the fight… At least this might bring light to the fact that AP is not always the best wayt to go. It DID take me a week to realize that there were cheaper vendors after I signed up for AP. Perhaps an article explaining the differences might be more in order.

  57. shiftless says:

    I think Amazon Prime is really only a good deal to people who live in the middle of nowhere like myself. It would take me a 100 mile trip to get a lot of things I want and even at that point there’s no guarantee the store will have it. Overall, Amazon’s prices are pretty good. Some things are kind of stupid but the fact remains that they are reliable.

  58. Michael Belisle says:

    @Michael Belisle: Alright! Headline fixed. We can all go home happy now.

  59. HungryGrrl says:

    So, Chongo, you signed up for something that you didn’t understand? That’s exactly the kind of behavior The Consumerist is mocking.

    I think they post this kind of drivel just to encourage comment area flame wars.

  60. Chris Walters says:

    @Michael Belisle: ha ha

    To everyone: I’ve added more text too, to clarify that I’m not saying Amazon hides prices from Prime members. Sorry to all for the confusion, although I imagine there’s still plenty of room to debate the value of AP. Gawker’s servers take a while to refresh caches—the final post has an update at the bottom.

    You guys can be harsh, but it’s actually sort of fun to edit with real-time feedback. Sort of…

  61. Chongo says:

    @HungryGrrl: such as the ones that come from you?

    I guess even online the nice, cool headed person can’t win either eh? Sorry chris, I failed in holding back the horde! run!!!!

  62. steinwaytony says:

    What silliness. Damn Amazon for not constantly beating third-party merchants’ best price! We need price controls! Where’s the government when you need em?

    AP is great if you’ve got 50+ shipments per year from Amazon anyway. In general, it’s pointless for consumers, who feel like they need to buy from Amazon — which seldom has the lowest price, by the way — to justify the $80/year.

  63. Mustang Paul says:

    Blame the victim? Victim? Do the homework, go to Radio Shack/Wal Mart/Staples or any of the other zillion or so places that sell the tom tom and buy it there.

    I have prime–my UPS guy, too, thinks I’m crazy–but don’t use it when I can get a better deal other places. I usually use prime to get small ticket items pronto or larger things tomorrow.

  64. krunk4ever says:

    Like many others, it appears the $300 pricing is from another vendor and NOT Amazon.com. If you look at the upper right corner, you’ll see the cheaper one is sold by Crutchfield and there’s probably going to be a shipping charge on top of that.

  65. milty45654 says:

    @D.B. Cooper-Nichol: I have to agree with DB here….a misguided title to forge a story that really isn’t one.

  66. sauceistheboss says:


    Non-story… deceiving picture and title.

  67. tequilajunction says:

    Holy crap. I’d suggest you edit the headline as soon as possible before Consumerist starts to lose the credibility they’ve built up.

  68. userboy says:

    Great prices + no sales tax + price adjustments when I request them + not fucking up a single order in 12+ years of ordering from them = Amazon Primed for life

  69. whorfin says:

    Hey, I use Amazon Prime because I can get a lot of stuff at the same price or cheaper than other vendors, with free 2 day shipping. For books, if I batch ’em up and wait 2 weeks, I could get free SuperSaver, but not everything.

    And yes, you should always look to see if another vendor has the same thing for cheaper. For some of the things I buy, I look on Amazon, their vendors, and also do a quick search on Google for other sales of the same thing. For a lot of the ‘specialty’ items I buy, there are vendors that have better deals than Amazon.

  70. FLConsumer says:

    How come Consumerist isn’t applauding Amazon.com in this case for showing BOTH their price and a 3rd party price?

    When was the last time Verizon’s website also showed you what their competitor’s/affiliates’ prices were?

    I’m an Amazon Prime member and use the heck out of it. Is Amazon.com always the cheapest? No, but they’re usually competitive by the time you add in 2-day or overnight shipping.

  71. krunk4ever says:

    Even after changing the title and putting that blurb about us misunderstanding you, I’m not sure you understand how Amazon.com works, or any business model that allows 3rd party sellers…

  72. Swervo says:

    Just wanted to note two recent experiences with Amazon Prime:

    1) I pre-ordered a game and upgraded to overnight shipping for an additional $3. They shipped it two-day, despite me paying more for overnight. When called on it, however, they did knock the $3 off the order.

    2) I ordered another item and went for the two-day shipping that I get as part of Amazon Prime. They sent it 3 day ground. It took the full three days.

    I’m starting to wonder what I’m paying for…

  73. jmschn says:

    Bad article. Steve didn’t know how to navigate the website. Close case.

  74. CharlieSeattle says:

    @Chris Walters: It does not lock you in. I have prime. This article shouldn’t even be posted.

  75. FLConsumer says:

    @Swervo: I guess I’ve been lucky. I’ve only used 2-day shipping with Amazon Prime and each time things come in within 1-2 days. Was quite shocked at first that I’d get things overnight without having to pay the extra fee.

  76. enine says:

    Problem #1 is why is anyone still using internet explorer (notice the e in the address bar of the screen shots). The price difference is probably due to some undetected spy/adware in the browser ;)

  77. vividblurry says:

    Terrible article. Why is this even posted? Any idiot knows that the same product is offered on Amazon by multiple vendors at different prices and with different shipping options.

  78. vividblurry says:

    And the graphic is still misleading. The logo about “$250” should be an image of Crutchfield, not Amazon. Jeez.

  79. tequilajunction says:

    So when are you guys going to pull this article or print a retraction?

  80. redhelix says:

    Seriously, pull this article. This is stupid.

    Amazon has no hand in how merchants price their products on amazon marketplace.

  81. FLConsumer says:

    @tequilajunction: They’re probably not. This is one of my gripes with blogs vs. traditional journalism. It may take the newspapers a little bit of time to admit to it, but they will eventually retract bad stories. Even the NY Times usually has a corrections list on page 2 every day.

  82. barfoo says:

    The question is valid: is AP a good buy? This posting is a bad case study, though. Amazon’s price is significantly lower, so AP is probably not worth using in this case. That sometimes happens — but it doesn’t matter whether the better price is through an Amazon-affiliated seller or a third party. Does it make any difference whether the better price is on Crutchfield-via-Amazon or on newegg.com? I don’t think so (except that it shows Amazon’s brilliance in giving you those other options and keeping you within the fold).

    What makes AP worthwhile is not big ticket items, where I’d shop around anyhow and not care about getting two-day shipping since I plan ahead, but smaller items. I like being able to get books in two days without worrying about it, and on new books Amazon’s price before shipping is usually competitive if not the very best. I buy small items like that from Amazon a couple of times a month, and usually need them in a hurry, so AP is definitely worth it.

    THAT is where AP shines. On pricier items, it’s rare that I need them in two days, and they would ship free anyhow, so the added value is lower.

  83. EricaKane says:

    This article is a real diservice to the Consumerist. The graphics with “Amazon Prime” and “Random Stranger” are still highly misleading and implies what the re-written copy does not, that somehow random stranger get better pricing than Amazon.com Prime members. I expect better from the consumerist.

  84. mike says:

    In terms of Amazon Prime:

    For me, I realized that the Amazon fulfillment center was about 2-day UPS shipping away. I tried Amazon Prime for free to see if there was any noticeable difference. There really wasn’t.

    Now, this isn’t the case for other people since Amazon only has so many fulfillment centers.

    Even “next day” shipping isn’t really next day since it still takes time to put everything together. It’s next-day once it’s ready to be shipped.

    I usually stick with Free Super Saver Shipping. Gets me what I want most of the time when I’m not in a hurry to get it.

  85. BStu says:

    @Chris Walters: Well, sure, Amazon Prime “locks you in” to buying Amazon products to get the benefits. What, were they supposed to provide the same benefits if you buy things on BestBuy.com? I’m sorry, but there is no “there” there. The customer WAS shown the lower price. His listing just defaulted to the Amazon price. Frankly, I’m annoyed when Amazon doesn’t default to the Amazon price and make be jump through hoops to get free shipping just because some seller is offering it for $0.05 less with helpful $15.99 shipping and handling.

    The other offer was the better deal this time. That’s why you comparison shop, even on Amazon’s site. They make it really easy. The idea that this is somehow nefarious because Amazon.com benefits aren’t offered by third parties isn’t simply a stretch, but a snapped rubber band.

    I don’t use AP. Its not worth it to me because their super saver shipping does a good job meeting my needs. But I can see it being worth it to other consumers. Admittedly, when they gave me a free trial (during Christmas no less!) I did rather like it. But I’m cheap and patient. The pro’s and con’s of AP, though, are entirely divorced from this post. I wouldn’t complain if you wanted an open post on the value of Amazon Prime but trying to get their from this story just doesn’t work. This just doesn’t demonstrate a real limitation of the product.

  86. Illusio26 says:

    While Amazon’s prices might not always be the best, they are almost always better than retail. I think AP is great for casual purchases. As long as i don’t need the item immediately, I’ll get it from Amazon as opposed to the retail BM stores to save some money. Also, I found a good website, iprimr.com which is helpful for searching only Amazon Prime’s inventory.

  87. Illusio26 says:

    One other nice thing about buying from Amazon I forgot to mention is that they have a price protection plan. I bought some speakers stands yesterday from amazon and they are cheaper today. I called the CSR and got refunded the difference no problem. Usually you can’t get that from your standard BM stores.

  88. vladthepaler says:

    Prime only makes sense if you frequently need your purchases quickly. I almost never do, so free slow shipping (which can take anywhere from 1-3 weeks in my experience) is fine.

  89. mavrc says:

    This happened last Thursday at some point. I’ve been shopping for the same unit. Last Thursday it was somewhere around $380, direct from Amazon. On Friday I went back to buy it and got the ominous message that the item in my cart had increased to $449 (which is the MSRP of the device direct from TomTom’s site.) I sent an e-mail asking why the price had increased so dramatically, and was somewhat rudely brushed off.

    I will not be renewing my Prime membership because of this. Their loss, because I purchased a metric shitload of DVD’s and books from Amazon last year.

  90. Mr. Gunn says:

    All Prime does is convert the free Super Saver into free 2 Day shipping. That’s it. It doesn’t ever save you money. The only way it would “save” you money is if you’re tempted into upgrading to faster shipping more than 8-9 times a year.

    It’s annoying how they don’t let you easily search only Amazon items, but there are ways around that.

  91. EricaKane says:

    Prime doesn’t just convert super saver into 2 day free. Hell you can buy 1 book for $8 bucks and get it shipped “free” under Prime

  92. rjhiggins says:

    @y2julio: Geez, Julio, will you please read Chris’s explanation or just STFU? Nobody is blaming anybody, or suggesting anything nefarious. It’s a simple question: Is it worth buying Amazon Prime when it doesn’t cover items bought from other vendors on Amazon? For some people it is; for others it’s not. He asked for opinions.

    It makes me crazy when people like you make outraged postings because you can’t be bothered actually reading.

  93. MaxRC says:

    For the love of god, use GIF for non-graphic intensive screen shots!

  94. Oh No I Di'n't. says:

    Really, there should be a special section on Consumerist for the whining of stupid people. Or at least a special feed that filters this stuff out. Seriously.

  95. MaxRC says:

    @rjhiggins: Even now, the article reads like Amazon Prime customers are forced to pay a higher price. The side-by-side is nothing but sensational nonsense.

    *OF COURSE* if you don’t buy directly from Amazon.com frequent enough, then Prime is a bad deal for you.

  96. PowerLlama says:

    So should I be mad that Amazon Prime doesn’t work on my ebay store purchases? Because that’s essentialy what an Amazon seller is.

  97. milty45654 says:

    Still a nub article….there is a 3rd variable you are missing here; namely how important is it to get this item in the fastest time…Amazon Prime’s next day/2 day air is far superior to ANY other vendor I have used…so it may be worth the money to get your item the next day or in 2 days.

  98. erratapage says:

    I can’t figure out why I’m supposed to be mad at Amazon here. I use Amazon Prime, since I make a lot of business purchases on Amazon, and I need to have some delivery certainty. I don’t buy stuff from Amazon just because I get free shipping, though. They also have to have the best price, once all costs are considered. I don’t think Amazon has ever guaranteed to have the lowest price, so I’m not sure why I’d expect my Prime membership to give me that.

  99. TehRev says:

    Wow talk about a disappointment in the Consumerist. This article should flat out be removed. If I can count on this kind of reporting I’ll not bother reading anymore. Even after the “clarifications” the headline is still grossly misleading and people are by no means “locked in”.

    Prime can be a good deal. If you can get a better deal don’t use it. I am a big prime user and I get my money’s worth. If I wanted this deal I would have still used the crutchfield with free shipping. Just because I didn’t use prime no harm done. Did I get Prime? No but I didn’t buy from Amazon either. Does that make prime a bad deal? No, because any number of other products I buy use it. I’d get way more than $79 dollars in shipping charges every year so skipping it on one deal means nothing.

    Ben Popken I think you should keep a closer eye on the site, this is subpar at best. You shouldn’t put up big headlines that can smear retailers for doing nothing wrong. I would wager many people just glaze through the site once a day and now think less of Amazon for doing nothing wrong. I am the first to call out bad service or trickery this is not that.

  100. chazz says:

    This is the worst filler article you have run to date. I am so close to shutting this RSS down. It takes too much effort to sift through to the 2 or 3 really important items.

    The Headline should be:

    Man Doesn’t Know How to Use Amazon.com

  101. burbssuck says:

    I was confused about a higher price bring shown AND having to wait for the an out of stock item with amazon prime vs. a cheaper and in stock item from an another amazon vendor so I wrote Amazon about it. For me the “new” part of “New and used” was a change. I believe that there was only used items there before they added “new”. So I did not ever look at it. I’d still like them to show the cheapest item when Amazon prime items are out of stock but I was pretty happy with their response.


    My name is Brett O’Keefe of Amazon.com’s Executive Customer Relations. Jeff Bezos received your e-mail and has asked that I respond on his behalf.

    Thank you for giving us the chance to address your concerns that our customers are being offered different prices for items on our site.
    I want to assure you that this is not the case, but also to take this opportunity to explain why it may have seemed to be.

    While all of our customers are offered the same prices for our items, we make Prime-eligible items easier to find for Prime members by automatically selecting them as the most prominent offer on our pages. We do this based on the understanding that our Prime members subscribe to this service because they want their items fast, with free shipping, and will usually prefer to utilize their benefits where possible.

    Occasionally, when viewing an item as a Prime member you may see the Amazon offering of an item, but when viewing it as a non-Prime customer you might see one of our merchants offerings instead. This can impact the price of the most-prominent listing, but any other offers for that item will still be available to you under the “More Buying Choices” heading on the product page, with the price and seller fully displayed should you choose to select those offers instead. The order in which these are listed may change, but the price is not affected.

    I’d also like to thank you for letting us know about the pricing discrepancy between our offering for the Western Digital hard drive, and “AOnSale’s”. As I?m sure you know, we strive to offer a competitive price for all of the merchandise sold by Amazon; we’re looking into why there was such a large difference in this case.

    I’m very sorry for any disappointment this may have caused but I’d like to thank you again for taking the time to share your concerns with us. We realize that your experience reflects on our company as a whole and we work very hard to utilize feedback from valued customers like you when making future decisions. Please know that we’ll continue to respond to these concerns and make improvements whenever possible.

  102. femmesavante says:

    Dumb post about dumb people. The point of Amazon prime is free fast shipping NOT cheapest prices. If you’re dumb enough not to do the math and see what is cheaper with shipping included, then that’s your problem. Don’t blame Amazon.

  103. gingerCE says:

    This article needs to be made clearer. The heading and pics make it seem as if amazon charges prime customers higher costs than non prime custormers, which isn’t the case.

    This article, in my opinion, is this close to having grounds for Amazon to come after Consumerist for false information/advertising. This site is a blog, yes, but it needs to be accurate and not provide misleading titles and information–otherwise the site is doing exactly what we complain corporations do.

    At least this Chris was willing to add additional info to help clarify his points (but the heading and pics should be changed). That’s more than a certain BP did when his article gave out inaccurate information on Target.

  104. gingerCE says:

    @TehRev: I don’t think the article needs to be removed, but the heading and pics need to be changed. When I saw this at first, it totally made me think amazon was raising the prices for Prime members. Not everyone clicks on the article to read, just to see the pics and heading.

  105. gingerCE says:

    @Chris Walters: I had Amazon Prime’s free trial for 3 months. I would look at the price of the Prime item, then look at the vendors and calculate shipping costs to see which came out cheaper.

    In no way was I forced to purchase only Prime items. I don’t understand this locking you in. I bought from 3rd party vendors as well as Amazon.

  106. doireallyneedausername says:

    I found that Amazon Prime offers better pricing to its members than a regular Joe logging onto its website. (I was about to say, ‘…regular Joe walking off the street.’ but I realized you can’t quite do that with an online website!) That being said, I don’t take that for granted and I ALWAYS comparison shop before buying at Amazon. Amazon, in my experience, is the cheapest about 85% of the time. The rest of the time, there are better deals at Office Depot or Worst Buy using coupons.