Monday, September 23, 2013

Amazon Prime: 5 Things You Need To Know is offering free trials of its Prime membership.  Here's the quick rundown.
Free Two-Day Shipping  |  Amazon Instant Video  |  Borrow Kindle Books

Full disclosure: I will get a small commission if you use the link below to sign up.  If this info helps you decide I'd really appreciate the support.  In the end I thought Prime was worth it for me so I’ve paid my $79/year to become an Amazon Prime member.  That said, Amazon Prime might not be for everyone.  Here are 5 things you need to know before signing up for your Amazon Prime 30-day free trial.

1. You Get Billed After 30 Days
If you don't cancel your membership before the 30-day trial is up you will automatically be charged $79 for a one-year  membership.  This is the most important point to take note of. True story: My wife signed up for Amazon Mom and received a free 30-day trial of Prime that was extended past the 30 days if she spent a certain amount of money each month. Yep… we had free Prime for a year.  With a baby on the way you tend to buy a lot of stuff.

2. Instant Videos - Navigating The Amazon
Amazon Instant Videos can be elusive river monsters.  The videos that do qualify for free unlimited streaming will often appear next to paid videos in the search results.  If you're looking for a Netflix replacement keep looking.  The user interface needs some work if you're going to consider canceling Netflix for Prime.  Yes you can browse "Prime Instant Video" but it’s very easy to find yourself about to purchase an instant video that is not free.  Don't let little kids navigate the tropical forest of Amazon Prime Instant Video or you will have a huge one-click bill in no time.  Maybe there is a Prime Instant Video app that I'm not aware of?

3. Limited Videos For Unlimited Streaming 
Not all Amazon Instant Videos qualify for free unlimited streaming.  This can be a let down if you think your gaining access to the entire Amazon video library.  Currently you'll get access to about 41,000 older movies and TV episodes. Good news for all you fans of “My Dog Skip” but if you’re into the current stuff, you might want to browse the library first.  If you happen to be a Netflix subscriber you will realize that many of the Amazon Instant Videos you have access to are also available on Netflix.  Not all titles are available in both libraries but it's good to be aware that there are some redundancies if you’re considering paying for both services.  Prime Instant Video does have Duck Dynasty Season 1 which Netflix does not.  So if you're into watching rednecks tool around in a swamp (which I am) that may be a plus.

4. Free Two-Day Shipping?
Not all Amazon products qualify for the free 2-day shipping.  When an item does qualify for Prime rest assured it will be there in two days.  It's just good to know that not all items qualify. Sometimes a Prime item I want is more expensive than the same exact item being fulfilled by a third party Amazon vendor.  Now you have to figure out the math- does the shipping cost for the non-prime item still make it cheaper than the prime item that has free shipping?  I'm not horrible at it but math is not my favorite thing.  Nor do I like the idea of spending $80 in membership fees to be required to do this type of math.  If you decide to skip membership just order things in $25 increments and Amazon will give you free standard shipping.

5. Limited Books For Borrowing
All my friends seem to be big fans of permanent borrowing, but that's my problem.  Not all Amazon Kindle books qualify for borrowing.  Currently there are about 350,000 books available for you to borrow.  I'm sure some of them are good.  To my friends reading this - Nate & Stephanie's personal library will now only provide limited titles.  Sure, borrow our second copy of "How to Win Friends & Influence People" but that's it!

*UPDATE* Feb 2, 2014

6. Amazon Hit with Class Action Lawsuit
Looks like Amazon Prime may have been quietly increasing the sticker price of "Prime" products to make up the cost of free 2-day shipping.