I unwittingly bought an Amazon Prime membership a few years ago. (The free trial trick gets me every time.) But that first accidental $80 payment was worth every penny. Because even years later, Amazon Prime is still the best deal in tech.
Hardly a week goes by when you don’t hear about something dreadful Amazon is doing to squeeze pennies out of its customers. Last week, it emerged that Amazon was selling popular video games and movies to Prime members only. If you don’t have Prime, you simply cannot buy a copy of The Imitation Game or Interstellar from Amazon. Sorry! These titles are members-only for the time being.
Of course, Amazon isn’t the only place to buy Interstellar on Blu-ray—but it’s probably going to be the cheapest. Best Buy will gladly sell you the same product for $15 (plus $4 shipping), which ends up being twice the price of Amazon’s exclusive offering.
The fact is that Amazon Prime—which now costs $100 a year—pays for itself remarkably quickly. Not only would you save ten bucks on your new Interstellar DVD, but you’d also get to watch it instantly on Amazon Prime Video. You can even stream the soundtrack with Amazon Prime Music. As for recovering the other $90 you’re coaxed into spending for membership, the free shipping will probably offset that cost a bit. The speedy delivery is a nice bonus too.
Like Costco and Sam’s Clubs before it, Amazon has created an appealing, membership-based experience that makes you feel like you can only get good deals if you shop at their store. I price-check obsessively and Amazon almost always offers the better deal that’s sweetened by the fast, free Prime shipping. It’s also just super fucking convenient to buy new jeans, a RAM upgrade, and deodorant in the same order. (That was literally my last Amazon order.) I buy almost everything from Amazon because it feels like I need to get my money’s worth. I’ve even started renting movies on Amazon, because I blew through the free catalog of space operas in a few weekends. It’s all so easy, just like Jeff Bezos said it would be.
Then there’s the evil element. Amazon locking people out of buying certain products isn’t all that bad, but the fact that it’s starting to target top sellers by making budget version of their most popular items is shady as hell. The company also famously treats its warehouse workers like shit, and even the high-paid office workers sound like they develop PTSD at Amazon. Every tech company has its share of awful labor issues. But free overnight delivery of seemingly anything on the planet does have particularly gritty consequences.
But I digress. Yes, I plan on coughing up another $100 in a few months to renew my Amazon Prime membership. I’ll charge it to my Amazon Rewards Visa card—the rewards from which will probably cover the Prime membership cost this year. I don’t love myself for becoming tied up in this extremely well thought-out loyalty system. But I can’t say no to a deal—or to unparalleled convenience. At this point, I’m not just saving money by making the most of my Prime membership. I’m turning a profit.