No, Amazon isn’t the warmest and fuzziest of companies, as demonstrated by Julia Cheiffetz’s essay, I Had a Baby and Cancer When I Worked at Amazon. This Is My Story.
A boycott, however, most likely would not fly. American is too much a part of American life, beyond the fact the company has its positives as well.
What you can do, however, is at least shop thriftily there. Below are ten tips for Amazon shoppers, from Tracey Porpora of the Staten Island Advance. Read her article for more details.
- “Get a refund if the price drops within seven days.”
- “Don’t forget to check for clickable coupons.”
- “Textbooks on on Amazon may be cheaper in other countries.”
- “Shipping delayed? Get a replacement item shipped out ASAP.”
- “Didn’t get your Amazon Prime shipment in two days?” In the interest of rewarding the Advance with clicks, I’ll let Ms. Porpora supply the answer.
- “Share your Amazon Prime account with your significant other.”
- “Want to upgrade your shipping speed for cheap? Order items separately.”
- “Want an even better price? Get the Amazon Store Card for an additional an additional 5 percent off.”
- “Are you a college student? Get six months of Prime for free.”
- “Hate visiting the grocery store? Take Prime Pantry for a test drive.”
I’d add another marvelous trick. Grab the weblink for the Amazon page displaying the item you want, then go to:
Create an account—little more than giving them your email address—and then insert that weblink. I’ve picked up no indication they’ll pass that email address along to spammers. They make their income as an Amazon associate.
In most cases, Camel will already be following the item’s price, in which case, you’ll get an idea how that price has been moving up and down. If not, you’ll start that monitoring.
With an idea of its price swings, set a price you’re willing to pay. For many items, you’ll be able to enter an Amazon price, a new third-party price, and a used third party price. Enter all you’re interested in. Whether you set that price low or not depends on how zealous you are for that item. You can change it later.
Keep in mind that Amazon itself sometimes sells returned items as third-party used through an affiliate. In such case an almost new item is typically 40% off and free shipping over $35 applies. Do not delay. Those deals tend to go quickly. And from what I have seen, they’re typically released in the wee hours of the night.
When the Amazon price drops below the one you’ve set, you’ll get an email. I’ve got my email program set up so that email has my Mac beep and also sends out a text to my phone. On a few occasions, I’ve been awakened in the night by that phone beep, gotten up to buy the item before someone else does, then gone back to sleep. The early bird does get the worm.
Patience is the key to a good deal. Camel will complain if you set a price below any previous low, but will still allow that. At times you’ll score with a super low price.
Camel is particularly useful with used books. Books that normally sell from $20 and up will sometimes have a bookseller in a hurry post the book for just a few dollars. Often, if one cuts the price, others soon follow. Shipping in the U.S. is typically $3.99, so you can often get an almost new hardback, shipping and all, for about $5-6. Just be patient.
Unfortunately, Amazon won’t let Camel monitor prices for Kindle books. Thus far, I’ve not found anything else that Camel can’t monitor.
In my case, Camel is the primary reason I still buy from Amazon. I’m the sort who doesn’t usually buy unless I can get a real deal. Camel gives me those deals.