retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Some email about the decision by Amazon to increase its Prime membership from $79 a year to $99…

One MNB reader wrote:

Bastards!!!!  Quite frankly I didn’t feel that this was “breaking news”, however it did prompt me to open your email immediately and ultimately go to MNB.  You got me there, KC!  No one likes price increases, however this is minuscule in the grand scheme of things.  For $99 customers are still getting a fantastic value with Prime, especially when you consider that customers get a Netflix-like streaming service (although it’s still not on-par with Netflix in terms of content yet in my opinion) and of course the 2-day shipping (I often get packages the next day since their DC is relatively close) if you order a lot of goods from Amazon, which is an incredible value.  I know that Amazon theoretically “loses” money discounting shipping for Prime users as well, especially since they’ve kept the subscription rate constant for nine years.  I don’t see a lot of Prime users canceling because of the hike.

From another reader:

Great idea to suggest that Amazon could have added some sort of continued commitment statement, the announcement of some additional “goodie,” or even a recap of what’s included in a Prime Membership.   But, that’s what always happens when the law department writes the memo.

From MNB reader Skye Lininger:

Just really quick about the Amazon Price change. I got an email this morning as well. My membership expires in August but they said I will pay the $79 in August 2014 and that my rate won’t increase until August 2015 to $99. Interesting how they are rolling it out. I will have 8 more months at $79 than you will.
 
“Your 2014 annual renewal will remain at the original price of $79. On August 18 2015, your membership will renew at $99/year.”Hi Kevin,
 
This morning I stopped by my local Fred Meyer to buy an electric toothbrush. I found a Phillips Sonicare for $149.99. Just for the heck of it, I opened the Amazon app on my iPhone and scanned the barcode. Available for Prime delivery at $129.99. Since $20 isn’t nothing, I asked the customer service person if they would price match. He checked, came back and said they would price match some items like electronics, only from other local stores (not online), and not in the HBA category. I pointed out that this was an electronic product, even though it was merchandised near the pharmacy; and that Phillips was pretty much an electronics company. He was polite but unpersuaded as he watch me press “Purchase” on my phone. Today is Thursday, my new toothbrush will arrive Saturday. The people at Freddy’s are unfailingly nice and helpful. I’m a big Kroger fan. However, 20 bucks is 20 bucks. Their policy about price matching seems unclear, even to them.

What are your thoughts?


I think that you either match or you don't. When retailers try to split hairs, all they end up doing is convincing shoppers that they should split and go somewhere else.

Besides, your story illustrates just how meaningless the $20 price increase … just the money you saved on a toothbrush paid for it.

MNB reader Don Goodwin wrote:

I think one should give some thought to what constitutes breaking news.  While the story is interesting, it surely could have waited until tomorrow morning.  This will be blown up by the media, but a non issue next week.

Everybody is entitled to their own opinion.

My feeling was this - that it was a story that I wanted to know about immediately, that I had the capacity to share immediately, and so, I did the breaking news alert.

Hard to imagine that many folks would find fault with the decision…
KC's View: