Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Changes to Amazon’s free delivery options

Photo of a bird of prey, as Amazon's delivery is no longer free as a bird

Amazon UK is changing the eligibility of orders for its free ‘super saver’ delivery, as of today. Before, any order could qualify, but now, many orders that are under £10 will not be eligible.

Orders that include ‘books, DVDs, Blu-rays, music, video games and software products’ that are under £10 still qualify. That applies even if the order is mixed with another item not on the list. So an order for a £3 DVD and a £3 cable would still get free delivery, whereas an order for a £3 cable on its own wouldn’t.

Amazon has varied the rules regarding its free delivery over the years. Until around 2004 it was only available for orders over £25, and back then I blogged about trying to find a cheap item that would let me get free delivery on a £24.99 purchase. Delivery would be £2.75, so I needed something that cost less than that to get free delivery for less. I think I ended up buying a 69p address book, but at £25.68 with free delivery, this was less than £27.74 that it would have cost on its own including delivery. I seem to remember the £24.99 ‘thing’ was a 128 MB USB flash drive, because that’s how much they cost in those days. Anyway…

Amazon subsequently dropped the minimum purchase amount a couple of times – to £20 and then £10, I think. Finally, it was made free some years ago, to the joy of many of my fellow students at the time. This is the first time that it’s gone up, albeit not for all items.

I have a theory that this decision is to encourage more people to sign up to Amazon Prime, which Amazon is pushing more aggressively now. I don’t use Amazon often enough for it to be worth it though, as it’s normally £49 per year. In the UK, besides free delivery, the only other benefit is being able to use the Kindle lending library; we don’t have Amazon Instant Video here yet. I suppose if Amazon further integrates Lovefilm into its UK business then that may change, but for now I can’t justify it.

When buying things from Amazon I always go for free delivery despite it never being the default. I don’t think there’s ever been a situation where I need something so urgently that I’m prepared to pay a premium. I’d rather save my money and wait a bit longer. Therefore this change may mean that I will look at alternatives for small purchases in future.

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