Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Sub-prime target

Screenshot of Amazon Prime

Yesterday, Amazon Prime was in the news, after various people found out they’d signed up for it without realising. This included Times journalist Giles Coren, who had some choice words for Amazon on Twitter when he discovered he’d been paying for it for three years.

Before I continue, I must disclose that I am an Amazon Associate, and receive commission when you buy things from Amazon having clicked on links on this site.

Coren is a controversial figure and some people who I like and/or follow on Twitter have been having a moment of schadenfreude over this. But Coren is certainly not the only person who ended up paying for Amazon Prime – someone much closer to me did as well. That would be my wife, Christine.

Recently she was ordering something from Amazon and I happened to be looking over her shoulder at the time. As she went through the checkout process, I remarked:

Neil: “I didn’t know you had signed up for Amazon Prime.”

Christine: “I haven’t.”

Neil: “Yes, you have, it says so on the screen. You’re paying £60 per year for that.”

Christine: [words which are not repeatable in polite company]

Suffice to say that she’s since cancelled – and thankfully this was before Amazon raised the price to £79 per year.

I’ve seen some people comment that they can’t understand why others didn’t realise they were signing up for a subscription service – after all, in the screenshot above, it clearly says that after the 30-day free trial you will be paying a subscription fee. But Amazon Prime is also heavily promoted during the checkout process, and though the small print at the bottom of the screen does state that there will be a charge after 30 days, it’s not as clear. Here’s a screenshot of what you see when you select Amazon Prime as a shipping option during checkout:

Amazon Prime terms and conditions

I have a feeling that this is how Christine accidentally signed up. After all, she’s quite tech-savvy, to the point where I have to ask her for help with complicated cell formulae in Microsoft Excel. She’s not normally the sort of person who would sign up for these things without realising.

If you have inadvertently signed up for Amazon Prime, then you can cancel. MoneySavingExpert has a guide, and, in fairness to Amazon, if you sign up and then never make use of any of the perks of your Amazon Prime membership, then they will refund your subscription fee when you cancel. And there’s no charge if you cancel within the 30 day limit.

Between us, Christine and I don’t order enough things from Amazon to justify paying £79 per year – especially as Amazon still offers free delivery on many items if you’re prepared to wait a bit longer. We don’t need Amazon Prime Instant Video because we have Netflix, and we don’t need the online photo storage or the Kindle lending library. For people who order regularly from Amazon (and we’re talking at least once a month here) or who often watch films and TV programmes on Instant Video, Amazon Prime makes more sense – but not for us. I can completely understand why people end up subscribing to it without realising though.

One Comment

  1. I don’t have Prime for similar reason. Don’t use Amazon often enough to justify annual fee.