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Amazon.com: from stress-free to stressed me

Filed under: Opinionated on Thursday, December 1, 2005

I got this alarming message when I opened up my Amazon.com shopping cart yesterday morning:

Picture of popup message in my Amazon.com shopping cart

Yikes! Less than 12 hours after starting my Christmas shopping, I lost $13.54 on the Lost boxed set and the National Treasure DVD just because I didn’t buy them immediately! They weren’t on sale when I put them into my cart, either—the market price of those DVDs must’ve gone up, that’s all, and I am stuck with the higher price.

It used to be I could leave stuff in my cart all week before I checked out. Sometimes the prices changed, sure, but it was never more than a few cents here and there—never anything like this. In fact, until this happened, Amazon was what I considered a stress-free shopping experience.

Thanks to Amazon, I could:

  • buy stuff at any time of day or night,
  • save money on gasoline, and
  • shop in my pyjamas without anybody ever knowing (unless I confessed in the “special instructions” section during check-out).

All of this good will to Amazon was generated, however, before I knew it could change the prices in my shopping cart so drastically.

For a few moments after I read that message, I wondered what to do. Should I quickly check out and buy my stuff before the prices had a chance to go up again? Or should I remove the items with changed prices because they were more expensive than I’d expected them to be?

Unable to decide, I left the cart alone until this morning, when I logged in and found another message:

Another picture of my shopping cart

Wow! I saved one dollar by leaving everything in my cart overnight! Now I’m only down $12.54, rather than $13.54—but I’m still left with a dilemma: the longer I take to finish my Christmas shopping, the more opportunity I give Amazon to change the prices in my cart.

Should I buy now? If I do and the prices go down I’ll lose the chance to recoup some of that $12.54! But if I wait, the prices might rise higher than those in local stores, even after factoring in the costs of my time, gasoline, and having to shop in clothes other than my pyjamas.

So here I sit, frozen with indecision. I don’t know about everybody else, but to me Amazon.com suddenly seems about as stress-free as the stock market.


UPDATE: 12/5/2005

Woot! Now I’m I’m only $4.88 in the hole.

Another picture of my shopping cart

  1. I share your pain. I put a handbag for $9.99 in my cart, a week later it was up to $16.99. What drives this? Was there such a great demand for my bag they thought it wouldn’t hurt to put the cost up?

    Comment by islandwoman — 12/1/2005 @ 7:28 am

  2. I’d check out the prices at Wally world.

    Comment by M. C. Pearson — 12/1/2005 @ 8:26 am

  3. Bah! I gave up on Amazon years ago, not only for their mysterious price changes, but also because I was never pleased with the quality of their shipments. Most of my ordered books always arrived with some cover or page damage, and that does not thrill me. Try Barnes & Noble next time. Their service is superb, they don’t alter their pricing as frequently as Amazon, and the quality of their shipments has always been top-notch.

    Comment by James (aka MacManX) — 12/1/2005 @ 10:48 am

  4. Happens to me all the time – I keep 3 or four things in the cart so when i need to buy something I have an extra item to offset the free ship for $25+ the prices change daily on some items – Sheesh!

    Comment by Dennie — 12/1/2005 @ 12:14 pm

  5. Ah, ignorance is bliss. See, I didn’t know you could do that…the shopping cart thing. So I just picked stuff and purchased immediately.

    Hmmm. I really didn’t need to know that. Now I’ll be wanting to “play” The Amazon Shopping cart like a cheap (or not so) version of the slots.

    Comment by Pat Kirby — 12/1/2005 @ 1:30 pm

  6. Holy cow, it looks like I’ve corrupted Pat Kirby!

    Islandwoman & Dennie, don’t you think the way they should do it is if it’s in your cart, the price ought to stay at what it was when you placed it in the cart?

    M.C., ugh! Lady, shopping may be torment but Wallyworld is pure Hell!

    James, if I had any customer service problems with them I would’ve stopped shopping at Amazon, too. But I like the convenience: I’ve purchased veterinary supplies, clothing, cookware and photo equipment at Amazon. I know a gal who does some grocery shopping there, but I haven’t gone that far, yet.

    Comment by Bonnie Wren — 12/1/2005 @ 7:30 pm

  7. And to think, i thought it was only overseas shoppers being stung by this! I started using Amazon a number of years ago for my study and research purposes, i was able to have great access to books i couldn’t get here. Because it was so reliable i began buying from other sections. Not purchased anything for a number of months but if this is their caper i don’t think it will be worth it to me. If enough of us protest i’m sure they’ll stop putting the prices up.

    Comment by Michelle — 12/2/2005 @ 4:33 am

  8. Yes! Yes!

    Although, even with the changes in price to my Dora the Explorer book (a necessity for the under-three crowd’s under-the-tree pile), I’m still paying less than at Target, and not dealing with the guilt comlex of shopping at other dishonorable retailers. Amazon hasn’t lost me yet…

    (BTW, thanks for the chance to channel Jean Luc.)

    Comment by AJ — 12/3/2005 @ 10:02 am

  9. I love me some Jean Luc! If I could figure out how to do it, I’d cycle “Let’s see what’s out there,” “I look forward to your report, Mr Broccoli. Barclay,” or even “What we leave behind is not as important as how we have lived.”

    Even if I could figure out how to do it, though, it might confuse non-Picardians.

    Comment by Bonnie Wren — 12/5/2005 @ 7:59 am

  10. [...] A few days ago I wrote about my experiences with the changing prices of items in my Amazon shopping cart. Today I write that those problems are no more! [...]

    Pingback by Ballpoint Wren » Amazon.com: from stressed to Shane — 12/8/2005 @ 1:37 pm

  11. [...] Woo hoo! Ten dollars! Now I’m back to the amount I originally expected to pay when I first put my items into my cart, before Amazon raised the prices! In fact, now I’m ahead by five bucks! [...]

    Pingback by Ballpoint Wren » Amazon.com: from Shane to Old Fart — 12/9/2005 @ 3:12 pm

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