Life without Amazon Prime

I joined Amazon almost 10 years ago. I worked long hours, and as an avid book reader found the idea of being able to look up books online and then to have them delivered to my door or office miraculous.

Prior to Amazon, spending hours in the bookstore was a pleasurable pastime. In my family, we went to the library and the bookstore every week. As bookstores disappeared, this pastime was replaced with browsing Amazon reviews and best seller lists. You did not need to leave your house or get dressed to look for reading material. I spent thousands of dollars on books. I went through five kindles after I switched to digital books. I received almost $500.00 in two class action lawsuits against Amazon & Apple.

Eventually, I joined Amazon Prime. Everything that I needed was right there at my fingertips, ready to be delivered within 2 or 3 days.

For a time, I was also an Amazon seller. I sold items that I had used or read and didn’t need any more. I never made a lot of money at this, it was just a convenient way to sell things. Eventually, as more and more big companies and scammers started using Amazon, it became harder and harder to sell things and my seller account was largely dormant for years. At one point, a few years ago, I had pulled a bunch of CD’s that I no longer needed and put them onto my account. I wasn’t selling serial numbers, I was just selling the CD’s, unaware that I was violating any laws. When one of the CD’s was removed from my account, I removed the rest of the CD’s from being for sale and threw the CD’s away.

My mistake was in not deleting the items and I received a notification a couple of months ago that another item had been removed. This was not a big deal to me. I no longer had these CD’s and because I no longer had them for sale, I was confused. I went to my account but it had been deleted, so I emailed them and told them I couldn’t access my account. I received the only explanation that I was ever going to get and it wasn’t very helpful. Once I figured out what it was (Roxio software for making CD’s that never worked), I went to go look at my account again to remove the rest of the CD’s. I still couldn’t get into my seller account. It was gone.

When a seller account is removed, large companies can hire legal representation to get their seller account restored. Apparently, you only get one opportunity, something I wasn’t aware of. I wasn’t looking for this. All I wanted was an explanation and also, an opportunity to explain and proclaim my innocence. What started out as a relatively routine inquiry about something that I didn’t care that much about eventually exploded into full blown frustration when no explanation was offered. I wrote to Customer support. I even wrote to Jeff. Nobody ever replied except for that a blanket explanation that I could not restore the item.

So I left. Now I know that some of you, probably most, are going to think I’m crazy. “You will pry my Kindle Prime out of my cold dead hands”, one person told me when I shared part of this story online. It seemed to one, “an odd hill to die on”. We all have to choose our battles and my battle lines are always drawn at unfairness and being powerless. The last time that I needed to do this, it was Yahoo. We were unable to get access to a business domain account because the guy who had purchased it had died and taken the credit card info that they wanted with him. After days of emails back and forth, we ended up having to wait for the domain to expire in order to purchase it through someone else. I never purchased another domain from Yahoo. Before that, it was Dell. After years of purchasing Dell computers, I gave up after another horrible experience with customer support. In that case, their CEO did get back to me. I purchased one more Dell computer, which also had issues, and eventually became a Mac. These stories all share one thing — Support that frustrates the shit out of you. This was the one thing that I had always believed that Amazon was good at.

I left. I cancelled all of my subscriptions, cancelled Amazon Prime and got my money refunded. I removed my credit card information so that no subscriptions that I had overlooked would be charged to my account. I had a lot of subscriptions, some of which I wasn’t even aware of. I subscribed to premium channels, the Washington Post and Kindle Unlimited. Somewhere, I still seem to have an Amazon Associate account that I haven’t used in years

Like many of you, I had heard about exploited workers in Amazon warehouses and offices. Because of their reputation, I turned down an opportunity to interview with them myself, but I can’t say that’s why I left. Most of all, it took me by surprise that Amazon didn’t care at all. I had expected some kind of logical explanation as to why the item was removed and why my account had been removed. The only response that I received was that the item could not be re-instated. I never asked for it to be. That’s not what I asked.

People are crazy about their Amazon. It’s been a lifeline for my Mother, who was homebound after surgery for a few weeks. You can have everything delivered to you at home via Amazon, and FreshDirect. If I were in that situation, I would probably go back to Amazon Prime. I would probably have no real choice, but access to home health aides is another story.

What’s life like without Amazon & Amazon Prime? It’s amazing how much of your life gets wrapped up with Amazon. I find myself going outside and shopping more often. It’s normal to need an item and search for it on Amazon. I would sometimes spend hours picking just the right item at the right price in order to receive it within 2 days. Sometimes the items wouldn’t arrive on time. This was particularly frustrating when I needed something specific for a job, but hey, these things happen.

Amazon coupons were the one gift that everyone in the family knew to give me. On the other hand, there were features that I never really used. I have a family music subscription on iTunes, I always preferred Netflix movies and TV to Amazon. Free storage for images sounds like a great idea but the interface is sloppy and ugly. You don’t need Amazon to subscribe to Showtime or to the Washington Post.

I have tons of digital content still stored online that I still have access to. I reserve the option to purchase items every now and then, but I will be waiting longer for delivery. I won’t pay for Prime and the convenience of Amazon will not be my first stop. I still search Amazon to find out if something exists and to read reviews. If something exists, and if the reviews are good, I’ll find a way to buy it elsewhere. Amazon is now more like Yelp to me than it is a place to buy things.

There were a couple items that I had recently purchased on Amazon that I needed to replace, and I went to the vendors directly. I had to pay for shipping, but was able to find coupons for the items that I needed to replace. Both items came to me within a week.

The hardest part of living without Amazon? Not having easy access to eBooks. My trips to the library are more frequent. That means getting outside and walking. I am still an avid reader and I seem to need to do that more. As it turns out, it’s not such a bad hill to die on.