How I Quit Prime and Survived

This article is part of the On Tech Newsletter. Here is a collection Past columns,

I left Prime. And that’s good.

As I noted in Wednesday’s newsletter, this makes me oddball. About 98 percent of Americans who have been a member of Amazon’s shopping club for at least a few years continue to renew. Prime is one of the most resilient consumer products in the United States.

I was a Prime Member for almost three years until I stopped renewing in 2019. Friends and coworkers are often stunned when I tell them this. But don’t worry. I’ll be fine.

This does not mean that I should live without Amazon. Here’s the secret: You are legally allowed to order from the site without a Prime member – however you need to plan a little more to deliver the order without having to pay for shipping.

Why do I spread my shopping habits to strangers? (Although on-tech readers are not unfamiliar!) Each of our personal experiences is a way of reflecting whether we cling to Prime because of love or habit. For me, once I questioned the value of opting out of a subscription, it was relatively easy to close.

This is not advice for you to leave Prime. You do you. And my experience is not representative. I don’t have kids and I live in New York, where a lot of things I may need quickly – a roll of aluminum foil or a new phone charger – are often a little far away.

I know that many Americans stay away from stores, have care responsibilities, live with disabilities or have other circumstances that do not give them the flexibility to shop.

More than 300 readers wrote to Prime about On Tech, and many said they felt like they got more than their value from Prime’s convenience, reliable shipping and other benefits.

“I got my prime membership when my husband was sick and I was his caretaker,” wrote a reader in Carroll Stream, Ill. “I couldn’t go out shopping and this was right for me.”

I was later a relative of Prime. I signed up in 2015, I think because I was moving on and evaluating streaming entertainment services. I’ve mostly signed up for Amazon’s Prime Video service and I think the ability to get fast shipping at no extra cost is a bonus. (I hope my memory isn’t flawed. I can’t remember my 2015 brain completely.)

Most prime members in the survey say shipping without any additional costs is the biggest reason they sign up and get stuck with it. On-tech readers like me said Prime Video helped make the membership worthwhile.

I bought more on Amazon in the first two years. This is typical prime member behavior. But over time, I discovered that I was ordering less.

My renewal came, and I just slipped and stopped paying. That changed my behavior. In the first months of 2020 and 2021, when many people tried to avoid stores, the online shopping shoot from the roof, my order history shows that I did not buy anything for myself except some Kindle e-books from Amazon.

I regularly shop online from Walmart, Target and other websites. I bought at local stores, partly because I didn’t want Amazon and other giant retailers to be left behind after the epidemic. Without me feeling the need to squeeze the value out of the Prime membership, Amazon was the only option I considered instead of the only store.

For me, online shopping now requires more patience. I keep a list of items I may need on my phone, and I order multiple items at once to hit the minimum order amount for free shipping from Amazon and other websites. (Amazon orders over $ 25 are often eligible for no-cost delivery.)

The list now includes nonstick frying pans, light bulbs, toilet brushes, puzzles and a pair of headphones. My life is so exciting, yes. I may not get the package in two days, but it is good for me.

I think I buy less even without becoming a prime member because buying from my sofa is not so easy to buy impulsively. Some on-tech readers said they had a similar experience.

The real magic of Amazon and Prime in particular is that they remove the idea from shopping. Prime members tend to reflect on Amazon, and that works best for them and the company. For me, not having a prime makes me wait a minute before buying. That’s right.


Tip of the week

If you’re like me, you have unused electronics at home. Brian X ChenPersonal technology columnist for The New York Times, tells us what to do with the annoying mess.

My family’s unwanted tech gear is becoming harder to ignore. My obsolete PlayStation has been collecting dust for over a year. My wife’s iPad stays in the drawer as long as I recognize her.

In my experience, the easiest way to clean up electronics you don’t want is to leave it at Best Buy – which offers free electronics recycling – or donate it to a charity like the Salvation Army. (Please check first. Charities do not tend to accept all electronics.)

But if you are hoping to make money, there are other options. I’m lucky to have old iPhones and iPads Gazelle, a company that buys and sells used electronics, and sells Amazon’s trade-in program. Both sites ask you to answer some questions about electronics before shipping with a prepaid label.

I am also amazed at how much success I have had on eBay recently. Last week, I sold my eight-year-old PlayStation 4 console on site for about $ 230 – which is pretty good considering it’s priced at around $ 400 when it was new in 2013.

It only takes 10 minutes to take some photos and write a short description. To send it, I reused the old Amazon box, printed a label and left the package at the post office.

Next I plan to make a list of my wife’s iPad. All told, I’m estimating I’ll make about $ 500 from my electronics refinement. On top of the rewards of having a clean home, it’s a very nice return.

This kido comforts the fish, and it’s really the best.


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