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Answering all those burning questions you didn’t know you had about home ownership.

Update: Why I Quit Amazon Prime

Picture of Jessica Dabkowski

Jessica Dabkowski

Helping you with all things homeownership!

In July, I wrote about how I had quit what had previously been considered one of the most valuable services in my homeowner’s toolkit: Amazon Prime. I was pretty surprised because this article generated the most comments and feedback of any article I wrote last year. As such, I felt it my duty to give you an update on how that process went for myself and my family.

SPOILER ALERT! It didn’t work out so well. Let’s explore how it played out and my key takeaways from the experience.

The Plan

The original plan was to cut off my Amazon Prime service as I was concerned about the value of the program, the environmental impact, the effect on my budget with impulse purchases, the increase in both fake reviews and counterfeit products and contributing to Amazon basically taking over the retail world. Our subscription lapsed in May 2023. If you missed the original article, you can find it here.

While I was quitting Amazon Prime, I had no notion of quitting Amazon altogether. (I’m a little bit out there at times, but I’m not insane.) Let’s be real here; who can cut out Amazon entirely? Sometimes it is the only source for obscure items which you need in your life. My plan was to utilize the $25 free shipping threshold for those items, and worst case, GASP, pay for either shipping or a month of Amazon Prime, if necessary.

The Lure

I found out Amazon gets real antsy when you quit Prime. Every time you check out without a Prime subscription, Amazon will bombard you with a “sign up for Prime screen” before it will let you into the checkout screen. Hilariously enough, in my case, it kept prompting me to join “Amazon Student Prime” because TWENTY YEARS AGO when I first signed up for Prime, I had a student account. It made the prompt extra annoying – no one wants to be reminded that they aren’t in college anymore.

About a month after canceling, Amazon tried a new tactic. Would I like to try Amazon Prime for a week for just $2? After that, it will only be $14.99 per month. I actually needed to purchase a few things in that next week, so I went ahead and pulled the trigger. I dutifully set a calendar reminder and canceled before the monthly subscription charge kicked in. Amazon was sorry to see me go.

The Hook

After this second round of canceling, I was doing pretty well. I found it vaguely frustrating to always have my cart sitting there until it filled up to the $25 mark. However, I was happy with how I was transitioning to purchasing items in local stores and being more mindful overall on spending. Letting items gather in a cart until I hit that free shipping threshold gave me the space to evaluate whether I even needed that item in the first place.

Then came an unexpected curveball that changed everything. While I had been chugging along, using that $25 free shipping threshold, Amazon had been quietly evaluating raising the dollar amount. In August, Amazon raised the minimum for free shipping to $35. At this point, I was using Amazon for very few large purchases – it was mostly small items which I couldn’t easily find at Target, Kroger, etc.

This new threshold put a lot of stress on my Amazon Prime-free plan as I had to wait a long time to aggregate enough items or, let’s be honest, I would shop for stuff I didn’t need because it’s now “free” because I would have had to pay for shipping otherwise. Man, advertising and consumer culture has done a number on me! (I just got your brain thinking, didn’t I?)

The Sinker

Then we hit an additional snag, and it involved the Detroit Lions. Yes, there came a day where the only way to watch the Lions game (for us) was to subscribe to Amazon Prime. I caved to The Mathematician, but I only did a one-month subscription. Again, I set my calendar reminder and canceled before the next month was charged.

Now, we’re into December. I absolutely do not have my life together enough to not be shopping last minute. I’m buying that $2 week of Prime again and cobbling together a Christmas plan to fill in the present gaps. To be fair, I did buy the bulk of my gifts from a lot of other sites, and The Mathematician conscientiously shopping in person for most of the Jr. Mathematician’s gifts. But in the end, the only place you can shop for a wild terry cloth golf cart seat cover is pretty much Amazon.

I finally gave up and purchased a one year subscription in early January, hoping to be able to take a break again when the service is up for renewal. Notice, I timed it to correspond to getting me through Christmas 2024. The mental space taken up in trying to game the system was too much for me. It just became one more item to manage on my “to do” list.

Lessons Learned

Six months or so without Amazon Prime taught me a lot. I was buying quite a bit of stuff I didn’t need before I took the plunge – stuff that would essentially become landfill fodder in the end.

I became a lot more thoughtful about the items I was purchasing and their origin. Many Amazon reviews are faked or repurposed from other items so my distrust remains. Items I still refuse to buy (for the most part) include clothing (sweatshops and poor quality, much of it plus returns being burned or trashed rather than restocked) and consumables and skin care (counterfeit concerns).

I also got a lot better about shopping around for better prices. Amazon is easy, but it is not always the most cost-effective. I continue to try to spread my money around because I do want the option to shop other places in the future. I don’t want Amazon to be my only choice in the future. That result would be its own expensive lesson to humanity.

This experiment gave me the space to find other great stores and brands that are either local, or women-owned, or focused on the environment. For example, I was able to find awesome kitchen towels at a new kitchen store by me – after months of searching on Amazon and not finding what I wanted.

Next year I’ll try to take another gap between when my subscription lapses and when I start it up again. I hope I can stretch it out as long as I did this time.

Thanks for joining me this week. We strayed a bit from homeownership, but I do try to keep my topics interesting and helpful to you. As always, I’m here to help with all your homeowner questions and concerns!

Photo by Tiger Lily

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Danielle

    Do you have a roundup of all your new fav local spots? I recall seeing this in an article around the holidays but a bulleted list with name, what you can get there, and the city it’s in would be so handy!

    1. Dabs

      I do not – but now I am going to! Adding it to my list of things to do. I think it could be it’s own tab actually.

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