It’s Surprisingly Easy to Live Without an Amazon Prime SubscriptionReading Time: 3 minutes
I save a lot of money, and even have access to free shipping, albeit with some caveats., Quit Amazon Prime? It’s easier than you might think.
This article is from Big Technology, a newsletter by Alex Kantrowitz.
Last June, on a whim, I canceled Amazon Prime. I’d seen the FTC’s lawsuit claiming the company ‘sabotaged’ people’s attempts to disenroll and thought it might be worth experiencing firsthand. But within a few clicks, I was out.
I planned to return to Prime soon after canceling, but then never did. At first, I figured I’d wait to pay its $139 annual fee until I had something specific I wanted to buy or watch. But within a few months, I realized I didn’t really need Prime. I still regularly buy things from Amazon with free shipping, but I’m happily out on Prime. And if you’re among its 200-million-plus members worldwide, you probably can be too.
I was a Prime subscriber back in 2019—when it was already more popular than church, voting, and guns in America—but the service took on a cosmic importance in 2020. That year, after in-person retail shut down, Amazon became a lifeline. I bought an exercise bike via Prime, along with plenty of essentials, and pedaled away the lockdowns. More than 50 million people joined Prime during the COVID era. And we all became accustomed to hitting ‘buy now’ and seeing our stuff delivered free within the next day or two, or even a few hours.
After canceling Prime, I’ve been able to reevaluate the necessity of that ultra-fast, always-free shipping and have found it mostly unneeded. Amazon still ships free when your cart is above $35, albeit a few days slower. After leaving Prime, I’ve been happy to wait. The products still arrive relatively fast, and the selection is still excellent. I’m also less inclined to make impulse purchases. If the tech giants can have their years of cost-efficiency, I guess I can too.
Leaving Prime also meant the end of free Amazon Prime Video (you can still rent or buy many movies without it), but I’ve been able to bear it. I’d been paying for a combination of Prime Video, Netflix, and Max and hadn’t scratched the surface of their content libraries. Since canceling Prime, I’ve kept Max and sporadically used Netflix’s ad tier to catch up on shows. I haven’t yet come close to running out of things to watch. And I finally took in The Sopranos. Which is terrific, by the way.
When I asked Big Technology readers whether Prime was worth it, I found a number considering dropping it as well. ‘I’ve actively been considering canceling,’ wrote one reader. ‘I don’t use the music, video, or other additional features and pay for it almost exclusively for shipping. Hard to justify the price simply for shipping convenience.’ Others expressed similar ambivalence. After reading through the replies, it appears many can drop Prime and not miss it at all.
I don’t expect a mass exodus, though. I was surprised by how many people love Prime’s fast shipping in particular, as well as the ability to do quick purchases and returns. Moms and caregivers wrote in with notes about how crucial it is to get a wide variety of items in the home—and fast. ‘You can often hear me say that if I could marry Amazon Prime, I would,’ wrote one. To them, I would make no argument to cancel.
Still, many of us, tens of millions of us, came to see Prime as indispensable in 2020. And we hung on to it afterward, maybe—like in my case—forgetting that Amazon will still ship things free without it. If Amazon Prime members started reconsidering and discarded the service en masse, it would be trouble for the company. And perhaps that’s why it built a confusing exit flow that caught the FTC’s attention. But a habit is hard to break, and Amazon likely has little to worry about, despite how easy it is to leave after all.
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