Why You Should be Wary of Amazon Prime Day

With Prime Day coming up again, I figured I’d break out this article again.  There are some amazing deals on Prime Day, but most of the deals may not be deals at all.

Amazon Prime Day is sort of like Amazon’s Christmas in July–except instead of Christmas, it’s Black Friday.  It’s definitely a huge day for deals, but not every “deal” is an actual deal.

There are a few things to think about.

1. Amazon bases the discount percentage off their “full-price”

When you see how much an item is discounted, usually that’s based off the manufacturer suggested retail price.  There’s also a “sale” price listed–that’s usually how much Amazon charges on a day to day basis.

So pay attention to how much of a discount the item is off the sale price, not the original price.  Sometimes, it isn’t a huge difference.

Some of the deals aren’t even listing their usual price.

For example, this Kong is discounted, but I’m not exactly sure by how much.  It lists the full price and the discount, but not what Amazon normally charges.

You’ll see below I have an orange category on the listing that says “Save $1.33”.  It’s an app I use to make sure deals reallyˆare deals.

It’s a plugin I use called Honey (you can find more information about Honey here).

In this specific case, by mousing over the Honey notification, I found out I could get the same exact item for $1.33 cheaper on Amazon.com itself.  

amazon prime day

Not a deal.

2.  This is a marketing promotion, not a day of giving

Remember, Amazon would not do this event unless they profited off it somehow.  So it’s important to pay attention to how they are trying to profit off each specific item.

Are they just trying to make you a more loyal customer?  Are they trying to get you to buy one of their products so you’ll continue buying things from them (a la Echo/Alexa)?  Are they trying to get you to sign-up for something and forget about it (Amazon music)?  Are they just clearing out some inventory?

I don’t mean to make it sound overly sinister–it isn’t–but it’s a business.  But as we know in the deal world, you can be on the winning end of a deal.  You just need to be careful and deliberate.

For example, last year’s Prime Day had a promo where you could get a few month’s of Audible for free plus a $5 gift card.  Sweet.

But your savings were undone if you forgot to unsubscribe after that third month.  If you unsubscribed before the third month, you didn’t get to use all of your free trial.  In that case, I put a meeting reminder on multiple calendars telling me to cancel the service (and I also advised that in a blog post).

There was a good post here about this but for some reason, it was removed by Reddit.  The comments are still there and they are pretty useful (though remember, this is the internet, be suspicious of personal anecdotes).

Someone on a fitness subreddit I followed had a copy of the text thought:

(everything from here until I tell you is a direct quote, but the quote box on this makes it too difficult to read)

For those who are unaware, Amazon has been doing Prime Day, a day where they claim to have the most amount of deals for 2 years now. However, research, consumer sentiment, analysts are able to show that Prime Day is more about getting users to sign up for Prime and marketing the brand, than it is about providing deals to existing customers.

I strongly recommend you use a historical price checker like CCC or Keepa to actually verify the prices are lower, as it is a common tactic to raise prices before a sale and then trick customers into feeling like they got a deal with a large % drop, like 50% off. Also keep in mind many sites will be pushing the event despite lackluster deals, because they want people to come to their site to see the aggregated ‘deals’ (getting ad revenue), and some of them will be linking to Amazon for that sweet affiliate money on anything you buy.

Here are the stats:

Comparing black friday prices to Amazon day:
BF Prices for Laptops were 5% cheaper
BF Prices for Small Appliances were 3% cheaper
BF Prices for Tablets were 7% cheaper
BF Prices for TVs were 15% cheaper
BF Prices for Video Games were 12%
On average prices were 9% lower on BF than prime day.
Of 450 best-sellers, only 43 were discounted 10% or more on primeday
Adobe's social media tracker found 50% of shoppers were disappointed, 23% felt joy
Last year, our staff scanned nearly 8,000 deals and found only 64 worth posting.

I would post the numerous links but last time my post was immediately removed (im assuming due to links), I can provide them (hopefully) in the comments if requested.


3. Be cautious of bloggers–especially ones you don’t follow

There is a huge incentive to promote your posts today.  Being candid, Amazon is a great partner for blogs financially.  And I’ve appreciated this relationship as it’s helped me to continue blogging.

But last year, I saw a few couponing blogs I loosely follow really pushing deals I didn’t think were deals at all.

I stopped following those blogs, so my RSS feed has been full of decent deals.  But I’m starting to see posts promoted on Facebook (for example) from blogs I haven’t heard of telling me to hurry-hurry-hurry for this great deal.

Don’t trust them.

This isn’t saying not to trust any blogs (but still, keep a skeptical eye no matter what!)

Last Year, Pizza in Motion posted about a great deal where you could get $5 off your book order.

I wrote about the sale on gift cards last year.

There were solid deals going on last year, but much like the sale rack at Marshalls, you have to sort through a lot of things to find them.

Gift cards are great deals.  Native Amazon products are good deals (if you’ve been wanting to purchase them).  Discounts off categories (vs. specific items) are good deals.  Bounties for subscribing to free trials are good deals if you make a note to yourself to cancel.

And a lot of individual items could be good deals.  Just make sure you do your research before jumping in.

If you aren’t sure, add the item to the cart and use the time you’re allowed to keep it in cart to do a quick price research.

And avoid impulse buying items you haven’t been needing.  The race to get the deal can sometimes create an urgency that causes you to jump in on a deal you haven’t thought through.  If you didn’t think about it yesterday, you probably won’t think about it tomorrow.

I do hope you find what you are looking for and at a great price!

Amazon prime day

Please note, if you purchase anything through my Amazon links on the blog, I usually receive affiliate credit.  As always, I appreciate your support.  But remember, keep an skeptic eye towards any deal that’s promoted by anyone!  Make sure it’s really a deal, and make sure you really want it.

About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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One comment

  1. This is good advice. One example is that, an hour and a half before Prime Day, I bought an Echo Dot for $34.99, plus, by ordering through Alexa, I got an additional $10 off (so, total price $24.99). Now, as a Prime Day deal, they are offering the Echo Dot for $34.99, touting it as an amazing sale. So really, no sale at all.

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