Amazon Prime: Movie foisting bad for subscribers

Posted on by Mike Evans

Amazon Prime is, or was, a great service which primarily offered free delivery on a majority of listed items for a fixed annual fee of £49. I would have had no hesitation in recommending it until Amazon arbitrarily decided to up the sub to £79 with the justification of offering video free streaming.

From my point of view this is sharp practice on the part of an otherwise consumer-friendly company. I cannot understand why I should pay so much extra for a service I will probably never use. The problem is that cancelling Prime is a difficult decision. I haven't really done a calculation of how much it actually saves me in delivery costs, apart from the obvious convenience of the service. However, I don't use instant video nor do I use the Kindle lending library. So all I am left with is free delivery for £79 a year. At a rough guess, I will need to make at least 25 orders a year to justify this. 

Tony Hazell, writing in the Daily Mail this morning, agrees. A reader had asked a simple question: 

I’ve complained, without success, to Amazon, over its decision to raise the Amazon Prime annual subscription by £30 to £79 to include video-streaming.  I don’t know what streaming is, do not want it, and wouldn’t use it. My questions to Amazon are: is it fair I should be forced to pay extra for such a service when it’s not what I originally signed up for; why can’t it offer a separate video-streaming service; and how does it justify changing the terms of our agreement and charging me extra for something I don’t want?

Hazell tried contacting Amazon, with all the influence of a national newspaper behind him:

I’ve tried and failed to get a straight answer to your question. I’ve come to the conclusion that Amazon is run by a bunch of tech-obsessed geeks who can’t imagine anything more exciting than sitting in front of the computer watching old films (or movies in their trans-Atlantic parlance).

Amazon Prime currently provides one-day delivery and access to a Kindle library of half a million books to borrow.

Instead of answering the key question of why people cannot have Amazon Prime in its current form, I received a statement telling me customers could now have access to 15,000 ‘popular’ films and TV episodes to ‘stream’ for the ‘low price’ of £79 a year.

This is apparently a ‘35 per cent saving for all the benefits of two previously separate services’. In fact it is a way of foisting the Lovefilm Instant service on customers, many of whom don’t want it.

I have several friends who’ve cancelled Prime. If I were you I would do the same. If enough people refuse to be ripped off like this it might just get their attention and force a change of policy.

It seems to me that the answer is simple. Amazon should introduce a two-tier service with Prime Plus available for those who really do want video streaming. Perhaps we should all follow Tony Hazell's advice and cancel our subscriptions until Amazon comes to its senses. 


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