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What are the pros and cons of Amazon Prime?

Amazon Prime
Primed for action: should you become an Amazon subscriber?

It’s Amazon Prime Day – the 24 hours and a bit when Amazon unleashes a barrage of deals exclusively to Prime members.

Amazon Prime, for those who’ve been serving life sentences or who live in Dorset, is Amazon’s £79-per-year subscription service. It started off as a deal to get free next-day delivery on orders, and has expanded to include music, television, reading material and all sorts of other benefits. But is it really worth eighty quid a year? Here are the pros and cons of Prime, compiled by the Prime members on The Big Tech Question team.

Pros of Amazon Prime

  • Free next-day delivery is cool – if only for the mind-boggling economics of ordering a £2.99 second-hand book on Saturday, and having a bloke turn up at your door on Sunday with it in his hands.
  • Free same-day delivery can be even cooler – although it’s not available on all items and we can’t help feeling guilty when someone knocks on our door at 8pm.
  • It gives you something to play on your Echo – Amazon throws in a streaming library of around two million songs for free to Prime Members. That’s not a huge library, but it’s certainly plenty enough for dinner parties etc. And it’s a massive boon for owners of an Amazon Echo speaker, who aren’t already members of another music service, such as Spotify.
  • Free reading material – one of the more recent additions to Prime and arguably one of the better ones. It offers a library of around 1,000 titles to Prime Members which they can borrow like library books, taking out up to ten items at a time. My recommended books include Michael Lewis’ The Blind Side and The Great Passage by Shion Miura. However, perhaps the best thing about Prime Reading is that you can also borrow a very decent selection of magazines, including titles such as PC Pro and Web User, which the writers of this website edit/write for, as well as more mainstream stuff such as Top GearViz and Mojo.
  • Prime Video’s eclectic choice of movies – A Clockwork Orange, Four LionsSpotlight. We often find ourselves turning to Amazon first, rather than Netflix, if it’s a movie we’re after. Although see the cons re TV series…
  • It will keep the kids quiet – Amazon Prime TV is especially good for kids, ranging from ankle-biters to tweenagers. The BFGPaddington and The Batman Movie are among a wide selection of kids movies, but there are also series staples such as Peppa Pig and Dora when you need to sit them in front of the box for half an hour and just make the world stop.
  • The whole household gets it – you can share your subscription with other adults at the same address. You don’t have to order everything through a shared account, and potentially let your partner browse through your ordering history. Which is particularly prevalent for last-minute birthday presents (see number two on our list of pros)…

Cons of Amazon Prime

  • Not everything is free delivery – I’d estimate around 10-15% of the stuff I order from Amazon isn’t covered by Prime, thus incurring extra delivery charges.
  • Prime delivery is becoming more erratic – this is anecdotal, but more and more I’m noticing that items aren’t always turning up within the promised 24 hours. Perhaps Amazon is having trouble finding enough couriers to meet demand?
  • The TV shows aren’t as good as Netflix’s – others disagree and, of course, it’s subjective but Netflix’s homegrown shows (House of Cards, Narcos, The CrownChef’s Table) far outstrip the quality and range of Amazon’s offering. It doesn’t mean you can’t have both, but I don’t regard Amazon Video as a Netflix killer.
  • It sucks you into Amazon’s web  – With Prime, Amazon becomes your first port of call for everything. Amazon certainly seems less obsessed with being the cheapest supplier than it was in the past, meaning you may end up paying more than you need for goods simply because of the convenience of Prime. We’re all mugs now.
  • You have to be in  – you either need someone in the house most of the day or good neighbours if you’re really going to benefit from Prime, because deliveries can arrive any time from 8am to 9pm and there’s rarely a stated delivery time. You can get stuff sent to work or other addresses, but many companies are clamping down on staff Amazon orders because they clog up post rooms. Pick-up points are another option, but then you’re starting to erode the convenience.

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day.

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