I’ve always enjoyed shopping at Amazon.com. Their prices have always been very competitive and the free shipping and no sales tax are excellent perks. The one negative about Amazon has always been that their prices fluctuate wildly, sometimes day to day (especially during the holidays). If you shop with them regularly, I know you’ve experienced this. I know that retailers put things on sale periodically, but this is not what Amazon does. Amazon adjusts prices according to a formula known only to them and the reduced price might last a matter of hours, days, or weeks. (Note that I am not speaking of their Deal of the Day or the Lightening Deals here, but their regular merchandise pricing.)
In years past I shopped with them regardless of this quirk. Amazon always had a policy that, if the price went down on an item within thirty days of purchase you could write to them and they would issue you a refund for the difference. This made it a bit easier to deal with their price gyrations. I could order something, secure in the knowledge that if it went down the next day I could get a price adjustment.
As of this year, that policy is no more. I found this out the hard way when I ordered a bunch of television series on DVD. Less than 48 hours after I placed my order, the price of each set went down anywhere from $5 to $10. The total loss to me was significant, as I had ordered a lot of seasons. I emailed Amazon asking for a price adjustment and was told that they no longer do that. I was disappointed, to say the least.
I wrote them back, letting them know of my frustration and expressing the fact that I felt like, without the adjustment policy, they were cheating people with their crazy up and down prices. Either keep the prices consistent or offer the adjustments. I know many brick and mortar stores still offer price adjustments on items if the price goes down within 7, 14, or 30 days, depending on the retailer. I told Amazon that, in the future, I would shop with retailers that either offered consistent prices or price adjustments. To their credit, Amazon did make a one-time only exception to their new policy and did offer me a refund of the price difference on my order. That’s great, but next time I’ll think twice before ordering from them again.
I am very sad to see their price adjustment policy go. I can’t begin to guess why, in a crumbling economy, they would choose to do away with the one policy that made a lot of customers more comfortable shopping with them. I hope that if enough people complain they might bring it back, but I doubt it.
So I’m writing this piece as a warning to those of you who are planning to do a lot of Christmas shopping through Amazon this year. If you are expecting to be able to buy now and get adjustments later, forget it. Don’t buy from them until you are sure the price is as low as it will go, or until the price is so low that you feel like you’re getting a bargain no matter what happens to the price in the future. My own shopping habits will change this Christmas because of this. If I do order something from Amazon, it will only be things that I know cannot be found cheaper elsewhere or that are difficult to obtain. Anything else will be purchased from retailers with stable prices or price adjustment policies. My advice is this: If you buy from Amazon, don’t look at the price of your item again. If it’s gone down, you’ll only make yourself sick.