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Amazon "Add-Ons" are Idiotic

August 26, 2012

Perhaps the title is a bit strong, but I was frustrated when trying to order an item on Amazon tonight only to be greeted with a message that the item I wanted to order was an "add-on" item and that Amazon would not ship that item unless I ordered at least $25.

What are "add-on" items? They are items that, per Amazon, "would be cost-prohibitive to ship on their own". For those who are not Amazon Prime members and normally pay for shipping on items, these "add-on" items cannot be ordered separately, but will ship for free with your $25 or more order. Sounds good? Perhaps, except that you cannot even pay Amazon whatever the "cost-prohibitive" amount to ship it. Amazon simply will not sell those items by themselves, unless you buy $25 worth of the "add-on" items or something that cost $25 total.

What about Amazon Prime members? For those who do not know what Amazon Prime is, "Amazon Prime is a membership program that gives you and your family unlimited fast shipping, such as FREE Two-Day shipping to street addresses in the contiguous U.S. on all eligible purchases for an annual membership fee". But what are "eligible purchases"? Those are:

  • Millions of items sold by
  • Over 100,000 eligible items on
  • Many items that are fulfilled by Amazon

It's a great program, but what are the items that are not eligible? Well, Amazon lists those and they are:

  • Items fulfilled by Amazon Marketplace sellers
  • Magazine subscriptions
  • Personalized gift cards
  • Any item that doesn't have a message indicating that it's eligible for Prime on its product page

I visited Amazon today to purchase a short HDMI cable. I had purchased this same cable a couple of years ago. It was Prime Eligible then. Now, though, Amazon will not let me buy just the 0.9 meter cable for $4.99, because it's classified as an "add-on". I can't offer to pay for shipping, either. Amazon also tells me "FREE Two-Day Shipping for Prime members when buying this Add-on Item", but that's of no comfort since I cannot order it.

Just to show how dumb Amazon's "add-on" item idea is, while I cannot order the 0.9 meter cable for $4.99, I can order the 6 meter cable for $5.49 and get free 2-day shipping. Amazon: I'd gladly pay the extra 50 cents and get the shorter cable!

I appreciate the fact that some items might cost more to ship than Amazon would earn, but to offer absolutely no option to pay the cost it would take to get it out of the "cost-prohibitive" bucket is silly.

Is Amazon losing its touch?

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