Free Amazon Prime!

Amazon customer service sure is customer friendly. A bit bumbling, but customer friendly.

Recently I did an Amazon Prime one month free trial, after which they would bill me $99.

During the trial they had a one day promo where Prime would cost just $72. Since I was in the middle of the trial I emailed and asked if I could sign up for that.

They told me they would refund the $27 difference after I was billed the $99.

When I saw I had not been refunded the $27 I emailed them yesterday and they said they would refund it within 2 business days.

Today when I logged in I saw that my Prime account had been canceled.

So I emailed them again and asked them to reinstate the Prime account.

They emailed back and apologized and said they refunded the other $72 and asked me to sign up again at $99 and then use a special link they gave me which would credit me back the $99 and thus give me one year free Amazon Prime.

A bit convoluted, but free is free.

Of course as they say in Japan ただより高いものはない。

Musings on online shopping

I used to not do much ordering online. I could go years between an online order. And even then it was just software.

But as of late, I’ve found it more convenient than getting on the train and going to the store for certain things.

For example, I am running low on ink for my ink jet printer. I could take the train to Kinshicho or Akihabara and buy it at Yodobashi Camera. But without taking the time, or spending money on train fare, I was able to order it online from It was the same price, same “Gold Points” accumulated, no shipping fee and, believe it or not, they promise delivery today (if ordered within the next 59 minutes)!

Why bother going to the store for stuff like this anymore? Plus my receipt is already digitized. No paper to mess with.

I’ve been finding that I’m doing such purchases more and more online, via Amazon, or Yodobashi or Rakuten.

And books… I used to love going to bookstores and browsing. But I find the Kindle versions I can read on my Mac, iPad, iPhone or Nexus more convenient. Even the browsing is more convenient because you can download free samples before purchasing.

And CDs and DVDs? It’s all online now. (Though I still have friends here in Japan who still like to own and collect DVD sets.)

To think I used to have a dream of opening a bookstore. I even was a member of the ABA (American Booksellers Associate) for many years. Imagine what would have become of my independent bookstore now. (I still think used and antique bookstores are interesting to visit though.)

On the one hand it bothers me that it means I get out even less. And of course I don’t get to “browse around” and go window shopping if I purchase online. I’m sure that has an impact on little shops as more and more people do this.

When I got my new MacBook Pro I did go over to Yodobashi in Akihabara, because I wanted to see the models in person. But they didn’t have the custom order version I wanted (English keyboard, etc.) so I had to order it online from Apple anyway.

It seems I’ve gone from where I would almost never order anything online to where I do it frequently now. It’s just more comfortable, quick and convenient. Even some things from overseas (like where I get omega-3s and vitamins) ship for less money than a round-trip JR ride, and arrive within a few days.

I’d think I’d like to open a Rakuten shop myself if I could figure out what to sell!