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Why I don't buy anything on Amazon Prime Day: A primer for saving money

Amazon Prime boxes on doorstep
Amazon Prime boxes on doorstep (Image credit: Windows Central)

Another year, another Amazon Prime Day. However, a large contingent of shoppers, myself among them, don't care to partake in the annual Amazon riffraff. There's a reason for that: Amazon Prime Day isn't the best in class of its own sale type, especially not this year.

2021 is a worse year than usual for sales for reasons that shouldn't need explaining to anyone. But for those not in the know, a little pandemic and its supply-related trickle-down effects on consumer goods mean shortages are widespread and, where there are shortages, there are not good discounts. Demand is high, supply is low, and few manufacturers are keen on losing out on money consumers are willing to pay.

But that's just the tip of the Bezos-sculpted iceberg. There are evergreen justifications for skipping Prime Day no matter what solar cycle it is, and I'll address those as well. Here are my reasons for abstaining from Prime Day 2021, as well as some food for thought on why you should too.

Pitfalls of Prime Day

Amazon Prime Video Windows10 App

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Tech shortages are a big topic of discussion this year. Prime Day has never been outstanding for tech discounts outside of the rare lightning deal, and this year is bound to be hurt more than most by the semiconductor crisis and its associated fallout.

There will be some truly standout savings amongst the best Prime Day 2021 laptop deals or the best Prime Day 2021 SSD deals, but they'll be hard to find and even harder to snag before supplies run out. For example, don't expect outstanding discounts on the best graphics cards or best CPUs. The odds of you even finding such parts at MSRP on Prime Day are no different than any other day of the year.

Beyond 2021-specific shortage issues, there's also the general inconsistency of Prime Day. Though a few areas always get savings, such as the best Prime Day gaming headset deals, everything outside the core circuit is a bit of a gamble. The only semi-guarantee is that Prime Day will feature Amazon products, meaning if you want anything besides an Echo or Kindle, you might just be wasting your time spending two days in front of a virtual shopping cart waiting for savings that will never materialize.

Don't take my word for it. Just use the Camelizer extension to check the historical price lows of Amazon items and you'll see firsthand how Prime Day doesn't stack up when it comes to savings opportunities. Black Friday and random one-off sales throughout the year are typically when greatness appears.

A warehouse of issues

package

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Speaking of Prime Day's Amazon-centric nature, there are also the usual concerns related to all things Amazon. Chiefly, are warehouse workers going to get potentially life-altering injuries as a result of being overworked on Prime Day (beyond the usual amount of overwork said warehouse employees suffer on normal days)? Do you want to endorse that system of abuse just to save a few dollars on some earbuds?

Mind you, many people don't care enough to cut off Amazon entirely. I don't, ashamed as I am to admit it. Still, there's something a little extra slimy feeling about how much uglier things might get for warehouse workers around holidays and events such as Prime Day, which makes me want to abstain from the event even more.

And, basic worker welfare and safety (which is not a political matter, before anyone in the comments gets rowdy) aside, there's one more key point against Amazon Prime Day to consider: The fact that other companies do Prime Day better than Amazon.

Sizing up the competition

Prime Day Logo

Source: Amazon (Image credit: Source: Amazon)

Some places kick the life out of Amazon's Prime Day deals all year round. The free market over on Reddit, as well as buyer-friendly sites such as eBay, are always dropping massive deals and insane prices that put Prime Day to shame.

And on Prime Day itself, Amazon competitors come out in force. The best Prime Day deals are then, ironically, often found at places such as Best Buy and Walmart, where the "other guys" step up their game to show why Amazon is overrated.

Between competition and all the other reasons listed above, Prime Day is something I've never been able to get into. I'll be here writing about it, sure, but I'm not going to be spending my hard-earned dollar at Amazon. Other sellers offer better prices, and Amazon itself doesn't have a killer angle for Prime Day anymore, beyond the vague pitch that maybe you'll get a new Instant Pot for a couple of dollars off if you obsessively check the everything store for 48 hours straight.

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to robert.carnevale@futurenet.com.

11 Comments
  • Getting rid of Prime was one of the best decisions I've made. Not simply because of Amazon's poor treatment of it's workers (one recent report states that Amazon WANTS high turnover rates), but also because it has saved me a ton of money. The subconscious affect of, "What a great deal!" leads to a lot of overspending. Plus, buying more stuff locally means all my tax dollars can go to improving roads, schools, etc etc. I'd rather my money improve my local surroundings than ship it off to somewhere else.
  • Okay, first, Amazon may not treat it's employees well (I don't know, I've never been one) but it does employ a lot of people and that is a good thing. Workers feeling abused should get a job elsewhere -- if they can in this economy. And no, that isn't what Amazon or any other business wants. High turnover rates actually cost companies more than keeping an employee that is at least an average performer. Finally, your taxes go back to your state regardless of where you purchase, Amazon collects your state taxes and pays them to the state. What we do agree on is saving money by not shopping at all. Whenever someone tells me how much they "saved" I ask, "How much did you have to spend to save that money?" Puts it all into perspective.
  • "Okay, first, Amazon may not treat it's employees well (I don't know, I've never been one) but it does employ a lot of people and that is a good thing. Workers feeling abused should get a job elsewhere" Unfortunately, many of the warehouses are located in areas where significantly better economic opportunities aren't present. For example, many of the workers that voted against unionizing in Bessemer, Alabama stated that they did so because they feared Amazon would shut down the entire factory if they did unionize (a tactic Walmart has done in the past). That many works just can't up and go somewhere else. Nor are there many better places to choose from. It's not like Target is going to offer them jobs en masse. And to be clear, factory work IS factory work - which is to say it kind of sucks. But it shouldn't be so bad that people are peeing in bottles and crying on the job. "High turnover rates actually cost companies more than keeping an employee that is at least an average performer." There's a New York times article about it. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/06/15/us/amazon-workers.html Unfortunately, the article is locked behind a paywall. But to quote from an interview the author did on CBS, "He [Jeff Bezos] wanted quick turnover because he wanted people when they were fresh and new... And so he wanted to keep people moving through his system and intentionally limited upward mobility in the warehouses." "Finally, your taxes go back to your state regardless of where you purchase, Amazon collects your state taxes and pays them to the state." Correct. In my head I was thinking, "Why buy this product from company X in another state when I can get it from a local store up the street," but that is not what I typed.
  • HeyCori, the single best factor for improving working conditions is competition between employers for access to scarce labor. Nothing else is even close to being in the same league in terms of effectiveness, including union negotiation and legislation (which ALWAYS follows industry standards, never leads them). Working standards are always evolving based on that competition. Factory workers 100 years ago would have thought Amazon working conditions were the best available, even ignoring the relatively high pay rates Amazon employees earn. Factory workers in China today would also happily trade those jobs for the wealth, safety, and freedom of Amazon's shops. And 50-100 years from now, someone will make a similar comment about the conditions of Amazon's warehouses today compared to the no-doubt much better conditions of the future. Competition is the factor that causes companies to increase wages, improve conditions, and offer better benefits to attract and hold those workers. So a low unemployment rate, which means scarce access to people, more than any other single economic metric, drives improving conditions. This is simple capitalism: the company needs people to get the job done or it can't conduct business and will fail. As long is it can still turn a profit with a positive IRR (internal rate of return, meaning as much or more as it could make by doing something else with the money) after paying its people, then it will be willing to spend more to attract and hold its people. Conversely, nothing is worse for working conditions than high unemployment. That's where you have multiple people competing with each other for the same job. Each willing to sacrifice a little more pay, job safety, benefits, and more to land the job. This is one of the reasons (not the only) why tax hikes that slow the economy directly hurt working conditions and punish the people politicians on the left claim they will help with the new extra tax revenue. There is a disturbing amount of ignorance on capitalism in our country these days. But a basic analysis of the facts and history makes it clear that capitalism has done more good for more people in the course of human history than any other system and by a giant ocean-sized margin. That's not to say it doesn't cause problems at times, just that they are tiny compared to the death and misery caused by socialism, totalitarianism, communism, etc.
  • If your annual passive income is Zero, you are not a capitalist, you are a worker with Stockholm Syndrome. What is your annual passive income that you spout this obviously incorrect rhetoric about capitalism and it's relation to labour? You need to learn labour history, to balance out the capitalist poison in your brain. I suggest starting with the coal wars and the company towns.
  • Not much of what you said makes any sense at all. No company wants to train new people. There's no way they WANT a high turnover. Not to mention, Amazon does pay a minimum of $15/hour, 401k, and insurance (both health and life), as well as stock options and paid leave. Your taxes, are collected by your state regardless of it going to a local business or not. If you pay state tax, the state collects it. As for spending, that's your fault (not specifically you, but anyone that is overspending) create a budget, stick to it.
  • Perhaps you replied while I was replying to CasualAdventurer, but I've already addressed those points.
  • It's a simple question of cost-benefit analysis. Training people costs money, but if the skill needed is close to zero, then that training cost is also low. There are cases where it's cheaper to hire new people than keep on experienced people, if those experienced people have gained regular raises and are being paid more than they're worth (in terms of the value they deliver to the employer). However, there are also soft costs to turnover that can be significant: high turnover generally hurts morale and incentivizes all kinds of behavior employers don't want (like unionizing, theft, abuse of equipment, etc.). If all remaining employees do worse work because they're unhappy, that can be a massive added cost. Keeping morale high is not just ethical, it's also good business.
  • Okay. My issue with Amazon is it has become a repository for cheap Chinese knock-offs and knock-offs of knock-offs. There is little of quality left on the site anymore.
  • Nonsense. They still carry all the major brands too. They're not Wish.
  • Based on everything I'm seeing from Amazon emails lately, looks like TVs will feature heavily. I have no interest in a TV. I'll peek at the various deals, but unless there's something at a great price that I'd buy anyway, I'll likely skip most of this. The Camelizer is a great tool for that. As for the "rush delivery" part, I'll happily delay delivery unless it's something I truly need by a certain date. I definitely don't need Prime Day deals delivered same/next day. I try to keep up with the various bargains using the aggregate/watcher sites as well - so if there are decent deals on whatever site, I'll see it there and can make the choice to buy or wait. As for local - it just depends. Availability, ability to easily get to a place, price - all considerations. Amazon does a good job of aggregating a bunch of sellers/goods, which is helpful over trying to find some of those items locally. But if I can find it locally for a reasonable price, I'll try to give the nod to the local seller these days.