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Prime Abuse

The Kalmes clan is starting to feel settled in here in Seattle. We’ve found the library, a few restaurants we like, and are generally starting to feel at home, despite the kid who stands on the sidewalk outside our apartment every night, smoking and wearing a t-shirt that reads, “Your Mom Should Have Swallowed.” Dude loves that shirt. If I had a slightly older kid, I’d feel justified in giving him the stink eye. But since I don’t, I just give him a sort of sad and puzzled look, as though I don’t quite know what’s wrong with him.

The latest addition to our Seattle comforts is that last weekend, Mark talked me into signing up for Amazon Prime. “Jason’s always talking about it,” he said. “He’s kind of convinced me.”

He meant Jason Calacanis, tech mogul and host of the This Week in Start Ups podcast, which Mark listens to every week. Apparently, Calacanis is always raving about Amazon Prime, about how there are so many things he’ll order from them, about how he never has to swing by the store anymore to get laundry detergent, notebooks, or mouthwash—any of the many piddly little things we all find ourselves needing from time to time. Instead, he logs onto Amazon, and three minutes later the item in question is winging its way to him, all with free two-day shipping.

It started to sound pretty good, because with a baby in the house, there are all sorts of things I need, and going to the store to get them can be, at times, kind of a hassle. So, I allowed Mark to pay the $79 to sign us up. I had visions of setting up subscriptions for all of our staple items—our toilet paper, our hand soap, our dishwasher liquid and contact solution. Then I’d never have to think about those things again. They’d just come to me! Once a month! Sure, it would take me a while to jigger the subscription amounts until they were just right, but then, boy, would I be living the life.

So it was with sentiments of intense excitement and promise that I sat down to begin my Amazon ordering. But Amazon’s prices, it was soon to be revealed, left something to be desired. A 32 oz. container of liquid hand soap cost $10.21—even though I could buy a 64 oz. container for $5.49 at Target. A package of thirty-two double rolls of toilet paper cost $24.49, but I could get thirty-six double rolls—a veritable fortune of toilet paper!—for only about thirteen bucks at Target. Some other price comparisons yielded the same results, and I realized with chagrin the flaw in our plan. We had taken advice on how to spend our money from a millionaire. And now we were out eighty bucks.

Not to be deterred, I reasoned that we could still get a number of exciting things from Amazon, even if our staple items were better bought locally. And that is when I began making any number of teeny, tiny purchases on Amazon. It started with a six-by-six Rubik’s Cube that Mark had been wanting. Then a sketch pad for me. Then some Flintstones chewable vitamins that I had been needing.

And then on Monday, the sketch pad came, and I realized that what I really needed was a ruler to go with it. So I popped onto Amazon and found a nice ruler retailing for $3.30. And then I forced them to send it to me with free two-day shipping.

The low point of the whole experience was surely when I ordered nail clippers for $1.80. Nobody said I couldn’t! They came to me individually packaged in their own envelope, and I actually kinda haven’t even used them yet.

In my defense, I’d like to say that I thought Amazon would handle this operation quite a bit more efficiently. I figured that everything I ordered over, say, a twenty-four hour period would all go into a single box. But this was not the case. Spray bottles, bibs for Story, stain remover, a graphic novel—everything came separately packaged, arriving at my door in a flood of little brown boxes.

So, now that I know the deal, I’ll try to be a little bit kinder. I may drop things in the cart and only check out every day or so. Honestly, after that first bacchanal of ordering, my desire for random crap from Amazon may be somewhat sated. Although, I don’t know, I’m starting to feel a bit itchy. Maybe what I really need is a compass.


  1. I was introduced to Amazon Prime through an introductory student subscription, and now I can’t live without it. Just wait until Christmas. Since our families live across the country, we have started shipping their presents to them and then we wrap them when we get there. That two day shipping has been a life saver with almost forgotten birthdays, too.

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 5:38 am | Permalink
  2. jane wrote:

    Ah, Christmas presents. Good point. I’ve already been buying most of those through Amazon for years… does Prime mean I can wait right up until December 22nd? Because that is very much my style.

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Permalink
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