February 2, 2005 2:45 PM PST

Amazon unveils flat-fee shipping

Amazon.com on Wednesday launched a flat-fee shipping program, in a move to offer an alternative to its minimum purchase requirement for low-cost delivery.

Under its Amazon Prime program, customers pay a flat annual membership fee of $79 for unlimited two-day shipping for up to four members in the same household. Members can also pay $3.99 for overnight shipping.

"Amazon Prime takes the effort out of ordering: no minimum purchase and no consolidating orders," Jeff Bezos, chief executive of Amazon, said in a letter posted on the company's Web site. "Two-day shipping becomes an everyday experience rather than an occasional indulgence."

The move comes as Amazon tries to convince investors that it can increase customer loyalty in the face of growing competition from eBay and traditional retailers. The company on Wednesday reported quarterly results that missed analyst expectations, sending shares down more than 13 percent in after-hours trading.

According to the terms and conditions of the program, products sold by third-party vendors or in third-party areas like Amazon marketplace, auctions or zShops are excluded. Heavy or oversized items also may not be eligible. Corporate accounts or purchases made for a business or institution will not be allowed entry to the program.

It remains to be seen whether the Prime program will undermine the company's Super Saver program. Under that program, customers receive free shipping when spending at least $25 on goods that will be delivered to the same address.

Membership to the Prime program will automatically renew each year, unless customers cancel their membership before its renewal.

3 comments

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SuperSaver is fine
SuperSaver is a great plan. The new Prime program would be a good deal if it DID apply to the third-party Amazon retailers & the large/heavy items. But it only applies to regular Amazon items. It's not too difficult to select over $25 worth of products to get SuperSaver free shipping. Plus, they ALWAYS deliver ahead of schedule. It's an outstanding deal & it just makes people possibly buy more than they originally intended. Very nice incentive! Hopefully Amazon will keep the SuperSaver discount - it's my number one choice for where to shop.
Posted by aglennon (10 comments )
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I like the SuperSaver to..but watch out for 3rd party
I've bought some Amazon items and when its an "Amazon Partner", its can be frustrating. I've found items misrepresented, understocked yet labeled "instock" and had orderss delayed for weeks only to be "cancelled" by the eTailer.
Amazon just sends a boilerplate apology statement. They assume no liability for the vendors they host.
Nice.
You have to really learn to use shopping engines and search engines to find best deals. Amazon is not the only one, but still keeping its neck above the water.
Posted by Below Meigh (249 comments )
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$79 way too much...
The super saver has worked out just great for me. They say it's
good for up to four people in a household. What good is that
when there are only two shoppers in the home. $30 might be
worth it, but for now I will stick with Super Saver....
Posted by pslice (15 comments )
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