Prime Day 2018 Festivities begin at 3pm ET today

Another year has gone bye and another Prime Day is almost upon us! The official Festivities for Prime Day 2018 begin at 3PM eastern on Monday 7/16/18 at Amazon. Amazon has published a handy Prime Day guide, and as usual, this morphs into a Prime Week of festivities (as opposed to just a single day), with some offers already going live, including a variety of credit cashback promotions for those paying with a Prime credit card (Chase Visa or Amazon store card). These include 20% back on the GoPRO HERO (2018) action camera.

Other early offers include the Echo Show creature for $139 (up to six per customer at the sale price), and some new product launches that Prime members get first dibs on.

Keep an eye also on the good old Gold Box if you prefer that display format of deals.

Only Prime members can participate in these festivities, however, if you are not a Prime member and want to participate, you can start a FREE Prime Trial and enjoy these festivities along with the other Prime Benefits for 30 days.

Woot now offers FREE 2-Day Prime shipping on select items [Prime members]

The Amazonification of Woot continues with another new experimental feature. As of a few weeks ago, Prime members would get free shipping at Woot, but now, the new experiment gets Prime members free 2-day Prime-like shipping on select Woot items. This is probably for items shipping from Amazon warehouses, so it makes sense they’d be able to do this for paying Prime members.

Here’s an example of a listing, the Klipsch speakers. Here’s an annotated screenshot of the relevant part of the pages for products eligible for this new Woot-Prime benefit:

Meh brings back $5/month free shipping membership

As mentioned in the main text of today’s deal at Meh.com, Meh is bringing back their free shipping membership plan, let’s call it version 2.0. You pay $5 per month, and you can cancel it at any time. For any month you are a paying member, you get free shipping at Meh and its other sister shopping sites (Morningsave, Casemates, Checkout.org and any others they may come up with in the future). If you are a regular shopper there, the membership makes sense since a number of their offers face a make-or-break as a deal based on the shipping fee. Details on the new membership at the bottom of this Meh forum post. The top part of the post gives background and history.

(ENDED) Starts Thursday 4pm ET: Crazy Woot WTF Pricing Experiment [not camera related]

This experiment ended…

[Read more…]

Prime Membership Annual Fees will increase to $119

Amazon keeps adding more and more to the Prime Benefits, but that’s not all. They strategically decided to go BIG with their TV streaming business, making expensive purchases and plans, such as an upcoming Lord of the Rings TV series. So the writing was on the wall that the Prime membership fee would go up.

And it is. Annual Prime membership fees will increase from $99 to $119. Discussion of the news organized nicely by Techmeme.

The $119/year membership fee goes in effect on May 11 for new members, and June 16 for renewals of existing subscriptions. You can cancel your existing subscription before it renews if you don’t want to pay this higher subscription fee.

If you want to get in at the $99 for the first year, as a new or previous Prime member, you can sign up for Prime Membership now for $99.

As far as I can tell, existing Prime members cannot manually renew their subscription ahead of time using the Prime account website. I don’t know if it’s possible to renew it ahead of time by talking/live-chatting to a customer service representative.

B&H Photo accepting orders again!

B&H Photo has just re-opened after the Passover Holidays and they are now accepting online orders! Orders previously placed during the Passover Holiday break will begin getting processed and shipping as they re-oepn (depending on order, shipping option, etc. etc, etc)… If you want to get started with your B&H fix, start at their Featured Deals page or use their search box to find the product(s) you are interested in…

April 1st LOLz: Groupon “increasing prices”

Groupon is boldly going with their April Fool’s Day joke. Their email states “we INCREASED our prices just for you”. It hits too close to home for some shoppers, as many retailers [controlled by manufacturer-controlled pricing] increase prices while portraying them as discounts over MAP πŸ™‚

Adorama ordering deadline is March 30 at 12pm ET

If you need something from the Adorama website soon, plan ahead! Their ordering deadline for the Passover holiday is March 30 at 12pm eastern. Orders placed after that will be processed after they reopen on Monday April 9 in 2018. But don’t wait until the last millisecond as Murphy’s law can delay things…

B&H Order Deadline is Thursday 4pm ET (Passover Closing After That)

The year is flying by fast. Easter is here, Passover is here, and as every year, B&H Photo will be closing for the holiday. If you need something from B&H now, the order cut-off point is Thursday 3/29/18 at 4pm eastern. Orders placed after that deadline will be processed when B&H Photo re-opens on Sunday April 8 in 2018.

They have a link on their website that reminds of this. Here’s an annotated screenshot of the important dates for online ordering:

Recall: quarter million AmazonBasics PowerBanks recalled

We have a product recall alert! Amazon is recalling over a quarter million AmazonBasics PowerBanks because of a fire risk. The recall says that consumers should stop using them and return them for a FULL REFUND! The specific models affected by this are: B00LRK8EVO, B00LRK8HJ8, B00LRK8I7O, B00LRK8IV0, B00LRK8JDC, and B00ZQ4JQAA. Search for these in your orders or email confirmations of orders if you are not certain if you purchased them or not.

Already Amazon has setup a website that automates the return of the affected products. More details via Consumer Reports

Powerbanks take longer to charge, so they are more likely to be left unattended, thus increasing the risk. It’s one thing to babysit a phone charging in a couple of hours, but something that may need 5-8 hours to fully charge is likely to happen overnight or when you are away from the charging area…

LOL Amazon Gold Box goes in QVC mode!

Amazon is now turning the Amazon Gold Box into a hybrid QVC channel! Between 11am to 7pm eastern every day, they have a live show talking and showcasing some of the items that are featured in the gold box lightning deals. Volume is off by default. You may or may not see it depending on screen size and device. As of they time of writing, they were QVCing (verb) a Cuisant grill set, then an Alexa smart alarm clock πŸ™‚

Here’s a screenshot of the “live box” in the Gold box πŸ™‚

Speaking of the Gold Box, running until Wednesday at 3am eastern they have a sale on Anker products such as chargers, power banks and cables; and a $6 iPhone X case.

Various PayPal Policy Updates effective April 19

PayPal is updating various Policies with the new changes taking effect on April 19 in 2018. I don’t know if any of the changes are influenced by eBay’s decision to phase out PayPal in the next few years. You can read the whole thing over there. Among the changes:

+ the “Pay After Delivery” option is going away

+ customers with unverified identifying information cannot use their PayPal balance
to make purchases or send money (they can still keep it or transfer it to a bank or debit card)

+ sending money (PayPal balance; not credit/debit) to friends/family outside the US
will have a flat fee of $3 to $5; not a variable percentage rate

+ business accounts who select faster withdrawal to a linked debit card will now pay a 1% flat fee

+ updates to “Unauthorized Transactions” and “Purchase Protection Program”

+ updates to the Privacy Policy

+ various other changes

GetOlympus Outlet store listings improvements

The main listings index of the Olympus USA Outlet store has finally seen some improvements. You can now see from the index of available items which ones are out of stock and you can add-to-cart directly. A step in the right direction, but more work must needs be done!

NEW: $6/mo Prime membership for qualifying Medicaid recipients

Overshadowed by the LOL-worthy and Black Mirror-esque news of Alexa laughing at customers (it’s not you, it’s Alexa, or the ghost inside the Echo πŸ˜‰ was another new expansion of the Prime pool by Amazon. They are launching a Prime discounted membership option for qualifying Medicaid recipients for $6 per month. This is similar (or an expansion) of their existing $6/mo EBT membership. Just like “Amazon Student”, a customer can be on this discounted program for up to four years.

The list of Prime benefits is getting longer and longer, and Amazon is also making noise about getting into the health care business. Certainly this Medicaid development is a step in the right direction.

What next? Prime NOW will deliver a doctor to your front door when you want/need one?

PSA: new eBay user agreement taking effect 3/30/18

On the shopping news front, Amazon is buying doorbell company Ring for over a billion. Another day, another acquisition for the “bookseller” πŸ™‚

Meanwhile eBay is informing users via email that a new User Agreement will go in effect on March 30 (2018) and effectively immediately for new users. I have not read/compared the before/after agreements but the eBay email describes the changes as:

“The key updates to the eBay User Agreement reflects the company’s continuing transition towards a product-based shopping and selling experience.”

Retail News: Albertsons buying Rite Aid

With Ritz/Wolf mostly disappearing and local camera shops fading away as well, drugstore chains are often the places many people go to for prints. And we have a new development on the drugstores front. Walgreens had previously agreed to purchase some Rite Aid stores, but they are not buying the whole company. Announced today, the Albertsons group of companies will be buying Rite Aid, over 2500 remaining stores that are not purchased by Walgreens (buying over 1900 stores) according to the aforelinked Forbes article.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. If Rite Aid thrives under Albertsons, the local photo print markets will get more competition and better prices. If Albertsons starts shutting down stores, it will reduce competition giving CVS and Walgeens fewer reasons to offer good deals. Only time will tell – as always πŸ™‚

New Prime Benefit: Free Shipping at Woot (FINALLY!)

Some thought the day would never come, but as of February 18 in 2018, this is for real! Amazon Prime members can now receive free standard shipping for most of their Woot purchases. This was announced on the official Woot blog and there are also notices scattered throughout the Woot website.

The benefit is free standard shipping, not free 2-day shipping, but it’s definitely better than paying $5 per calendar day for purchases. T-shirt purchases however get “free express shipping” which makes sense, since they are lightweight and they can be compressed for shipping purposes to the size of a burrito if need be.

Here’s an annotated screenshot from the Woot blog summarizing it:

There are some exceptions though. “Gourmet” items, sold by the Gourmet sub-Woot (formerly Wine) are not eligible. You’ll get confirmation on the product page and the shopping cart on what qualifies.

If you are a regular Woot shopper who’s not a Prime member, it’s not a bad idea to give it a try, they offer 30-Day Free Prime Trials. If you make Woot purchases on 20 different days during a rolling 12-month period, that’s the price of a 1-year Prime subscription (20 x $5 = $100).

The list of Prime benefits is getting longer and longer. Take a comprehensive look at our Amazon Prime Benefits mega-post at the main blog.

Woot makes return policy more consumer friendly

Woot has updated their return policy, now allowing returns of products you just didn’t like. Returns are no longer restricted to damaged or defective items. There are some reasonable restrictions (specialty carrier for oversize/bulky, perishables, altered clothing, hazardous materials, etc) to the new policy which you can find at their FAQ page.

Surprise Shopping News: eBay will be replacing PayPal with Ayden in the next few years

This is a surprise! eBay will be eventually replacing PayPal as its payment method with a smaller European company called Ayden. This will be phased in over time. PayPal will continue to be available on eBay until July 2023 (over five years from now), while Ayden will have most of eBay’s payments by 2021. So it’s not something disruptive from a consumer perspective as it will be rolled out over time. PayPal’s negatives among consumers are probably high enough that quite a few people may cheer rather than cry for PayPal πŸ™‚

Ayden will launch in small scale later in 2018, and begin expanding in 2019 and later…

More details through CNBC and more discussion in the tech world nicely organized at Techmeme. Here’s eBay’s own explanation of the change in their press release

Shopping News: Internet Sales Tax Collection Case Heads to the Supreme Court

If you make online purchases from out of state retailers that don’t collect sales tax, this may change depending on what happens after the Supreme Court hears a counter-case. The vast majority of States (when you consider that some don’t collect sales tax) are behind this push that will allow them to force online retailers (without a physical presence in the state) to collect sales tax anyway.

In other words, if the Supreme Court agrees with the states, your purchases from NewEgg or B&H Photo or Monoprice or Adorama will have sales tax included regardless of which state you live in (if that states collects sales tax).

This will also affect some purchases at Amazon. The article above from the Associated Press (hosted at ABC) incorrectly states that Amazon is not affected. Right now, purchases from Amazon itself have sales tax charged, however, purchases from 3rd-party sellers are left to the 3rd-party sellers, and as far as I can tell, the majority of 3rd-party sellers that do not have to collect sales tax, do not collect sales tax. So if the Supreme Court agrees with the states, Amazon purchases from 3rd-party sellers will also be collecting sales tax.

The article above estimates that arguments on the case will be made in April, so this is not an imminent change, nor a guarantee that something will change. After all, the whole MAP/price-fixing thing survived the Supreme Court. More on this from various websites and blogs as it develops are collected at the always useful Techmeme

Circuit City returning again on February 15

Circuit City is planning yet another comeback (attempt). The new plan calls for a new experiential (not experimental) website launching the day after Valentine’s Day (February 15), to be followed with kiosks, stores within stores and even their very own stores if all goes to plan. Imaging will be one of their areas of interest. Details from TWICE at CES 2018.

Woot launches alternative Visual View of their sales

In addition to their daily deals, Woot has a variety of other sales that run for longer than 24 hours. The problem with all these is that they are hidden from most non-diehards of their website because they are impossible to find. Remember the moofi? πŸ™‚

Anyway, a new attempt at modernization has been launched, an alternative to the existing user interface, the Woot Discover, a visual listing of some of their latest offers, in a tablet-y kind of design. Over 500 items are listed there.

Save the Date: Friday is Amazon’s Digital Day

This is a heads up! This Friday, December 29 (2017), Amazon will be having its annual Amazon Digital Day where a variety of digital products will be offered for sale. This includes software and apps, including software subscriptions. So potentially there might be offers on software packages and software subscriptions. They’ll also have offers on eBooks (eg photography books and camera guides), movies/TV, music, Amazon Coins, and more.

The pre-sale action begins on Tuesday December 26 and will continue daily until the Friday Digital Day.

I have no idea what will be offered, so, as always with these type of deals, YMMV…

(ENDED) Reminder: Free Next Day Delivery Cut-Off is Thursday 4pm ET

This promotion expired…

The FREE Next Day shipping cut off point a B&H Photo and Adorama is around Thursday 4pm eastern. But don’t wait until 3:59pm ET to place an order. The earlier you submit the order, the better chances you have for an on-time (or faster) delivery πŸ™‚

Amazon’s schedule varies depending on camera/product but also the physical location of the product in question, and the physical location of the buyer (or the delivery address if sending to others as gifts).

PSA: Monday is hyped as a “Green Monday”

There is some buzz generated by retailers about “Green Monday”, that’s tomorrow, Monday 12/11/17. It obviously won’t be like Cyber Monday, but there might be some good deals. YMMV, we will find out for sure tomorrow whether it’s buzz or actual actionable deals πŸ™‚

DJI Select membership for $29/year (YMMV)

The official DJI store has launched a new annual DJI Select membership for $29 per year. This gets you the option to buy “DJI Care” for 50% off, you get early access to new products, exclusive coupons and discounts, and a birthday coupon.

NOTE that to purchase DJI Select, customers must have purchased drone with DJI Care after November 1, 2017. Check their website for more details.

NewEgg launches Thursday Live Stream with Deals

Online shopping got a bit stale in terms of innovation before the explosion of mobile, and now, the much tighter integration of digital and “real world” is bringing more crazy things, like Amazon’s Treasure Truck.

NewEgg doesn’t have Amazon-type of real world infrastructure, but they have YouTube technology! Every Thursday at 1pm ET, they are starting a NewEgg NOW Live Stream talking about various tech products and services, and while that stream is running, below it, a variety of tech deals are offered.

[Read more…]

Prime Student: new month to month option for $5.49/month

If you qualify for the “Prime Student” membership, you can sign up for a Prime Student Membership for $49 per year (half off the regular Prime membership). But if you prefer to pay month to month, or you only want to use Prime a few months per year (like a Netflix subscription you can start/stop at any month), at the above page, there is an option for month to month. Click on the “See More Plans” box over there:

In terms of value, the annual membership costs less than month to month, and at the moment, if you haven’t done a Prime Student membership before, they also have a free six month trial for annual memberships ~ co-sponsored by SPRINT apparently. There are many Prime Benefits but it’s up to you to decide whether they are worth the price of admission.

Groupon offers 90-day mini-Prime service for $15 one-time fee

Do you often find things you like at Groupon, but end up not getting them because your order total is under $35 and adding the $3.99 shipping fee ruins the deal?

Just in time for the upcoming Holiday Shopping Season, Groupon is offering a 90-Day Free Shipping Subscription for a $15 one-time fee.

It’s like a Mini Prime. This gets you free shipping on every eligible order for the next 90 days. Typically Groupon offers free shipping on orders of $35+. So if you think you are going to place four or more orders in the next 90 days that would otherwise charge you $4 shipping, then you come ahead.

The 90 day clock starts with purchase date. For example, if you purchase it today, it would run until January 12, 2018 [both October and December have 31 days].

Here’s an annotated screenshot of their summary of terms and conditions:

RESTRICTIONS: just like Prime, this offer only applies to items sold and shipped by Groupon Goods. Items sold by Marketplace sellers (3rd-party sellers, not Groupon itself) are NOT eligible for the offer. Not eligible are items that require special delivery or white glove and such.

In other words, items that would otherwise get the standard $3.99 flat shipping will be get free shipping while you are subscribed to this mini-Prime.

This will likely increase impulse buys, so if you are trying to avoid those, this is probably an enabler!

Adorama Holiday Cut-Off: Order before Wedn 12:30pm ET

Adorama’s physical store and warehouses will be closing for the Sukkoth Holiday. If you need an order shipped before the h9liday closure, make sure you place your orders before Wednesday 12:30pm ET at the Adorama website. Orders placed after the cut-off point will begin shipping on Monday 10/16/17. You can still submit orders in the meantime, but they won’t ship until they re-open.

eBay User Agreement Update: Sellers may be charged Final Value Fee for eBay sales completed outside eBay

eBay did not wait until Friday night to sneak in announce new updates to their Terms of Service. According to an email sent to its members, the key change to the user agreement is that Sellers who try to complete eBay listing sales outside of eBay (to avoid paying the various eBay fees) may be charged Final Value Fees regardless. Not sure how eBay is going to find out, but that’s what the updated Terms and Conditions say.

ANALYSIS: Perhaps the reason this was announced in the middle of the week is because eBay wants people to read this and stop doing it πŸ™‚

Kohls in CHI and LA will be accepting Amazon (!) returns

The ever-changing retail landscape makes for strange bedfellows. Kohls and Amazon will begin a new experiment starting October 2017, 80+ Kohls stores in the Chicago and Los Angeles areas will be …accepting Amazon returns according to Reuters. What and how will probably revealed in those markets when the experiment begins.

PayPal Users get FREE 2-Year ShopRunner subscription

If you have an American Express, you may already be getting (or eligible to get) a FREE 1-Year subscription to Shoprunner. But now PayPal is coming in with an offer of their own, PayPal members can get a FREE 2-Year Subscription.

Shoprunner is a Prime-like service in terms of free shipping that includes a variety of online retailers (not Amazon), NewEgg, Staples, and many fashion brands.

Shopping News: Google Express ending Membership program (refunds coming!)

“Google Express”, Google’s local shopping and delivery service, decided to end their Membership program. A membership will no longer be required to shop there. Current paying members will receive a pro-rated REFUND of their membership fees. This may be a nice amount if you had a prepaid annual membership πŸ™‚

The Help pages at the Google Express page describe the change as follows:

In a related move, Google has a new partnership with Walmart to enable Voice Shopping using the Google Assistant using the Google Home device. Furthermore, Walmart will be joining the growing list of merchants participating in Google Express.

More details via Techmeme.

Shopping News: PayPal now lets you set a Credit Card as Default Payment Method

After wasting the time of millions of online shoppers who had to frantically change the PayPal payment method to a credit card every single time they made a purchase so iffy eBay sellers wouldn’t raid their checking account directly, PayPal, now in trouble because there are LOTS and LOTS of other alternative payment methods, FINALLY allows you to set a default payment method to …the one you like, including a …credit card (*GASP*).

I’m sure they’ll make a full length documentary about the amazing scientific struggles PayPal had to go through for this mind-blowing technological breakthrough, twenty years in the making πŸ™‚

This is a relatively recent change and PayPal has been sending email reminders of this change. Here’s a screenshot from them:

Starting October 2nd, you can return items purchased from 3rd-party Amazon sellers without contacting them

Starting October 2nd in 2017, Amazon will activate a new policy that makes it easier for buyers to return products purchased and shipped directly from 3rd-party sellers. You will no longer have to contact the 3rd-party seller for a return. You will be able to do it using the Amazon website which will print a prepaid (by the seller) return-shipping label. So the return process will be similar to that of products shipped or fulfilled by Amazon itself.

There’s also a new option for (non-)returning low-cost or high-shipping items or defective items. The sellers have the option to opt-in for “returnless refunds”, where the cost or condition of the item may be such that it would cost the seller more money to process a return, so they’ll instead let the customer keep the item while still issuing them a refund.

From a Buyer perspective, this is great news as it will weed out some of the more iffy or careless sellers, and give you more flexibility in being able to easily return products that are unsatisfactory or defective or otherwise not-as-described.

But from a seller perspective, this is a “sky is falling” moment, where worries of all kinds are expressed by Amazon sellers in multiple threads in the Sellers forum. Fraudulent returns, “free rentals”, losing big on return fees and shipping, feeling pressed into using “fulfilled by Amazon” and so forth.

More details at CNBC.com.

Shopping News: QVC and HSN merge in a $2 billion deal

The two biggest TV home shopping networks of the over-the-air antenna era are now one! QVC and HSN are becoming one in a $2.1 billion M&A deal. But wait, if you call now, you’ll get a BONUS TV shopping channel for ABSOLUTELY FREE! Details through Engadget.

PSA: the eBay Rewards Certificates are here

This is a PSA! The eBay Bucks rewards you may have earned for the month of June are now ready to spend! Check your eBay emails or eBay messages or the relevant part of the eBay website that shows the eBay Bucks. Thanks to the new terms of the program, you don’t have to earn at least $5 per month to spend your rewards. Now any amount is good. The downside of the changes is that they lowered the default earning percentage from 2% to 1%, but they have recurring “Bonus Bucks” promotions.

The new reward certificate expires 8/2/17. If you are looking for ideas on how to spend it, check the eBay Deals along with the Top 100 Trending Deals.

As you can see below, I have a big shopping spree to plan πŸ™‚ Even if the exclamation point I added somehow becomes factorial, it’s still a very small amount πŸ™‚

Meta (Article): The War Over the featured Amazon product seller spots

If you are an Amazon shopper, and you wonder how all those different 3rd-party sellers get ranked in the Amazon “Add to Cart” section of each product page, you may find this new article at Buzzfeed interesting, as it explains some of the factors and issues, with quotes from multiple Amazon sellers.

A data analyst in the article best defines it: “In a lot of ways the Buy box is a slowed down stock exchange”.

Retailer News: Amazon buying Whole Foods for $13.7B in Cash!

Would you like an organic DSLR with your organic apples? You may soon be able to buy them both side by side. Okay, probably not, but in a surprise announcement today, Amazon revealed that it is paying $13.7 billion in cold hard cash to buy Whole Foods. You can find coverage of this at major tech and business websites and opines by social media gurus, all nicely organized at Techmeme.com.

Follow-Up: Loading $20+ Amazon Cash and Getting the $10 promo credit

Earlier in the week we mentioned the Amazon Cash $20+ / $10 promotion. As promised, I boldly went out to try out this promotion. This is the chronicle of said adventure πŸ™‚

This is a long write-up, more after the break…

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(FIXED) PSA: Amazon product pages currently have error messages (503)

As of 7pm ET recheck, it looks like the Amazon product pages are working again. The fix may propagate at different times as they have a global server infrastructure…

[Read more…]

Amazon lowers Free Shipping Minimum to $25 again (Experiment or Permanent?)

If you like to shop at Amazon, but don’t want to sign up for a Prime membership [list of benefits], and don’t want to place $35+ orders, we have some good news for you. It looks like Amazon has lowered the free shipping threshold from $35 to $25. While price-checking some of the Bag The Bags, this came up, the minimum shown is $25 instead of $35. This showed up when not logged on to an Amazon account, and also if logged on to a non-Prime account.

If you want practice/test this, here’s a sub-$25 item, screenshot of which can be seen below:

I don’t know if this is a limited time or limited scope experiment (Amazon LOVES to experiment) or this is permanent. (permanent until they change it again that is).

In the previous iterations, books got free shipping with $25+ orders, presumably price-matching the long-standing Barnes & Noble offer. If this sticks, it means books and non-books get free shipping on $25+ orders.

Manchester-by-the-Sea Residents: FREE 1-Year of PRIME

If any of our readers reside in the actual Manchester-by-the-Sea city (around 5K residents there), Amazon will be sending you a gift box at your addresses with a 1-Year PRIME membership, along with three bags of popcorn. The press release has a picture of the box. Both will be as gift cards, no popcorn in the box, you have to order it separately. This is to celebrate awards won by the movie “Manchester by the Sea” which will begin streaming for FREE for Prime members on May 5.

PS: Trigger Warning: Casey Affleck is trying to act acting in the movie. You have been warned πŸ™‚

New Walmart feature rolling out: Store Pickup discount on select items

Starting April 19 (2017) Walmart will begin rolling out a new feature, if you select store pickup for a purchase, you may be able to get a small discount on the purchase price. In other words, they are paying you to do the delivery to yourself πŸ™‚ This feature will slowly ramp up, they are planning to include 1 million items by the end of June. As usual, YMMV depending on product availability and location. This will be offered on the 48 contiguous US States.

I am guessing this is a feature that got inspired by the Jet team, which has all kids of nickle-dimer discounts on the Jet website (pay less if you forgo returns, pay less if you pay with debit card, pay less if you buy in quantity, etc). I don’t know if the other Jet features will make it to Walmart, but for now, if you are fond of store pickup, you may be able to save!

More details on the Walmart blog.

Alexa Voice-Ordering: Two different $5 bonus offers

If you are an Amazon Prime member, AND you have a device that is compatible with Alexa Voice Ordering (not just Echo/Dot hardware, but also fireTV, Fire tablets, and Amazon apps), there are two promotions running at Amazon that require Alexa Voice Ordering.

+ re-order a previously ordered item with Alexa Voice Ordering and get a $5 Amazon promotional credit within seven days
+ you must have previously purchased this product to trigger the $5 bonus
+ this is for any item you previously purchased, not the items under “Best Deals”
+ ends 4/30/17

+ Order a $25+ Amazon Gift Card with Alexa Voice Ordering and get a $5 Amazon promotional code
+ ends 4/16/17

I haven’t done this, so I can’t tell you how it works further. I have to setup Alexa. One possibility of double-dipping (again, I have no way of testing this), if you had previously purchased a $25+ Amazon gift card, would re-ordering the $25+ gift card get you both bonuses?

Project idea: have all the AI assistants talk among themselves. A new podcast, starring Siri, Alexa, Cortana, Bixby, and Google-Assistant πŸ™‚

Plan Ahead: Passover Closing at B&H

If you are planning a near-term time-sensitive purchase at B&H Photo, please note that the company will be closed for Passover and shipment of orders and online ordering will be impacted. You can find a detailed schedule of what’s available when at their website, the gray stripe below the green menu stripe. Friday 4/7/17 [CORRECTED] at 12pm eastern is the cut-off point for orders that will ship before the store closes for the holidays, but don’t wait until the last minute if you have a time-sensitive purchase.

April 1st: Amazon will collect sales-tax in all states who require it

Starting April 1st in 2017, Amazon will collect sales tax on all states that collect sales tax. It is already doing so in the vast majority of the states, but with this latest group, it will complete the puzzle. It will obviously not collect sales tax in states where sales tax is not collected (Oregon, Alaska, etc). Details via CNBC.

But because things are never quite as simple, there is a distinction, for tax collection purposes, between products sold and shipped by Amazon (they collect taxes) and products sold by 3rd-party sellers through the Amazon website. The latter category is still up in the air as literally any and every person on earth (and beyond) can be an Amazon seller.

PSA: Pop Photo and American Photo closing on Friday

After Friday March 10 in 2017, the Popular Photography print magazine will stop getting published, and the websites of both Pop Photo and American Photo will no longer be updated with new content per dpreview. OUCH for photography magazines πŸ™

Thanks to S. W. Anderson for the alert!

Store Closings: 40% of HH Gregg stores (also: Ritz’s Towson store)

The ever-changing retail landscape has more store closings. The regional chain HH Gregg is closing 40% of its stores (88 of them in 15 states) plus three distribution centers per The USA Today. Bankruptcy is one of the restructuring possibilities according to Bloomberg.

Meanwhile the reborn “Ritz Camera and Image” is closing one store, in Towson (Maryland), according to an email sent to customers. Their Bethesda (MD) store continues.