(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.

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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.

Amazon reduces Free Shipping minimum from $49 to $35 for non-Prime members

As the Amazon World Turns! At the moment when you surf around Amazon product pages without being logged on to a Prime Amazon account, you will notice that the free shipping minimum has changed again. Instead of $49+, you only need $35+ in products sold and shipped by Amazon, and/or sold by 3rd-party sellers but fulfilled by Amazon’s facilities. The $25+ book option also remains in place. I am not sure yet whether this is a temporarily experiment or permanent. It is possible that Amazon is price-matching the Walmart-Jet $35 minimum.

For example, here’s a random $40 item that shows free shipping for non-Prime members.

UPDATE: the Prime benefits comprehensive guide has been updated with this, along with a screenshot of the rare Prime shipping from 3rd-party sellers option [see a6300 post].

Fry’s launches Free Same Day Delivery on 500 products

Fry’s Electronics (fries not included) has now launched a Free Same-Day Delivery service that covers out 500 (high margin?) products. If you place an order before 3pm local time, you will receive your order the same day. Cameras are not included, but some printers, along with select computers and A/V gear are included. Details at their promotional page. You can check whether this service is available near you using their zipcode checker.

Walmart switches to Jet-like Free Shipping, will refund paying members of Shipping Pass

The first major impact of Walmart purchasing Jet and giving Jet more power over the Walmart website is happening now. Walmart is cancelling their Shipping Pass service (it was a $49 per year service that got you free shipping Prime-like), and will be refunding paying customers for the service. At the same time, they will lower the free shipping threshold from $50 to $35, and many items will be eligible for free 2-day shipping. Details at the Walmart help pages.

PS: Walmart has an open marketplace (like Amazon, NewEgg, Best Buy, Sears, etc), so the free shipping terms apply to items shipped by Walmart itself (not 3rd-party sellers). As usual with these type of offers, they cover the 48 contiguous states. Non-48 addresses and APO/FPO addresses with US zipcodes will get the free 3-5 day shipping. Until Star Trek Transporters (TM) become commercially available.

PSA: Last Day to sign up for Meh.com Monthly $5/mo membership is 2/28/17

Meh.com (the founders of Woot) currently has an optional $5 per month membership plan that gets you free shipping on your first order for that particular month. This program is not ending for existing members, but starting March 1 in 2017, they will no longer accept NEW members. If you like the idea, you have until 2/28/17 to sign-up. This is a month-to-month membership. Details in the Meh forums. This is a list of the current membership benefits.

(OLDER POST) Amazon teases Electronics and Cameras themes for Monday and Tuesday respectively

This is an older post, the time for this (very disappointing) sale has passed…

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UPS options to send shipments directly to Access Points

With the holidays coming along, along with increased travel and increased thefts of unguarded packages, UPS has more delivery options available. They just sent an email to customers (in their email list) outlining some of these options. You need a (free) UPS account to make changes. Options include:

  • directly ship the packages to your designated UPS Access Point without even attempting to deliver it at your home/office address
  • deliver the package to your designated UPS Access Point after the first delivery attempt is not successful

[Read more…]

News: Amazon finally launched page to track your Slow Shipping Credits

Finally Amazon has launched a page where Prime members can keep track of their “slow shipping credits”. These are the “No Rush Credits” that you get if as a Prime member you select a slower shipping method for an order that is eligible for free 2-day shipping. The slower-shipping is not always slow, it’s just that they ship it in a non-priority way, but it can still get there reasonably fast.

The page is this https://www.amazon.com/norushcredits but all you have to remember is to type norushcredits (no rush credits) since amazon.com is easy to remember πŸ™‚ It looks like this (“View Image” to see full size):


PSA: Beware of trending Scam on Amazon from “Before Purchasing Contact Us” 3rd-party sellers

Beware of a new trending scam at Amazon, on listings of new and/or highly desirable products, scam artists are listing the product as 3rd-party sellers with significantly lower prices, and asking people to contact them before buying from Amazon. This violates various Amazon marketplace rules, and it’s also a scam, because no one would sell a $2000 camera for $500 unless it’s a scam or fake or stolen or who knows what else.

Here’s an example from the Olympus E-M1 II listing. The sad thing is that if they keep on doing it, it may suggest that a small percentage of people who see these are actually gullible enough to bite, so, just like spam, it becomes a numbers game, the more listings they create, the more people will bite.

Here’s an “annotated” screenshot of a listing like that:


Amazon is removing them but more and more keep on cropping us, which may suggest they haven’t found a way yet to block them at the root of the problem. It is easy to sell items as a 3rd-party seller, and there are infinite email accounts available. The pros and cons of an open marketplace.

(ENDED) 20% off almost site-wide at National Geographic with Free Shipping (ends Sun)

This offer ended…

[Read more…]

NewEgg offers 1 Year of FREE Premier for Military

NewEgg has another promotion for Military members, one year of their Prime-like shipping service “NewEgg Premier”. After the first year (12 consecutive months), the regular annual service fees apply unless cancelled. Verification of eligibility is required to get the benefit. They also offer 50% off on APO shipping fees in addition to standard Premier free shipping to the 48. Details at the promotional page.

NewEgg offers new delivery option: your local FedEx Kinko’s

Just in time for the holidays, NewEgg is offering a new delivery option for your order, regardless of the shipping delivery speed you select. You can pick up your order at a local participating FedEx Kinko’s facility. In the “Review” stage of the Checkout process, you can select a FedEx location to receive your order. Look for something like this in that page, below your “Shipping Info” column:


There is no additional fee for this delivery option. Your shipping fee is whatever your default delivery fee is, which a lot of times it is free or close to free.

Another benefit of this is that if you live or work or travel to multiple locations on a regular basis, you can send your orders at where you are, instead of having them all go to your home address (assuming the delivery estimates work and such).

(ENDED) Save The Date: November 18: 1-Year of PRIME for $79 [NEW MEMBERS ONLY]

This promotion expired…

Amazon is planning (press release) a 1-day promotion for Friday November 18 in 2016, to celebrate the launch of their new “The Grand Tour” streaming show. New members (not existing/current Prime members) will be able to sign up for 1-year of the service for $79 instead of the current price of $99. The price is only for the first year. After that, it will auto-renew at the then-current price (the current then-current price is $99 but it is subject to change)

Adorama starts Daily Deals for the Holidays

If you are a fan of daily deals, we have good news for you. During the holiday shopping season, Adorama is having Daily Deals. I will be monitoring these along with the other daily deals, but you can also find them at any time in the Sidebar of this blog under the “DAILY DEALS LINKS” section.

M&A News: Groupon buys LivingSocial

This was a Groupon special but only available to Groupon the company πŸ™‚ They have purchased competing social deals website LivingSocial for an unspecified low price. Another social deals site goes down, Amazon folded its own AmazonLocal, while NewEgg’s “NewEgg Flash” continues but it’s semi-integrated into the main NewEgg site now. Details and discussion of the acquisition via Techmeme.

Payment News: PayPal will soon allow Credit Cards as Default Payment Method

PayPal’s favorability ratings are probably in the cable company and politician levels, and with an avalanche of alternative payment methods, they are finally doing the unthinkable. Starting at some point next month, you will be able to set your default payment method to anything you want, you won’t be forced to use a debit card. That’s right a *GASP* credit card. It only took them 20 years to “discover” this feature πŸ™‚ The feature will roll out at different times throughout the world. More details via CNet News.

Shopping Oddities: Amazon’s own devices drop to new low prices everywhere else but at Amazon

It is a day of shopping news today, we have an interesting oddity, some of Amazon’s own hardware devices have been discounted to new low prices across the internet, at various competing online retailers, but not on Amazon’s own website! This is a 1-day sale. It is a very interesting move, it’s like their hardware department is trying to convince competing retailers to invest in carrying/selling Amazon branded devices.

Example of these sales, the latest Paperwhite goes for $90 at Staples and already sold out at Sears. Their 10-inch Fire HD tablet (with microSD) goes for $150 at Sears, the Amazon Echo goes for $130 at B&H Photo, a handful of these on sale at Best Buy and so forth.

This is a 1-day sale, so it is possible that Amazon is planning to discount them on their own website after this sale ends. They’ve already been playing with rotating sales. But this is only a crackpot theory. I have no clue what’s going to happen.

PS: maybe they need to have a reality TV show of all the meetings where the Hardware people were pitching this and the people running the Online Store were screaming NOOOOOOO! πŸ™‚

Shopping News: Walmart buys Jet for $3 billion

We have some meta shopping news! Walmart opened up their wallet and paid $3 billion in cash to buy trendy online shopping service Jet.com. The guy running Jet will take over Walmart’s US operations. Details and discussion of the purchase via Techmeme.

Jet has some interesting ideas in online shopping, for example, a built-in volume discount that adjusts dynamically based on how many units of an item you buy by pressing the “+” and “-” buttons. Volume Discounts are not a new thing, for example Adorama has had them for many years, but Jet made them visual and made the volume discounts bigger.

Jet also introduced something a bit disturbing for non-consumable purchases, you don’t know who the actual seller/fulfiller of a purchase is ahead of time. This may not be an issue if you are buying trash bags or music CDs, but it’s very important when it comes to authorized dealer status and things of that nature. Even for something as small as a memory card this is a big issue since there are quite a few fakes out there.

Best Buy Rewards Changes include free 2-day S&H on $35+

Amazon is creating a segmentation in its shoppers based on whether one is a Prime Member or not. Best Buy decided to take a different route, differentiate benefits depending on how much one spends and whether they are participating in their rewards program.

Starting August 28 in 2016, some of the rewards benefits will change for those in the regular MyBestBuy rewards program (no minimum spending) and the Elite (over $1500 per calendar year). They will earn fewer points per purchase, 0.5 per $1 and 1 per $1 respectively instead of 1 and 1.1 respectively. No changes for those in the Elite Plus ($3500+ in purchases per year) and Best Buy credit card holders.

But there are some good news for all rewards members, free 2-day shipping on a lot of qualifying items with orders of $35+ (for the regular rewards) or any amount for the Elites.

Triggered: Counting Converter Lenses as Real Lenses

In this new impromptu series called “Triggered” (a popular pop-culture term these days), we are posting things retailers do that are very annoying or sneaky or anti-consumer. In this inaugural installment, we are Triggered by online retailers counting converter lenses as actual real lenses in DSLR kits. It’s not a three lens kit when you have the 18-55 kit lens and two converter lenses. It’s ONE lens. Here’s one of the many examples among the eBay Deals.

Free ShopRunner membership with select AMEX credit cards

If you have an American Express credit card, you may be eligible for a free ongoing membership to the Shoprunner service. Shoprunner gets you free 2-day shipping on select retailers on select products. It was created as an alternative to Amazon Prime. You can activate this either from the Shoprunner website or the American Express website.

PS: I don’t know which AMEX credit cards qualify for this offer, or if this is for all cardmembers or some.

Meta News: UPS offering “Follow My Delivery” for UPS Next Day Air and Worldwide Express

If you need items to arrive in a time sensitive matter or you have placed an expensive order and you don’t want to let it linger around in slow shipping hell, UPS My Choice members (free to sign up for; not the Premium tier) will be able to track their packages as they travel to your door. This is a new feature called “Follow My Delivery”. An infographic explaining the process is available from UPS in PDF format.

This feature is available only for Premium shipping services with a time commitment, such as Next Day Air or Worldwide Express.

Unlike the Amazon PrimeNow deliveries that can be tracked in the PrimeNow mobile app, tracking for this is done on the web. UPS will send you an email with a link to a “Follow My Delivery” url. So you can use it on any device that is capable of accessing the internet [this is based on what their email says, I haven’t used this service yet].

Amazon experimenting with Option to turn off Shopping Cart Warranty/Service Upsells for 3 Months

Amazon.com is apparently experimenting with a new feature to decrease customer irritation and increase checkout speed. Now when you add something in your shopping cart that may be eligible for optional Extended Warranties or other Service Plans, you are given an option to turn OFF these kind of upsells for three months. This is probably linked to an Amazon account, so you’d have to be logged on to your Amazon account to make this stick.

Here’s an annotated screenshot crop of what to look for ~ you may not notice it if you are moving quickly through the longer version of the checkout process:


Shopping News: Amazon stopping soft 7-day price-drop refunds on non-TVs

Amazon has an official 30-day low-price guarantee policy on HDTVs. For other items, the last few years, their customer service representatives would often make “one time exceptions” if an item you purchased dropped in price within 7 days after purchase (and you contacted them asking for a refund of the difference).

This soft benefit is apparently going away now according to Re/Code.net which speculates that part of the decision to do so is motivated by a number of 3rd-party services that offer to automatically track price drops of items you purchased and notify you to take advantage of price guarantees. Some of these services require logins to your shopping accounts to do the price-tracking automatically, while others need access to your email. The Amazon representative contacted by Re/Code took a customer security angle to this.

I’m gonna venture a guess that it’s not just security. Security is a very valid concern, I would never let a 3rd-party (especially newly launched startups) have access to my email or shopping accounts. But no doubt about it, this is also a dollars and sense type of thing, if millions of people keep getting small refunds on millions of purchases, it’s goodbye quarterly profits for Amazon and back to losing money πŸ™‚

More discussion via Techmeme.