YMMV: Amazon Chase VISA holders: 20% off select items with coupon ~ 20 Camera and Photo Items available

NOTE!!!: you have to be eligible for this promotion to be able to see it! If you are not eligible or not logged on to your eligible Amazon account, you will see an almost empty page, something like the annotated screenshot below:

amazon_visa_20off_not_eligible

On the other hand, IF YOU ARE ELIGIBLE, you will see the actual promotion…

If you have the Amazon Rewards Chase VISA credit card, there is a hot new promotion for you at Amazon. You have to pay with the Amazon Chase VISA credit card and enter coupon code ARC20SPRING at checkout. The offer is a limited time while supplies last type of promotion, it expires by 6/30/16. Limit one per customer, so use it wisely.

Click on the category thumbnails over there to find the category of your choice. I am highlighting the “hot zone” in the “professionally” annotated screenshot below:

amazon_visa_20off

There is a total of 20 items eligible in the Camera and Photo category. I will go through them and post separately for any that scream.

As usual with these type of offers, it only works on items sold and shipped by Amazon herself. Items sold by 3rd-party sellers are not eligible ~ even if they are fulfilled by Amazon. Amazon itself has to be the seller of record and the shipper.

UPDATE: the offer works if you have multiple ELIGIBLE cameras in your shopping cart. I put two different D-Rebels and it showed a 20% off discount on the total amount, eg both got discounted.

Shopping Funnies: Staples email promises …Amazon deals

Since this is posted during the Saturday Night Live block, how about some shopping funnies? In an email sent early on Friday to the Staples emailing list, Staples promises their shoppers “New Amazon deals”. Not “Amazing deals” but “Amazon deals”. This is at the very top of the email, in fairly small font, but somehow I managed to spot it πŸ™‚

staples_amazon

(ENDED) April Fool’s Shopping: Woot goes Bidet, Meh goes wall to wall Captcha

The April Fool’s Day party is over! The next one begins in 364 days πŸ™‚

It is April Fool’s Day in the Eastern and Central time zones, and some retailers have already began having fun with it. The Woot website has put on a …bidet theme all over the place, taking toilet humor to another level… Meanwhile Meh.com filled up their website with Captcha boxes, with pithy text revealed after you click on each one…

UPDATE: Back Online [WAS: Amazon.com currently down]

UPDATE (3:49pm ET): as of this check, it looks like the Amazon website is back to normal…

[Read more…]

Amazon Changes Free Shipping Minimum for non-Prime members: $25+ for Books, $49+ for Other Items

Once upon a time, Amazon offered free shipping with an order of $25 or more. A few years later, they increased the minimum purchase amount to $35. Fast forward to now, and we have another change. The minimum is now increased to $49 or more. However, there is a caveat for books (physical books, not e-books), if you buy $25 or more of books, the books (and everything else in your order) qualifies for free shipping. (the usual restriction of sold and shipped by Amazon, or fulfilled by Amazon applies).

You can find more details at their Free Shipping Help page. Annotated screenshot crop of that below:

new_amazon_free_shipping_february2016

It is an interesting split here between book and non-book purchases. I don’t know whether it’s the media mail aspect of books, or perhaps their flat nature that makes packaging and shipping them more predictable. Or a romantic tip of the hat to their early days being a book seller. Or perhaps a more pragmatic reason, the Barnes and Noble website offers free shipping with $25+ orders πŸ™‚

This perhaps may create a fork in the road for some shoppers when making sub-$50 purchases (eg new movies, new CDs, consumables, small accessories, etc). Buy the items elsewhere or sign up for a Prime Membership ($100/year) and get free 2-day Prime shipping and all the other benefits (I still have to create the long-promised post with the Prime benefits/cons).

NOTE: the $25 limit remains for the Add-On program ~ look at the purchasing minimum mentioned in any Add-On item, for example, here’s a Melisandre-Red mouse pad that is part of the Add-On program.

Opt-In Feature: PayPal offers Return Shipping Refund on up to 11 eligible purchases (until 12/31/16)

PayPal has a new feature for its users, but it is opt-in, you must manually accept this offer and agree to the terms in order to activate it. It won’t go live on your account by default. Perhaps that’s how they can afford it, because manual opt-in means only a tiny percentage of its users will take advantage of it.

The offer is this: you get refunded (up to $30 per incident) on Return Shipping, on up to 11 orders, on purchases made with Paypal on February 1st (2016) or later. The offer expires 12/31/16. As usual, there are terms and conditions and restrictions, so be sure to check those out. For more, here’s the Returns page and the FAQ page. To claim a refund for return shipping, you have to fill in an e-form and follow the process as outlined by PayPal. If it’s Paypal, it’s rarely simple or easy πŸ™‚

NOTE: I do not know if every PayPal user is eligible, or only those who get pestered invited by PayPal emails outlining this offer. As far as I can recall, I haven’t returned anything with eBay/PayPal, so I don’t know if that factors in on how they target these promotions.

Activation is simple
Activation is simple, I just guinea-pigged (verb) myself for it. You click on the blue button, login with your PayPal account, and you are activated. The screen simply changes to this after you activate:

paypal_return_shipping

I don’t have any returns or returnable items, so I can’t test it any further at this point in time.

Circuit City is making a comeback with new owners

This flashback becomes a flash forward! Circuit City is coming back later in 2016. Two New York area based money people bought the company name and related assets from the Tigerdirect parent company late last year. The new company will have both a website and brick and mortar stores, with some focus on millenials. Details of this development at TWICE (via Engadget).

Amazon starts tagging International Versions of products

Amazon, like eBay and Rakuten and others, is an open marketplace, and such it has more risks since literally anyone can sell items on their website. Unlike closed marketplaces where the retailer is the only one offering an item. I’ve been saying for many years that Amazon and eBay have not done enough to help consumers make informed decisions. Partly perhaps because it’s very hard to measure sales that don’t happen versus sales that actually happen. So if something cannot be measured, it can often be prioritized much lower than tangible.

Regardless, to cut a long story short, Amazon has began tagging “International Versions” of products. Here is an example of the Nikon Coolpix L340 and another example of a bundled kit of the same item. An annotated screenshot shot of the tag is right below:

international_versions_At_amazon

This is definitely a step in the right direction, however, one should not make additional assumptions. This does not mean that items without the tag are all USA warranty items. It only means that items with the tag are International Versions. On the main USA-version page of an item, you can still have a mix of new, imported, refurbished and used by Amazon itself, featured sellers, and everybody else on the internet with an Amazon seller account. Amazon itself is an authorized dealers for almost all the items they sell. And there is a number of well-known third-party sellers there that are authorized dealers (Adorama, Huppins/OneCall, etc). So you still have to pay attention to the actual seller, and if it’s not a familiar or well-known seller, it is very prudent to still research them to your satisfaction.

Another distinction that may not be obvious to those who rarely shop at Amazon is that “fulfilled by Amazon” is eligible for Prime shipping and you get Amazon Customer Support, however, for warranty purposes, it does not “transfer” authorized dealer status. “Fulfilled by Amazon” simply means that a seller sent a box of things to an Amazon Warehouse and when you buy those items, they get processed from the Amazon Warehouse, instead of the seller’s facilities. A manufacturer can still decline warranty service if that particular seller is not authorized.

More commentary on these matters by S.W. Anderson in the Comments section of a previous imported item post.

PSA: The OfficeDepot/OfficeMax Duracell Rewards are now in your accounts

If you participated in the Office Depot and Office Max Duracell AA/AAA Free-After-Rewards promotions that began on Black Friday, check your Office Depot Rewards account online. The Duracell Bonus Rewards Bucks have been loaded as of 1/13/16. I only purchased the ones on Black Friday, so I don’t know if the rest of the weeks are also there, or just the first week. The offer was good two per week from Black Friday until the last week of December. Click all the way through to “View My Reward Certificates” if you don’t see them in the summary page on the right-hand side.

Adorama Clearance Sale (over 4200 items)

It’s the start of a new year, and it is often the case, retailers start their clearance sales. Adorama’s current Clearance Sale features over 4200 items. You can filter them using the various sub-categories on the left hand side of that page, eg Cameras, Lenses, Lighting, Tripods, Albums, and such. Due to time and multi-threading constraints, I cannot at the moment go through the whole inventory, so this is a DIY adventure πŸ™‚

PSA: Tigerdirect: No Returns, No Refunds, No Exchanges

Please note for purchases made 12/24/15 and later at Tigerdirect’s website, all sales are final. There will be no returns, no refunds, no exchanges. If a product is covered by a manufacturer warranty, any issues with the product must needs be addressed through the manufacturer’s warranty. This is posted on the Tigerdirect’s Return Policy page.

Trendspotting: Fuji Instax and GoPro

In a very long press release, Amazon revealed a number of tangible and semi-tangible factoids about their Black Friday 2015 Holiday shopping season. The camera and photo segment there reveals that the Fuji Instax (instant film camera), the GoPro Hero4 Silver, and its AB headstrap mount were their top selling items under the Camera and Photo category…

It is interesting to see how things change for the mythical average consumer. A few years ago, every techie wanted to have a dSLR to call his/her own, and the various tech blogs were heavily covering the latest hot cameras du jour. Now it seems the average mythical person wants an instant film camera and an action camera :)… The retro theme was also there in Audio, a turntable was ahead of a classic A/V receiver and a fancy-techie SONOS player :)…

Another interesting factoid, “Members worldwide uploaded more than a billion photos for free with Prime Photos this holiday.”. They certainly did not do that with Kindle Fire Phones, so the app must be popular with other devices πŸ™‚ [remember, if you are a Prime member, you automatically get unlimited Cloud Photos!]

PayPal: your purchases are protected (except when they are not)

As we get closer to the holiday shopping season (Black Friday is just a month away), PayPal is trying to increase consumer’s confidence in paying with Paypal for more and more of their purchases. So their latest confidence-boosting email perhaps distills how some consumers feel about their PayPal protections.

Annotated screenshot crop from their latest email below. To paraphrase, your purchases are protected, except when they are not πŸ™‚

paypal_protection

Caution when buying Camera Gear from Jet.com

Jet.com is trying to inject some new energy and ideas in the world of online shopping, and they have been getting more funding, encouraging further experimentation. However, when it comes to buying capital/investment type of gear (eg where the manufacturer’s warranty is important, such as camera gear), it’s a big risk. Why?

Jet, unlike other sellers with open-marketplaces (such as eBay, Rakuten, NewEgg, Walmart, Amazon, Best Buy), does not tell you who the seller is before you order. You don’t have to bother figuring it out or pick a particular seller from a long list or incur additional shipping fees for items sold by the 3rd-party sellers (as opposed to the “home team”). That’s nice and convenient for household items (you are probably not going to use the manufacturer’s warranty on the kitchen towels!).

However what is a plus for small purchases, becomes a big negative for things like camera gear. Because not all marketplace sellers are equal, and only some of them are authorized by the manufacturers, you have no idea whether you are getting an authorized-USA product or a grey-market product before you order. Considering all the shenanigans we know (and not love) about camera gear selling, and some sellers are less reputable and reliable than others, this is a big wild card and risk.

Retailers: Target now price-matching many others

As of October 1st (2015), Target is now price-matching a number of online and offline retailers, including Amazon, NewEgg, Best Buy, Sears, Walmart, Costco, and more. Details via The Consumerist.

Post Mortem on Prime Day

Hype is a double edged sword, and just like others before (and probably many more in the future) Amazon found out the hard way. After an unprecedented amount of hype (especially by Amazon’s fairly low key standards), Prime Day arrived, and it did not live to that level of hype. With that hype level, probably anything short of $100 iPads under every chair (stand-in for very popular fast-selling item offered at a crazy discount), would have generated varying levels of disappointment.

The internet had its fun with #PrimeDayFail quips (see some of them assembled at Heavy and Gizmodo among many others).

More after the jump since this is a “meta” post. It is a long boring post, it can help you fall asleep and you don’t need a prescription for it πŸ™‚

[Read more…]

Prime Hack (YMMV): have Camera Gear Hand-Delivered to your by AmazonFresh with One Hour Delivery windows

This is a YMMV hack. Success depends on the following:

  • AmazonFresh (the grocery delivery service) must be available in your region
  • the Camera Gear you want must be available at your local Amazon facility
  • you have a Prime membership (or 30 day Free Trial) or Prime Fresh membership

ARE YOU FROZEN OUT OF YOUR MIND?
AmazonFresh is Amazon’s fresh produce and grocery delivery service. It delivers frozen and refrigerated and room temperature foods. But that’s not all. It also delivers a number of items that are available at nearby Amazon warehouses. This includes all kinds of things (books, movies, office supplies, etc), including cameras, lenses and other related accessories.

Because it is geographically limited, only items that are available and in-stock at the Fresh facility can be delivered this way. To find out what’s available, use the search bar at fresh.amazon.com. You can login using your regular Amazon account. A quick search found things like a variety of Canon and Nikon and Sigma and Tamron lenses, the Sony a7S, etc. Again, this is YMMV because it depends on what is physically available right now at your local warehouse.

I FOUND the CAMERA GEAR I WANT to BUY – NOW WHAT?
You can order AmazonFresh items two ways:

  1. you have an Amazon Prime membership ($100/year), delivery is $8 flat on orders of $50+
  2. you have an AmazonFresh membership ($300/year), delivery is free on orders $50+

It won’t let you place an order under $50, which is not a problem for most cameras and lenses.

Add the items of interest to your shopping cart. You don’t even have to have any groceries, but it may be hard to resist the temptation of a new camera or lens without some celebratory Ben and Jerry πŸ™‚

DELIVERY OPTIONS
You have two options for scheduled delivery:

  1. attended delivery – handed to your IN PERSON – you have One Hour Delivery windows YOU select
  2. unattended delivery with 3 hour windows (eg from 7am to 10am) – they will drop it off at your doorstop or per the instructions you leave them. They won’t bother you unless requested or required (eg alcohol)

YOU schedule the time and date based on availability. You get a schedule widget that shows the dates and times available. You pick what you like from the open spots. Below you see an annotated screenshot for the Attended Delivery (delivered to you in person). Notice the lovely One Hour Delivery windows. No longer need to take a day off or take a sick day or do any other logistical or sociopolitical maneuvering.

amazonfresh_delivery_windows

TESTING THIS
Being a poor blogger, I couldn’t afford to buy a Sony a7S or a Canon f2.8 zoom lens to test this. So instead I picked a mix of frozen foods, refrigerated foods, room temperature foods and non-foods (such as memory card and phone case and yellow sticky notes).

With unattended delivery, they all arrived, in three bags, which each major temperature-dependent product category getting its own bag. Frozen foods with dry ice in their own outer AmazonFresh bag. Refrigerated foods with dry ice in their own bag. Room temperature foods and non-food items in their own bag. The frozen/refrigerated items come in a recyclable and dissambleable lightweight poly-something box. All items inside the outer bags/boxes have another level of protection, they are inside see-through kitchen bags per temperature category. The packaging material, you can reuse, recycle or leave out for Fresh to pickup on your next delivery (if you do a future delivery and if you remember). There’s no fee or deposit for the packaging material.

Amazon Prime MAY expand to include Free 2-Day Shipping from some Third-Party Merchants

According to sources at Recode, Amazon may be planning to expand the Prime 2-day shipping benefits to include products shipped directly by select 3rd-party merchants, without the items having to be physically present at an Amazon Warehouse or facility. It is a delicate dance, since Amazon and the 3rd-party merchants will have to negotiate how the actual shipping cost is paid, and the merchants would have to trade-off losing direct sales on their website from regular customers who instead opt for the free 2-day Prime shipping.

Amazon has been adding more features to its Prime service, but the new additions were not shipping related (Cloud Photos, Music, Radio, Video, Kindle First, eBook Lending library, 30 minute early access to deals, etc). In fact, a few years ago, they pulled back on the free 2-day shipping benefits by putting select low-priced items (typically $5 or less) under the Add-On Program, requiring Prime members to place an order of $25 or more before the shopping cart would allow them to buy the darned things (and you can’t pay shipping out of your own pocket for Add-On items even if you beg and plead with the shopping cart).

But perhaps Amazon’s hand may be forced by changes in the marketplace too, specifically on the shipping front, not the ever-expanding list of non-shipping benefits. Shoprunner continues to recruit online retailers for a meta-free-shipping service (includes the official Pentax and Casio stores, NewEgg, Tiger, Staples but not any camera-centric retailers), and has various promotions for discounted or free service. For example, some American Express credit cards include a free Shoprunner service.

Even though NewEgg participates in Shoprunner, they also have their own NewEgg Premier service that goes for $50 per year and offers free 3-day or less shipping. And Walmart is making progress towards their own $50/year free shipping service.

eBay YMMV (A15-19): free auction-style listings (up to 500)

This is a reverse deal of sorts: if you have camera gear you want to sell to fund more gear purchases (or any other items for any other reasons), eBay is running a targeted offer by email and/or the eBay Messages. Between April 15-19 in 2015, you can post up to 500 free auction-style listings. You won’t pay the listing fee during this promotion, but obviously you still pay the other feeBay fees. You must click through to activate the promotion, it is not automatically activated. Check emails and messages to see if you qualify.

Nov 8 at 1-4pm Local Time at Best Buy stores: Special holiday shopping event

This is a YMMV promotion. On Saturday November 8 in 2014, between 1pm and 4pm local time, select Best Buy brick and mortar stores are going to be having a Special Holiday Shopping Events. They will have special promotions on select products along with demos and “experts” and such. They have a menu over there that you can use to find out which stores are participating in this. I have no way of knowing what is going to be offered, so it’s a curiosity-YMMV.

PayPal increases time for Buyers to file disputes from 45 to 180 days [effective 11/18/14]

Just in time for Black Friday shopping (new policy effective November 18 in 2014), PayPal is updating their Policy with some changes. The most notable from a buyer’s perspective, they are increasing the window to file disputes for undelivered or not-as-described items from 45 to 180 days. Check your email registered with PayPal for an email message describing these… Cut and paste of the relevant parts below…

“+ We’re increasing the time for buyers to file merchandise disputes (Item Not Received and Significantly Not as Described) from 45 days to 180 days.
+ We’re extending buyer protection to include item not received claims for custom made products.”

PayPal is splitting up from eBay at some point in 2015. I don’t know if the split factored in the decision to make this buyer-friendly change in policy.