Amazon has a pretty sweet, semi-secret perk for Prime members: If your package isn't delivered by the "guaranteed delivery date," even if it's late by just a few minutes, you can request a free one-month extension to your membership. Sounds too good to be true, but that's what one Redditor discovered simply by reading the fine print most of us just overlook.
In fact, you can request a Prime extension up to 12 times a year. So if you order a lot and your deliveries are frequently late, then you could end up receiving a full year of Amazon Prime for free, simply by asking! There are restrictions, of course, but most of them simply require the order meet some obvious stipulations, and almost all regular orders are eligible for this courtesy.
We know what you're thinking: "Yeah, but will Amazon really honor it?" or "How hard is it to actually get?!"
DealNews Tested and Confirmed — Twice
Well, it just so happens that right after we heard about this policy, our order of Spider-Man Printed Duct Tape didn't arrive on time. (What? Why are you chortling?)
We decided to do some hands-on investigating! We sent this email to customer service:
"Hello! My order, #XXX-XXXXXXX-XXXXXXX, was scheduled for delivery on the 18th, however, it has not arrived. I saw that Amazon will extend a Prime membership by a month if a package misses its delivery date. Am I eligible for that extension for this order not arriving on time?"
You can probably tell by our phrasing that we felt a little bit guilty about asking for this extension. Why would Amazon give us a free month over something as silly as Spider-Man Duct Tape?! And furthermore, when we sent that email, the delivery was only late by an hour and a half. (We wanted to see how closely Amazon stuck to that "promised delivery date.") But lo and behold, the very next morning, this email was waiting for us in our inbox:
"Hello, I'm sorry to hear your 'Duck Brand 280905 Spider-Man Printed Duct Tape' didn't arrive by the estimated delivery date of December 18, 2013. This usually doesn't happen. To help make up for the inconvenience, I've extended your Amazon Prime membership by one month. The membership will now renew on September 2, 2014.
"In my experience, late packages arrive not long after the date listed. Please wait a little longer, until December 20, 2013, before requesting a refund or replacement. Otherwise, you might have to return a package. We hope to see you again soon."
Well, Amazon, you will see us again... and again and again — for an extra month!
And to prove it was no fluke, mere days after the above incident, another package of ours arrived late and we decided to push our luck by requesting the extension again. And again, it was granted! Two delayed packages, two one-month Prime extensions!
If you're not an Amazon Prime member, you're not completely out of luck. Using the same policy, you can have your shipping fees refunded for the tardy item. It's not a month of free shipping, but it's not a bad apology for a late item, either.
(Mostly) Success for DealNews Readers
The last time we published this information, several DealNews readers commented to tell us they have received an extension of Prime because of a delivery delay, and some used the exact wording suggested here when contacting Amazon. In fact, user stvmtchll got an apology and one-month extension just four minutes after emailing customer service.
A few readers did not get a free extension. In those cases, however, they were still compensated. User runchadrun received a refund of the delivery fee, and reader vrsick was offered a $15 promotional certificate or 20% off the Prime membership price; vrsick opted for the $15 certificate.
What about when the delivery goes through the U.S. Postal Service and gets to the post office by the delivery date, but not to your home? User sas300zx talked about often getting later deliveries when the post office is involved. Though Amazon usually grants the extra month, "On the rare occasion when the customer service rep doesn't offer the extension, I point out that delivering to the PO is not delivering to me, and that does the trick," sas300zx noted.
Beware "Prime Abuse"
It seems that Amazon might be cutting back on this perk as it becomes more well known. There's not exactly a consensus, but we've received mixed reports from users who were denied their extra month of Prime — and some who even had their accounts suspended for requesting too many extensions.
What about now, readers? Have any of you tried to request an extra month of Prime recently? Did you have a different experience? Do you feel guilty asking for the extension even though it's well within your rights — and Amazon's policy — to ask for it? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.