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Some Shoppers Claim That Amazon Has Accused Them of 'Prime Abuse'

Prime users who ask for a 1-month extension of their membership too many times might be denied — or get scolded by a customer service rep.
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Amazon Prime

Our recent survey confirmed that the primary reason people become Amazon Prime members is to get free 2-day shipping. The convenience is unparalleled: it's available for all eligible orders no matter how small. What's more, it's guaranteed! If your Prime order arrives late, you can contact customer service and get a one-month extension on your Prime membership. Supposedly, you can get this extension up to 12 times a year.

Or so Amazon claims. Several of our readers have shared experiences with us, detailing how they were penalized by Amazon because they had reportedly requested a free month too many times, despite the fact that they did indeed have late deliveries and hadn't yet reached that cap. These readers claim that Amazon denied them the additional free months of Prime.

So what's going on? We took a closer look at Amazon's policy and these reader reports.

Prime Perks Are Becoming More Well Known

Many Prime members are unaware of the lateness stipulation, so we've explained how to get your free Prime extension if you've had a late delivery. We also recently pointed out all the other overlooked Prime perks you can get.

In response to those articles, we received a surprisingly large number of comments from our readers letting us know that they've run into problems getting Amazon to honor this guarantee.

Members Get Inconsistent Results

Amazon is known for having standout customer service, so you might think that the store would be very clear and consistent about how it handles such requests due to late delivery. But as both our own experience and the comments of our readers has shown, that doesn't seem to always be the case.

User tiner73 told us, you "must ask for it" if you want to get the free extension, but Premnarayandas said of the six times they called to complain, they received four extensions without directly asking for it. In our own tests, we asked twice and both times received a 1-month extension.

SEE ALSO: Customers Are NOT Pleased With the Amazon Free Shipping Increase

Whether Amazon honors its own policy seems to be up to the customer service rep who takes your call. While user patriciae has asked for a 1-month extension six times and has never been denied, fbara was refused both of the two extensions requested. Perhaps the policy is indeed malleable to what kind of customer you are to Amazon — and how much you spend — as some readers have posited.

He Was Told He Was Committing "Prime Abuse"

Indeed, Amazon customer service reps seem confused about the company's stated guarantee. When Computer Parts Guy directly asked how many extensions a Prime member can receive, he was told it was up to four per year, which contradicts Amazon's limit of 12 as it appears on the website.

Similarly, Hoarding Gene was told he was committing "Prime abuse" when he asked for an extension for the fourth time after receiving a late shipment. And Xpalido says that his membership was actually cancelled after getting an extension too many times, but offered no specific details.

We emailed Amazon's public relations department to get some clarity on the issue, but haven't received a response. As such, the best advice we can offer is to refer your customer service rep to Amazon's written policy if they refuse your extension, but tread lightly after three or more requests.

Readers, have you tried to get an extra month of Prime after receiving a late shipment? Did you run into problems? Tell us all about your experience in the comments below.

Senior Staff Writer

Stephen Slaybaugh is a Brooklyn-based writer with more than 20 years experience. In addition to his work for DealNews, he publishes The Agit Reader music webzine and has written for The Village Voice, Paste, The Big Takeover, and many other publications.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Unless marked as a "Sponsored Deal," the opinions expressed here are those of the author and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the companies mentioned. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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32 comments
chadley25
I'm not sure why any customer would need to "tread lightly" after only three requests if the company's stated policy is up to 12 per year. I'm all for not abusing a generous policy and definitely against fraudulent claims, but it seems that legitimate cases are being dealt with inconsistently by Amazon, and at times inappropriately. I suppose for a company that large, it's bound to happen, though.
SweetSurrenda
Who do you think pays for YOUR prime shipping if you don't? Those of us who understand a shipping delay every once in a while. Is there any company out there that does a better job with shipping? customer service? returns? prices in general? promotions? So when we all have to pay $120-$150 per year for prime and they discontinue this little loophole you're all exploiting, thank yourselves
vad1
I received a very rude warning letter from Amazon threatening to cancel my Prime membership for returning DAMAGED goods . The packages and internal items were clearly damaged (with photo evidence supplied to both Amazon and UPS), but I was the one who PAID the Prime surcharge and was treated like an unwanted STD. Good bye Amazon -- there are better alternatives; we will not be shopping with Amazon ever again despite being a customer for more than ten years.

We canceled our Prime membership and have not looked back since. Just TERRIBLE customer service and for which we pay $99 a year! Shame on Amazon.
bailey1985
I order so much stuff on amazon that I don't really notice when something is late unless there was a specific timeline I actually needed it. The first time this happened I was given the free month no questions asked. The second time (about a year later) they said no.
FMinMI
Ask twice during this years 'cycle' (now ending in September). Had zero issues. The customer service rep apologized for the inconvenience, then told me the new expiration date of my Prime membership. Could have asked once again in March but it was when they had weather issues on the east coast where the item was coming from, so it didn't feel right to ding Amazon for the delay...
BlueOak
Another aspect to tightly run companies - they place values on customers, not simply how much you buy, but what you buy. How profitable are you? How much noise to you cause?

The agent sees this profile and determines what you deserve.
BlueOak
After multiple really inconsistent Amazon CS agent experiences, especially with multiple agents on the same case/issue, I concluded the following:

The Amazon Customer Service facilities might be run like Viking ships with a drummer at the front and a task master cracking a whip. And it depends on how experienced agent is and how thick the skin on their back is.

With typical high turnover in that field it is a recipe for inconsistent customer treatment.
Zickzilla
I have never been offered extensions on Prime with late deliveries. On occasion, we have been given $5 credits for delayed delivery. Once, we ordered ear plugs for a concert with 2 day lead time. we were sent a message the following morning m that they would not meet the 2 day delivery deadline. I called customer service and explained my son needed earplugs for a concert the next day. The rep refunded the full amount paid for the earplugs ordered and told us to keep them when they arrived. She also sent alternative earplugs with overnight delivery, all at no charge. Customer service like this will keep me a Prime subscriber. I do wish that Amazon would offer a discount on unlimited Amazon Photo storage (unlimited video and file backups) for Prime Subscribers. When you upgrade to this service, you shouldn't lose the value of the basic Amazon Prime Photo benefit.
maydepot
I've had late shipments before but never asked for any extensions and never offered one. I'll be asking for one from now on!
nickplagman
There's no such thing as a free lunch. The jerks who abuse their awesome customer service are going to ruin it for everyone and already increase costs for all of us. I trust Amazon's judgment when someone's trying to milk the system. They're good at what they do. There's a reason no one can implement anything that comes close to the "honor system," because jerks take advantage.
alex_overlord_
I spend 2-3K on amazon every year for the past 5 or so. For me is a hit or miss when I email about a late package or wrong item delivery. Should I just ask for it directly?
Luke
I have been using Amazon Prime for a long time and have contacted customer service many times and have always been given great service for returns, exchanges and price different refunds without any issues. The Amazon customer service sets the high standards other companies should follow!
mitsured
...though my family placed over 60 orders with Amazon, not including digital, since December 1st. The number of orders might be why I haven't received push back to date. I have also had a handful of returns without any push back...yet.
mitsured
During the month of December it looked as though UPS and USPS could not keep up with Amazon. I received 9 free months of prime for missed 2 day shipping and 1 for a missed 1 day shipping. This along with the 2 I received the month before capped out at 12 months. I did receive push back a 3 times one time being told that with a student prime account I should only receive 6 and a couple other stating that I have already used all 12. When I was advised student members would receive only 6, during a chat discussion, I just provided them the link to the policy and asked them what details I was missing, knowing they could not answer. For the couple times I was told I had already used all 12 I just asked "My renewal month is Aug 15 though as if right now I have only been extended to X month would by renew month be Aug 16 if I used all 12?
My suggestion is to use chat that way you have a rec. discussion & BE NICE
Also I would like to note that I only once spoke to a nonprofessional Amazon rep
DustinM
I must be getting ripped off, I only get a $5 credit.
Sunny12
You should be nice to customer service reps... The nicer you the better chance of getting what you want.
nestormart
The only time I received something late from Amazon I called them and got a 1 month extension. No other complaints.
mrbib
I've not been accused of abusing Prime, but I did get an email from Amazon informing me I had had too many returns, which, if it continued, would be grounds for terminating my Prime account.

I was shocked, since the returns were either for defective merchandise or "Free returns" clothing items that didn't fit. The one return that was "I changed my mind," I paid the $6 return shipping.

I rather wonder if I'm going to renew Prime come August.
HeyTiger
Oh man, I definitely get better results than you described here. I not only get an extension, I often get money back too. My favorite line when negotiating is "Is that the best you can do?" followed by silence. I've gotten 100% refunds, as well as cash back plus a month of prime. My trick is I wait until I have a few orders that were delivered late before contacting them.

Another pro tip, ALWAYS handle your returns on the phone. Sometimes they just refund your money, no need to return anything.
xterra
I was supposed to get my package Monday, it's now Thursday and still no package.
ak359
I had a package arrive later than the 2-day window and while they gave me an extra month after I asked for it, I was told it was a "1-time deal." So maybe their customer care reps need some training on their own policy and how to apply it.
cpwaldner
I have intentionally placed orders late at night in the hopes of the package not arriving within the two day shipping time. If my package is even a day late, I contact customer service through chat and tell them I expected my package yesterday, but it came today. I have gotten 3 Prime extensions so far. I never actually ask for an extension, they have always offered that to me as the resolution. My most recent extension was several months ago now. I almost never get a late package, and not every item I buy on Amazon.com has a 'guaranteed' delivery date, which I assume would be required in order to argue the package was late.
nematoda
I've received two extensions over the past year, but had to ask both times. A third time I asked for an extension, but was instead offered a $5 credit for a future purchase.

There have also been a couple cases where I decided to return a product. I was told I would be given the refund, but that I did not have to ship the product back.
computer parts guy
Thanks Stephen for writing the article and asking amazon to comment. I wish Amazon would also say how much you spend relates to the 2 day shipping guarantee and 1 month membership extension. Like I was told the 4 month extension max via my customer service rep vs. the written 12 month extension is disconcerting.
HarryTuttle
Your article's kinda myopic. The real matter is Amazon's overall decline in service and value. When I first signed up for Prime, it was all very plain and simple - "pay us a nominal fee upfront and we'll give you FREE SHIPPING". And it was good.

Currently, I get access videos (the vast majority of which I have no interest in seeing), I'm suppose to get 2 day shipping (on some stuff anyway), storage space I don't really need, and yahdah, yahdda, yahda.

I now pay twice as much as I once did and the "free shipping" (the prime reason I signed up for Prime) isn't really free AT ALL. If you are able to locate an item you want that is offered as "Prime" you'll almost always find it cheaper non-prime. There's "add-on" items and "Prime Pantry" now that further erode any promised benefit to membership.

It's all just a slide and a squeeze in how Amazon operates to foster their profitability these days. Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining, Amazon !
Lindsay Sakraida (DealNews)
I wonder too if, in addition to what you spend with Amazon, these are also factors as to whether you're denied the guarantee:

1. If the person complaining is the primary account holder or someone who shares the account as a "household member."

2. How egregious the late deliveries are. We've been able to get a free extension for even slightly late items, but maybe if you quibble over the time too much, you're unlikely to get the extension?
WuTang3351
I also think Sleepykat is right about how much you spend. Between my wife and I, we spend $$$$ per year. Whenever I have an issue of a late delivery, and actually have the time to contact them about it, I have received it. It worked 3 times for me, though 2 were before a renewal and 1 after. I also never "call" them, I contact them by chat, and they offer it to me without me even asking once they review the order and see that it was late.
catienza
I didn't know about this policy... BUT I've never had a late delivery so I haven't missed out. I will keep it in mind though.
SeecretSqur1s
As Sleepykat mentioned, it could be related to how much you spend. I spend quite a lot on Amazon and have never had issues with their customer service.
Sleepykat
There have been a few packages of mine late but I never asked for a free month . They always offer me a month when I call to complain about a missing/delivered or late package. It may also be the amount of $ you spend with them. I spend $$$ with them.
Kyser_Soze
I think I live too far from any of Amazon's warehouses to get anything in 2 days. I've never requested a prime extension, I'm gonna have to start!
jim-1
I began tracking (in my spreadsheet) the due dates after reading your previous article on a free month extension (Thanks DealNews!!)). Most of my purchases arrived early, but three were later than promised. Each time, I asked nicely for an extension, and so far I am three for three with no problems yet.
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