Back in August, eCommerceBytes broke the news that Amazon would be testing a new free shipping threshold, raising the minimum from $25 to $35. Although Amazon confirmed the change, it said that it was only testing the new minimum in select markets.
But now, two months later, most (if not all) non-Prime users seem to be paying at least $35 to receive free shipping, according to reports from a recent Reddit thread.
In the thread, most of the commenters slammed Amazon for the change, with many saying that the e-commerce giant has gone downhill.
“I wonder if enough people don't buy things, maybe they'll change the policy,” the original poster writes. “For me, the bottom line is that I won't pay for shipping. If that means I don't buy anything, then OK.”
Knockoffs and Counterfeit Goods
Besides the minimum shipping increase, the main complaint is that the Amazon marketplace has been flooded with “cheap knockoff products” and “counterfeit goods.” Meanwhile, prices on the platform aren’t competitive anymore, consumers say.
The former claim is borne out in multiple reports from outlets like the Wall Street Journal, the Verge, and CNBC, which have found sellers on Amazon peddling counterfeit, banned, mislabeled, unsafe, and expired products. (For a comprehensive overview, check out Wirecutter’s coverage of fake products).
“The issue with counterfeit items is being slept on, in my opinion. What other allegedly reputable business is allowed to sell fake products that could potentially harm you with impunity?” a Redditor writes. They add that they wouldn’t accept gifts purchased on Amazon for their newborn “due to their pervasive counterfeit issue.”
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Is Amazon’s Golden Age Over?
Although Amazon’s most recent earnings report showed that the company’s sales grew by 11% year-over-year, there are signs that Prime membership sign-ups may have plateaued. According to a report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP), Amazon did not increase its Prime membership total for the first six months of 2022. CIRP attributes this trend to three main factors:
Tightened consumer spending
Competition from Walmart+ and other online retailers
Market saturation in the U.S.
Amazon has said that CIRP’s estimates are wrong.
“Just because an analyst firm reports something doesn’t make it true or fact, and in this case, the research is not accurate,” said Amazon spokesperson Maggie Sivon in a statement to Gizmodo. “Prime membership continues to grow as the value members receive continues to increase.”
Cheapism reached out to Amazon for comment and will update if we hear back.