A brief follow up to Tuesday’s post on Amazon’s Add-on Items. Recall that was the program that keeps Amazon’s Prime customers from ordering pesky small items without compiling them into bigger orders. If Amazon is willing to limit what they will do at the low end, are they also limiting what one can do at the high end? Is there something so big and so bulky that they won’t ship it for free? According to MarketWatch, apparently the answer is “no” (The elephant in Amazon’s mail room, Nov 28).
While sending off something as a light as an 0.8-ounce pack of feathers doesn’t cost the company much, analysts say Amazon may lose hundreds of dollars covering the cost of lugging around heftier items, such as 149-pound sofabeds or 300-pound treadmills. Shoppers, on the other hand, can more than make up for that $79 Amazon Prime enrollment fee with a single purchase.
“It’s really an amazing deal,” says Amazon spokeswoman Pia Arthur, even if the heaviest items sometimes have to be handled by “specialty shippers” instead of UPS or FedEx and can’t always be delivered within the usual two-day time frame. …
So what’s the heaviest item Amazon will ship for free? The company declined to say, but the makers of a 1,509-pound safe (shipping weight: 1,672 pounds) claim the prize for biggest bang for one’s 79 bucks. …
The Cannon Commander Series 54 is designed by Cannon Safe to hold up to 48 guns, but can also be used to protect jewelry and important documents. It stands 6-feet tall, features a 5.75-inch thick steel door with 13 locking bolts and sells for $3,486.57 on Amazon.
“We charge customers around $700 to ship this safe, but when they buy it through Amazon they get it shipped for free,” says Pasquale Murena, marketing manager for Cannon Safe. “As a result, we get orders through Amazon every day.” In fact, Amazon will pick up the tab for shipping the safe even for non-Prime members, if they are willing to wait a few extra days for delivery. Like many items priced over $25, it qualifies for “Super Saver Shipping,” which usually take five to eight days to arrive.
It is an interesting paradox that they are willing to limit Mickey Mouse orders on the one hand but not elephant orders on the other. One suspect that there are two things in play. One is that small nuisance orders are much more common while uber-heavy orders are usually for expensive item and sold relatively infrequently. The second is that they can probably say with a straight face that creating Add-on Items didn’t change the terms for Prime customers. After all, Prime customers are not explicitly singled out. They don’t sell those items to anyone unless they are part of a bundle. To ex post limit Prime to items not requiring specialty shipping would be explicitly altering the terms. Of course, why Prime wasn’t defined that way from the get-go is its own mystery.