Amazon Quietly Killed a Popular Prime Shipping Perk

The e-commerce giant used to give you a free month of Prime if your order arrived late. But now that policy is missing from Amazon's site.
Amazon Prime shipping

Amazon offers many perks to people who participate in its Prime program. But now, one of the better (albeit lesser-known) Prime benefits has gone missing.

The online giant used to offer members an extra month of Prime for free if an order with a guaranteed delivery date arrived late. Unfortunately, Amazon appears to have scrubbed this policy from its site. Worst of all, it's not clear what Prime members will get instead.

Amazon Will Refund Shipping Fees

The company's "Guaranteed Delivery" policy states that if Amazon provides a guaranteed delivery date on the checkout page, and subsequently misses said date, it may refund your shipping fees. While this policy could seem reasonable to people who aren't Prime members, it's confusing to those who are.

Prime members don't typically pay for shipping, so it's not clear what they'll receive as compensation for a late 'guaranteed' delivery.

As a general rule, after all, Prime members don't pay for shipping when they choose 2-day, no-rush, or standard shipping, or release-date delivery. If they require expedited shipping — whether it's same-day, 2-hour, 1-day, or Saturday delivery — they may be charged from $2.99, depending on the method. In those cases, it makes sense that Prime members could receive a refund for their expedited shipping costs. Otherwise, it's not clear what Prime members will receive as compensation for a late "guaranteed" delivery.

No More Prime Extensions

Before these changes occurred, Amazon offered Prime members an extra month of the service for free if a package arrived late. Under this old policy, Prime members only had to contact Amazon, provide the relevant order number, and politely ask for a free month. The Prime extension was up to the discretion of the customer service agent, but most of the time it was granted, as long as the customer hadn't been abusing the policy.

Non-Prime members could get their shipping fees refunded instead. Clearly, this isn't a new policy Amazon has implemented, but it does make us wonder how Prime members will be compensated for packages that arrive past the guaranteed delivery date.

A Lot of Requirements Must Be Met

Receiving a refund for a late package might sound easy, but a ton of conditions must be met in order to qualify for that money. These include obvious criteria like choosing the shipping method advertised on the product page and ensuring your order is being delivered to an eligible address. But some requirements are beyond the shopper's control, such as when their credit or debit card is charged.

SEE ALSO: What Does Amazon Prime Cost, and Can You Get It Cheaper?

Amazon also notes that this guarantee won't apply in the event of unforeseen circumstances like worker strikes or inclement weather. Additionally, it states that "delivery scans might be inaccurate," which could be one more hurdle someone must overcome to receive a refund.

Readers, what have your experiences been recently with Amazon deliveries? Has Amazon provided you with another type of compensation for a late package? Let us know in the comments below!

Senior Staff Writer

Julie joined DealNews in 2015. Her work has been featured on MSN, Business Insider, Lifehacker, The Motley Fool, GoBankingRates, and Moneyish. In her spare time, she enjoys baking sweets, reading thrillers, and listening to an ever-growing list of podcasts.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. 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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Can confirm they no longer offer it, as a package I had ordered for a birthday never made it on the day, despite being shipped in time. Apparently it's been "in transit" for five days... Called to cancel it and just order something else and when I asked for the free month I was told this was no longer a thing and that instead I would be getting $5 credit on items sold by Amazon (which I never buy). Useless. I'm canceling prime and just going to use the free standard shipping option.
Yep, those white van Amazon-contracted deliveries are haphazard.

But based upon the way they inefficiently drive back and forth by our house, even circling our block before finally stopping says a lot about their contractors.

The personal car contractors are sometimes but not always more reliable.

Amazon must really be feeling delivery cost pressures to trash their "good name" with these shabby delivery processes.
Everyone's talking about the USPS deliveries, but I've had more issues with the Amazon delivery people, freaking leaving packages on my planter or against plants on my step, breaking and crushing some of them, the freaking morons. ZERO common sense. USPS isn't amazing in that department either, but at least they try to be considerate in tucking packages away and not destroying things on my front step in the process.
i've been a victim of this unfair policy. I ordered an item via amazon and paid for next day shipping, the item did not ship till about a week later.

I contacted amazon about this, bearing in mind that i had a prime subscription with two day free shipping but opted to pay for next day delivery. In their defence, the Amazon rep told me that next day delivery starts to count when the item ships and not when the item was purchased!

You can imagine the expression on my face when i heard this!!!
It's Amazon's prerogative to cut benefits. Enough of that an it encourages customers to more carefully evaluate other sources.

Seems like and Amazon already price-watch each other on so many items.

But then Amazon really should carefully reconsider their use of the words "guaranteed delivery by ##/##/##".

Especially when they don't explicitly state how that guarantee is backed.
I had several problems with USPS as a shipper for Prime; including not delivering a package because they didn't feel it was safe to leave the package and I was home at the time. USPS said they are not required to check if you are home and if the delivery person doesn't feel its's safe to leave the package they don't have to. I contacted Amazon and all of my stuff comes from UPS or FedEx now.
I personally have not had any delays in their promised "2-day shipping".
What I have chronic issues with is the often unmentioned 2-5 day "processing" before they ship it.
I have started seeing this clarified on some products, but it still happens, and Amazon never does anything to address the issue when the item I ordered doesn't show up in 2 days due to extended "processing".
I have been experiencing a different delivery problem. I have a drop box on the side of my house. I have this because I get a lot of packages for both me and my business at home. I put a 150 gallon plastic box on the side of my house that will hold 99% of the stuff I get. There is a small sign on the front of the house that says "please put my packages in the brown box on the right side of my house." UPS, FedEx, and the USPS get it right every day except for the USPS dude on Sundays. My problem is with the contractors who work directly for Amazon.

They constantly leave packages on the front porch, ON the box... anyplace BUT IN THE BOX! I have called Amazon 11 times about this problem. (4 days in a row) The drivers have explicit instructions FROM AMAZON to leave my crap in the box but they can't get it right. Amazon has only offered me $10 in all of my calls about this issue. I give up. I have cut my Amazon orders by 90%.
I never understood paying for "free" shipping in the first place. I'm just more patient about getting stuff.

Also, as a non-Prime customer, I notice now that shipping to Amazon Lockers isn't always free, even when it qualifies for free shipping to another location. I haven't been able to discern yet what's making the difference.
Remember when you shopped at Amazon because it was cheaper? And tax free?

A lot of people take up in Amazon's defense but it's hardly the value it used to be.

Amazon is very good at controlling anything negative. Do they own the internet too?

Do they own Dealnews? They own W00t!
Lindsay Sakraida (DealNews)

It looks like our moderators missed that one comment, so we removed it. Thanks for bringing it to our attention!
I agree with the other comments: I frequently have problems with the USPS. I wish Amazon never started using them.

Also, @hypercore - thanks for joining the conversation; what this section was missing was a troll. Why are you on this site anyways?
I had a package arrive late last week. I asked for the prime membership extension. They told me they were unable to do that. When I asked why, I was told the policy had been changed. I told them I needed the package the day it was supposed to be delivered & asked how they would make it right & they offered me a $10 credit on merchandise that was directly from Amazon. I was good with that but they never actually offered that, I had to ask what the remedy was since they changed the policy.
Got a $5 credit couple of days ago for this situation. Didn't have to ask. Didn't ask for extension though.
correction: "So I"m certainly ..."
Wow, lots of complaining about Amazon's policies. I liked that perk, too, and would be unhappy if it has truly been eliminated. Over the years, I've probably gotten a good 6 to 8 months of extra time, so I certainly going to miss it. At the same time, Amazon's delivery and return policies have been far superior to most other companies. And while I don't want to sound like a cheerleader for a huge corporation that squeezes as much profit as possible from its rank-and-file workforce (including its legions of subcontractors), as a customer, I have almost nothing to complain about. 99% of the products I ordered are delivered on time, and when something is late, Amazon has always provided more than reasonable compensation, even when it really isn't obligated to do so.
There's a reason Bezos is worth $162 billion all while his employees work in sweat shop warehouses! The only way to cure some problems is to not sign up for Prime--hit Bezos and his cronies where it hurts most!
I have experienced every one of these delivery problems. Common denominator? USPS. Won't travel more than .5 mi. beyond the roadside mailbox, require a turn around area, won't open a gate - something UPS and FedEx does without a hitch. An extra large mailbox solved most of the issues & not complaining when they left packages on the roadside helped - even tho some of them "disappeared" and I was refunded. Takes an hour to go the 16 mi. to retrieve my package from the P. O. I am no longer willing to continue this charade. When we can't work out a solution I let Amazon CS know that USPS will be sending it back. CS has always been understanding offering to "fix" it via their shipping dept database (never happened) and adding a month to my membership. The issue continues. I know it's a matter of money but other vendors use UPS and FedEx exclusively. I get good pricing (most time better than Amazon) - there doesn't seem to be a money issue with them. Maybe drone delivery would work for me.
setting third world issues aside for the moment, we in the USA work harder, longer hours, with less time off (and other benefits) than most any other first-world country. as such, we (especially on this site) take seriously the value we get for our dollars. i think there is value in discussing amazon's customer service and follow-through with its guarantees... it is often the default place to shop for many of us and it makes good sense to question whether it still deserves that de-facto position.

so far, when i have contacted amazon customer service, the issue has been resolved to my satisfaction one way or the other, even if i have to suggest the solution. over the years, just a few times has something been damaged or lost; and more often than not they still deliver products sooner than promised, especially when i opt for no-rush delivery. i've got a lot of digital and prime-now credits that i WILL use.
Not really that surprised. Since they began using the USPS in earnest, orders are consistently late, yet far cheaper than other carrier options. Last week an order tracked as delivered, but didn't physically show up until the next day (on-time by Amazon standards, but really one day late), and this week an order tracked "out for delivery" for two days to our physical address before finally being delivered to our PO Box on the third day. My guess is it's what Amazon has to put up with for getting cheap service and exclusive Sunday delivery, but instead of firing the carrier, they make up the difference this way so we all suffer.
Ironic is that a month of Prime is like $7 but they are willing to give a $10 refund or credit. SMH
I got this extra month of PRIME a little over a month ago, by calling, but have had 2 packages since then take longer than 2 days to arrive after shipping. I was told before that you could only do this once a year, but it looks like others have extended additional months beyond that. They really need to offer something, or stop with the promise of 2 day delivery.
Well, nuts..I've added over 6 months of membership via this failed on-time delivery policy in the past. I never asked for it but during exchanges with Amazon customer service re: orders being tardy, it was always offered... or a $10 credit. I've never had to "fight' for some consideration either, it was always freely offered.
Perhaps there's been a big shift in this policy--which is a shame. Meanwhile they've upped the Prime fee to $120 which to me just doesn't justify the benefits, as I couldn't care less about their streaming service--hence if the 2 day delivery promise via Prime items is just wishful thinking--why bother paying the $120 for Prime? I'm out, when my membership expires.
I have used prime for 3+ years i loved the free month for missed packages.
Very interesting....
You also need to be careful now, if this policy has changed, about haggling too much with CS. They apparently aren't afraid to close user accounts.
Well 30 minutes before the guaranteed delivery time I received an email that it may not be delivered and gave me 2 day window..I called got transferred around finally was told prioritize d to Am..gave a certificate They made it appear that I requested a New day.Am came no package did the survey they called offered me 5 dollars will be here evening ...did this help survey I said no you promised Am..5 more dollars did not arrive until evening..somehow on due date it was returned to facility no explanation
Evil Tom
They have never offered me anything when they miss a delivery date. they just don't care. I have tried to reason with them that missed deliveries are costing Amazon millions of dollar in the simplest part of they are paying for two day shipping but not getting it never mind the lost revenue from when I have to go buy something somewhere else. When they tell me it is going to be delivered on Sunday I know it will not be there as every single time half way through the day I will get an attempted delivery notification.
I recently dealt with this issue. I contacted CS because they missed the "guaranteed" delivery date by 3 days on an item that I needed to have delivered on time. The CS rep said that those are only "suggested" or "expected" delivery dates and they can change. After nearly 45 minutes of arguing via online text/chat about the definitions of words and what they mean, the CS rep reluctantly granted me a $10 credit (which is the same as 1 month of Prime at the current annual rate). The time wasted for the argument wasn't worth it; I think Amazon is hoping people will just give up and not argue. The problem is that when businesses fail to meet customer expectations (and especially when CS gets belligerent with customers), customers will look for alternatives.
Via Chat, they gave me a $5 credit on future purchase. (Small Prime order via UPS was 3 days late.) That was worthwhile!
Just at a time when they have more delivery issues than ever they do this. I average about 700 orders a year and have seen many more delivery delays for no apparent reason. Even a few times when they adjusted the promised delivery date AFTER the order was made and then claimed they met the delivery date. When arguing with CS about the free month they flat out refused and offered me a 5$ coupon on a 150$ item that they did not deliver on time. It's still a good deal with so many orders done right but Amazon beware: the more you force me to get items at other shops when you fail me, the more likely I'll be shopping there in the future. ACE hardware ended up carrying the same item and they price matched me AND applied a 10% coupon...
Doesn't sound like much of a guarantee anymore.
I have some insight on this, as I just went through this process yesterday. My item was returned to Amazon by USPS due to damaged packaging, so it didn't arrive at all. It's unclear if it left Amazon damaged, or was damaged in shipment. Anyway, the rep did not offer a free month of Prime automatically, as has always happened before when they failed to meet the 2-day timeframe. In this case, he blamed USPS rather than outright said that their policy had changed. He offered a refund and expedited shipping on another order of the same item (one day instead of two? big whoop) I pointed out that I had only enrolled in Prime to get this one item in two days, which had not occurred. He persisted somewhat but did eventually refund my Prime fees. They are still committed to customer service. I would note that it can be difficult for them to meet their deadlines on "Warehouse" items due to logistics.
I just chatted with Amazon and they say that they will offer a promo certificate of between $5 and $10 (depending on the value of the item) for delayed deliveries of free prime shipping items. (Also, if the customer prefers to return an item, then you could do if within 30 days from the delivery date.)
The last time a package arrived late (and missing an item), they gave me a decent partial refund for the error but did not offer the usual Prime extension. I imagine that will be the new thing.

I suspect that, with their overwhelming of all the shipping services, that Amazon is increasingly finding that much of this guarantee was totally beyond their control.
To make matters worse, I'm getting more and more emails from them late on the promised delivery day saying "Delivery was attempted" when, in fact, I had been home all day and there was no attempted delivery. And if you call them about it, they don't even care any more. Perhaps they need to spend less time working on drone delivery and straighten out the delivery process they are already using.
How is Jeff Bezos supposed to get to Mars if Amazon keeps this perk? The free month of Prime will probably be replaced by a $1.00 shipping credit for your next Prime Pantry order or some other nonsense.