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, now you'll be lucky to receive a small credit from Amazon if your package doesn't arrive on time.
No More Free Amazon Prime?
Amazon now refunds shipping fees if a package doesn't arrive by the guaranteed delivery date, according to the company's policy on the topic.
The language is a little vague, though, as Amazon states, "If we provide a guaranteed delivery date on the checkout page, your shipping fees may be refunded if we miss our promised delivery date." This phrasing indicates you might have to jump through hoops to receive a mediocre appeasement. Bottom line: It might not be worth your time.
But how does the policy change apply to Prime members? They used to be eligible for a free 1-month Prime extension, and they already get free shipping in most cases. DealNews readers say Amazon has told them they could receive between $5 and $10 in promotional credit now, depending on the value of the items that arrive late. But when Prime members do need to pay for delivery, shipping fees can be as low as $2.99. So it's not guaranteed you'll receive that higher credit.
How Do You Get a Shipping Refund From Amazon?
Your order has to meet several requirements if you want to qualify for a shipping refund. For one, you have to place the order before the "order within" window has closed. And if your order includes products that aren't eligible for guaranteed delivery, you must choose "Ship my items as they become available" when placing your order. Amazon also notes the guarantee isn't valid when situations arise that are beyond its control. It states that "delivery scans might be inaccurate," as well — which could theoretically absolve Amazon of any blame in many cases.
Importantly, Amazon 2-day shipping could also take longer than you'd think. Most customers assume the clock starts as soon as they place an order, but that's not true. In fact, Amazon notes that if items aren't in stock or otherwise immediately available, the 2-day period doesn't start until the items actually ship.
Case in point: User dmiles521 was told that if an item was in stock and Prime eligible, and shipped a week after the order date, as long as it arrived within two business days, it would still count as meeting the 2-day shipping guarantee. Meaning it wouldn't be eligible for a refund.
How Did the Old Amazon Prime Policy Die?
Amazon used to provide Prime members with a free month of the subscription service if a package didn't arrive by its guaranteed delivery date. Whether by calling, emailing, or live chatting, our readers successfully received an extension in several cases. Some boasted about getting six months or even a full year for free due to this perk. However, in July 2017, we began to see complaints that the policy was no longer being honored.
In the comments of a previous DealNews article, several users spoke out about their issues. For example, in March 2018, user shoemkr27 noted they didn't outright receive a free month of Prime after inquiring about it, but they were credited with $13 to cover the cost of another month of the service.
Six months later, user gck105 said they were offered a $5 promotional code rather than a free month of Prime. And user jackson.austinson reported in November 2018 that the $5 promotional credit did seem to be the most popular measure taken, although they noted Amazon could increase the credit to $10 or $15 in some circumstances.
Always Be Polite
Don't expect Amazon to refund any shipping fees easily. You'll still need to contact Amazon, and you might have to be persistent. But remember to be polite! One user told us that pushing too much can backfire; apparently certain Amazon customer service reps aren't opposed to closing user accounts. Other users have reported that Amazon will argue about the guaranteed delivery date, stating it was suggested or expected, and therefore not guaranteed. Be prepared to not receive any compensation for your trouble, and you'll be pleasantly surprised if you do.
Readers, what are your thoughts on Amazon's delivery policy change? What has your experience been like since the new policy began? Let us know in the comments below!