Amazon Quietly Killed a Popular Prime Shipping Perk

If your package doesn't arrive on time now, you might get your shipping fees refunded — or a few bucks in promotional credits.
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Amazon Prime shipping

Amazon offers many perks to its Prime program participants. But last fall it did away with one of the bigger benefits — and Prime members aren't happy.

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.

Amazon May Refund Shipping Fees

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.

If your Amazon order arrives late, you could receive between $5 and $10 in promotional credits.

And how does the policy apply to Prime members, specifically? After all, they're the ones who used to be eligible for 1-month extensions and already get free shipping in most cases. As noted by DealNews readers, Amazon has told them they could receive between $5 and $10 in promotional credits 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.

What Conditions Must Be Met?

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 passed. And if your order includes products that aren't eligible for guaranteed delivery, you must choose "Ship my items as they become available" as your shipping preference. 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.

It's important to note that Amazon's 2-day shipping could also take longer than you'd think. Most customers likely 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, Prime eligible, and shipped a week after the order date, as long as it arrived within two business days after that, it would still meet the 2-day shipping requirement. And that means it wouldn't be eligible for a refund.

How Did the Old Prime Policy Work?

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 about the policy no longer being honored.

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

In our post about receiving a free month of Prime, 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.

Be Polite

Don't expect Amazon to refund those shipping fees easily. You'll still need to contact the company, and you might have to be persistent. But remember to be polite! One user told us that pushing too much can backfire, as 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. Just 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!


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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5 comments
jonathan_gleich
Higher Prices -- Lower service - BIG PROFITS
MidwestUS
I agree with AuntBubba that Amazon Prime simply isn't worth the expense for my needs. I don't watch their videos or use it for anything other than the guaranteed 2-day delivery. Last week I ordered some flooring perimeter sealant that sells for the exact same price at one of the big box hardware stores approximately 30 miles from my house. I needed it in three days so thought I would be safe. Five days later each time I called their robot told me in was i the warehouse just about to ship. I messaged them and told them my issue and also told them to cancel the order and close my Amazon Prime account issue me a refund for the balance as it was just renewed. They immediately apologized, sent it by express next day delivery and provided me a $10 credit even after I told them I was not interested in being credited I just want my sealant. I make 4-8 orders from Amazon per year it is foolish for me to remain a Prime member.
Ottoman
They have to pay for all those ambulances Amazon keeps parked outside their warehouses because of the abuse of their workers.
AuntBubba
I just cancelled my prime account. I was finding it to be less of a benefit. Part of me wants to support the local economy also. I will still check prices on Amazon for comparison. But I was finding a lot of bogus reviews, you know.....where the product had 5 star reviews but when you looked at the dates all of the reviews were in a weeks time span. Then there was the bonus of the Prime Video which I found lacking content. My rate went up $20 bucks also. So when "The Marvelous Mrs.Maisel" comes out next year, I will pay for one month, binge watch, shop and then cancel again~
CinciShopper
I use Prime a lot so I guess it's worth the fee but I find that it used to be a lot better in the past than it has been in the last 6 months. I have at least 2 Prime items on order right now that are at least a week overdue.

I live in Cincinnati. (as my screen name says) I live about 15 minutes from the Prime Air hub and right about 100 miles from another major distribution hub. I see Prime Air planes taking off from CVG every day and I see Amazon semi trucks every single day so I am in the thick of their shipping infrastructure. My shipments are for the most part on time but I constantly have shipping delays. I can't imagine what someone who lives in a rural area in a lesser populated state endures in the way of shipping delays.

I have stopped calling Amazon for shipping delays. It seems like I get more runaround than I get resolution. Maybe I'm becoming complacent about my issues because there isn't any real restitution paid for doing so. I think that this may be their goal.