Amazon Prime Shipping Is the Perk We Love to Hate

Amazon's free 2-day delivery model changed the world, but Prime shipping has also caused a few controversies.
Prime box on doorstep

Amazon Prime members can now choose to have an item delivered on a specific day, a perk called Amazon Day. But Prime's original perk, free 2-day shipping, remains a well-loved Prime benefit. So why do members have a love-hate relationship with Prime shipping?

Here, we lay out how Amazon Prime shipping works, as well as a few of the controversies it has spawned.

How Does Amazon Prime 2-Day Shipping Work?

Prime members receive free 2-day shipping on eligible items shipped to addresses in the 48 contiguous United States (Alaska and Hawaii are out of luck). Remember that if your item is out of stock or can't be shipped immediately, your 2-day window doesn't open until the product actually ships.

Prime members receive free 2-day shipping to addresses in the 48 contiguous United States.

How Much Does Rush Prime Shipping Cost?

Amazon shipping costs are determined by the weight and size of the items in an order, along with the selected shipping speed. Even Prime members may have to pay for shipping if they want an item quickly. For example, they can expect to fork over up to $2.99 per order on qualifying same-day orders below $35, although orders over that threshold ship free. Need it on Saturday? Expect to pay at least $7.99 per item for Saturday shipping. It sounds bad but non-Prime members have it even worse, as they have to pay $12.99 per order for same-day delivery.

Increasingly, though, Prime members can score speedy shipping at no extra cost. Amazon has been expanding the product selection and coverage area for free one-day delivery, and some same-day deliveries are also available for free. (Check here to see if your area is covered.)

Why Is Amazon Prime Shipping Controversial?

As convenient as Prime shipping is, it definitely comes with some caveats. One of the best examples is the 2-day shipping guarantee. Many shoppers are under the impression that "2-day shipping" means you'll receive your items within two days of placing an order.

Do you believe that '2-day shipping' means you'll receive your items within two days?

However, Amazon states that items qualifying for this type of Prime shipping will arrive two business days after they ship. So the countdown doesn't begin until the orders leave the warehouse, or fulfillment center.

That's not the only issue we've seen, either. Amazon used to offer Prime members a free 1-month extension if a package was delivered after the guaranteed delivery date. At some point in the last couple of years, that policy disappeared.

Now the retailer offers to refund shipping costs for Amazon delivery delays — as long as the orders meet the very specific criteria.

SEE ALSO: What Is Amazon Prime Now?

Unfortunately, the Amazon troubles don't end there. In 2016, we reported that some shoppers were saying Amazon had accused them of "abusing" Prime.

While some readers admitted to gaming the system with spurious complaints, others received warnings about having "too many returns." In one such case, a user actually had their Prime membership canceled after merely returning "too many" damaged products and ill-fitting clothes. Sadly, it seems that shoppers should tread carefully when dealing with customer service for a late or missing Amazon package.

Amazon Prime Shipping Has Caveats

As great as it can be, Prime shipping can have its drawbacks. Here are just a few things to keep in mind:

  • Note the ordering cut-off time when making a purchase — this can affect your delivery date.

  • Not all shipping speeds will be available for all items and/or all addresses.

  • Orders over $1,300 might require a signature.

Finally, if you buy a large quantity of items, your order could be delayed until those items can be accumulated. If this is the case, then same-day or one-day shipping might not be available.

Julie Ramhold
Senior Staff Writer/Consumer Analyst

Julie's work has been featured on CNBC, GoBankingRates, Kiplinger, Marketwatch, Money, The New York Times, Real Simple, US News, WaPo, WSJ, Yahoo!, and more. She's extolled the virtues of DealNews in interviews with Cheddar TV, GMA, various podcasts, and affiliates across the United States, plus one in Canada.
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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