10 hidden tricks every Amazon shopper should know
In 2018, Amazon’s share of the U.S. e-commerce market hit a whopping 49%. To put things in perspective, this amount is more than Amazon’s top three competitors combined, with eBay coming in at 6.6%, Apple at 3.9% and Walmart at 3.7%.
Why is Amazon so popular? All the perks that come with a Prime membership certainly help. Get free cloud storage, try clothes before you buy them, and download a ton of free movies and TV shows to watch on any device. Tap or click for 9 Amazon Prime perks you’re probably not using.
Many people are shocked when I tell them they have an Amazon profile that anyone can see. It’s automatically created (whether you want it or not) with your all your comments, ratings, wish lists, and other site interactions. Yes, really. Tap or click for step-by-step instructions on how to remove your public profile on Amazon.com.
As a society, we’ve use Amazon so much it’s now a verb. When you need something, you just say, “I’ll Prime it.” Everyone knows that means you’re buying it on Amazon. And here are 10 hidden tricks every savvy Amazon shopper needs to know.
1. Why is this delivered every month?
You've received an Amazon gift card that's not for a whole lot of money, but you plan on using it someday. "Someday" comes when your budget is a little tight and you need to buy some mundane items.
Stop right there because this is where it gets tricky. Everyday items are often automatically set up to be purchased as a subscription. Diapers, vitamins and dog food are a few examples.
We've all been conditioned to think the gold button means an item goes into our cart or that it's one-click buying. We've all made the mistake of not realizing we were actually setting up a subscription to get the product every month because Subscribe & Save is auto-selected.
When buying from Amazon, slow down and take a good look at the price box. If you only want it once, make sure to click "one-time purchase."
Looking for even more pro tips to get the most out of your favorite gadgets and services? I can help! Try my free Tech Tips & How-Tos newsletter and get my trusted advice straight to your inbox.
2. Returns can be tricky
Let's say you buy a sweater and it doesn't fit, so you decide to return it right away. That's easy — just click the Return or replace items button and follow the prompts.
If you return the product within the return window, shipping is sometimes free and you get a full refund or replacement. Or you can drop it off at a nearby Kohl's.
But life often gets in the way and you forget to return that sweater. A month or two goes by before you remember, but this time there are no buttons directing you on how to return or replace the product. The return window has closed.
Don't despair! Contact an Amazon customer service representative either by email, chat or phone. More often than not, unless a year has gone by or the product has been used extensively, Amazon will let you return it. You may be charged a shipping fee, but if you're polite you may be able to talk your way out of it.
RELATED: Hidden fees can sneak up on your across the web — and on your next vacation. Those budget travel sites aren't the only places taking extra costs onto your trip. Click or tap to see all the places buried fees add up.
3. It may not always be worth it
If the return window has been closed for a long time you may not be refunded the full amount of the item. This is especially true if you purchased the product from a third-party vendor. So what are your options?
Your first step is to contact the seller to see if you can return the item with free shipping and a full refund or replacement. If you don't get anywhere with the third-party, contact Amazon and let them know about the situation. Many times they can resolve the problem in a favorable manner.
At this point, you may be thinking this all sounds like a lot of work, especially if the item wasn't very expensive. Why not consider gifting the sweater? At least you'll save money on a birthday or Christmas present.
RELATED: Another ubiquitous name in tech? Netflix. If the streaming standby is feeling a little stale, try these new ways to search, view and organize its offerings to freshen up your queue. Click or tap for 4 secret Netflix hacks and 1 bonus tip you’ll wish you knew sooner.
4. Approach with care
Always remember and never forget: Amazon is flooded with fake reviews. ReviewMeta analyzed 203 million Amazon reviews and found 11.3% of them to be untrustworthy. Of course, with Amazon being such a huge marketplace, unverified reviews may still sneak in. You'll find most fake reviews among no-name electronic products.
If a product only has all five-stars, steer toward a product with more balanced reviews. Fake reviews are big business,and that’s bad news for consumers. Click or tap for 3 warning signs to look for when browsing Amazon or any online shopping site.
5. Deals to become a Primer
Amazon Prime has a lot of perks, but let's be honest, it is expensive. But remember, for about $155 a year you get free shipping, Amazon's streaming service, deals on products non-Primers don't have access to and much more.
Despite being a major conglomerate, Amazon is showing some heart. Students have long received some form of Prime discount. Currently, they get six-months free and then 50% off. Now, those with Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) or Medicaid cards can get Prime — and all its bells and whistles — for $5.99 a month.
6. Let your teen shop
Your kids eventually get to that age where you no longer have any idea what kind of clothes, books or music they like. So just let them have their own accounts. Kind of.
Under your account, your teen can set up his or her own sub-account so they can pick whatever they want. Don't worry, you have the final say before an order is placed. Simply confirm your teen's orders via text.
7. Find bargains on tech
Not everyone needs to get the latest smartphone or laptop in a pristine, unopened box. If a good deal is what's important to you, shop the Amazon Warehouse for discounted open-box and refurbished tech. Not all of the products are used, either. Some may have been display models or review items. And you can get great deals on Apple products with the peace of mind that only Apple-certified technicians can refurbish a device. Don't forget to take a look at Amazon's Outlet section for deals on overstocked items.
RELATED: Amazon’s Alexa makes life convenient, but you don’t want her spying on everything you do or say. Tap or click for 3 essential privacy settings for your Echo.
8. Avoid porch pirates
Videos of strangers and even neighbors sneaking onto front porches to snatch Amazon deliveries that have just been dropped off are now common. You can avoid this by having your package delivered to a nearby Amazon Locker. Locations can be found when you select a shipping address during checkout or when you add a new address in Your Account.
Amazon's Locker service operates in more than 900 cities and towns across the nation. Customers can pick up their packages or even return them at these self-service kiosks. Keep in mind that if you use the Locker option you only have three calendar days to pick up your package. If you don't, it's returned to Amazon and you receive a full refund.
9. Ask and maybe you'll receive
You love the product, it's everything you expected, but it took a long time to be delivered. You might be able to shave a few dollars off the price for the inconvenience.
Just contact customer support via phone, email or chat. Describe the problem and ask if you can get a few dollars back because it arrived so late. Hey, it never hurts to ask, especially if you ask politely.
10. No hurry at all
Unless you're the kind of person who waits until the last minute, most of the time an item you buy on Amazon doesn't need to be delivered the very next day — even if you are a Prime member. Prime members can take advantage of Amazon's Free No-Rush shipping and get instant discounts or earn rewards that can go toward future orders. Patience is indeed a virtue.
BONUS TIP: 25 of the most useful Alexa skills you'll use time and again
Like other virtual assistants, Amazon's Alexa can provide you with basic information and features such as listening to music, checking the weather and setting timers for completing a task. But to expand Alexa's knowledge, you have to enable apps, or skills. The goal is to make Alexa more personalized for its users.
You can also purchase products that are compatible with Alexa and Echo to raise your home's artificial intelligence.
As the number of Alexa skills on Amazon explodes, so do the possibilities of what Alexa can do. Of all the skills out there, here are some that we think you'll find helpful, fun and interesting.
Tap or click here for 25 Alexa skills you’re going to love.
What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.
Copyright 2019, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved.
Learn about all the latest technology on The Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.