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Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) is cutting back “Amazon Mom,” a Prime-like program that gives parents and caregivers big discounts on baby supplies and free two-day shipping for a limited period. Now the discounts are getting smaller and the program is currently not accepting new members. In response, angry parents have launched a petition at Change.org.
At launch in September 2010, Amazon Mom offered three months of free unlimited two-day shipping, with the option to earn additional months for every $25 spent (up to a year — effectively giving members a free year of Amazon Prime); 30 percent discounts on diapers and wipes; and other discounts on childcare-related products.
As of January 24, 2012, however, the maximum discount on diapers and wipes is 20 percent and it’s only available to Prime members. Customers who join Amazon Mom in 2012 get three months of free two-day shipping, and can no longer receive additional free months. “To continue receiving all the benefits of Amazon Mom, join Amazon Prime for $79/year,” the company e-mailed customers.
At the moment, it’s not possible to join Amazon Mom: “At this time, we’re not accepting new members to our program,” says a notice on the Amazon Mom page.
Angry parents have taken to Amazon’s forums and have launched a petition on Change.org. (It currently has 1,464 signatures.) “Considering that Amazon.com had a profit of over 5 billion dollars last year, misleading customers, alienating them, and then refusing to honor their program is not a very warranted or smart practice,” the petition reads in part. “If one woman can start a petition and get Bank of America to remove it’s fees, or Verizon to remove it’s billing fee, then imagine what we can do if we ask Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos to remove the charge for Amazon Mom and give us back the original discount. Please help me tell Jeff that what his company is doing is wrong, and we aren’t going to support it!”
On Amazon’s forums, responses range from outrage — “This is crap AMAZON and you are just trying to make more money off us Moms who are trying to save some money for our families. So guess what, all that shopping I do with you guys? DONE, you have lost my business and I buy EVERYTHING on Amazon, not anymore. I’ll go to Costco or shop elsewhere from now on. That’s what you get for being so greedy!!” — to calm acceptance. “I can think of 4,982 things that need changing in this world besides the end of ‘really too cheap to last forever’ diapers,” writes one poster. “It was a free program. It’s over now.”
And another forum member has actually been reading Amazon’s earnings reports:
If it was making them reasonable money, they wouldn’t discontinue/change it. They are certainly aware that doing so will lose them a few customers – so they wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t worth it.
They have been having trouble with mom/S&S [subscribe and save] for a couple years now. This is like the third time they have changed the program policy. The fact that Amazon was profitable last quarter doesn’t mean these programs are.
I also think Amazon has seen a bit of the future and wants to streamline these programs into one package. They want to become people’s “digital home” with prime. Now obviously expanding what prime is by putting their other programs in it looks terrible to you. However, for the vast majority of users it looks like Prime offers more than ever.
I’ve asked Amazon about the changes and haven’t yet gotten a response, but to me the company’s move seems reasonable: It doesn’t make sense to have a free Prime-like program as well as a paid one (and even the paid one may be losing money). What’s surprising reading through the comments on the forums is that, while most Amazon Prime members regard the program with cult-like adoration, some Amazon Mom customers consider Prime a total ripoff.
Though perhaps they would have made things easier by extending a discount on Prime to former Amazon Mom members. “When Amazon Student’s free benefits ran out they gave them all the option to upgrade to Prime at 50% off ($40/year),” writes one forum member. “I contacted Amazon and asked if they could give me 50% off Prime for my ending Mom benefits since they had recently offered it to all Students…. and they said no.”