“Prime Day” without the prime is a nice day

I cancelled Amazon Prime a little while back, so I am unable to partake in all the “Prime Day” deals that are on offer today and tomorrow. Which is fine, because Amazon is a horrible, abusive company, and I have been able to find alternatives without too much trouble. There are still a few things that can be tricky to source elsewhere, such is the power of Amazon’s crushing monopoly. This is bad for consumers and businesses alike.

Kudos to Ars Technica. As I write this at 8:24 a.m. Pacific time, they don’t have any stories about “Prime Day” deals on their main page. This may change over the course of the day, but it’s still nice to see. UPDATE, July 17, 2024: It did change. Day 2 has a featured story on the main page with links to deals provided by Wired magazine, another Conde Nast property. Still, it’s just one story and easy to ignore if desired.

The Verge has five stories, and Engadget has six before you even get below the “fold” (start scrolling). I stopped counting after that. There may be other tech sites that have even more, but I have some standards.

Also, Joe Rosensteel, a VFX artist, posting on Mastodon:

Oh Amazon, I am not resubbing to Prime again, no matter your dark patterny insistence that I really ought to

I try to avoid ordering from Amazon at all now, but occasionally they really seem to be the only option for certain items. When I order, it pleads with me to resubscribe to Amazon Prime by interrupting any purchase with this screen:

The part I need to click to continue with my order is that blue text toward the bottom left (I have made it considerably larger here for legibility):

After this, the observant shopper might notice the total price seems higher than it should be. That’s because if you’ve added enough to your cart to qualify for free shipping ($35 or more), Amazon will still select paid shipping for you, so you can save two entire days time in getting your items1Which is not guaranteed, of course. After selecting the “No, I prefer free and waiting an entire 48 hours longer” option, it will finally let you process the transaction.

I would not object to federal legislation that:

  • Banned this screen altogether
  • Or forced Amazon (or any offending company) to make the “No thanks, SKIP” option the top and largest thing on the page. The page would look like this:

Anyway, Amazon is a bad company and every executive that is part of it should feel bad. I also feel bad. I’ll buy something local and artisanal next time to compensate.

Fun: Having five Amazon devices all reporting problems to you at the same time

If you think the twist is that this isn’t actually fun, you’re half right. But also half wrong!

Today, my internet connection went down, as it does on a roughly weekly or bi-weekly basis. This has been going on for some time, and I’ve contacted my ISP’s tech support for help to no avail. I will not name and shame the company for now, but they are bad and should feel bad.

Anyway, usually power-cycling the router fixes the connection in a few minutes and I move on. Today, only the wired connection seemed to revive. I know this because my phone was complaining about no Wi-Fi and I noticed those ominous yellow lines on the pair of Echo Show 5s in the bedroom that mean. “Hey, where did the internet go?” I foolishly decided to test by asking the living room Echo what time it was. Normally, the closest device will answer, and the others stay quiet. Occasionally it gets confused and the next closest answers instead, but it’s pretty reliable.

If you have an internet connection.

If you don’t, the device you speak to and all other devices will all report connection issues, but each one will be just slightly off from each other, so you get this weird echo (lolz) effect with all of them jabbering at you. It’s funny how quickly it goes from sort of cute to driving you mad.

A second reboot of the router fixed the issue.

But if I could, I’d use the HomePod’s saucy Australian male voice on every device, because hearing that echo through every room would be amazing.

The Culling continues: Amazon edition

After years of having Amazon Prime, I finally cancelled it today. The process was not terribly difficult, but I did have to wade through several “Please don’t go, look at all the stuff you get!” pages to get to the point where I could actually cancel. I’m afraid their plaintive pitch persuaded me not! I did elect to let my current membership expire on renewal, rather than get prorated the few bucks back by cancelling right this moment in a fit of pique.

Here’s why I’m cancelling, in case other Canadians are considering (American Prime is a bit different, so I wouldn’t really compare the two):

  • Ordering far less often from Amazon
    • Harder to find what I want
    • To the point above, there is a vast sea of knock-offs and junk on amazon.ca now
    • Pricing is often just so-so
    • More stuff not covered by Prime shipping
    • That 2-day shipping? lol, nope! (Well, sometimes, but increasingly rare)
    • 11% off is not a deal, even if you say it is!
    • Everyone else is copying Prime Days now, often with better pricing
  • I can count the number of things I’ve watched on Prime Video on one hand. One was the execrable Moonfall, but that one’s more on me than Amazon, to be fair.
    • The upcoming move to charge more for “ad-free” Prime Video didn’t exactly make my socks roll up and down in delight, either
  • I never listen to Amazon Music, especially after the basic version was turned into a giant shuffle mode. If I want to listen to the radio, I can do that now, for free.
  • Never read anything through Prime Reading. My Kindle still doesn’t know that left-handed people exist, and Amazon is making token efforts at best to control the flood of AI-generated garbage sluicing into the Kindle store.
  • Took advantage of the Twitch freebies maybe twice? I don’t remember what I got.
  • The more information that comes out on how Amazon does business, the more comfortable I am in not sending money to an apparently Very Evil Empire

And that’s it! I look forward to buying local more often! Sort of.

Prime Day Shmime Day! (I say)

Pretty much every tech site yesterday and today is filled with “stories” about deals for Amazon’s Prime Day, which is actually two days. Why do I not like this? Let me list the ways:

  • The sheer amount of space devoted to the “deals”. Engadget, not exactly a hardcore tech site admittedly, is almost nothing but a feed of Amazon deals today (check the image below). Want to read actual tech news? It’s there, you just have to find it sandwiched between Amazon deals now.
  • Every single one of these sites is posting deals that are exclusively for Amazon.com (the U.S. site), so the deals aren’t even relevant to most of the planet. America is not the world, but you’d never know it by checking Ars Technica, say.
  • It all feels a bit unseemly, this two-day mini-orgy of tech consumerism, with nothing to counter-balance it, and really, a lot of the deals are not even that good (as expected).
  • Motivated self-interest (see the second screenshot below) means this ain’t gonna get better any time soon.

Unedited list of stories from today’s Engadget main page, with the Prime Day deals highlighted. This is just what I could easily capture without scrolling:

Why this is unlikely to go away at any point in the immediate, near or long term future:

I will give Ars Technica’s Jeff Dunn credit here–he’s compiled a single story for most of the deals, which is a) convenient for readers b) makes the rest of the site much more readable until this nonsense is over and c) the second paragraph links to 15 (!) previous stories Ars Technica have run that cast a critical eye at Amazon and its practices.