Amazon hides cheaper items with faster delivery, lawsuit alleges

Amazon hides cheaper items with faster delivery, lawsuit alleges

submitted by ForgottenFlux edited

arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2024/02/amazons-alg…

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phx

Fun thing, if you don't sort by "Prime" you'll often find that there's another one of the exact item you're looking for - without Prime - but actually for a lower price. The Prime isn't actually free shipping, it's just baked into the price

BeardedSingleMalt

Yeah I learned that a long time ago. Was looking for a new knife...

Amazon - $14.99 with Free Prime Shipping.

Sellers A & B - $9.99 with $5.00 shipping

Seller C - $4.99 with $10 shipping

The Menemen! , edited

But be careful that the other option has "free return shipping" included.

wafflez

do you know if they're they taxed differently? so one might theoretically be slightly cheaper? /genc

phx

I'm not sure about Amazon, but in the one eBay days stuffing the price of shipping versus the price of the item was a way sellers avoided percentage-based fees based on the item price.

PsychedSy

What knife did you go with?

Avatar Toribor

Plus the delivery dates are a joke anyway. Prime or not my orders all show up in the same amount of time. Sure they promise it's always 1-2 days but that doesn't seem to matter.

emeralddawn45

I mean YMMV based on location, but I'm in a semi major city in canada and I ordered some stuff off Prime on Monday evening and it was here by yesterday afternoon. I've had non prime stuff come quickly too but not that quickly and the longest I think I've waited for something prime was 3 days.

Avatar PakledBrain

In amazons defense it's 1-2 days shipping not processing or handling but they are definitely still deceiving

droans

The details for Prime explicitly refer to it as Two Day Delivery, not shipping.

Prime Membership Benefits

Delivery benefits

FREE Two-Day Delivery: Millions of items delivered fast and free.

FREE One-Day Delivery: Available on more than 15 million items with no minimum purchase.

FREE Same-Day Delivery: Available, in select areas, on over 3 million items for qualifying orders that meet the minimum threshold of eligible items, in as fast as five hours.

Blackmist

Better still, don't buy on Amazon. If you've seen their selling fees, you'll know why.

Leg

Is there a better amazon competitor?

sleepmode

I use Amazon to find stuff I want or need. Then I look to see if I can buy direct and more often than not it’s close or close enough in price and shipping. Or I look for a specialty retailer like B&H if it’s electronic, Jenson USA for bike parts etc. As a side bonus they usually know how to pack items properly too.

52fighters

Most companies selling on Amazon are contractually prohibited to sell for less elsewhere, even from their own website.

sleepmode

This is true. I also noticed certain vendors will sometimes have their own SKU of the “same” product - they’re just a different spec. Asus and MSI laptops are one example.

TJA!

Sadly not

SocialMediaRefugee

I always price compare regardless of the search results. Mindlessly clicking isn't a good idea.

phx

That's becoming increasingly more difficult though. Search engines (especially Google) have their top results polluted with links back to Amazon or sketchy sites, reviews etc

The actual products in Amazon - and now pretty much everyone with an online store - heavily mixed with 3rd-party Chinesium products with names generated by room full of cats and keyboards, and then further obfuscated by what their algorithm actually wants you to see, often to the point where it completely disregards your actual search terms.

It's not mindlessly clicking. Your could literally spend hours trying to find the thing you need but only seeing the thing they want to sell you.

Shdwdrgn

Don't forget that Amazon also routinely charges shipping costs that sellers have already rolled into their pricing. The first time Amazon moved away from the $25 free-shipping mark, I started looking elsewhere and found the same sellers at their own websites or on ebay, with zero shipping charges (I was looking for hard drives at the time). When I reached out to ask the sellers about it, they said they had no idea Amazon was up-charging their orders but they had no say in the final pricing.

Now that Amazon has once more abandoned the $25 free shipping I have stopped using them entirely (again). I'll read the site for product reviews, then go find the same seller on ebay and get it for an honest price and free shipping.

GooseFinger , edited

You can't trust Amazon reviews either though.

~~* Sellers frequently farm good reviews by including cards in their packages that state "give us a 5 star review and get a full/partial refund!"~~

  • Sellers update their listings with good reviews with different pictures, descriptions, etc. which effectively creates a different listing while carrying over a large review count.

~~* Amazon doesn't allow reviews after 30 days (?) from purchase, so items poor durability will not have that reflected in their reviews~~

It's a damn shame, but between this broken review system and their incredibly low quality items and quality control, they're not worth the money or headache to use. Especially since most of their products are no name Chinese garbage that are exclusively available on Amazon. They're basically Wish, Tubi, or Alibaba.

Edit: Amazon must've updated their review policy since I've last used them, 2+ years ago. They explicitly ban monetary rewards for good reviews, and I don't see a mention of review deadlines either. The only references I found about their review deadlines is a few Reddit posts from a year ago. So my bad!

If nothing's changed though, they still sell hot garbage.

deweydecibel

Honestly, at this point, you can barely trust reviews anywhere. They've all been corrupted to some degree, and LLMs are going to make them exponentially worse.

ChapulinColorado

I got hit by the updated pictures and product problem you described recently. Used the “buy again” for a silicone set of wipers for my car (those last for years instead of the 2 seasons you get out of the rubber garbage the companies push). Rain x had updated the product to the latter one to make more money with the reviews of the older long lasting one on the inferior product. Had to return and buy from elsewhere. I can’t trust the “order again” functionality and at this point, Amazon and the companies there any longer (since they used the process to mislead customers).

spikespaz

You can report the seller, and I am to understand that they take you seriously.

asteriskeverything

To avoid the second one always sort the reviews by newest and keep an eye on the date

cm0002 , edited

Sellers frequently farm good reviews by including cards in their packages that state "give us a 5 star review and get a full/partial refund!"

I order A LOT off Amazon and I have never gotten one of these, I'd know because I would absolutely do this. I've seen "Please leave a review" card but never with a promise of a refund

Sellers update their listings with good reviews with different pictures, descriptions, etc. which effectively creates a different listing while carrying over a large review count.

Can confirm, I've seen this, but I thought it was Amazon themselves for some reason lmao

Amazon doesn't allow reviews after 30 days (?) from purchase, so items poor durability will not have that reflected in their reviews

I don't think that's true, I'm pretty sure I've seen reviews from people months after they ordered it

dirthawker0

I've gotten cards that offer a free product for a good review, and cards that offer a gift card, but not an actual refund. I've been offered refunds to take down my bad reviews.

Avatar KairuByte

I’ve had the exact same experiences, never thought to report it though.

dirthawker0 , edited

I've reported it once. I was emailed about 8 times from different email addresses with very similar text asking me to take down a bad review and they would refund me. A lot of asking for sympathy, we're very small and a bad review is so devastating, blah blah. All the refund offers were a little more than what I paid.

After 3 requests I replied with something akin to, "okay, you say you're trying to improve your product. I want something that works. How about instead of a refund, you send me an improved item, and if it works I'll give a good review." And they said they couldn't. (Of course not, they're just retailing stuff from some factory and they have zero say in development.)

I didn't reply, and over the next few weeks I got the rest of the emails from them. So I reported it, sent Amazon screenshots and such. I haven't looked but I assume they were given the heave ho. They probably just renamed themselves and restarted. But they didn't email me again.

Confound4082

Anecdotal, but I've gotten one of these cards in an order.

lobut

Me too, for several purchases. I've never followed through with it though. I'd report them if I felt it did something.

Avatar UrPartnerInCrime , edited

It takes like 2 minutes to report something. The fact that you can't be bothered to report shady practices just allows them to run rampant. Even if you think it does nothing, why not just try to make the world a little better? It may actually change something

Shdwdrgn

Yeah I agree you can't immediately trust the star rating, and you really need to read through the reviews to find the authentic ones. Even the bad reviews can't always be trusted (I see a lot where folks complain about a product and go on to explain how their own idiocy or lack of knowledge led to the failure). I've actually noticed several lately that explicitly point out they were paid reviews so at least some folks are being honest about it. Usually when I read reviews I'm looking for more specific information, like when checking for a log cart recently I saw complaints that a small wheel size led to tipping. It would be nice if ebay had a more extensive and visible review system in place, but I'll take what info I can find.

Imgonnatrythis

It's such a shame. In it's heyday there was a time where a five star review and more than a hundred reviewers consistently meant something was just awesome. I would sometimes buy stuff I didn't need if a came across this combination jist because I knew I would end up with something cool. Not anymore ; now I'm skeptical of every single review.

Catoblepas

Yeah, I’ve bought a few products that I had reservations on based on some bad reviews, and then when I got and used the item it was immediately obvious the reviewer didn’t read the instructions or try to troubleshoot in any way.

Avatar Okokimup

I haven't had a problem reviewing after 30 days.

droans , edited

My favorite part is looking at the rating and seeing that all the 1-4 star reviews are missing. Sure, the product has 1.7 stars, and, sure, Amazon requires you to write a review with your rating, but somehow only the people who rated it five stars left reviews 🤔

alignedchaos

Amazon promotes the shittiest, least honest reviews to the top of most products, though I guess if you know how to hunt for the rough 2-4* ratings you can technically find real reviews too.

baggins

Price and quality issues aside- when I do go on Amazon it's because I want to buy from Amazon. Not some random business shipping stuff from the other side of the country. Can't stand how every store has a 'marketplace' of random overpriced AliExpress crap on their sites these days.

XeroxCool

Amazon is still sketchy with legitimacy of product. Fake product can get mixed into legit bins of product if the main seller doesn't pay extra for dedicated bins, separate from other sellers selling "the same" products.

ipkpjersi

Also, AmazonBasics is exactly as the name implies. If you buy an AmazonBasics XLR cable, you know it's going to have two conductors not four and you know it's not going to be super well shielded if at all.

XeroxCool

And for anything that's not semi-standardized or a long-existing design, it's definitely a ripoff of a real item being sold there. Is that actually a thing with XLR or are you exaggerating? Not too familiar with XLR. I would guess you could skip the cold audio and get down to just hot and ground, but what's the correct 4th conductor?

ipkpjersi , edited

I'm not exaggerating. If you buy a Mogami XLR cable you know it's going to have 4 conductors and it's going to be shielded. I cut open my AmazonBasics 50 Ft XLR cable after it had failed (it started introducing a buzzing noise) and I saw it only had two conductors in it.

conciselyverbose

I don't mind fulfilled by Amazon. I'm selective, but there's still value there.

If I could permanently remove everything that isn't in an Amazon warehouse from showing up in search results the platform would be way less annoying, though. De-emphasizing that nonsense is a huge value add as far as I'm concerned.

space

Because Amazon is shitty with the sellers, the good ones can't make profit on the platform. All that's left is the Chinese garbage sold at huge margins, where the seller doesn't care if it gets returned.

PopMyCop

That's strange to me. I remember, and still think of, amazon as a marketplace. I bought used books and video games as my first purchases, waaaaay back when. You would have to sort out the prices and compare them to the listed 'condition' of the purchase, trying to figure out whether 'like new' condition was worth the $3 price jump over 'good' condition.

dirthawker0

I've been bitten by bad return policies when buying from businesses that sell directly, e.g. being refunded the purchase price but not their shipping, having to pay return shipping myself, or getting hit by some bogus restocking fee. Amazon return policy is pretty clear for items they're selling or at least stocking in their warehouse. So I do prefer to buy Amazon-shipped items.

droans

Only way I'm using most shopping sites is if I know they're trustworthy and if they support PayPal or one of the major payment processors. I'm not going to type my CC number into a random website and trust that they aren't hacked.

There are a lot of issues with PayPal, but at least it makes it easy for me to get a refund if the seller refuses. The last time I had to get a refund, it was because the seller told me I had to ship my $20 product back to China in order to get a 50% refund. This was despite the returns agreement explicitly requiring them to cover return shipping and that shipping it to China would have cost me about $150.

gian

Only way I’m using most shopping sites is if I know they’re trustworthy and if they support PayPal or one of the major payment processors. I’m not going to type my CC number into a random website and trust that they aren’t hacked.

Virtual CC for the win ;-)

bratosch

other side of the ~~country~~ world

zipzoopaboop

Fucking best buy

XeroxCool

Funny how I couldn't stand Best Buy's sales practices a decade ago and now, without changing, they're basically the good guys

KoalaUnknown

I think the reason they used to be so bad is because the sales people were commission based. They still have quotas to meet now but it’s pretty easy to do so.

Avatar blazera

amazon is a marketplace, not a manufacturer

Avatar KairuByte

They are also a manufacturer.

wewbull

They don't manufacture anything. The only things with an Amazon name on that aren't rebadged are things like kindles, echos and firesticks, and those aren't made by Amazon.

slumberlust

This is a little misleading. Most companies outsource some or all of physical products creation. We don't say Foxxcon made this phone, we say Apple did.

Additionally, Amazon absolutely manufacturers things like drive units internally, but maybe you meant consumer facing only.

wewbull

I don't say Apple manufactures the iPhone. I say Apple designs it & sells it, and in relaxed language I might say "makes it", but "manufacture" is not relaxed language to me. I'm not even sure I'd say Foxcon manufactures it. They are one of the manufacturing partners, but so are TSMC and others.

Chestnut

That's not very customer obsessed of them

slumberlust

Yeah but it's got a ton of bias for action, if the only action that matters is profit. Day 2/3/4/5 whatever day you want it to be!

DarkNightoftheSoul

*gasp* No. They wouldn't. A monopoly? Anti-consumer practices? No. I refuse to believe these slanderous lies.

d2k1

Slander?! I resent that. In print its libel.

Avatar Deceptichum

Gonna go against the grain and say Amazon is still good value on a lot of things in Australia and cheaper then going into a physical store.

Which is more an indictment of how badly we've been getting fucked over on pricing here all our lives.

cm0002

Yea, Amazon is still a decent value in America too, frankly I just don't understand where people are getting these comparisons from.

Sometimes Walmart is cheaper, sometimes Amazon is cheaper, a lot of the times they're neck and neck, but I don't have to step into a Walmart with Amazon so that's a huge plus for me lmao and a lot of the items are same day or next day

You don't want to wait in a self checkout lane for forty minutes to buy a single extension cord?!

BeardedSingleMalt

Or you could buy an extension cord from such brands as HUANCHAIN, Mifaso, YISHU, POWRUI or Addtam and maybe it will ship in 4 to 5 days

deweydecibel

Because it depends a lot on where you live.

fleet

In Canada, at least in a city, it's rare that I can't find things for the same price or cheaper in local stores. Amazon comes in handy for harder to find items though I've been using Aliexpress more for those items lately.

Avatar gilokee

same with Japan, unfortunately. Furniture is crazy expensive in stores here.

SoylentBlake

If it's handmade hardwood Japanese joinery furniture than it's worth every penny, it'll outlast you and you'll hand that down to your kin.

Avatar gilokee

yeah no I'm talking about the garbage from home center valor lmao

FiveMacs

Amazon is now always more expensive and longer then just going to a brick and mortar. Haven't touched their shit in about 2 years and haven't cared. Infact I've saved.

cm0002

I see this a lot, and I just don't get where people are shopping that this is true, are you comparing it to Dollar Tree or something?

Amazon isn't as cheap as they used to be, but still competitive with places like Walmart and a far greater selection and stock. They're definitely cheaper than locally owned places, I've tried to shop local, but the best I've seen is still like double what Amazon or Walmart has it for

Also, I get the promised shipping time I'd say about 90% of the time even for same day items

SpaghettiYeti

It really, really depends where you live.

Asafum

I have prime and haven't gotten anything less than a week to ship in like 3 years now...

bamboo

I live in a big city and most of my Amazon orders arrive the next day

XeroxCool

I actively avoid Amazon. It ends up taking a bunch of leg work but prices are consistent for me between Amazon, best buy, target, ebay, and b&h photo. They might have an advantage of home depot/Lowes but those items tend to be something I'd like to touch and feel first. But I understand I'm in a metro area so I have many stores around and that I'm still not supporting the higher prices of indie shops. I can't do everything

Avatar vaultdweller013

Price wise it kinda depends, but for books for example unless youre getting manga or light novels youre better off going to a brick and mortar. Seriously theres a used book store thatll order books directly from the publisher, 8 bucks for a standard book. The only problem is it has to be American published and no comics.

Avatar 😈MedicPig🐷BabySaver😈

Yah, those comments are BS.

gian

Amazon isn’t as cheap as they used to be, but still competitive with places like Walmart and a far greater selection and stock. They’re definitely cheaper than locally owned places, I’ve tried to shop local, but the best I’ve seen is still like double what Amazon or Walmart has it for

Not always true. here Amazon is no longer competitive with the various DIY stores, from a price perspective, and often with other on line shops.

Also, I get the promised shipping time I’d say about 90% of the time even for same day items

Which is now, at least here, the only one selling point.

Avatar jmanes

I’ve largely stopped using them. I only buy from them if I cannot find what I need elsewhere which is quite rare.

zipzoopaboop

I've never understood the hype. They constantly wind up more expensive than local

tedu

Are there examples? I click through to other buying options periodically, but haven't found many hidden deals in there.

dangblingus

Yeah you're overpaying. Half of everything on Amazon is cheap plastic shit made for pennies that 50 different Chinese companies then reskin with their weird sketchy company name and sell for 10000% markup.

SocialMediaRefugee

People have to do due diligence to check that they are getting the best value. I don't assume what is presented to me is automatically the best. This suit seems like they expect the seller to promote the best deal without them doing any price comparisons which is ridiculous.

JasSmith

Fair trading laws are broad and complex and vary widely by place to place. There are *many* restrictions on trading practises which mislead customers. Amazon employs a myriad of practises designed to do exactly that. Some of them detailed in the article. I’m sure they think they’re skirting the law to the legal side, but experts are going to determine that now.

Avatar Avid Amoeba , edited

Techno-feudalism in action.

trendpickle

Hey, This is surprising and new. How can I find it here? - https://amzn.to/49858JM