I’ve recently stumbled upon an addictive and dangerous drug cocktail. It’s been around for a while, but for some reason no one has seen the need to call it out or spread the word. It consists of three elements, which, on their own, are somewhat benign. But mix the three and you end up with a treacherous combination. The addiction is almost immediate and if used for any length of time, the long term effects can be catastrophic.
The first drug in the cocktail is Amazon Prime.
If you haven’t heard of Amazon Prime, here’s the deal: For $79 a year, you get free, unlimited, 2-day shipping on thousands of items from Amazon. If you’re new to Prime, you can get a free, month-long trial. The Prime trial, by itself, is a risk free way to save some dough.
The second ingredient in the cocktail is the Lightning Deal. Lightning Deals are limited time bargains that pop up throughout the day on Amazon. You don’t know what the price will be until the deal ‘goes live’, but you do know that it will be a fairly substantial savings, usually at least 30%. The problem with Lightning Deals is that, depending on the item, they go fast. A popular item can sell out in less than two seconds. If you miss a deal, you have a chance to go on a wait list, which leaves you glued to your computer on the off chance that you get bumped to the head of the line. Like Prime, the Lightning Deal alone is a good (and kind of fun) way to save a bit of money.
The third and final element in this dangerous mix is simply The Holiday Season. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, ’tis the season for gift buying. You may have one person on your list or you may have 100 people on your list, but chances are you will be buying something for someone at some point in the next few weeks. There’s nothing wrong with this by itself. Most would even say it’s a good thing (better to give than receive!).
So why are these elements so dangerous when combined? Well, think about it. Free shipping, great deals, people to buy for. It starts out innocently. You notice an upcoming Lightning Deal on something your son has been asking for for weeks. While waiting for the deal to pop up, you realize you can get free shipping on that particular item if you sign up for the Prime trial, so you do. Finally the deal goes live, but darn it! You’ve been wait listed. You anxiously stare at the computer screen, pupils dilated.
The minutes tick by and while you wait, you begin to scroll through the other Lightning Deals. Ooh! Your sister-in-law would like that!! Nabbed it! Good thing you signed up for Prime. You just got that $4 item without the $5 shipping fee. Scroll, scroll, scroll. Oh my!! Your son would like that toy too. Yeah, he has three exactly like it, but it’s 50% off. How can you say no?
Look! There’s a sorting option. Why not check out the Lightning Deals in the home section? You’re buying for all these other people. You deserve a little something for yourself, especially since you’re saving so much money. That home spa with plug and play operation looks wonderful. You don’t know what plug and play operation is, but it must be great for $1495!!
You’re off the wait list! Quick, you only have a minute to nab the thing for your son. Your hands shake as you complete the transaction. Score! But now you’re done. It can’t be over so soon. Must. Find. More. Deals.
And there you have it. The evolution of an addict. That $10 gift for your son just cost you $2000 and counting. So I beg of you: If you choose to shop online this year, be careful. It’s a dangerous world out there.