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One year of Amazon Prime free for students (amazon.com)
104 points by michaelfairley on July 12, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 69 comments

I hate Amazon Prime. It made me buy tons of awesome books resulting in an awesome credit card bill.

Same for me, except I like it :) Amazon was my third-biggest money sink last year (under IKEA and American Airlines).

But it's OK, because I buy everything from Amazon, and it saves me a lot of time and money. I never would have thought about buying laundry detergent online and having it shipped overnight. But it ends up being cheaper than buying it at the grocery store, and I don't have to carry it home.

I'm not convinced Amazon makes any money off of me, but that's really not my problem :)

>buying laundry detergent online and having it shipped overnight....I don't have to carry it home

Am I the only one that is absolutely amazed that this is even possible? I mean...if you described this to somebody 100 years ago, they would have thought it was a form of magic.

"There is a box on my desk. It shows me pictures of things I can buy. If i press on one of the pictures, that item shows up at my door while I'm at work the next day and the money is automatically given to the person I bought it from by my bank."

Or radio communication "...yeah, and your voice travels through the air until it reaches whoever you're talking to..."

Perhaps that actually was our business plan!

Amazon Prime is a genius program, and I think Amazon Tote has the potential to be as well. Free weekly deliveries of anything you order is perfect for most folks, who probably go to the store once a week to stock up.

I had never heard of Amazon Tote, so you piqued my interest. In case anyone reading this is similarly interested, it looks like a KILLER concept when they roll it out (http://tote.amazon.com/AmazonToteLearnMore) BUT currently it's only for zip codes 98112 and 98040.

Yeah, I hope that gets rolled out more widely. I love buying stuff from Amazon, but do feel a little guilty about all the packaging.

Not to mention toothpaste, shoes, 5 pounds of raisins, Planet Earth, shampoo, window blinds, workout clothes, and all of my Christmas gifts.

Think about the environmental impact of having toothpaste shipped to your house on a UPS truck vs. picking one up at the store while doing your groceries.

I like the idea of Amazon Prime but I would feel bad just ordering some paper towels or toothpaste because I can.

The whole concept of online shopping gets greener as it grows - most people live driving distance away from the stores they regularly visit. The difference is between a tightly packed, highly route and fuel-optimized delivery system... or everyone's single-occupancy vehicle on the road zipping between strip malls.

It's wasteful if the UPS truck isn't being sufficiently utilized, it's downright awesome if it is.

So your point is that strip malls and car dependency are bad, right? But that doesn't mean that trucking a tube of toothpaste to my house is good.

FWIW, I cycle to the store, so until Amazon has a distribution hub in my town and cycle couriers for delivery, they're not going to be more fuel-efficient.

You need to consider the amount of fuel used to produce the calories you consume cycling, which may be more or less than UPS, depending on how much additional driving UPS has to do to deliver (it may be fairly small e.g., if they're already in your neighborhood for another delivery).

[Of course, cycling has health benefits too, but if we're just considering fuel...]

How did that toothpaste get to the store?

It gets transported in bulk in containers that maximize the amount that can be transported on a truck. I think it's fair to say that the amount of gas used per bottle of toothpaste is probably less when transported in bulk.

Not sure about all the downvotes, I'm just trying to discuss possible negative effects. I usually just downvote when something is off-topic or someone is being a troll.

But it is transported in bulk. It's not as if we're sending along semi-trailers loaded with a single tube of toothpaste - those things are packed to the brim with what other people have ordered.

The way I look at it is this: with a brick and mortar store you only have the efficient, bulk transport all the way up until the retail endpoint. Everything after that is somewhere between ludicrously wasteful, and terrifyingly wasteful. Even then, we can fulfill entire cities from a single (or very few) warehouses in an online shopping context, but retail stores require many more locations, each carrying a smaller amount of stock (much of which will remain unsold to be returned elsewhere), and situated according to the whims of the consumer, not the efficiency of distribution.

You driving to the store for your toothpaste may seem like a negligible amount of pollution contribution - but multiply that by everyone in your entire city, and suddenly hauling a fleet of semi trailers would seem downright clean in comparison.

With online shopping the shipping process remains bulk from the supplier all the way to your door - there is no SUV with a single passenger hauling 3 bags of groceries - that UPS truck is packed to the brim and has a highly optimized route. Not to mention, with consolidated inventories, overstock (and thus more transportation and garbage waste) is greatly reduced and you don't have the added transportation layer of distribution center -> retail store.

> You driving to the store for your toothpaste may seem like a negligible amount of pollution contribution - but multiply that by everyone in your entire city, and suddenly hauling a fleet of semi trailers would seem downright clean in comparison.

But I don't drive to the store. I cycle. Ever seen a UPS guy on a bike, delivering everyone's Amazon orders?

> there is no SUV with a single passenger hauling 3 bags of groceries

People doing that are, frankly, tossers. If you start from A and say "B is a great optimisation compared to A," then you are missing C,D and E, all of which are better.

As a practical thing Amazon could do, how about slipping a tube of toothpaste in with your regular books order, a few days before you would otherwise have ordered a new tube?

> But I don't drive to the store. I cycle. Ever seen a UPS guy on a bike, delivering everyone's Amazon orders?

How many of you are out there in the USA? Honestly, not many. The vast majority of Americans drive to get their groceries and get their shopping done. I hate to say it - but you're a relatively rare edge case.

There's also the unsolved problem of overstock - and the smaller the store (physically) the worse it gets. In order to maintain selection, brick and mortar stores must stock a large range of items, many of which sell poorly. Maybe in your entire city 5 units would get sold in a given month - but if there are 30 stores in the city, each one would now have to hang onto a single unit, since you don't know when/where a customer would want it. A great deal of overstock ends up in landfills, and even the stuff that does not, it requires further transportation to consolidate, and then even more transportation to liquidate.

For an online store, since a single facility serves a much larger number of customers, overstock is improved by leaps and bounds (orders of magnitude, really). This results in less garbage waste due to not having to stock a lot of stuff that isn't expected to sell, and less transportation cost also.

> how about slipping a tube of toothpaste in with your regular books order

You're thinking about something like Amazon Tote:


or Amazon Fresh - where non-grocery items can be included in your normal grocery run.

I making people think about their environmental impact when they are shopping online is not a popular option here.

If you live in a big city, and travel to work, you would have ample opportunity to buy stuff on the way and back. This is what I do, but then I bike and actually give a shit about stuff like this.

Every living creature on Earth makes an environmental impact. I'm not against activism, but I recognize that environmentalism is simply about drawing the line somewhere—it's unrealistic to expect humanity or individuals to have no environmental impact. An argument saying "buying your toothpaste from Amazon is bad for the environment" may be true, but I can one-up you by saying "killings flowers to clean your teeth with is bad for the environment." It's not about "environment haters" vs. "environmentalists," it's about where you draw the line.

Yes , ordering that toothpaste alone is more energy wasteful , but:

1.amazon has a really strong incentive to prevent too many "single toothpaste" scenarios.

2.e-commerce delivery (from warehouse to home) takes 1/3 of the gas of driving to the store , and it's much more practical and realistic to convert a fleet of UPS trucks into clean energy , than household cars.

If this grows big, this looks like a thing that can be part of the lives of the whole population(not only environmentalists like us) and be a serious part in the fight for global warming.

I'd bet that the UPS truck works out to be more fuel-efficient than doing it in a private automobile, actually. The UPS truck is carrying the stuff for a whole neighborhood (or at least general vicinity). That's gotta be more efficient than dozens of individual trips each carrying a small load.

The individual packaging is another story.

Same here; when you can literally get books arrive at 9am the next day, well, it is dangerous :)

This is pretty awesome, but note this (from the FAQ):

"When you sign up for Amazon Student, you'll receive e-mail alerts for discounts and promotions. If you don't want any more Amazon Student e-mails, you may cancel your Amazon Student membership. If you do this, your Amazon Prime benefits will also end when the membership is canceled."

If you have a Gmail account you can ad an "+Amazon"- or whatever- to then end. This allows you to easily categorize these emails, just in-case you do want to put them in the trash or use some other filter. Example: firstname.lastname+AMAZON@gmail.com

On a side note, you can also remove any periods(.) from an email. Example: firstname.lastname@gmail.com becomes firstnamelastname@gmail.com. I think this was done to help cut back on phishing and scamming, but I don't really know why.

If you have a Gmail account, it won't work for this. You have to sign up with a .edu email account and verify that it's you.

I used my regular gmail/amazon account and it just had me add my .edu email. I think most comm will come through my gmail.

This is what I did last year when buying books. They used my .edu address to verify that I was at a university, but sent notifications to my Gmail.

My university has since moved to Microsoft's Live service- retaining the .edu extension. I will try to see if the plus(+) notion works with it.

Oh. I already get a fair amount of amazon email to my gmail and I've already got filters set up, so if they send more I'll be prepared!

fwiw, most email servers actually support the +notation

Gmail filters should take care of that.

This is already taken care of by the fact that I rarely use my .edu email account.

If I can suffer through Southwest's unnecessary dinning reward emails, I can suffer through manually deleting these emails.

I'm just glad there's this provision:

"The automatic renewal provisions in the Amazon Prime Terms & Conditions (which would require you to pay for Amazon Prime) do not apply to this membership, even if we decide to extend the free Amazon Prime offer beyond one year."

So they can't charge me behind my back ^_^

Am I wrong or is this only for Americans?

> Only students currently enrolled in a college or university who have a valid .edu e-mail address to confirm their status are eligible to participate in Amazon Student.

you are right.

I know I'm just like most of the people commenting here, but this is an incredible deal. Over the last three semesters, I've saved so much money on textbooks. In fact, more than half of the books I've purchased new on Amazon were a few dollars cheaper than the used textbooks in my student store. Go take advantage of this if you can! :-)

I tried a free two month trial of this a couple years ago. It was right around this time too. Prime is incredibly useful for ordering textbooks.

It's incredibly useful for ordering a lot of things on Amazon. Prime is quite devious, it's completely changed the way I use Amazon and has dramatically increased the amount of money I spend there. To wit:

1. I now order many things I wouldn't have even considered ordering on-line before. When I can order something off Amazon and have it in 2 days with free shipping, why bother buying it at the store?

2. The amount of time I wait before ordering an item has decreased. While before I would "batch order" anything I want from Amazon, giving me time to review everything I was thinking of purchasing, not needing to worry about shipping lends itself to ordering items one at a time. One Click makes it even easier. This makes impulse buys a lot easier.

3. Ordering something from Amazon is so much more attractive than ordering from other websites now, even more than it was before. Even when ordering from the Amazon site, I almost always buy prime eligible items which are usually items sold by Amazon itself, not a retailer. I'll usually spend a few extra bucks buying the same item from Amazon than from somewhere else just for the convenience.

tldr: Prime makes you spend a lot of money at Amazon

Agree. I will go out of my way to avoid shopping in stores. I think I probably make half or more of my required and discretionary purchases on Amazon, simply because Prime is so friggin' easy.

Amazon must know that tons of alums still have .edu email addresses. Perhaps this program is also a form of price discrimination for Prime? Those willing to cheat the system are less likely to pay $80/year than those who won't?

The Terms state: "We may ask you to furnish documentation supporting your eligibility. If you do not provide documentation indicating that you meet the eligibility requirements above, you may be required to reimburse us for benefits you received as a result of your Amazon Student membership."

If they call you on it, you may be on the hook for full shipping charges for everything you ordered. Not clear what would happen if you don't pony up but banishment from Amazon would be slightly painful for me, at least.

Wouldn't it be hard for Amazon to claim that you owe them more than $80 given that they sell Prime for that price? And, Amazon probably won't ask everyone (or even many students) for proof given that most would probably forget -- an outcome which hurts Amazon's goal of capturing student revenue.

They could charge you for how much shipping would have cost if you weren't an Amazon Prime member.

Prime is an extremely smart program. You WILL end up spending more money at Amazon, but it's OK because their prices are great and you end up saving an incredible amount of time. You have to be careful to use it efficiently (and not "shop"/browse and accumulate too much stuff), though. I've bought thousands of dollars worth of stuff over the past few years--electronics, books, toothpaste, vitamins, and even oatmeal--and haven't been to Bed Bath and Beyond / Walmart / etc. in ages.

This means I can do enjoyable things on the weekend instead of running errands.

And I practically refuse to buy things from third-parties that are not Prime-eligible (i.e., sellers who don't use Fulfillment by Amazon)... it's a deviously smart tactic that will get sellers to fall in line into Amazon's own selling ecosystem.

Amazon claims that email is not a valid .edu address. It says the same for my roommate's email.

We both go to Northwestern University where the student email addresses are Google Apps emails @u.northwestern.edu.

Update: Shortly after I contacted Amazon customer service, my account was upgraded to prime. I haven't checked with friends to see if they can use their emails yet.

The problem might be that subdomains are often assigned to people/groups affiliated with the university who can then run their own mail servers under that subdomain. This makes it trivial to give an email address ending in .edu to people who aren't students.

Since in my experience Amazon's customer support people are actually people, they might be able to make an exception for your particular domain if you contact them.

I don't think I ever had a me@domain.edu address in school. There was always an vestigial environment name in the middle (@eos.ncsu.edu and @titan.sfasu.edu)

I go to Notre Dame and we have Google Apps. Our emails however look normal with a @nd.edu domain and the sign up worked for me.

my guess is it's because you have two periods in the @... section

nope, works with my mail.utexas.edu email.

My college's email addresses for students are all .net addresses. Only faculty get .edu addresses. I went to Berklee. I just emailed customer support about it to see if it would still work.

If you really went to Berkeley, don't you think you'd know how to spell it?

    Berklee College of Music, located in Boston, Massachusetts, is the
    largest independent college of contemporary music in the world.

               - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berklee_College_of_Music
or look at http://www.berklee.edu/

They're trying to hook them early. It's just like giving college students credit cards. (I am a massive Prime user myself.)

It seems to me like Amazon could really use it's own shipping co. The Kindle really helps reduce delivery burden I'm sure, but the best model for Amazon involves reducing delivery times across the board. Bringing the middleman (delivery service) into the fold would help them reach that goal.

Acquisition of FedEx or UPS imminent?

AmazonFresh (http://fresh.amazon.com/) and AmazonTote (http://tote.amazon.com/AmazonToteLearnMore) are already up and running in the Seattle area. Modulo sales tax concerns, I could see them expanding to other areas.

Doesn't amazon tote use freelance shipping companies?

"When you sign up for Amazon Student, you'll receive e-mail alerts for discounts and promotions. If you don't want any more Amazon Student e-mails, you may cancel your Amazon Student membership. If you do this, your Amazon Prime benefits will also end when the membership is canceled."

This is brilliant.

CORRECTION: Amazon Prime free for anyone with a .edu mail address. I graduated long ago, but my .edu mail address is for life, so I occasionally mooch on these discounts. Too bad I already ponied up for an Amazon Prime this year :|

They stuck "alumni." in the middle of mine. Oh, well, I guess I should just pay the freight, so to speak. ;-)

You'll get a refund for your "unused" paid portion of Prime if you sign up.

Wow, I did! Thanks

This is sweet. I am already a paying Prime member. I just signed up for the Student Prime and got a refund of $50+ for the remainder of my plan. I'm now signed up as a student Prime member.

They couldn't have done this a few months ago when I was still a student?

Your school email address should still be valid.

US only :(

Argh, I just bought some books last week too.

Oh well, I'll need more. Signed up!

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