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Amazon private label brands are quietly taking over Amazon.com (qz.com)
410 points by NicoJuicy 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 353 comments



I've canceled my Amazon Prime account for two reasons. Firstly the advertising on Amazon has gotten out of control, I want the best product in my price range, not the one with the largest marketing budget. And secondly, I've found if I go to a more niche market (Cabela's for sporting goods, Lowes for tools, branded clothing stores, etc.) I always get something better, sometimes at a more reasonable price too.

Amazon has turned into a warehouse, you have to know what you want coming in. The only reason I kept using them was because I was lazy and didn't want to have to manage purchases across multiple different websites. But it just isn't worth it when I kept consistently getting inferior products.


A few disparate items I've ordered from Amazon recently like a ping pong table, 6ft. ladder, storage container all are resellers directly passing your order through to Walmart. I've started visiting the brick and mortar Walmart store more often. Shopping online (essentially Amazon) used to be cheap and convenient.

Now the expectations on quality have gone down to "OK if this works great, but do I really have the time to print the return label, package it again and ship it back?" Basically my level of trust in stuff sold on Amazon is much lower than what it used to be a few years back. For. e.g. 10 yrs. back - Plasma TV on Amazon? No problem. Now its Costco all the way for expensive electronics stuff.

On one level, Amazon is just fleecing the sellers on their platform - all sorts of charges for combinations of ad words. A lot of sellers have figured out how to game the system. It's just an awful mess. I have been considering cancelling my prime membership for a couple of years now... inertia keeps me from doing it. I've tried Ali express as well. It was an OK experience. Now I'm browsing Etsy. Haven't really bought anything, but it's looking more attractive for household stuff.

In summary, like theossuary, I believe figuring out your niche stores will be beneficial. Watch out for those Asics warehouse sales for workout clothes and shoes etc.


Can't believe I'm seeing Ali Express compared to Amazon, and apparently in a favorable way.

Ali Express is overrun with sellers with identical listings, but the quality may vary greatly between them. You will only know when you receive the item. It's not uncommon to receive something that looks totally different than the listing images.

Shipping something back on Ali Express is basically a total no-go. They get killer discounts on shipping to the US. Shipping something back to China is probably going to be more expensive than the product. With Amazon it is cheap or free to return things.

Sorting by price on Ali Express is totally broken, because sellers can list a variation with the lowest price that is never available. This impossible-to-get lowest price is taken into consideration by the sort.

People complain that sometimes Prime is 3 or 4 day shipping instead of actually 2 days. Ali Express is 2 weeks minimum. Probably 50% of the things I've ordered have taken 1+ month. Some things take 2 months. Some things never arrive at all.

All that said, I still use Ali Express. It's great for small, cheap and generic items. I know what I'm getting into, and I accept the risks. There is no way it could replace Amazon.

If you knew nothing about Amazon and only learned about it from HN comments you would think it was basically the Mos Eisley Cantina. The real eCommerce Mos Eisley Cantina is Ali Express.

Shopping on Amazon is still cheap and convenient. Maybe not if you consistently buy things that are exorbitant to ship like ping pong tables or 6 foot ladders, but most people buy items that could fit in a shoe box.


> Ali Express is overrun with sellers with identical listings, but the quality may vary greatly between them. You will only know when you receive the item. It's not uncommon to receive something that looks totally different than the listing images.

I see comments complaining about this and similar all the time on Amazon, and on products with very high ratings. The strategy seems to be, sell good quality cheap stuff for a while to get a good rating, the change the listing completely to a low-quality expensive product. The high ratings stick around, resulting in more sales than it otherwise would have, and more resilience to new low ratings.


Yes, and on the flip side of that you have other sellers wholesale copying a popular listing. I look at every purchase as a gamble. In the marketplace's defense, Ali Express dispute arbitration has always led to a satisfactory result for me, so the gamble is just on what I'm going to get, not on whether I'm going to lose the entire cost of the item or not.


Perhaps it's different with Prime, but Amazon has burnt a lot of my trust with their non-prime free shipping.

They have a huge warehouse infrastructure in my city. They could drop a box in the mail at their warehouse and have it to me in a day or two. They could probably strap it to a stray dog, point it in my direction, and get it here in three.

Yet, somehow, if I collect up a $25 order of in stock items, they can't get it to my door in less than about two weeks, unless I pay a premium for upgraded shipping. This makes it useless for time-sensitive orders.

Now, I know there's QoS and framing as a marketing thing, but this just comes off as a tease.


Yes, I noticed this too when I didn't have Prime. It seems like they would just sit on the order.


> Shipping something back on Ali Express is basically a total no-go.

My returns with AliExpress have all been full refunds without having to reship the items back to the supplier.

One of my refunds was for a $100+ item, as well.

> Ali Express is 2 weeks minimum.

I've received items in a week or less.

> Shopping on Amazon is still cheap and convenient.

As of late, this hasn't been true. AliExpress, Walmart and even Best Buy have had better deals than Amazon.


Admittedly it's probably not perfect to compare Amazon returns to Ali Express returns, because I too have received refunds without having to ship the product back. I have had significantly fewer products I've had to dispute through Amazon than Ali Express though.

I don't know where you live, but I don't think receiving an item from Ali Express in 1 week or less is normal, unless maybe you live in mainland China. I'm in the US and I really think I've never received something quicker than 2 weeks.

You said you have received things in a week or less. What do you think the average is though?

I just don't believe that Amazon does not generally provide cheap products conveniently. There are outliers, as with everything, but I think it's the norm that the prices for the majority of products are competitive, and the user experience is convenient.


> I don't know where you live, but I don't think receiving an item from Ali Express in 1 week or less is normal, unless maybe you live in mainland China. I'm in the US and I really think I've never received something quicker than 2 weeks.

Shipping options and delivery estimates are displayed in both search results and each item's page.

A good percentage of items do have delivery estimates that exceed two weeks, however either faster paid shipping options are available or other suppliers will offer the same item with a shorter delivery estimate.

You can also sort by the country an item ships from. There are increasingly more distributors in North America than there were a couple of years ago.

> I just don't believe that Amazon does not generally provide cheap products conveniently. There are outliers, as with everything, but I think it's the norm that the prices for the majority of products are competitive, and the user experience is convenient.

That hasn't been my experience, unfortunately. I used to use Amazon for the majority of my online purchases because they consistently had lower prices. Eventually, they became my supplier even for goods I'd buy in person.

However, as of last month, Walmart will ship the last item I regularly bought in bulk from Amazon at a lower individual retail price.


Paying for faster shipping from Ali Express totally kills the price advantage, which I think is really the only advantage to buying things there.

Example of Raspberry Pi 3 Camera, product price $4.52, shipping to the US:

Shipping prices (no free option)

$0.34 - 20-39 days

$2.84 - 19-39 days

$38.16 - 12-21 days

$40.53 - 8-16 days

$46.03 - 6-13 days

Which one of those would you pay for?


> Can't believe I'm seeing Ali Express compared to Amazon, and apparently in a favorable way.

I said Ali Express was OK. As in "meh" worth a look. True, stuff arrives a month to two months later. I bought the exact compression socks advertised on Amazon from Ali Express - Amazon price: $16 each. Ali Express: $3.75 each including shipping. Ali Express is catching up.

A lot of products on Amazon are essentially a branding function (name tag) applied to a functionally finished product. The Chinese manufactures probably knew that. With Ali Express, that equation is changing.

> Maybe not if you consistently buy things that are exorbitant to ship like ping pong tables or 6 foot ladders...

The point is Walmart would have shipped it to me for cheaper. Now I know better... Shop around first and then order.


yup, you can only shop on ali express with the same attitude as someone offering up a tender - you know the product you want and you know the price you want AND you have enough knowledge of the product to discern shoddy work. browsing on aliexpress is a nightmare


"In summary, like theossuary, I believe figuring out your niche stores will be beneficial ..."

As we figure out our "niche stores", I hope designers and entrepreneurs will study McMaster-Carr[1] - a site I found through the garagejournal forum that is an absolute joy to use.

Just drill down into any product category and you'll get a very simple listing, with full descriptions and very helpful diagrams of every single part.

If you need pipe fittings or hose clamps or rivets or gas regulators, please vote with your dollars at this site.

[1] https://www.mcmaster.com/


A similar one for car parts is rockauto.com. UI from the 90s but simple and does the job.


Wow! Great site. Thanks!


I haven't had a box from walmart yet from amazon, but know a guy who clears 6 figures a year doing this walmart arbitrage. I don't know how long he has in that business model before amazon starts price matching walmart.


His problem won't be Amazon price matching. It will be the drove of other arbitrage drones moving in on his products.


Or walmart bans him. He already got banned from Target.


Then you hire employees to do the shopping. It doesn't take too many sales to get to the point where you need employees to do the shopping and packaging if you're in eCommerce arbitrage.


How does this work exactly?


You sell item on amazon for $300

When one sells, you go place an order on Walmart.com for $150 and ship directly to the amazon buyer.

No risk of holding inventory. Pretty easy profit if your competition is low.


Walmart sells something for $8, you list it for $12.


I’ve received a Walmart originated box when I ordered some poster frames. It was a surprise.


> all are resellers directly passing your order through to Walmart.

Can you explain how that works?


The advertising is ridiculous. It used to be that the ads were one or two listings at the top or the bottom of the search results. Now they are top, bottom, side, and mixed in some of my search results and look more similar to non-sponsored listings.

Over the summer I used Prime Video to watch Sneaky Pete, and every episode would start with a 30 second ad for a different Prime show. There was a skip button, but it was hidden, and I could only find it by long tapping.

So I cancelled Prime. I felt silly paying Amazon to display ads at me.


Searched for "Avengers" on the Apple TV Amazon Prime Video app. Scroll to right through results, after the movies it turns into user videos from amazon product reviews for Avenger merch.


Completely agree. Amazon has grown to be a monopoly that doesn't value customer experience anymore.


Same here. Amazon used to be convenient but it slowly has turned into a stressful experience. Counterfeits, 20 listings of the same product with totally different prices, advertising, fake reviews and so on. Now I prefer eBay where at least the search function works or specialized stores with one listing per product.

Newegg went the same path like Amazon and I have stopped using them. They used to be my favorite store.


Wow, "stressful" is exactly right. It crept up on me, but it's now rarely a pleasant experience.

Just today I'm returning something. I was trying to buy more of the sort of underwear I like. But I quickly end up in the junky end of Amazon where the same product is listed under slightly different names by different sellers and the interface gets all weird. It must have done that thing where you pick a size, then pick a color, but it automatically adjusts the size to whatever's available in that color. So I ended up with 3 2-packs of too-small underwear. And one of them came without the manufacturer's packaging, just two pairs of underwear in a baggie. Because that's not suspicious or anything. Now I have to package that stuff and haul it to the UPS store.

And I'm totally with you on the advertising. I get how they got there, with a bunch of teams optimizing short-term micro-metrics. But apparently nobody cares about the overall experience.


+1 on Newegg. I built a PC last year, and unknowingly bought something from newegg.com that was in their Marketplace. Paid with Paypal, got charged by Newegg, but never got a confirmation email. I called Newegg, who had no record of the transaction, so I filed a claim on Paypal. Bought the part off Amazon, built my PC, waited for the claim to resolve.

Three weeks later, suddenly the seller adds tracking to the Paypal claim, and a few days later the part that I no longer need shows up in a Newegg box. No invoice, packing sheet, etc. and it's still not listed on my Newegg account. My claim gets closed, and there's nobody I can even return this to.

What a stupid, stupid situation.


Re: https://www.riskiq.com/blog/labs/magecart-newegg/

Newegg has not said anything about this to me, nor explained why after a Newegg transaction my card was cancelled defensively and reissued.

I haven't been able to trust Newegg in a very long time, which is sad. They used to be the gold standard, now it's a decrepit pit of dropshipping garbage.


It's really sad. I don't know what Newegg's financials are but for me they went from being the gold standard for online stores to "don't use".


I was under the impression that you could filter out their marketplace sellers and that they didn't commingle their own inventory with anyone else's. Is that not the case?

Where do you go for computer stuff that you can trust these days? Every box in all the Fry's stores around me all seem to have already been opened and returned twice by the time i see them.


That is surprisingly crappy I heard that their marketplace had substantial counterfeit issues much like Amazon.

It is at least possible to filter it to items only sold by Newegg.


Instead of Newegg, for PC parts I exclusively use Microcenter now. When I was in Atlanta, there were brick-and-mortar stores on the north side. Now I just use their web site. My last PC build ended up being around $40 cheaper through Microcenter than through Newegg.


I've done my last two builds primarily through Microcenter. Their prices are similar to or better than other places and both times I've gotten $50 off by buying the motherboard and processor through them.


You're complaints about Amazon seem to almost all apply to eBay as well though:

Counterfeits: yes of course, just as many if not more

Multiple listings for the same product with different prices: yes, it's by design!

Advertising: not as much, but it is present

Fake reviews: the product reviews on eBay are mostly useless. The only thing you can rely on is the seller reviews


Amazon has all of eBay's problems but with a site that is product focused vs. seller focused. So you have all these categories of problems avoided on eBay like multiple items on the same page(), mixed reviews and the unknown of which seller is more likely to ship a good product.

eBay has some newer product-focused pages and features, but they don't create the kind of problems you see on Amazon.

It also seems somewhat harder to keep creating new seller accounts on eBay. I've been ripped off several times by highly rated sellers on Amazon that disappeared after a several weeks long case pending against them. Amazon resolved it satisfactorily, but it meant that I would have gotten the item faster from China.

All my personal experience, of course.

Of course ebay listings have multiple products, but not in the same super confusing way you see on Amazon.


"multiple items on the same page" - This is usually a positive, since it allows the user to easily look at color or size variations, there is a way to look at only reviews of certain variations

"mixed reviews and the unknown of which seller is more likely to ship a good product" - Being unsure of which seller is best also exists on eBay

I don't think Amazon's listings are confusing. You usually have size and color variations, and sometimes things like multi-packs. I guess that is subjective.


Locally, Amazon is absolutely atrocious for clothes and shoes. I just get page after page of trashy, unrecognizable brands.

They've been goofing up their delivery a lot lately too. Delivering items late or delivering the wrong items.


I cancelled mine a few months ago. Tomorrow is my last day. They've been harassing me on their site constantly with popups and notifications on every single page since I cancelled. It's gotten to the point where the harassment has firmly cemented my distaste for their user experience and I actively search for alternative sites first now.


This thread just got me to finally cancel mine. I had to click 4 times to get through the cancellation flow and was presented with three distinct screens that moved around the 'end membership' button and try to get you to click on buttons that keep you on as a member. This is probably the darkest pattern cancellation flow I've gone through in recent memory.


> This is probably the darkest pattern cancellation flow I've gone through in recent memory.

Can't be worse than e.g. NyTimes, Zipcar, Stamps.com (many others I'm sure) that force you to call a human to cancel


Yes, that's true


One thing you can do is if you plan to buy on amazon, you can input the order and then before you pay, send a copy of the order to the actual company and ask if they can give a discount if you place the order directly through the company. Most will do the deal outside of amazon because they save money on the amazon fees.


Interesting how this demonstrates that showrooming can affect online retailers too. Popular retail websites that introduce consumers to products can lose out on the sale if a discount is available by buying directly from a merchant, just as physical stores can be bypassed if a discount is available from an online seller.

Most people probably won't take the initiative to make an enquiry with the merchant for an Amazon marketplace order, and it'd be too inconvenient to do this consistently for small purchases, but maybe part of the motivation for promoting merchants tied exclusively to Amazon is an awareness of the threat that online showrooming might pose to some of their business in the future.


They always try to sign me up for Prime for Students although I am not a student. There is no button to say "I am not in school. Really!"


They do that for me because I have still have a university address on record associated with a .edu email from 20 years ago. Presumably deleting it would eliminate the nag.


I don't even have that.


Ha, the same thing happens to me. No idea why they think I'm a student, like you I don't have an edu email address on my account.


> I cancelled mine a few months ago. Tomorrow is my last day. They've been harassing me on their site constantly with popups and notifications on every single page since I cancelled. It's gotten to the point where the harassment has firmly cemented my distaste for their user experience and I actively search for alternative sites first now.

I've switched to sharing Prime with my fiancee through "Amazon Household," and they're even nagging me as I let my now-redundant Prime membership lapse.


I've almost entirely stopped using amazon because the search is so goofy. For anyone is wondering. Try searching for clothing. The more specific you get, the more goofy the search results. For example, if you sort by "lowest to highest" price it doesn't even give you lowest price....lol the only way you find lowest price is if you literally dig through all the listings. I should be able to put in my clothing dimensions and then find all shirts/pants that fit those dimensions. I should also add in parameters like color type or style and get more refinement. Then I should be able to sort by price and see lowest price for all the shirts/pants that fit me....but that is not what happens.


Boggles my mind how Amazon, one of the top tech companies and leader in e-commerce, can have a terrible search engine.


My theory is that they're stuck between (cost of fixing it plus the cost to their pageview metrics if we suddenly didn't have to dig so much) and (cost of slowly simmering customer resentment from terrible UI).

I imagine there's just no manager willing to charge the hill of better search when they'd have to die on the sword of plummeting pageview metrics for succeeding.


I have to agree - the search function is, and always has been, shockingly bad - ypu have to be too specific, and there just doesn't seem to be any reasoning to how it orders results.


And then you have to be really careful before you push the button to buy, because it may turn out that the item doesn't really match your search terms after all.


It's become the walmart of the web. Lower quality or knock off products and a sometimes lower price. I canceled my prime because most the stuff I was looking to buy was never prime eligible for shipping. And Amazon steaming or music isnt worth the price either.


This has been my experience as well. 20 years ago, you could go to Walmart and buy good quality brands at good prices. E.g. you buy a Dewalt drill, it is actually a high quality drill. What happened over time is that because of the extreme price pressure Walmart was putting on suppliers, they began to build special Walmart-only products. So, the Dewalt drill you buy has a great price but is also a piece of crap. I don't enjoy shopping at Walmart at all anymore, you are much better off to find a specially store. E.g. buy your drill the same place the professional carpenters shop.

Amazon has seen a similar decline. Years ago, if you saw a product on Amazon, you could be confident it was as it was labelled, you would get it in a reasonable time and the price was about as good as buying anywhere else. Amazon quality now is total garbage. The store is littered with counterfit goods. If the price looks good, that's probably because the quality is absolutely terrible. I don't enjoy shopping there at all anymore.


This is exactly the reason I was cancelling my Prime as well. And the new delivery service Amazon introduced which had a 50% successful delivery rate. Once I was waiting for the truck to come and asked the driver how he attempted to deliver my stuff and he was just laughing at me. He and his co-workers stole 500 USD+ worth of products from Amazon and I could not get this incident reported, even the manager ignored the details and just kept saying I should report it missing and re-order it.


That sounds like a job for the police, not an Amazon employee.


So his taxes have to subsidize Amazon's lack of reliable process?


No customer service rep or low level manager is going to have the authority to deal with hearsay customer reports of criminal activity. That's a job for the police, and Amazon may wait to report it until there's corroborating reports or evidence.

It's just as likely that they handed the report off, and it will be handled by someone else entirely. However, none of that makes the situation with the customer right; the customer's problem is they don't have a product. Re-shipping it is just about the only thing they can do in this case.


It seems you mainly have two level of expectations, one where you wish to find the best ever product for a specific niche you are ready to research and invest time into. And the other where you need to get recommendations and find 'the best product'.

In that sense I think Amazon falls in-between. Personally I'll use sites like thewirecutter or other review sites to get an idea of what's on the market and what I should be looking for. It's only from there that I'll hit an online merchant to see what they sell and at what price.

I get why it doesn't fit you style, it's a different approach.


I think it was thewirecutter.com that had some controversy regarding editors appearing to extort a standing-desk manufacturer for a good review.

I apologize for the vagueness / uncertainty, I'm having trouble finding a link to the story.



> We care about only one thing: helping our readers easily find and buy the best products for them

they came so close to convincing me and then they had to trot out the platitudes. no business cares ONLY about the consumer


I paid for a year, but what used to be an obvious benefit is no longer that. I order some stuff, but had the same experience you did so I use orders less.

Twitch prime used to justify paying half of the cost on its own, but that no longer gives me the one benefit I care about (no ads). That leaves video, which is a good fringe benefit, but not a main need for me. Amazon music was not a replacement for Spotify (too much things gated behind another 9 usd a month paywall).

To me, it feels like they decided to slowly weaken the benefits of the overall package and hope inertia kept people from opting out (not to mention the dark patterns like cancelling subscription removes the benefits of the current subscription).


What's rather galling about the streaming part of the Prime subscription is that a good chunk of content is now hived off into "Prime Video Channels", where they expect you to shell out another GBP4.99/month or more to watch previously "included with subscription" stuff. There's even films where you might have paid a couple of quid to watch that are now in these silos with no other option but to pay for the channel sub to view them, i.e. there are no other payment options. And to add insult to injury many of these channels are full of absolute dross.


The cable channel subscription is an absolutely annoying business model. The nice thing about Amazon for awhile, versus, say, Netflix, was that you can rent movies ale cart for a few bucks if it wasn't already streaming. I don't want a subscription to Starz just to finally see that Spiderman movie.

I'll buy a YouTube subscription before I pay for a cable package on a streaming service.


I agree, this bullshit behaviour is not why I signed up for a Prime (and Netflix) subscription and binned Sky. But I can't help feel it's just around the corner and there's no escape.


What?

I first do research on what specific model I gonna buy and than check who has it the cheapest with a minimum good Shoprating. Often enough I can buy it from or through Amazon.

How do you use Amazon that you will get different quality of a product in comparison to shopping somewhere else?


What you are describing has always been true, though. I’m not sure what change you are seeing that causes you to sour on amazon.

Granted I’ve never received a counterfeit.


"Granted I’ve never received a counterfeit."

The problem is you may not know. I have received several items from known brands that turned out to be low quality. I don't know if these brands just have started to make low quality items (very possible) or maybe the item was fake.


I just buy high value items in person. The local economy can use the money anyway. The rest I don’t really care if they’re counterfeit so long as they function.

Why on earth would you buy a Gucci purse from anywhere but Gucci? Caveat Emptor.


Some brands sell lower quality goods with the same branding/packaging.

Right now, there's an intersection of lower quality goods intended to be discounted with counterfeit goods flooding the market.


My biggest problem with Amazon at this point is Prime. The free 2 day shipping use to justify the cost of Prime by itself, but at this point more often than not I don't get my stuff within the 3-5 day period, so I don't even know what I'm paying for. And it's not like I'm off in the middle of nowhere, I live in a major US city. Then when you add in the incredibly lacking search functionality, and the fact that you can no longer trust the reviews you get a company that has completely lost the trust of it's users.


but at this point more often than not I don't get my stuff within the 3-5 day period

If they miss their 2-day shipping guarantee then you call CS, complain, and get a free month of Prime added. Ad infinitum. A way to increase your chances of missed 2-day shipping is to spread out your item orders so it gives them more opportunities to screw up. This also increases their costs of S&H across the entire logistics chain and maximizes the usage of your Prime membership. Plus it feels like every day is Christmas when a new random Amazon item is coming in.

Another key is to order stuff that weighs a lot (40lbs+). Last time I did FBA the UPS rate for Amazon shipping was ~50 cents / lb . So if you're getting a 40lb item (especially if it has weird dimensions) they're likely not paying much lower than $15-20 to get that to your door in 2 days.


It sounds like you get something out of this more than stuff, you get the fun of gaming the system.

> Another key is to order stuff that weighs a lot (40lbs+). Last time I did FBA the UPS rate for Amazon shipping was ~50 cents / lb . So if you're getting a 40lb item (especially if it has weird dimensions) they're likely not paying much lower than $15-20 to get that to your door in 2 days.

This is like overeating at a buffet to feel like you got your money’s worth.


When companies become openly consumer-hostile, we should expect consumers to become company-hostile. It's true that this leads to an antagonistic race to the bottom, but the alternative is a leisurely stroll to the bottom as one party pulls the other along by the neck. I don't know of any way to really reconcile this; trust is easy to lose and hard to earn, and in an environment of perpetual betrayal no party is eager to be the first to risk having their trust be taken advantage of.


My point is that Amazon or the buffet owner will not be brought down by a few customers who are a net loss to them shipping wise. They have already done the math.

You can either use amazon because you’ve decided you need it or you can actually stop giving them money and recommend others do so. That is a much bigger threat to them. Continuing to use prime and buying things you don’t need from Amazon isn’t being “hostile” to Amazon.


Well it's even easier than that. They'll just ban you.

http://time.com/money/5288702/amazon-return-policy-ban/

It's like card counting at a casino. Even if you're technically within the rules, you'll still get walked to the door.

As an aside: I canceled prime long ago. Couldn't be happier. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16937290


It's gotten harder to get a free month of prime (I used to take advantage of that, whenever a package was late). Now they tend to just apologize, when before they offered you compensation immediately.

I've found that now what they do is just give you delivery dates that aren't 2 days in the future, even when in stock. Sometimes I've had orders on Monday with ETAs of Friday, with prime, in stock (no notice on the page saying extra processing or out of stock).


This is what drove me to cancel Prime. After having this happen to me three times (adding Prime items to cart and getting all the way to the end of checkout before noticing the lack of two day shipping).


A few bucks either way on price (including shipping costs) don't matter much to me either way. What I do value is my time. And that is what missed delivery dates and time on the phone both cost me. "Spend time dealing with customer service" is another cost with no associated value to me.


That might be why it is so hard to complain.

Amazon lost one of my packages (they were delivering it themselves).

No biggie by itself, but the apology mail did not lead to a reimbursement. Instead, I had to go to the website, and go through a dozen of steps that really felt like they were here to make me decide it is not worth my time.

Great way to lose my confidence in the company ..


This approach would seem to negate the whole "convenience and simplicity" motivation behind using Amazon Prime.


> Plus it feels like every day is Christmas when a new random Amazon item is coming in.

I feel bad doing this, because I know these packages are coming in via air, truck, boat, etc and batching is significantly more efficient.


If too many people try to abuse a service like this, it is likely the benefit will be taken away.

https://www.howtogeek.com/fyi/amazon-stops-giving-a-free-mon...


I don't know that I'd call it abuse. I'd expect Amazon to fall afoul of advertisement and consumer protection laws in many jurisdictions if they claim "guaranteed" delivery times, and their response to missing said guaranteed times is "do nothing".


I'm in the UK, and we get free next day delivery with a Prime sub.

In 3 years, we've had only a handful of deliveries that haven't arrived on time. I only cared about 2 of those, and on both occasions they gave me a free month of Prime after I sent a single, short email saying delivery was late. Pretty amazing customer service, especially for the UK!

Amazon isn't always the cheapest (altho they usually are, or are very close), but their customer service is great, and if I have issues they make returns really simple. This is the reason I buy more stuff from Amazon than from anywhere else.

I should add, I've never (knowingly) had any counterfeits from Amazon, and don't personally know of anyone who has, but it seems from HN it's a much bigger issue in the US than in the UK.


I pretty much solely buy things from Amazon when their algorithm screws up and chances of counterfeits are low. I've bought several metal cabinets by a major manufacturer with free shipping for a price that had to be lower than the cost of shipping itself; much less the cabinets.

Were they beat up in transit, and take forever? Oh most definitely, one was even lost somehow; however they were so undervalued it was worth the fact they were bound to screw up.


> complain and get a free month of Prime added ad infinitum

They will only do this 12 times a year. You can also request that they give you the late item for free.


Prime may be "2-Day Shipping" but they state in their TOS processing time may make an item take longer than 2 days to get to you. I've have "2-Day" shipping items take a week to get to me and they just point to the TOS.


They changed that policy last year. You're no longer guaranteed a free month of Prime to compensate for shipping failures. CS reps can still give you this if they choose, but people are now being denied, especially if they've already been given free months before.


>The free 2 day shipping

The dark pattern the retail side now seem to employ is listing everything under the 2-day shipping Prime label, but not _actually_ shipping it for several days to weeks. Sure, they technically honor 2-day shipping once they actually ship, but as an end user, if something listed as 2-day shipping takes 8 days to be delivered... it isn't actually 2 day shipping.

It used to be go to amazon, enable the "Only Show Prime items" filter, and BAM, get your item 2 days later. Now the prime label is completely useless. You've got to manually investigate each option to see when it will actually be delivered. God help you if you mindlessly decide to change the color on the product page and expect the shipping date to hold.


I started ordering at Target. They have a similar program for free "2-day" shipping (through USPS, so the same issues as Amazon. Averages 2-3 days) if you sign up for their credit card.

Obviously a vastly smaller selection, but the prices are competitive and often cheaper than Amazon at this point. Feels good breaking away from Amazon as I was only shopping there from the momentum of what was once a good company.


I can second Target. Like Prime, you also get 5% off and you can open a debit card, if you don't want to open an extra credit card.


Thanks for the tip about the Target debit card. I'd heard about their credit card but didn't want to open a credit account. Their debit card links to your existing checking account:

https://www.target.com/c/redcard/-/N-4tfyn


There is also Google Shopping/Express, which works with major retailers including Target, and from unknown reasons I was able to order from Target via Google Express for cheaper than directly from Target..


> and the fact that you can no longer trust the reviews you get a company that has completely lost the trust of it's users.

Aren't many (maybe most) of these fake reviews done through Amazon Mechanical Turk? It's like instead of taking the cost to moderate the reviews, they decided to monetize them. Why pay money, when you can earn it?


> Aren't many (maybe most) of these fake reviews done through Amazon Mechanical Turk? It's like instead of taking the cost to moderate the reviews, they decided to monetize them. Why pay money, when you can earn it?

I know a lot of them come though Facebook. There hundreds of groups (like this one https://www.facebook.com/groups/amznlove/), where sellers are soliciting fake reviews in exchange for free product and PayPal refunds and commissions.

Here's the Washington Post article that describes this practice: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/how-merchant...

Here's a page that came up after a quick Google search that appears to be a review solication howto: https://www.amzfinder.com/blog/top-100-facebook-groups-list-...


>I don't get my stuff within the 3-5 day period

That's crazy because I'm in Canada and it's the reverse. I don't care about the free 2 day shipping because I usually get it quicker using their actual free shipping.

I used the free 2 day shipping of Prime a few time in the past using the student discount but each time, they ship the day after, which still means I receive it in 2 days. When I get the free shipping, more often than not, they ship it the same day and I receive pretty quickly. It's like on Prime they still hope I'm going to buy the overnight shipping while not on it they just ship whenever they can.


I have to agree with you, because I've never received a package late, and I've gotten a couple in < 24 hours. Maybe Canadian shipping is better?


IMO Prime to me is about more than shipping. I actually don't shop on Amazon often, though my wife for sure appreciates the quick shipping (we live in a suburb).

Prime Photos/Amazon Cloud Drive has been my most used Prime perk, probably. I use it a ton as a Dropbox alternative (it's not as nice as Dropbox but whatever). Followed closely by Prime Video. Then Prime Music, which I actually don't use on purpose but allows our Echo to 'just work' when it comes to playing music (I often forget to say "...on Spotify") especially themed stations. Twitch Prime is a thing I don't use much, but happy to be ad-free there. Not sure how they do ads anyway.

Honestly I think Prime Video alone is worth the subscription.


$10 per month for prime video alone would be worth the subscription? Netflix is $8 and at least its UI doesn't completely suck. Every time I used prime video in the past it seems like one of the intended dark-patterns of the prime video UI is to direct you to as many pay-to-watch videos as possible, even if you were browsing by the "included in my prime video account" filter.


Exactly. My 2 day shipping is always 4-5 days. I am not including non shipping days in this, either. My last item was a small SSD that took 5 days to arrive.It was bubble packed and about the size and weight of a Blu ray movie case.

I ordered SUV tires from Tire Rack, and they had them to me in 18 hours.

2 day shipping on their end is wildly misleading.


Interesting. We order on Prime multiple times per week and I can think of once, maybe twice where they didn't get it to us in 2 days. Conversely, I can think of times where it came in 1 day also.


Same experience here in a metro.


I don't mind it at all. I've been relatively impressed with the price to quality ratio and I usually seek the Amazon label brand where I can and the price is right—just like any other store brand.

- It started with batteries, which are awesome for the price

- I bought a throwaway comforter + sheets to use for couch-sharing with the dog and they're my favorite set now. Better than my Ikea set which cost 2x as much.

I could go on but for random items the Amazon brand is often pretty decent.


The problem with this is that it's built in the backs of brands who were at one point well recognized brands on Amazon. Amazon took their sales data, determined it was a good market to move into, created specifications and reached out to their hundreds of sellers for a "private label opportunity".

Cue making dozens of companies compete to supply Amazon with the manufacturing contract and constant downward pressure and you get a good product from Amazon at a good price. Not a problem right?

Until the private label brand forces 90% of those formerly quality-focused small brands to shut down and due to their "algorithms" detecting less competition, begins raising prices again. And now the expertise of small brands is gone and no competition springs up in the market.

I've seen this happen in a couple product lines over the year and is one reason we pulled off Amazon. Amazon customers are entitled pains in the ass, and the margin there isn't sustainable. The only way for small brands to make Amazon work is to aggressively sell a single SKU and put in remarketing/back-channel outreach to customers and make the conversions to the rest of your product line off Amazon.

This is explicitly against Amazon's policy, but their policy is in place to ensure they profit and you never gain traction so you remain reliant on them until they day they put you out of business with their own private label line.


> The problem with this is that it's built in the backs of brands who were at one point well recognized brands on Amazon. Amazon took their sales data, determined it was a good market to move into, created specifications and reached out to their hundreds of sellers for a "private label opportunity".

Not sure I'm seeing the problem. On the surface it sounds pro-consumer. Plus, this is already common in brick & mortar stores, I think Costco is particularly well-known for doing this (and of course private-label/house/generic store brands are hardly uncommon elsewhere too). If it was that destructive, why do we still have brand names in regular stores as it is?


Until the second part of OP's story happens - which is the competitors die off and then Amazon jacks up the prices.

Most of these sellers are much smaller than the brand names you see in supermarkets, and also much newer. Spigen, Anker etc. don't have the same sentimental decades long attachment that Kellogs, or Pepsi have with consumers either.


> Until the second part of OP's story happens - which is the competitors die off and then Amazon jacks up the prices.

Whenever some disrupter comes into a market, you always see some people saying this "just you wait, they'll jack up the prices sky high any minute now!!" and it seems to happen rarely, if ever.

For example, there are plenty of small towns where Wal-mart was able to dominate and drive out small mom and pop retail shops. I've heard plenty of complaints about that, but I've never heard anyone say, "...and then after they drove out all the little shops, the prices went through the roof!!"


> Whenever some disrupter comes into a market, you always see some people saying this "just you wait, they'll jack up the prices sky high any minute now!!" and it seems to happen rarely, if ever.

It's happening at Amazon. When they started, their prices were often much cheaper than physical retail. Now they're about the same, and sometimes outrageously higher.

> For example, there are plenty of small towns where Wal-mart was able to dominate and drive out small mom and pop retail shops. I've heard plenty of complaints about that, but I've never heard anyone say, "...and then after they drove out all the little shops, the prices went through the roof!!"

I doubt Wal-Mart makes pricing decisions like that at the store level, so your example doesn't really hold up.


> It's happening at Amazon. When they started, their prices were often much cheaper than physical retail. Now they're about the same, and sometimes outrageously higher.

I'm curious if you have any examples. I have been very happy with Amazon. Even though every now and then I look up competitor's prices and selection Amazon is usually better at one or both. When they aren't it's not by a lot.

Many people in this thread have complaints about Amazon but my experience has been great so I'm wondering where the disconnect is coming from.


> I'm curious if you have any examples.

Different poster, but just this morning I was looking for a simple non-smart grounded switch with a physical on/off button in Canada.

Amazon has a couple I could find:

Belkin for $21: https://www.amazon.ca/Belkin-F7C016q-Conserve-Power-Switch/d...

Leviton for $14: https://www.amazon.ca/Leviton-1470-W-3-Wire-Grounded-Switch/...

Local Rona store has the Leviton for $5: https://www.rona.ca/en/plug-in-switch-125-v-white-01815677


> I'm curious if you have any examples. I have been very happy with Amazon. Even though every now and then I look up competitor's prices and selection Amazon is usually better at one or both. When they aren't it's not by a lot.

This is what did it for me:

https://www.amazon.com/Philips-Hue-Ambiance-Equivalent-Assis...

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Philips-Hue-White-Ambiance-A19-L...

https://www.bestbuy.com/site/philips-hue-white-ambiance-a19-...

All $29.99. A couple years ago I was buying a lot of these in ones and twos. I was also also having a lot of trouble with Amazon Logistics messing things up (and Amazon refusing to allow me to "deprioritize" them, so I could get my package through another carrier with fewer issues). That struggle lead me to take another look at local retail, and removed my illusions about Amazon's automatic superiority. The local stores have most of the same items, for the same price, and available more quickly without shipping delays. They also don't have the fake-review fueled counterfeit problems that Amazon has.

As I've learned more about shopping at local stores, my Amazon use has been reduced to items that are only available on it or that I don't know where to find elsewhere.


Fair enough, though according to camelcamelcamel the price of Phillips Hue has been lower at times on Amazon: https://camelcamelcamel.com/Philips-Hue-Ambiance-Equivalent-...

If their data is correct there were times when it was available for 10-20% off.

Having read more comments in this thread I'm starting to think that my experience has been different (for the better) because 80+% of the time I know what I'm looking for before I visit Amazon. I rely on Wirecutter and other websites for recommendations if I'm looking for something I know little about.

Another thing is that Amazon has almost everything. It's much simpler to buy a couple of books + nail clippers + socks (one of my recent purchases) from them than make separate orders elsewhere.

And unlike probably most of the posters here I'm from Europe and I haven't experience any unusual issues with shipping so maybe it's a real and more recent concern in the US.


Amazon offers the exact same product for the exact same cost, I don't see the problem. Do you have any examples where Amazon is selling a product for "outrageously higher"?


> Amazon offers the exact same product for the exact same cost, I don't see the problem.

It's not much of a problem, but not much of an advantage either.

So, the question I'm confronted with is: why pay the same for a worse experience? The Amazon route forces me to pay more (Prime) to get it within 2-5 days, or even more to get it faster. Then there are the AMZL_US delivery hassles on top of that. The Home Depot route costs me 25 cents of gas and a 20-40 min of time to get it now-now.

> Do you have any examples where Amazon is selling a product for "outrageously higher"?

Not offhand, but I specifically recall seeing outrageously higher prices for some grocery/drugstore type items. Stuff like a $2 item selling for $6.


A lot of this is coming from the supreme court allowing companies to enforce Minimum Advertised Prices for items, and to require high prices. Amazon largely doesn't want to play the "see the price in your cart" game, and so, the price is what the manufacturer says, unless it's during a specifically authorized sale.

Before the MAP ruling, manufacturers could not ban resellers based on pricing, and you saw a lot more Internet discounting on products that the manufacturer saw as "premier" items, that they didn't want reputationally-impacted by low sale prices.


Yeah, in some of the branded Cosmetics you will be Amazon plus 4 or 5 other sellers all at the MAP. Brands where they have banned the grey market so it is all authorized sellers having the follow the MAP to keep their deal.


I've seen this happen too. And have some insight from the seller side:

6 companies might sell the same product at varying prices, some of them uploading 1000s of items they have dropshopping for, but no real inventory. 1 or 2 may legitimately sell the product at a manually entered price that's competitive - when those sellers sell out, the others who dropship at cost+100% show up as the default seller.

The big dropshippers make their profit off infrequent, high margin sales that can be auto fulfilled when legitimate sellers run out of inventory.


I live in the sprawl of Houston. If I need things from a couple of local stores that close in early evening, it may take longer for me to get by the stores for pickup than to have items shipped from Amazon even if everything I want is in stock. Ordering online for store pickup helps.


The troubles don't show themselves on the consumer side, they show up on the labor side. Monopsony makes it hard to find competing job offers when all the competing stores have been closed.


Oh, that's a good point. I've often thought that the reason unions are so important is that employers bargain collectively by default because, well, companies are groups of people, not individuals.

On the other hand, IIRC studies show that larger companies pay more than smaller ones, and I think there have even been suggestions that this explains some of the GDP per capita differences between developed nations, that some have more large companies that are then more productive due to economies of scale and specialization.


I can't speak to mom and pop shops in small towns. I think while the concept is the same, this would be more along the lines of the town opening it's own discount store and putting the mom and pops out of business.

But I can attest to 2 products I've ordered yearly for the past 3 years, increase in price about 10% each year. The diversity of competing products has decreased substantially.


I think the problem (for consumers) is usually the lower selection. Walmart focuses on the best sellers in any category, and the "long tail" that specialty stores can provide goes away.

(Well, that and the problem that Walmart sometimes drives out all the mom and pop shops and then closes the Walmart a few years later, leaving the town with nothing but the next closest Walmart 30 miles away.)


Redbox has done this. I mean, they're still cheaper than Blockbuster ever was for a "new release" movie. But they have just about doubled their price.


Instead, Walmart's quality went down the toilet.


I don't think this is accurate even for the brands you listed. spigen and anker are consistently the most recommended brand even by relatively tech illiterate youtubers. they've built up some trust with me and I've only owned one spigen phone case for my nexus 6P - if I see someone complaining about a generic powerbank/case I recommend anker/spigen respectively and tell them to check out whatever content creator(youtuber or tech site) they trust to see a review of it


I just have a hard time picturing the dystopian world where everyone walks around with figurative chains around their neck, working lifetimes of drudgery, because we let Amazon finally get monopoly power in all the stuff they sell and we have to pay double for our pens, notepads, backpacks and soap. And not a single company is popping up to reap the profits of selling a comparable item at a price that by construction of this scenario could be well below Amazon's but well above the cost of production.


The second part of the theory has been the hammer dropping for 15 years.

Amazon makes no money in retail to drive out competitors and when that day finally happens! Just you wait! The prices! I'm still waiting. The ride has been beneficial so far.


The stock market has priced in those future increases in the present day inflated stock price. That's a pretty decent indication.


The stock market isn't psychic. They believe all sorts of irrational things and are perfectly capable of being turkeys who vote for Thanksgiving. Price raising on commodities hasn't worked out all that well in general. While the network effect helps it isn't omnipotent. People are already returning to brick and mortar for better prices.


Companies don't jack up prices anymore. They lower their costs (ie reduce labor). It ends up inore profit and doesn't set off alarms at the FTC, which looks for harm to the consumer. Monopsony has been shown to reduce wages[1].

[1] http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/000312241876244...


Sure, it's pro-consumer. But it's anti-producer. Why shouldn't we care about those externalities?


Nah, this is no different from what brick-and-mortar retailers have been doing for decades.

Buying private-label items in supermarkets over name brand has been recommendation #1 in personal finance circles for at least as long as I've been alive. Hell, some private label products are better than brand... I'll go out of my way to buy Kroger's private label ice cream and sodas.

And it's not just food. Half the stuff you see in Walmart is private label, including clothing and pharmacy products (and I've found that I actively prefer their private label sleepwear over name brand). And whenever I buy OTC meds at CVS, of course I always take the private-label bottle, which has the same ingredients yet is half the price.

> I've seen this happen in a couple product lines over the year and is one reason we pulled off Amazon

Oh, I see. You have a personal financial stake in spreading FUD against private-label brands because you operate a name-brand business.


> The problem with this is that it's built in the backs of brands who were at one point well recognized brands on Amazon. Amazon took their sales data, determined it was a good market to move into, created specifications and reached out to their hundreds of sellers for a "private label opportunity".

I believe Costco (Kirkland brand) and likely Amazon also contract with one of the major brands (e.g., Tide detergent) to make a store-label parallel product with perhaps slightly different formulation, but often the exact same formulation. The name brand saves on their marketing costs and sells at higher margin, Costco gets a great product they can sell to customers for less than the competition, and customers willing to trust the Costco "Kirkland" brand save a lot of money ... it's a three-way win.

From https://www.wideopeneats.com/store-brand-vs-name-brand-why-k... ...

    >> It’s a common misconception that the generic is made from a cheaper brand.
    >> Sometimes the generic is made overseas with inferior products, but a lot
    >> of Kirkland Signature products are actually the exact same product as the
    >> name brand product.  ...  Sometimes, they’re even manufactured in the
    >> same facility!
I've bought a few Amazon-brand products, e.g., USB cables, backpacks. The Amazon Basic backpack is quite good quality, seems very similar to the Targus brand backpack designs, and handles some decent abuse.

EDIT: backpack experience


The thing I suspect about Costco Kirkland brands is that even if the same maker makes the item, Costco often elects to upgrade the quality in some way. Especially in ways where the maker could do, but doesn't for market reasons on their general line of goods. In a similar way, a lot of supermarket generic goods have some sort of minor downgrade in the quality of ingredients to differentiate with the original makers product.


>The problem with this is that it's built in the backs of brands who were at one point well recognized brands on Amazon. Amazon took their sales data, determined it was a good market to move into, created specifications and reached out to their hundreds of sellers for a "private label opportunity".

It's different imo. They see what private label products sell on FBA (and the specs they need to fulfill), and then can just negotiate better deals from the same suppliers, because most FBA sellers ship straight from chinese factories to Amazon warehouses it's no secret where it's coming from. And for many product categories there aren't that many high quality factories anyway.

The important part are the specs and quality of the product, if you don't specify and interact with the factories, you'll get crap, if you spec by focusing on the wrong things you pay too much and still get crap. The FBA sellers are basically just testing the right mixture until Amazon steps in adopting their formula. A successfull low cost product is just that, a good enough quality at an as low as possible price.


that's how competitions work....in your second part, some other people who can make the stuff cheaper will just come onto amazon's platform, preventing the price from going up.

If you're looking from a supplier side, yeah this business is bleak. But keep in mind someone will always accept a lower margin, run the same business more efficiently, or can produce your goods at a lower cost.

Just because you guys can't stay in the game, doesn't mean the game is broken. You got beat by open competition.


There's definitely something to be said about economies of scale and efficiency.

But I'm talking about design and product expertise. People sourcing knockoffs can create a cheaper version 1 of a product, but only a brand connected to it's customers will use their feedback for version 2, 3, 4, n+1.

I'm a little insulated in the food niche because product quality and freshness and expiry dates are huge risk factors, but this applies to other industries as well.

You can buy a knock-off Amazon branded chain lubricant from China that lists the same ingredients if you want, and it may work well in low impact situations. But for my motorcycle, you bet your ass I'm spend 2-3x the lowest price I can find on Amazon for a well known brand with a reputation and uses quality inputs and filters and has no additives. When my health is on the line, brand expertise is essential.

Same with food. There's a floor for quality, and you can't escape the value trade-off. Something being cheaper doesn't mean it's quality is unaffected, but the short-term, inexperienced people at Amazon don't care about that.

I can buy and sell our "product" at half price by buying last year's crop or a lower grade, and I can sell that garbage exclusively through Amazon and "win" the completion, but nobody really wins in that case - me or the customer or our competitors - only Amazon.


How is that different from large supermarkets determining own-brand cereal and peanut butter are good markets to move into?

It's just capitalism at work. Yesterday's high-quality high-price item becomes today's low-priced low-quality commodity. Quality-focused small brands in every industry and every market need to be constantly improving, developing new product improvements, new niches, new products. (E.g. an even-higher quality version for the luxury niche.)

It's extremely unlikely that Amazon will be be able to raise prices long-term on an own-brand item with "no competition" simply because... well, capitalism. As soon as they do, manufacturers in China or whoever sells the equivalent product at Wal-Mart will list on Amazon for a lower price and make money... so Amazon lowers the price again... and as always, the invisible hand of capitalism keeps prices low for the consumer.


I think it's different because of intent. Supermarkets and large retailers (e.g. WMT) seek deals to relabel and sell products as "house brand" but it's generally done in such a way that they are selling to customers who would not have purchased the name brand in any case. That's the pitch anyway, and judging from the longevity of these arrangements it's likely that the "name brand" is seeing enough benefit to continue in that way. The two entities seem to find a way to balance their interests.

With Amazon, I don't think they are seeking that balance at all. I do not think it's a good long-term move for their retail side. The problem with stabbing all of your friends in the back is that you also have a back.


> they are selling to customers who would not have purchased the name brand

When I was a kid, the supermarket had an isle named "generic", and all the generic stuff was relegated to that isle and came in plain yellow packaging. Back then, I would have accepted that they're not selling to the same customers as the name brands.

Today, store brand stuff at the supermarket is sitting on the shelf right next to the name brand stuff, with intentionally similar packaging. They are absolutely competing with the name brand stuff. And thats true at Home Depot and Walmart and Costco and everywhere else I shop that has a mix of store-brand and third-party brand stuff.

Of all the places I shop, Amazon is the only one whose store-brand is plainly labeled as such, and I give them kudos for that. Some places like the grocery store and Costco have a single store-brand, so you don't have to work too hard to figure out whats name brand and what isn't. While yet other places have several store brands that aren't really marketed as such in an attempt to confuse you into thinking you're getting a name brand (plumbing and electrical fixtures at Home Depot and Lowes is where I've seen this most rampantly)


You are correct that more stores are mixing their house brand in with "national" brands (or whatever term you want), and that stores have discovered the good ROI that comes from upping their house brand game (which is the point of the linked article).

I want to add that there is a hidden benefit for name brands to having the house brands there, at a lower price point. There's plenty of fascinating reading on "price positioning" and how having a lower house brand right next to the national brand results in increased sale of the national brand.

My main point was that I don't think Amazon sees its relationship with vendors the same way that older retailers do. WMT has a deserved reputation for being very aggressive with their suppliers, but I believe that their culture still sees the relationship goal as win-win (they would argue that they are helping their suppliers achieve better efficiency, or often licensing the national brand's stock to make their house brand so more sales for all). I know nothing about Amazon's buyer culture, but their own brand activity does not seem to give much consideration to supplier health.

It's also interesting to note that their own brands are immune to the commingling problem, which gives them a perverse incentive to let that problem ride. That makes me very uncomfortable.


> ...they are selling to customers who would not have purchased the name brand in any case... it's likely that the "name brand" is seeing enough benefit to continue in that way. The two entities seem to find a way to balance their interests.

I'm sorry but I just can't buy that. Generics in the supermarket and drugstore (at least the ones I go to) are directly next to the name-brand and clearly compete directly. There's no "arrangement" or "balancing of interests" between the two, any more than Coca-Cola and Pepsi have an arrangement or balance of interests to appear on the shelf next to each other -- which they of course don't, but rather are in cutthroat competition with each other, the same way they have been for decades.

It's flat-out competition pure and simple, there's zero difference of intent from what Amazon is doing. And both survive, because some people prefer to pay a little extra for name-brand or quality, and some people prefer to save a little money and trust generics. The only balance is between pricing and demand.


> I'm sorry but I just can't buy that. Generics in the supermarket and drugstore (at least the ones I go to) are directly next to the name-brand and clearly compete directly.

Many store-brand generics are manufactured by the exact same company that manufactures the name brand. The arrangement works because the manufacturer know that some consumers are cost conscious, some are brand conscious and willing to pay more. If they lower the price of the name-brand to get the cost conscious consumers, they lose out on the name brand markup. The solution is often two slightly different brand from the same company at different price points. For this to work, it's important that the store brand packaging have zero connection to the name brand.

Costco is especially known for doing this. IIRC, Kirkland batteries are probably Duracells in different packaging.


tivert's reply is correct, and WMT does it on a surprising array of goods. The most visible example is "Great Value" frozen pizzas, which are produced by the same company that makes and sells Red Baron. Cost conscious consumers buy GV, brand conscious consumers by RB, both companies make money.


The invisible hand of capitalism works slowly. The fingers of the invisible hand are unhappy consumers communicating their demand; the thumb is holders of capital hearing it and building better products. This process requires time to communicate that information and time for new suppliers to enter the market, and in the meantime consumers are unhappy and existing suppliers aren't making as many sales as they could.

The invisible hand corrects mistakes, but that's no defense of making mistakes.


Well, maybe, if we judge that Amazon does not exercise monopolistic control over online retail. But a lot of people are going to never look anywhere besides Amazon (gotta take advantage of that Amazon Prime subscription, of course) and just buy the product and not know that a lower-price option is available.


If they start raising prices then others will be able to re-enter the market and compete.


The way this system works is not normal brand vs. brand competition, it's the sales channel (distributor) which starts to compete with the established supplier.

This is what creates the imbalance in the competition. The distributor uses a private-label to bundle the sales of a lucrative product-tier that is sold across multiple brands in his channel into a single in-house brand.

For the original-brand to enter this channel again after it has left, it would have to be _cheaper_ than the private-label (to exceed the profit the channel makes with its private-label product), or prove that it can sell MORE VOLUME than the private-label for whatever reason (=more profit for the channel).

Unfortunately for both cases the brand is entering at a steep disadvantage, because it would have to finance its own brand to overpower the brand of the private-label, market their product to push sales, yet sell-in at a lower price, and even rely on the very same brand it now competes with (100% of the channel customers are shopping there because of the channel-brand).

At this point in the game, creating consumer-value becomes a niche-topic, because the barrier is now to create more profit for the channel, otherwise he will not allow you to reach the consumer...

That's one of the reasons why we keep seeing an increase in own-brand stores of major companies. It's the lack of "brick and mortar net-neutrality"...


Why would anyone enter the market knowing that Amazon could put them out of business again quickly?


Because that's how capitalism works? Walmart still has plenty of competition despite their giant purchasing and pricing power.


Should own brands be banned to avoid monopolistic behaviours?


My understanding used to be that it's OK if one company has a natural monopoly, but it's not ok to leverage that monopoly to gain an unfair competitive advantage in a different area. That was the rationale for the antitrust suits against Microsoft in the 90s: being the natural OS monopoly was OK, but they couldn't leverage that position to be the natural browser monopoly, too (which they did anyway, but whether the sanctions against them worked is a separate topic).

So, I would think the same would apply here: it's ok that Amazon has won a monopoly as a retail channel, but starting to leverage that to sell their own goods should be against antitrust laws. However, it seems that in the last 2 decades the only thing that courts have considered is "is the price lower for the consumer", so most antitrust laws appear to have been eviscerated in any case.


That seems a bit all or nothing. It could be worth considering if someone has monopolistic power (or some oligopoly) in one area such as distribution of products, any product business must be run separately via Chinese walls or just not allowed.

People seem to forget a fundamental part of capitalism is that government should intervene to maintain a level playing field. Then...what defines a level playing field..


That's fair, but Amazon has only a small % of total retail sales (4% in 2017, according to a quick search). I'm not sure at what point it's commonly assumed that a company has monopoly or market power, but I'm pretty confident it's not 4% or even close to that.

edit: another quick googling says that US courts apparently almost never conclude a company has market power if they have less than 50% market share: https://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?r...

Amazon is still growing at a good clip but I'd be really surprised if they were able to pass even 20%, let alone 50%.



I'm not sure that's a super meaningful distinction for market power. It's a different method of selling, but ultimately you're selling largely the same things. You probably wouldn't separate out "Ford has this much market share in dealerships vs online sales" most of the time, for example.


Well, I suppose that's the key question. But I think that yuo might argue it is, because there's a huge "long tail" of goods that you can only really hope to sell online.


It is. Monopolies only exist within context. Zero to one has a good section on this.


Much of this strategy was developed by Wal-Mart.


That's an interesting take but I think there's a bigger problem. Because of how they handle inventory, buying the Amazon brand of something is the only way for me to know that the item I'm buying is the item that I ordered.


Netflix is doing the same thing with tv/movies.


“Star Trek abundance” is coming ever faster, but the transitional period will be painful for many. Let’s hope to make it brief.


Citation needed. As far as I can tell, post-scarcity is almost fundamentally unachievable; and, at best, achievable with technology that today's eyes would confuse for magic.


Seems like it's more an economics issue than technology. We're already most of the way there as seen by the sheer quantity of throwaway product - where it's cheaper to make another than allow repair and maintenance. (I'm ignoring DRM on repairs - that's a different issue).

We could probably have post-scarcity as Keynes envisaged right now if we hadn't created rampant throwaway consumerism along with increase in capability post WW2. The moment an issue is "solved" fake problems will be invented to sell a needless alternative. e.g. The creation and marketing of liquid soap that's worse in essentially all respects to bar soap, or the whole creation of body and looks insecurity to sell a cosmetic or cream.

So, surely in x years when technologically we're able to achieve post-scarcity it'll just spawn another fake solution to another fake problem? Another reason to keep working 40 hrs instead of dropping to 20.

Maybe it can truly appear after World War 3, the banking and finance wars.


You're thinking solely about materials, and thusly forgetting about energy. (So did Star Trek, I reckon, but I degress.)

Humans require a timely supply energy to live and act. Converting energy into human-usable form, requires energy. Recycling and remanufacturing require energy just like mining and "unsustainable" manufacturing do. And even renewable sources can collectively provide only a finite amount of energy per unit time.


> best achievable with technology that today's eyes would confuse for magic

That's a pretty low bar, isn't it? Show an iPhone's capabilities to, say, a WWII soldier or industrial revolution textile worker, and they'll deem it pretty magical.


The revolutionary war was 250 years ago which seems to reinforce the parent's point. That's several generations of human beings and outside of the lifetimes of ourselves, our children, almost all our grandchildren and many if not most of our great grandchildren.

Electronic computers were being built in WWII and television existed. I doubt many would see an iphone as magical.


Sure, but an iPhone isn't really a step towards a post-scarcity society. It's an entertainment device, for the most part.


Show it to the people who designed the PDP11 at the time they designed it, and chances are they won't.

The uneducated masses of soldiers and workers are much easier to dazzle and fool than technical personnel; and I apologize for not qualifying my previous comment enough to convey the idea that the Star Trek replicator, if it were to exist and be transported to the present day, would indeed be magic to any sane scientist or engineer.


To impress the people who designed the PDP11 at the time they designed it, you better just tell them we still use C and UNIX.


The uneducated masses of soldiers and workers are much easier to dazzle

Time Traveler: look at this iPhone!

WW2 soldier: that’s a flimsy looking walkie-talkie, wouldn’t last a day fighting the Waffen SS. Do you mind? I got work to do.


Superficial; after, at worst, a brief demonstration, a stereotypical Nokia would elicit a different response.


No, you would be very disappointed. The vast majority of usefulness from a smart phone happens because it is connected. Since there would be now towers for the phone to connect to, most of the things you want to show couldn't be done.

You could use it as a personal organizer - but without connectivity it can be argued that a paper organizer is easier to use. There are a few other programs that will also work in a fashion, but again lacking connectivity the paper equivalents are as good if not better.

There are also a few games that will work: you can really impress them with the games you can play.

The only thing impressive will be the camera - a full color picture that you can zoom in on and save is interesting. Having 10000 photos (plus some videos) in your pocket will get attention. Of course once the phone breaks you lose all that, but still it will be impressive.


Of course once the phone breaks you lose all that, but still it will be impressive

You would also have no way to charge it, it’s not like any modern phone has simple inputs for 5v or whatever.



Maybe GP here's phrasing didn't communicate the idea well, but just because one item might be seen as magical to some particular people doesn't mean that anything we might see as magical is possible.


It would be nice for sellers to be required to disclose that the product is their private label.

some are very obvious but it is similar when grocery shopping, it can be difficult to know who is making the product you buy.


This would defeat the purpose of private labeling, which is to make you rely on the private label brand and not the manufacturer. The private label brands wants the freedom to change manufacturers and have you stick with them instead of going to the manufacturer.


And the manufacturer doesn't want you to know you can buy exactly the same potato chips in two different bags at two different price points


The manufacture also reserves the right to package a lower quality product. I've bought generic cereal that I'm sure was Kelloggs, most of the time I couldn't tell the difference - every once in a while there was a slight burnt taste. Still food safe, but not as high quality.


But why should we accept that?


Because even though the product might be from the same supplier, it is not a product of this brand. There is a big difference.

The customer-expectation of a brand-product is based on the perception, the history and the presence of that brand, a well-crafted association and experience that is funded with the profit of the product.

The private-label product is cutting this funding. It will not finance the supplier-brand and it sets its own expectation and quality-thresholds on the product. The supplier accepts that and waives his control to get the volume-order and fill production-gaps in its factory.

In this kind of deal there is no direct relationship between the original brand and the private-label product anymore.

Edit, for clarification: It's not said that the potato-chips will be exactly the same. The minimum requirements of the brands may not match with the minimum-requirements of the private-label, i.e. for the private-label a different grade of potato, oil, salt might be used.


Ok, but the whole concept of capitalism optimising resource use is based on availability of information, so it's surely essential for a properly functioning market?

Isn't it time we grew up as society, get forthright and stop trying to trick people into buying stuff by hiding information so sellers can bait-and-switch, cut quantities, cut ingredient value, etc..

Isn't it embarrassing? You sell great batteries at a good price, but only long enough to capture the market so you can push bad value on millions of people and cause excess damage to the environment .. so you can make a personal fortune. Straight theft seems almost moral compared to this.

I bought biscuits yesterday, same box, same price, 17% less biscuits. Just now the packaging is very wasteful, but they managed to use extra plastic to disguise the reduction of food content. Oh, and apparently as the small print on the back gives the contents this is all fine. Some manager got a bonus for that I imagine.


We're still living in the Stone Age, only instead of using rocks to cannibalise each other we use language, marketing, economics, and politics.

Cognitive Violence is a thing. It won't (usually) kill you as directly as a blow to the skull, but it's not exactly life enhancing either.


So the point is to deceive the customer and because that's the entire point is OK and needs to be tolerated?


No, deception has nothing to do with that. The point is to disconnect the product from its brand and connect it to another (in-house) brand instead, practically negotiating away the brand/marketing portion of the price by committing to an attractive purchase-volume.

If I'm Pepsi and you want to white-label my product but then again still want to tell everyone it's Pepsi, you still make your sales on the back of my brand-investment, so you'll have to pay for the brand as well.


That would cause quite a lot of changes. A lot of stuff in super markets, at least here in Europe, is private label, too. The manufacturers use it to test different prices, taste, etc. and I guess also to deter competition from entering the market.


Amazon label stuff is mid-tier quality at best. An example using batteries as you mentioned. Costco's private label(Kirkland signature) is so much better and cheaper. Costco's batteries are rebranded Engergizers. I


amazonbasics batteries recently started moving from japan to china; so I've heard


I've heard that too. I think I have some of the China batteries. I haven't really been able to tell the difference. They still last 2x as long as the crappy bulk hardware store batteries I used to buy.


Amazon Basic batteries are surprisingly good for their price.


I have a theory that every popular website will ultimately become MySpace clone, ramping up advertising/revenue until it drives off all of their users. With all of the ads, and promoted products, Amazon is stepping closer everyday.

I've been an amazon customer since they started. I've ordered thousands of books. However, this year, I cancelled my prime membership. I got tired of them not delivering packages. Sometimes they were delivered to our postal box; sometimes the front door; and sometimes not at all. I gave up and discovered that brick and mortar stores often have better products and I can get it immediately.

As far as people saying they get free months of Prime, my wife had packages never delivered and we would complain, they would just apologize and refund the purchase. Packages that were late? They just apologized. Once, the driver couldn't find our address, so he called the technical support who called my cell phone. I had to walk two blocks waving my arms before he found me.

Now, I find when I'm searching for something, I find that I don't get the best price. If I search long enough, I will find the same exact item cheaper. I'm convinced the search results are prioritized to make them the most money, not the best price or best match.

After canceling, I bought an electronic device and paid for fast shipping. The package was shipped out of the local warehouse, where they gave it to the U.S. Postal Service to deliver. The shipping cost via USPS was probably around $4. If I remember, they charged me around $12.50 for expedited shipping. They arbitraged the postage. I felt scammed.

I only shop at Amazon as a last resort now.


My amazon usb hub blocks the wifi whenever turned on... I should have returned it. Junk.

They are such a mess. The amount of items that have changed the product but kept the reviews, often from a phone case but now its a video projector pretending the 200 reviews belong to it. Not to mention one items page can have multiple sellers selling different varieties of the item.


Mine is crap too. I thought it was the hard drive plugged in to it but it seems to lose contact to all peripherals attached to it. It's got 3x "usb charging ports" but doesn't seem to have enough juice to power those either. Shame, cause Amazon Basics really appeals to me.


Badly implemented USB 3 can jam your wifi easily. Check if rf shielding of usb lines is done properly.


I'm really curious - how so?


Because its clock frequency comes close to WiFi, its signal being quite wideband, and, obviously, being much more stronger than the incoming signal.


2.4 GHZ wifi. https://www.intel.com/content/dam/www/public/us/en/documents... I wonder if thunderbolt 3 would cause a similar problem on 5 GHz just by doubling the signaling rate, but I haven't heard about any problems there.


Just got a replacement on a hub that seemed to have a faulty power-switching “feature” that would cause any connected hard drives to lose power whenever my computer woke up from Power Nap. At least getting the replacement was easy…


One of the best things about Amazon Basics is the simplicity of their 1 year warranty.

If you got it in the last 12 months, call Amazon and explain the problem to them. They'll likely send you a replacement and probably refund your money, if the issue continues.


This is the standard in Europe


Haha I had the same, returned it for a refund and ended up getting a much more expensive one from charjen, which actually works and doesn't block the WiFi. Seems a bit overpriced, but at least it works without fault now.


I'd never heard any of these before, I thought they would be talking about AmazonBasics. I've been pretty happy with the quality of that so far. Are their private label brand products generally high quality or cheap knockoffs?

The only serious issue I've had with AmazonBasics so far was with a portable battery which was at risk of exploding or catching fire unexpectedly, so it was recalled.

Two things to look out for are that they no longer tend to offer the lowest prices, and you could probably receive counterfeits. A lot of companies have changed their tune after taking a beating from Amazon, but unfortunately I think many customers have grown used to going to them for everything, even when it's not the best choice. To give a few examples:

You can often find electronics for the same price at Best Buy, and they allow in-store pickup so you might get what you want even faster. Fry's takes it one step further by price matching other technology stores. I'd also trust both to not sell counterfeits.

If you're looking for cables or adapters, Monoprice has very competitive prices and they've always been reliable. I've had all sorts of issues with adapters or cables purchased through Amazon.

For home and everyday items, Target and Walmart can often be quite competitive as well. Why pay $10 for a shower liner when a $1 or $2 one works just as fine?


I think the issue is less that the goods are of low quality (actually direct-selling private-label goods seems to partly be intended as an anti-counterfeiting measure) and more that manufacturers who sell on Amazon are crying foul because Amazon is undercutting them.


> manufacturers who sell on Amazon are crying foul because Amazon is undercutting them

... which has been the warning to anyone selling on Amazon for at least a decade or so?


How can you ignore the store that represents almost half of online sales?


There are many, many name brands that do not allow sale of their products on Amazon.


"Name brand" is the key thing, isn't it? If you already independently have name recognition, no problem. If you're a nobody it's hard to break through.


Amazon is swamped with products from China of dubious quality. Just search for 'earphones' for example. All top results are very poor products from unknown brands. Amazon needs to handle this now unless they want to turn into Aliexpress.


Dubious quality is one thing, but dubious legality is the stuff that worries me the most.

I ordered some food processing gadget, but it does not come with any kind of EU certification (i.e. not stamped or anything) and it is shipped direct from China in a box that says "gift". The same product on Alibaba have different seller and some claim they are selling the "food-safe" one and not others.

The brand from China are all mysterious from a foreign buyer point of view, so I cannot even buy from a brand and trust that the brand is serious about its reputation. Anyway, on Alibaba/express, there are often several brand claiming the same product despite using the same picture than another.

That's a mess, and indeed if I bother buying from Amazon (instead of Aliexpress), I hope the stuff coming to be at least legal. I can understand some amount of counterfeiting, not the current level though.


> it does not come with any kind of EU certification

They're already one step ahead and have just copied the CE Marking logo as well

https://www.cemarkingassociation.co.uk/ce-marking-and-the-ch...


When you ship a rebranded OEM product, you don't have to recertify it if the original white box product was.

It is ironic how all kinds of certifications, originally conceived as a mean to kneecap Chinese/Asian exporters, now play into their hand.

Now, it is Western companies that don't want to develop a thing on their own, or make any original products as such, as that will require them to undergo certification for every self-developed, original product. Unlike with white box designs that were specifically designed for OEM industry, and allow for all kinds of effortless customisation without losing certification, and reaping the benefit of economies of scale (one OEM design being sold to many customers under a single certificate).


On a somewhat related note, I recently bought a chocolate from a local discount store (in the EU).

Apparently the list of ingredients is a machine-translation of the original (unknown) language.

It listed "palm-oil" as an ingredient. Sounds reasonable, but my language has different words for Palm, the tree and Palm, the palm of your hand.

Apparently my chocolate was made from oil extracted from human hands. Pretty disgusting.

If I had the required time or energy I'd try to file some sort of complain, but unfortunately I don't. Mostly because that's outright dangerous (imagine a potentially lethal allergen lost in machine translation).


Maybe it was a mistranslation of hand-pressed oil rather than Palm Oil: https://www.piteba.com/en/

:)


I understand what you're getting at, but do people actually buy those items with the understanding that they are getting something of a higher quality? If you pay $2 for headphones and all the ones in the store cost $10+, it's hard to argue that you thought the quality was going to be higher.

I know we're in the tech bubble so most of us probably do research before buying anything online, that's why I ask.


Yeah those don't bother me too much, you pretty much know ahead of time when you buy super cheap crappy products. Counterfeits are the real problem, and to an only slightly lesser extent fake reviews.


> it's hard to argue that you thought the quality was going to be higher.

Oh, but argue people will!

Some people have a fairly un-nuanced view and assume that instead of the cheaper option being a cheap knockoff the more expensive ones are attempting to rip them off (because if one company can offer X for Y, anyone asking more is creaming extra profit). And some pretend to be that naive when it comes to refund/replacement/negative-review-designed-to-encourage-an-out-of-warranty-replacement/refund time.


Hmm. The top results for me are:

    Gritin           - China - 12 Euro ~ 5 stars / 310 reviews "Amazon Choice"
    KLIM             - China - 20 Euro ~ 5 stars / 864 reviews
    Panasonic        - Japan - 8  Euro ~ 4 stars / 1.335 reviews
    Beats by Dr. Dre - USA   - 22 Euro ~ 3 stars / 172 reviews
    qubbi            - USA   - 10 Euro ~ 4 stars / 48 reviews
    Anker            - China - 20 Euro ~ 4 stars / 1176 reviews
    Mpow             - China - 20 Euro ~ 5 stars / 463 reviews
ALL of these companies manufacture most of their products in China.

Anecdotally chinese companies appear to outperform foreign companies on quality among the popular choices - if review scores are anything to go by.


You can't use review scores. They are not a proxy for quality at all. They are a proxy for perceived value. I have noticed, subjective of course, that people rate more expensive products more harshly. If I buy some $5 head phones and they work alright I am really happpy. If I buy $200 head phones and they are not perfect I am going to be disappointed, my rating will reflect that. So you have to compare products that cost a similar amount to get a real feel for the product quality. Reviews of vastly different costed items doing the same thing are kind of meaningless.


That is how reviews work, yes. When I buy $5 headphones for the gym, I'm happy they generally don't have static and seem to work. If I buy $200 headphones for the office, I'm going to complain if the 13khz range is a bit muddy. Likewise, I'm happy when my $40 bookshelf doesn't fall over, but I expect more from a $400 bookshelf.


Yes. Obviously.

Though those headphones are mostly in the same price range, and certainly not vastly differently priced.

They're pretty much all low-end headphones. Yes. Even the Beats by Dr. Dre who like to pretend they're not.


They certainly outperform on gathering high review scores...


Key line there: if review scores are anything to go by


I use Mpow headphones from Amazon. They work really well for running. I have tried many different brands and settled on these for price/quality ratio.

The price also means I don’t need to worry about losing them which is a great “feature”.


Do you have an adblocker running? I did the same search, I got one result from Panasonic. The rest were nonsense brands I've never heard of: omnigates, mpow, gloue, arrela, otium, actionpie, byz, etc..


I do have an adblocker, but results probably differ between amazon.de, amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, etc...

Mine are the results I got on Amazon Germany.


> ALL of these companies manufacture most of their products in China.

As do Apple, Microsoft, Google and everyone else.


European and American brands have higher quality standards than Chinese brands. Whether the manufacturing happens in china or elsewhere is completely irrelevant to the actual quality of the product.


On average? Very likely. Probably.

For popular global brands in the lucrative consumer electronics sector - where good reviews are everything - I am not so sure.

> Whether the manufacturing happens in china or elsewhere is completely irrelevant to the actual quality of the product.

Completely irrelevant? What makes you think that?

Anecdotally again, most of those numerous bad reviews for Beats by Dr. Dre exist because apparently they tend to fall apart after only days of use. So much for western quality control.


I believe Anker is American, though obviously manufactured in Asia (which is true about most American brands).


I looked each company up when I made that list and Anker is a 100% Chinese company/brand.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anker_(electronics)

> Anker is a brand of Chinese electronics company Anker Innovations [...]. Headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong [...]


Can you check all those on FakeSpot.com and add the FakeSpot review? Would be interesting to see.


Doesn't appear to work for amazon.de, but amazon.co.uk has most of these under the same product IDs.

Here are the grades according to that website:

    Gritin           - A (90%)
    KLIM             - F (62%)
    Panasonic        - A (90%)
    Beats by Dr. Dre - Not available on .co.uk
    qubbi            - Not enough reviews on .co.uk
    Anker            - A (90%)
    Mpow             - Not enough reviews on .co.uk


I spent far too long looking for a second USB charging block for my phone. The first page is full of < $5 chargers, none of them from a brand I'd heard of before, with mostly 5 star reviews from bots and a few 1 star reviews of "this caught fire and almost burned my house down"

You'd think to see an Anker product on the first page given their reputation for reliable electronics and (at least in my circles) popularity.


I wouldn't trust Anker too much either, I got an Anker 3-Port USB-C to USB-A hub + ethernet jack (because like you, I heard they made good stuff) and it blacked my wifi whenever I tried it use it. Maybe I got a counterfeit one, IDK, it was sold by "AnkerDirect" (the hub looked to be made pretty cheaply too). Either way, I returned it and got a charjen hub.


How true is this... and there are products with false ETL and other certificates and Amazon is not removing them from the marketplace... in the last 2 months I've started looking on Amazon like a bit better Aliexpress - at least for electronics...


I don't necessarily mind buying cheap goods from unknown brands. With something like earphones, I'm not optimistic they'll last that long before breaking or my wife losing them or something in the first place.


With earphones, if they get too loud for even a split second, they could damage your hearing or give you permanent tinnitus. I wouldn't put stuff of unknown provenience or quality into any of my body's orifices, ears included.


Chinese IEM's & earphones are actually starting to compete with the big guys in USA and some simple research can yield wonderful results. TRN, KZ, LZ, Tin Audio, are all wonderful.

Head-Fi forums are all the rage about them.


And the price is often vary drastically.

> At Newegg they go from $355 up to $446 but on Taobao and AliExpress they can be found as low as $130

https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/msur-n650.21366/reviews#rev...


I'm talking more like $45. Can be found on Amazon too for a little more.

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Original-KZ-AS10-5BA-HiFi-St...


The article mentions they're setting up their own brands in order to get a better grip on product quality. I'm quite sure Bezos does not want to be Aliexpress.


>I'm quite sure Bezos does not want to be Aliexpress.

I'm sure he really wants to! Otherwise why would he sent his people to China to beg major Taobao/Aliexpress operators to get on the Amazon train?


I'm sure Amazon margins are more substantial on these Chinese products than on well established brands.


Yes, Aliexpress does not have its own private labels.


I wish there was a filter to remove all the crap private-label items. If only


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