Suddenly, Amazon Doesn't Love Its Moms Anymore

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Amazon.comDear Amazon.com,
I got your note in the mail, and I have to say, I'm hurt. Was it something I said? Something I did? Whatever it was, I'm so sorry. Please come back!
xoxo,
Mom


Once upon a time, Amazon.com (AMZN) loved moms. And moms loved Amazon.com right back. The company that built a devoted fan base off of its $79-a-year, all-you-can-eat free shipping "Amazon Prime" service held a special place in its heart for moms.

For that matter, Amazon was pretty close to dads, grandparents, sisters, cousins, and even remote acquaintances -- anyone, really, who could spot a loophole big as the Holland Tunnel, and signed up for its corollary "Amazon Mom" service. Offering the same free two-day shipping as Amazon Prime, Amazon Mom loaded on heaps of extra benefits for anyone who thought to ask for them:
  • No fee at all for the first 90 days of membership
  • Extra "free" months added on when you placed an order worth $25 or more
  • And perhaps best of all, purchases of diapers and other baby-related consumables received discounts of as much as 30% off Amazon's regular prices.
But all that's at an end.

Reality Bites

Last week, Amazon revealed that the high cost of supporting programs like Amazon Mom had helped to cut the company's profits in half. Turned out, keeping "Mom" in the standard of living she had grown accustomed to carried a high price tag. And so Amazon threw Mom from the train.

Just a couple weeks ago, Amazon began sending out emails to its millions of Moms, announcing significant cuts to the program's benefits. The ability to earn extra months of free shipping, for example, appears to be under review. Kindle rental is no longer mentioned in the terms of service. And the cruelest cut of all is that the discounts on diaper purchases have been slashed by a third. Instead of 30%-off, the most Amazon Moms can hope to score today is 20%.

A Virtual Million Mom March

Emboldened by the success of recent online protests, though, Amazon Moms are taking to the streets (or perhaps, to the Information Superhighway) in revolt. After seeing corporate bigwigs cave and rollback everything from the new "pay to pay" fee that Verizon Wireless tried to foist upon its subscribers, to Bank of America's infamous $5 monthly debit card fee, they've started a petition on Change.org to demand that Amazon reinstate the original terms of Amazon Mom.
Now I have to admit -- at first glance I wasn't particularly impressed by this move. I mean, when Verizon (VZ) tried to charge its customers for the privilege of paying their own bills ... that was just wrong. And B of A's (BAC) attempt to recoup revenues lost to it when Congress capped the fee it could collect from merchants for debit card use was a bit sketchy.

But Amazon Mom? This is a free service. It cost nothing to join, so really, what did consumers have to complain about when Amazon reduced the level of benefits it was giving away gratis?

Not Everyone Can Be a Mom

Turns out, though, there is a bit of dirty pool going on here. In switching from the old system of Mom benefits to the new, Amazon took a couple questionable actions. For example, some Amazon shoppers have reported that after announcing a date for the switchover in benefits, Amazon forbade Mom-members from ordering extra shipments of diapers (for example) ahead of time, in an effort to beat the price hike. The company has also apparently frozen membership in the program entirely. The webpage for Amazon Mom sign-up now bears a notice reading:
"Looking to join Amazon Mom? You're in the right place. But at this time, we're not accepting new members to our program. If you'd like to be notified when Amazon Mom memberships reopen, please join our waitlist."
Conspiracy theorists are wondering if membership was frozen to prevent a mad rush to join Amazon Mom and buy diapers in bulk before the new benefits plan came into effect. And even if they're right, from a business perspective, I suppose Amazon's actions make some sense. If the company's bleeding money, and earning half as much as it used to largely because of Mom, of course they'd want to avoid exacerbating the problem.

Cutting the free benefits from Amazon Mom also makes Amazon's paid service, Amazon Prime, relatively more attractive (and could therefore boost the company's bottom line.) But from a PR perspective, there's no question Amazon's making a lot of Moms unhappy lately -- and like the saying goes: When Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company mentioned above -- but yes, he is a proud Amazon Mom. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com and Bank of America. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Amazon.com.



Correction:
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Amazon Mom also offered a free monthly Kindle book rental. It also inaccurately stated that Amazon's ordinary subscribe-and-save program offers a 15% discount. The correct number is 5%.




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35 Comments

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Josuah Manuel

Check out this website for the best amazon deals, for moms, and kids alike http://www.amazonsupermoms.com

April 10 2013 at 11:38 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Pamela H

First of all, this article is hilarious!

Second, I don't think we should be labeling all moms or Amazon Mom Members (past & present) as freeloaders or self-labeled martyrs. More babies in this country helps the economy in many ways. When you're in your adult diapers towards the end of your life, who do you think will be working to help support you and the country?

Also, I don't think they can discriminate against any dads who want/wanted to join the program.

Its seems like the backlash was from how Amazon handled the cancellation of benefits.

A family member of mine who is a new mom gets all her diapers and supplies from both Costco & Sam's Club online. Ex-Amazon Mom members should check them out because she gets free shipping.

November 29 2012 at 10:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
LESLIE

I too signed up when they launched what was a good program! I now have found the price difference to not be a savings at all when Sams & Costco are cheaper and have free shipping.. also I am not sure that I find the excuse that they have lost tons of money on the program to be a good one. I know that I was a new customer of theirs along with many other mothers. How could they have lost money??? Oh well it was nice while it lasted!

Sams Club : http://www.samsclub.com/sams/shop/product.jsp?productId=prod4170004&navAction=
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Pampers-SoftCare-Unscented-Wipes-Count/dp/B00332FFIO/ref=sr_1_3?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1329396660&sr=1-3

February 16 2012 at 8:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to LESLIE's comment
Pamela H

I tried clicking on the links you posted but Sam's Club won't show me the price even though I put a zip code in. Just curious how much Sam's is vs $25 at Amazon.

November 29 2012 at 10:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
JOSEPH

People should boycott Amazon. There are better deals and prices out there.

February 16 2012 at 7:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kimberley

Since Amazon is one of the few places that I could consistently get my daughters diapers in her size (local stores - ie Wmart only carry up to a size 2) without paying through the nose (BRU wants the same for 28-36 diapers as I was paying got 60-80 @ Amazon) I was mad when I got the discontinuation notice, and that not only was the discount basically disappearing (5% woohoo) and that I would now have to pay shipping pretty much made it impossible to afford the automatic shipping program. And I am sorry, with baby expenses being what they are having to pay an extra $75 to get free shipping and no discount, not worth the hassle of dealing with amazon. Hopefully my dtr does the potty dance in the next couple months and we can be done with diapers. But until then we will be shopping Costco not Amazon.

February 15 2012 at 11:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lorimidmroi

not all the Mom members are actully Mom's that's the problem, I know lots of people who sign up that aren't mom's

February 15 2012 at 7:12 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
camerongfx

It's about time. I voted for "EQUAL RIGHTS" and now Mom has to live by the same rules as Dad. HOORAY!!!!

February 15 2012 at 2:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to camerongfx's comment
Lori

What are you babbling about?

February 16 2012 at 3:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mrsentinel

For the real Amazon Moms, like my wife, who actually benefitted from getting things like baby diapers (the only thing we bought) at a substantially reduced rate, all of these changes definitely take another bite out of the pocketbook. Might as well join Costco now...

February 15 2012 at 2:00 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
jcarlin007

There are no "free" lunches.....if amazon can't afford it, then they need to cut it. If only the government would have such sense.

February 15 2012 at 12:43 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Say NO to libs!

WTF? I must have missed the memo! Is this "Kick Amazon in the Teeth Day"?

February 15 2012 at 9:21 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply