Amazon.com rarely offers coupons, presumably because its prices are already so low as to threaten its profit margins. But this week it's offering a coupon that gives you $5 off a purchase of $25 or more.
There's a catch, of course: To get the coupon you have to shill for them on your Facebook page. Specifically, you'll have to go to this coupon page and fill in the blank in the following sentence: "______ is at the top of my back-to-school list." Then click a button to share that sentence (along with a link to the coupon page) on your Facebook profile, and Amazon (AMZN) will email you confirmation that the coupon has been added to your account. You can put whatever you want in the blank, provided you're comfortable with your Facebook friends seeing it.
To use the $5 discount, just shop as you normally would, and once you get above $25, the discount will be automatically applied. Note that it only applies if you've got $25 worth of items that are sold and shipped by Amazon (third-party marketplace items sold through the site don't apply). Also, keep in mind that this discount might drop you back below the $25 free-shipping cutoff, so you'll probably want to put at least $30 worth of merchandise so that you're still getting free shipping after the coupon is applied. Oh, and the coupon is only good through 11:59 p.m. Pacific time Thursday, so you'll have to make your purchase fairly quickly.
And that's when it becomes clear what Amazon's up to here. I currently have about $20 of merchandise that's been sitting in my cart for months, but this promotion is probably going to get me to click "buy" in the next couple days -- after adding another $10 to my purchase, of course. Not only did Amazon get me to advertise on its behalf, it also got me to return to my abandoned cart, do a little more shopping, and finally make the purchase I'd been putting off.
Well played, Amazon.
(Hat-tip to Kelli Bhattacharjee for bringing this to my attention.)
Also check out AOL Search for quick price comparisons on the products you're looking for: Laptops | Tablets | Jeans | Sneakers | Back to School Essentials
Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.