Heads up, shoppers. This holiday season Amazon is giving everyone — not just Prime members — free shipping. The limited time offer (Amazon hasn't specified a cut-off date) is applicable to items that will arrive in time for Christmas and applies to "hundreds of millions of items."
Before any Prime members get upset, the offer is for 5-to-8 day delivery. Prime members still get their shipments in two days or less. Moreover, their $119/year fee also gives them access to additional perks like discounts at Whole Foods and early access to exclusive deals.
But what happens if your delivery is late? Here are some pointers on what you should do if your Prime (or non-Prime) delivery doesn't arrive on time.
Understanding the perks
Although Amazon doesn't do much to promote its late-delivery refund policy, it's actually a good one. In many cases, any Amazon Prime customer who doesn't get a delivery within two days on a two-day shipment, or within the hours Amazon specified, will qualify for one free month of Amazon Prime. (Keep in mind your mileage may vary.)
The free month is typically tacked on at the end of the period, so subscribers' end dates are pushed out one month.
"If you received free shipping through Amazon Prime, you may be eligible for a free one-month extension when the promised delivery date isn't met," Amazon once wrote on its customer service page. "Prime Extensions are limited to one per free trial and 12 for an annual membership."
However, since the publishing of this article, that page has been updated to provide more general information about late shipments. It now suggests that Amazon will offer you a refund on your shipping fees. It makes no mention of Amazon Prime specifically. You will instead need to contact Amazon customer service, which according to many Internet users, will give you the free month.
However, some internet users have reported even better perks in return for late delivery. Several posters have reported on internet forum sites that when they contacted Amazon to inform the company a package was late, the e-tailer offered anywhere from a $5 to $20 gift certificate toward any product on the site, a 20 percent discount on an Amazon Prime membership, or other offers.
It's unclear exactly what triggers Amazon to offer one deal over another, and it might have something to do with the time of year. But a quick look online clearly shows that Amazon is willing to offer more than just an extra month of Amazon Prime.
So, the question becomes, how do customers actually take advantage of such deals when their packages are later than Amazon promised?
To contact Amazon, it's best to use the company's Contact Us page. When customers get to that page, they'll see a list of items currently being shipped to their home or office. From there, they can see tracking details, expected arrival time and more.
In the second frame, Amazon asks customers to "Select an issue" they're having. For example, customers can specify whether they're having a problem with their order or are just wondering where their "stuff" might be. Because this issue pertains to not getting an item on time, choose the "Where's my stuff?" option.
Next, Amazon asks for more details and, conveniently, offers a "Shipment is late" choice.
Finally, customers can choose to contact Amazon's customer service via email, phone or live chat. Amazon recommends selecting the phone option to get support more quickly; customers can specify which phone number the rep should call. Online-chat waiting times aren't bad, and some users have said that Amazon has responded to emails within the hour they contacted the company.
In other words, any option is just fine.
Talking to customer service
Once it's time to talk to a customer service rep, the process is somewhat simple. Customers simply confirm that they purchased a product and that it hasn't arrived. Amazon customer service will look into the claim, quickly determine that the package hasn't arrived and, in most cases, automatically offer a free month of Amazon Prime service.
But as mentioned, some people who commented on their Amazon offers on deal-tracking site DealNews, have been lucky enough to get more than a free month of Prime, so it's a good idea for customers to push back a bit and explain why the delay is such an inconvenience.
Perhaps you ran out of critical household goods or you were counting on the product to land in time so it could be given as a gift. Whatever the case, the commenters suggest customers who come up with a good reason Amazon's delay is upsetting them are in a good position to get a bit more. As long as it's all done in a polite manner. In other words, writing in all caps or too much complaining will probably get you nowhere.
Given that Amazon’s official policy only allows for customer service representatives to offer a freebie on the first Amazon Prime shipment, the company might be less willing to offer a deal if delays start to pile up. As such, it's a good idea to go for it all the first time around or face the possibility of more pushback on subsequent attempts.
Bonus tip: Avoid Twitter
One more thing: While it's fine to complain to Amazon on Twitter, the company discourages sharing order information on the social network and typically directs users to its customer service page. So, although Twitter might be more convenient, it won't expedite a resolution.