How to break up with Amazon
The last week of April 2020 is when my two-decades-long relationship with Amazon started to rapidly unravel and then implode. As a self-published author with a book on their platform, I became aware of some business practices of theirs, which pushed an already tenuous connection with them into the zero-tolerance zone. Last month, I wrote an essay on my own reasons for deciding to break up with Amazon.
For my birthday on May 7, I invited my Facebook friends to gift me their own commitment to divest from Amazon… whether that meant cancelling their Amazon Prime membership, resolving to buy from them less often, or flat-out boycotting Amazon altogether.
A few courageous and enthusiastic friends commented on my public wall, “I’m with you!” A much, much larger number stayed silent. A handful confessed to me in private messages, “I don’t think I can quit Amazon, I’m so addicted,” or “The idea of leaving Amazon gives me anxiety.”
If you want to break up with Amazon — or at least, gently wean yourself from dependency on them — here are a few practical steps you can take.
Cancel your Prime membership
- Visit Amazon’s ‘Manage Your Prime Membership’ page.
- Choose to ‘Update your settings’ under the ‘Manage Membership’ box in the top-right-hand corner.
- Select the ‘End Membership’ option.
- Your Prime membership will automatically end when it’s up for renewal, and you won’t be charged for another month.
The cost: You may experience withdrawal symptoms as you start to break free from the grip of you consumption addiction.
The benefit: You will end up buying a lot less sh*t that you don’t actually need simply because it’s oh-so-easy to swipe and click. You will have more money in your bank account and less clutter in your house.
Go direct to the manufacturer
- Search for the item you need on Amazon. Usually, you will find many versions and many providers of what you are looking for, and you can use Amazon’s reviews and rankings to help narrow down your options.
- Click on the product details and look for the original manufacturer’s name. This may be visible on the packaging in the product photos, or listed in the product details. Amazon is used as the distribution channel for many smaller businesses and if that is the case, the product page will say “Product sold by XYZ Company and fulfilled by Amazon’.
- Do a general Internet search for the name of the company + name of the product to find out if the company has a direct sales website or alternative online distribution channel besides Amazon.
- In many cases, you will find the same item that you see on Amazon, for the same or similar price. When you get things ‘cheaper’ on Amazon, the money you save actually costs the smaller company that makes the product, their employees, and their community.
The cost: You can expect to pay something to cover the shipping costs for your item and in most cases, you will wait longer to receive your product.
The benefit: More of your money goes to the manufacturer of the product. None of your money goes to Amazon.
Find a local business to buy from instead
- Do a general Internet search for the name of the product + the name of your city, town, or neighborhood.
- Walk, drive, or skip to your local grocer, pharmacist, stationer, bookseller, chocolatier, or jeweler. See, touch, and maybe even taste what you are buying. Meet the human behind the counter. Talk to them. Ask them questions. Buy from them.
The cost: You may spend more money, time, and energy in the process of obtaining the object of your desires.
The benefit: You are much more intentional about what you buy. Your economic power goes into feeding your local economic ecosystem and supporting flourishing small businesses. You build relationships with the people who live and work in your community.