Category Archives: Buyer Beware

Amazon Prime Hobbled


What gives Amazon?

While making a purchase on Amazon today I ran into a problem that I hadn’t had before.  The thing that I wanted, the USB to Micro USB adapter pictured at the right was listed as an “Add-on Item”.  I wasn’t adding it on to anything.  I just wanted to purchase the cable and have it delivered with my Amazon Prime. However, that’s not what happened.

When trying to check out with the item in my cart, I was informed that the item would not ship unless I had purchased $25 of goods on Amazon.  I chose the appropriate option of “Prime Eligible” when searching for the item I wanted but that’s not what I got.  I got another subset of items that ship only when I spend $25 or more.

This is not an isolated “problem”.


Why is this an Add-on item only?

The Amazon policy is explained in their Shipping & Delivery section of their Help page. The policy is better explained by this Amazon Strategies blog post.

“The Add-on program allows Amazon to offer thousands of low-priced items that would be cost-prohibitive to ship on their own…”

So there it is. Amazon is getting rid one of the big benefits of Amazon Prime, effectively hobbling the service. Now, if you want that small item AND you still want to purchase through Amazon, you’ll have to buy it from one of the Amazon Partners that are willing to sell those small items one-sy, two-sy. Luckily, many of those partners will ship items for free as well. You’ll just have to wait the 3-5 days for standard shipping instead of the 2-day shipping that we were promised with Prime.

I have to wonder why I’m only seeing this now though.  I buy things on Amazon using Prime multiple times a month.  Is it a larger roll-out?  I only tend to buy larger items on Amazon?

It’s time to take a serious look at what I’m paying for with Amazon Prime.  My Prime subscription is set to auto-renew on August 28, 2013.  There is going to be some serious number crunching to decide if it’s worth it before I renew this year.   I’m guessing it’s going to be…
do not renew

Why I’m Passing on Apple Products in the Future

I was recently talking to my wife about not buying any more Apple devices.  We have a few Apple computers in the house. Both of them are Mac Minis, one old G4 version, and an Intel Mini that I use as my main workstation for producing podcasts, writing, paying bills, etc.  We also have a few iOS devices in the house.  The oldest boy has a first gen iPod Touch.  The youngest has a first gen iPad, and I have a fourth gen iPod Touch.  I also had an iPhone 3G for 3 years as well, but that one is gone.

So, why no more Apple products?  In two words, planned obsolescence.

What do I mean?  My G4 Mini is useless for anything but serving up files as a network server.  It was long ago abandoned in favor of Intel based systems.  My current Intel Mini won’t run the latest version of Mac OS X.  I had purchased an iOS development course to work through at night.  I was going to attempt to learn iOS application development, but I cannot run the latest version of the development environment because the Mac Mini cannot run the latest version of OS X.  My son’s iPod Touch is stuck back on iOS 4.something.  The iPad that we purchased for my youngest son is now stuck on iOS 5.1.something.  The only device that hasn’t been left behind is my 4th gen iPod Touch.  It is still supported with the latest version of iOS, though I haven’t upgraded it yet.  I long ago sold my iPhone 3G to someone on Ebay.  After the 4.0 version of iOS came out it became obvious that I needed to get rid of the phone before it lost any more resale value.

I had been peeved at the above situations as they occurred, but time had marched on and these devices are older.  I understand that products need to get faster to enable better and more interesting applications.  I get it , but I came to this revelation when viewing an article on the new iPad Mini.  I thought to myself, “What a great thing to get the kids for Christmas”.  Right?  The article that I’m referring to over at Mobile Orchard basically states that the new iPad Mini is the best iPad yet.  I read a similar article on GDGT as well. Awesome! But, hold on.  Maybe not.  Check out the benchmarks below.

So, the new iPad Mini is just slightly faster than the year or so old iPad 2.  The current 10-ish inch iPad is over twice has fast as any other iPad produced to date, even the 6 month old “New iPad”.  We’ve already shown that Apple has no problem leaving behind its users that don’t buy the latest and greatest products that the company is producing.  So, how long before the iPad 2/Mini/”New iPad” are deemed obsolete by Apple.  One year?  By buying one of these iPad Minis you are buying two-year old tech repackaged in a smaller form, but it’s still old tech. Maybe, but I suggest that these devices are practically obsolete on purchase.

I believe the saying “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me” is applicable here, except I’ve been fooled far more than twice.

Shame on me.  Apple won’t be fooling me again.

Via Mobile Orchard: REVIEW: 10 Days with the iPad Mini | Mobile Orchard Adware

Dwight Silverman, tech journalist for the Houston Chronicle, has a great column on the latest practices of the Cnet website Apparently they are now offering up a custom downloader that takes the place of the program that you were looking to download. The custom downloader will then offer you change your search engine in your browser, change your homepage and install a toolbar. It will also presumably download the program that you wanted, but the damage will have been done.

To make a few extra bucks Cnet has sold out its users to the highest bidder. In the case that I’m seeing on the linked article, Microsoft properties Bing and MSN are the winners. You, on the other hand, are the loser particularly if you download this adware from Cnet.

Cnet used to be a reputable source for information. When I look for reviews on a tech product that I am thinking about purchasing or recommending to someone, Cnet has been a place that I could trust. Likewise, was a place that I cold send a client or family member to download a freeware or shareware program with great confidence. That’s not the case anymore and I’ll have to evaluate Cnet reviews through a finer filter.

Look for an article soon on safe places to download software that won’t sell you out. offers crapware with that program you wanted | TechBlog | a blog.