The arrival of a second Amazon Prime sale event this week is a first for the shopping giant. But the big question is: do we need to give hackers another opportunity to scam gullible consumers? And who wins from bringing the holiday shopping season forward?
The latest Amazon Prime event has been met with mixed feelings by both brands and consumers, with many sensing that billionaire Jeff Bezos and his team have failed to read the room. In addition, many consumers are increasingly concerned about the cost of living crisis and keeping warm with the real prospect of power outages through the winter.
There is an argument that cash-strapped shoppers will welcome discounts and sales when faced with a tight budget throughout the holiday season and beyond. But being distracted by 50% off Amazon gadgets such as Fire TV, Echo, Ring, and other energy-draining vampire devices could arguably add to the consumers mounting problems rather than making their life easier.
Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me
Although it's tempting to get swept away by the hype, it's important to remember how most past Prime events have disappointed bargain hunters. Amazon is often guilty of primarily using sales to promote its own brands and bring more people to its ecosystem. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult for other brands to stand out. With many retailers focusing on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, reducing the prices of products in the middle of an economic downturn will not be an option that other sellers on the Amazon platform can afford.
If you scratch beneath the surface of many online sales, there is nothing but inflated recommended prices that, when reduced, provide the illusion of a bargain. Thankfully, Amazon price checkers such as CamelCamelCamel provide users with transparency around the full price history of products to help shoppers see through the smoke and mirrors of the latest must-buy items.
The so-called Amazon Prime Early Access Sale is also an early warning that your inbox is about to be overwhelmed with spam emails from every brand you think of. In the run-up to the previous Amazon Prime Day, cybercriminals set up thousands of phishing domains to trick consumers into sharing their credentials and banking information.
"Be skeptical! Scammers send very realistic spoofed emails that appear to be from Amazon that attempt to steal your credentials (username and password)," Dave Hatter, a cybersecurity expert at IntrustIT, warned us ahead of time.
So if you are serious about avoiding temptation, now is the perfect opportunity to begin unsubscribing from retailers' mailing lists, especially if you have not purchased anything from them in several years. Also, avoid falling for tempting Amazon deals miraculously appearing in your inbox: if they sound too good to be true, they probably are.
Don't let massive discounts influence your spending
Don't assume that everything promoted as a killer deal is as unique as any retailer wants you to believe. For example, did you know that according to Which Magazine, 99.5% of sale items were cheaper or the same price as their Black Friday price at other times of the year? But many consumers still throw their shopping lists in the trash with wild abandon and buy something they didn't want or need because it's cheap.
The manipulative perception of a deal provides the illusion of smart savings while guiding unsuspecting shoppers into the infamous consumer debt trap. It's one of the oldest tricks in the marketing playbook, which captures the emotions with a sensory overload that results in crowds racing to grab products in short supply at knockdown prices before they are gone forever.
The truth is a combination of deceptive search results and low-quality products will leave many shoppers even colder than the energy crisis. As much of the world prepares for winter, the increasing energy, food, and rent costs make disposable income feel like a distant memory. The threat of power outages also adds to the misery, and spending cash on devices that consume even more energy makes little sense.
At a time when regulators and socially conscious consumers are avoiding greenwashing brands, there is still the very real problem that just 17% of all electronics sold are being responsibly recycled when they come to their end of life. For these reasons alone, it would seem that the only real winner from a second Prime event would be Amazon and the websites attempting to ride the wave by promoting articles littered with affiliated links.
Prepare for your newsfeeds to fule the hype with tales of massive discounts and the unofficial kickoff of this year's holiday sales to deliver everyone an early dose of FOMO (fear of missing out). But maybe it's time to choose something different. Why not ignore the shiny new Amazon-branded tech gadgets offered at knockdown prices for the next two days and sit this out knowing that there is only one winner in this early access sale, and it's not sellers or consumers.
Suppose you manage to escape the shiny addiction of another Amazon sale. In that case, you might consider taking your newfound discipline to another level by signing up for the Black Friday alternative Buy Nothing Day. The UK movement's mission to help people shop less and live more is a fantastic antidote to consumerism.
I'm not so sure anyone needs another Amazon sales event. But whether a combination of online tools and self-awareness is enough to stop me from looking at drones, portable photo printers, temperature-controlled smart mugs, DraftPour beer dispensers, and blue tooth speakers this holiday season is a story for another day.
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