Upon returning to this glorious knife-edge of Fife – a place that would more aptly be situated between Derbyshire and Yorkshire than Dundee and Cupar – I became both bemused and irate. Not because I had failed to do any coursework over the break, and certainly not because Nigella Lawson got barred from entering the US owing to her fling with the old cocaine (and has subsequently put her American TV career in jeopardy).
No, I was fuming because big business managed to play me at my own game. Let me explain.
It was some time a month ago. I needed a book for one of my modules fairly immediately. Hastily, I went on to Amazon, found the book I needed and headed for the “checkout”. When I finally got to the crux of the customer-buying experience, I was asked to enter my personal details and select a delivery option. Moving the mouse cursor over to confirm, I noticed the horrendous price for postage and packaging – nearly £8 for next-day delivery!
But… I had to. It was a pressing requirement that I get that book on time so as to not jeopardise my work schedule (which was already in dire straits).
As though a shining beacon in the darkness of my imminently empty virtual wallet, Amazon suddenly offered me the chance to evade this despicable cost; a life raft for my soon-to-be penniless self had been deployed. For as little as zero cost to me, I was being given the opportunity to join up to a free trial of their Prime service for 30 days. This would entitle me to free next-day delivery on products now and for the remainder of the contract, it said. Free next-day delivery, yes please!
And that was it. The entire situation passed fairly quickly and I forgot about the whole sorry fiasco once my book arrived – the next day, of course. What had happened without my knowing, though, was that while I was gallivanting around Scotland during the spring break, Amazon’s finance department had debited 50 whole pounds from my bank account, and it was at that point it immediately hit me. I had forgotten to cancel my “free trial” of their service! How could I have been so stupid?
Now my next-day delivery for the previous book I ordered had cost me an extra £40 more than it should have. I tried to get a refund by trawling through their very unhelpful help pages and discussions for an answer, but there was nothing that could be done. I had been done.
That was where I thought my story would end: Amazon had unethically tricked me into paying membership for a service I did not want or even really need. Yet, it was only by chance that I discovered that all Amazon Prime customers were eligible to access the company’s TV and movie streaming network.
This silver lining had seemed to dull the pain of losing £50 of my money. What followed this revelation was several days of unnecessary binge-watching, which got me thinking: I had been a Netflix and video streaming sceptic in general ever since I had tried some of their services several years ago. The problem had been a huge lack of content. As I delved a bit deeper into Netflix in particular two years on for research purposes, it looked, however, like things had improved quite dramatically. In fact, not only are services such as Netflix letting you stream movies and programmes, but they are producing their own bespoke dramas, too.
I only realised recently that House of Cards is a Netflix original – I watched a couple of episodes on a flight to the United States last year and thought it was gripping, exciting and very well made. Arrested Development, the cult American comedy, was also able to come back with a new season thanks to Netflix, and Orange is the New Black, a drama about a middle- class woman sent to prison for drug smuggling, has been a runaway hit, with a second season due to be released later this year.
Another great service that Amazon Prime offers is no minimum spend for deliveries – so if you want to spend only £2 on that very important zebra mask for your next fancy dress outfit that you desperately need the next day, Amazon Prime is what you need.
I took from this experience that there is almost always good to be found in something bad. It turned out that Amazon had done me a big favour in not only giving me free delivery for a year, but also putting an endless number of movies at my fingertips. I was so surprised that I had not previously heard or known of this service extension previously. So, in a great turn of events, I actually urge you to go now and buy Amazon Prime.
Expand your viewing horizons (and get these last-minute coursework books through the post before your essay deadline).