Canada’s version of Amazon Prime is less than perfect

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Amazon has launched its Amazon Prime service in Canada, but the service is significantly compromised in its non-US iterations.

Amazon has launched its Amazon Prime service in Canada, but the service is significantly compromised in its non-US iterations.

In Canada, we have learned to live with the often frustrating combination of higher prices and lack of choice compared to our neighbours to the south.

For most of us, this is remedied with a weekend trip to a Target or Sam’s Club, or a Best Buy just across the border. The digital realm, however, provides its own set of unique taunts; we don’t get Hulu. Or Spotify. Or Pandora. And our version of Netflix sucks.

Amazon.com today, however, took a minor step towards giving Canadians the kind of convenience Americans have grown used to. Amazon has launched its Amazon Prime service here. For an annual fee of $79, Amazon Prime offers free two-day shipping with no minimum purchase. But the service, which was launched in the US in 2005 and now has between three and five million subscribers there, remains significantly compromised in its non-US iterations.

First of all, Canadians will find the choices at Amazon.ca pale in comparison to those at Amazon.com, and the prices are, of course, much higher. But you already knew that. What Canadians also won’t get is access to would be Netflix-killer Amazon Instant Video, which now boasts 180,000 titles, and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, which has thousands of books.

Amazon launched Prime with the hope that it would lead to more impulse buys and more loyal customers, but the adoption of the service has been a mild disappointment in the eyes of some observers.

Amazon, which is the largest internet retailer in the world, already loses a great deal of money on shipping. In 2011 its shipping expenses rose 55% to $4 billion, while it only collected $1.55 billion in shipping fees.

Amazon is offering a free one month trial of the service to Canadians, here.

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  • mike

    More concerned about the lack of stuff on our amazon than the cost of shipping. Though of course I can ship a better selection of books from the states even with shipping and still be cheaper. However any electronics or much of anything outside of media is ver bohten.

  • JCR

    I took advantage of the free trial, but cancelled it so it wouldn’t renew. The fast shipping was great, but as you already stated, it’s not enough considering the higher prices, smaller inventory and lack of access to Amazon Instant Video. You would think that with only one feature to Amazon Canada’s Prime program, the cost would be significantly less than what Americans pay, but nope – we get screwed again.

  • Ronnie

    I agree with JCR. I don’t believe the membership is really worth it without those additional perks. I don’t order from Amazon every month, but whenever I do, I exceed the amount that qualifies for freee shipping, so membership at this time would not be any advantage to me. Unfortunately I missed the cancellation date by 1 day, but I hope Amazon Prime will be good enough to refund the charges.

  • MeAndJuliaDownByTheSchoolYard

    Not at all interested in Prime here in Canada, not without the streaming service. Of course, the entertainment industry lawyers are convinced that all Canadians wear eye-patches so I’m not holding my breath on that one. I got tricked into enabling the #!@$! Prime trial, but I did manage to cancel it on the same day that it tricked me into the trail.