In trying to use up the $25 gift card I got from a certain company for taking a survey (which Opinion Outpost also paid me a few dollars for taking, so it came out to about a $28 haul for maybe one hour of "work") I've come to realize I need to apologize for thinking I loved Amazon: sorry, must've been drinking because I don't. (It was a nice love affair while it lasted, though, and it's still the only place I can get the riboflavin I was born deficient in since CVS, the only drug store to ever carry it in FL, stopped carrying it about a year ago.)
Amazon blows. Amazon is a big, stinking pile of normally reasonably-priced things that are only almost sort of reasonably priced on Amazon if a) you're a Prime member (which costs $99 per year, up $20 from just a few months ago), b) you make everything you want an add-on item - but only if add-on is available for the items you want (which requires spending at least $35 before figuring in add-ons), or c) you "subscribe" to an item (useful for those who don't get out much and have constantly full credit cards or checking accounts, I suppose).
I don't subscribe to any items. I'm not a Prime member and refuse to join now that they've bumped the price up $20 for the exact same membership: it's not like you get $20 more in benefits. And I'm not spending $35 when my gift card balance is only $25. My shopping list is rather simple, though; just some stuff I would've picked up at the store, anyway, so no big deal, right? All of the following examples assume a) no add-on deals and b) no Prime membership, since I'm not doing either for already-stated reasons.
First up: Vo5 shampoo and conditioner in Clarifying Kiwi Lime. It runs .84 cents per bottle at WalMart, $1 at the dollar store, and maybe $1.25-1.35 at most grocery stores. On Amazon it goes for $4.76 to almost $9 per bottle - plus shipping, in most cases. Yes, it's an extraordinarily cheap shampoo (it's so cheap it's on the bottom shelf at WalMart so you won't see the low price and be tempted to buy it instead of some higher-priced thing) but this particular flavor of Vo5 is the only shampoo/conditioner that reliably gives me fluffy, un-weighed-down, un-frizzy, un-flown-away hair that shines and smells completely great every time I use it. I would buy it by the vat if I could. When Donald Trump says all you need is a .74 cent bottle of shampoo, he's not kidding (that's all he uses himself but I can't find a reference online for him saying so; I saw him quoted as saying that in a magazine years ago, if that helps anyone). Nothing else works as well for me.
But not at $3-9 a bottle. At those prices I might as well buy fancy designer shampoos at the drug store that will probably ruin my hair as reliably as almost every other more commonly-known brand already has.
Next up: a box of tall kitchen garbage bags. I get flap-tie tall kitchen garbage bags for something like $6.85 per 85-count box at WalMart. These bags are strong, deep, tall, and hold lots of garbage (to save money I typically overfill them; the garbage is practically poking out the tops by the time I tie each one up - I need both hands to carry them outside because they're so heavy by then). After going through maybe 6 boxes of these bags (I've been buying them for about a year), not *one* bag has ripped. And one box lasts me around two months but I'm out of them, and therefore using big WalMart shopping bags and the like until I get to the store again, so I looked on Amazon for garbage bags. Cheapest I found was Glad tall kitchen Force-Flex 120 count for $14.39 plus $10.59 shipping; really, now?
Next item: A kitty litter pan for Stuie. Stuie has been wearing the bottom of his year-old pan out. I don't know why since he came advertised as being without claws, yet the scratch marks in his litter pan (and the fact that I can hear him not just pawing but actually scratching on doors and cabinets) tell quite a different story; maybe his claws are just invisible! I can't find a single claw on the cat, but at any rate Amazon wants to charge me a minimum of $8 and a maximum of $55 and up (and even those prices are mostly only if you belong to Prime) for a cheap little plastic litter box that I can pick up for usually no more than $3-5 anywhere else - Publix, WalMart, Winn-Dixie, wherever.
At bat now: Mack's Ultra Soft ear plugs. I get a box of 10 for something like $3-5 at WalMart; they're tan and the only ones that fit into my extremely tiny, narrow ear canals. No other style made by Mack, and no other ear plug made by any company fits the same (or at all - it's like trying to stuff a blanket in my ear when what I need is a q-tip). And I have to have them because snoring (yes, I'm the kind of person who wakes herself up snoring, it's awful. I also have mild sleep apnea that also wakes me). And I'm almost out of ear plugs. So I checked but the best deal I can find (including shipping) is $13 for 30. But I can think of better ways to spend $13, especially when I'm only playing with a $25 gift card to begin with.
Which made me think of food. Everyone loves food, right? Chips? I love chips. They're bad for you, and one of the few truly "bad" foods I indulge in besides boxed mashed potatoes and hot dogs (those are my Big Three Food Sins; I don't drink cola, fruit juice, or anything except home-brewed coffee, home-brewed tea and bottled spring water; I don't eat candy or sweets) so I decided, "Wow, Amazon, you suck, but your food must be cheap, right? Surely you have cheap food!" But they don't. The cheapest chips I could find are $7-$35 or more per bag and/or box plus shipping, for the same sort of chips I don't pay more than $3-$4-something a bag for at Publix, WalMart or wherever.
At this point there was much wailing, wringing of hands, gnashing of teeth, tearing of clothes, spreading of ashes and hunting around for any possibly better deals. But Amazon's apparently figured out the deal-hunters are out there and decided to screw them, too. So even on so-called "clearance", "last chance" and "90% off" pages nothing is even remotely affordable to anyone but people who don't care how much they spend - unless of course you are, *sigh*, a) an Amazon Prime member or b) indulge in add-on ordering after spending at least $35 to qualify for it.
At that point my decidedly Irish inner moxie came out to heave curses upon Amazon, all of its progeny, subsidiaries, third-party vendors, affiliates, advertisers, hosting entities and so on forever and ever. I feel like telling them to take my $25 gift card and stuff it - I think they may need it more than I do.