In response to Amazon Prime and the perception of value:
Overall, I love buying things online because it stiffs the government for the sales tax. This habit started when my wife and I lived in Los Angeles and noticed that ridiculous 9% sales tax. We probably saved over $150 in sales tax alone buying a new TV from Amazon. Thank heaven we moved back to North Carolina right around the time California demanded online retailers collect sales tax.
But the habit stuck. Last month I bought a new stereo receiver and just last week a full toilet (commode and tank) off of Amazon. Both were cheaper than anything I could buy here, delivered for free, and I probably saved $50 in sales tax.
For $80 a year, Amazon Prime is an absolute steal. The video streaming alone is worth it. Though Amazon’s streaming menu stinks, the selection is an extraordinary deal for what comes out to $6.67 a month. But the free shipping is another great deal. John Hayward is correct that the shipping doesn’t necessarily feels faster through Amazon Prime, but it is nice to be able to impulse-buy whatever you want for less than $25 without having to worry about shipping costs — especially when you buy as many movies as I do.
Amazon also handles customer complaints extremely well.
Amazon is just a great company that does everything right, and as much a part of our lives as the corner store.