Amazon Prime Day Is a Rip-Off, but Amazon Prime Isn’t

Prime membership, rather than deals, is what should entice customers

The beauty of a deal is in the eye of the beholder.

This is never more evident than on Amazon’s yearly “Prime Day” — an opportunity for the e-commerce king to offload inventory and slash the price of its own products in an effort to pad its Prime memberships.

To some customers, a $79.98 hammock — marked down from $120, mind you — is a complete waste of money. To others, it’s a can’t-miss bargain. Scan Amazon today, and you’ll see a flood of these moderately priced frivolous items.

For the most part, the deals are marginal at best. Only 64 of 8,000 “deals” last year were worthwhile last year, according to research from The Wirecutter. The best buys you’ll find on Prime Day are on Amazon devices, as you’d expect.

The company’s Echo home speaker system is half off today, and readers can grab Kindles at a healthy price.

But to reap the rewards of Prime Day, you first need to pony up for Prime. For $99 a year, members get free two-day shipping, access to Amazon’s catalog of movies and TV shows, and unlimited photo storage — among other perks.

For Amazon, Prime Day is genius.

As far as CEO Jeff Bezos is concerned, the name of the game is simple: Acquire as many Amazon Prime members as possible. Preferably, the entire human race. After that, Amazon will look to sign up well-trained dogs and the robots from “West World.”

A decade from now, you’ll be telling your Amazon Echo to summon your Amazon Sedan to shuttle you off to Amazon Whole Foods — and if going outside is too much of a drag, no sweat, because Amazon Drones will deliver your order straight to your house.

The Seattle-based monolith wants everyone inside the Amazon ecosystem of products, and making sure customers are signed up for Prime is the best way to accomplish that goal. It’s what makes Prime Day a no-brainer move. The company has approximately 65 million members, and flashing pseudo-deals is a great way to add more.

From an entertainment perspective alone, Prime membership will be worth it for many people. Members have access to Amazon’s slate of original shows, including acclaimed series like “I Love Dick,” “Mozart in the Jungle,” and “Transparent.” As Amazon continues to invest in content, these offerings will only expand. And on the music side, Prime members have a million songs to stream.

Factor in the free two-day shipping, and for households that are even moderate Amazon users, Prime starts to look like a solid deal.