Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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Amazing Amazon

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Of course you've read my articles praising Amazon before. First, for its innovative shopping cart which introduced an entirely new - and in my mind, superior - approach to non-bricks and mortar shopping.

Next, it was the wildly successful move from simply selling books to selling anything and everything that's even remotely shippable. And making it easy!

Then they add the comments and rating feature, which, though it has been scammed and abused by the product producers themselves (though usually you can spot a fake review!), has been very helpful to shoppers wanting to know whether the product is worth trying.

A huge innovation - and a major success, from my way of thinking - was Amazon Prime. At $80 a year, the service provides 2 day shipping on eligible products, plus movies and TV series streamed to your computer, phone, tablet, or smart TV. Many of them are newer and more popular than Netflix offerings, and the streaming experience itself, while not flawless, is definitely acceptable.

Amazon has always made the purchasing process itself simple with One-Click, but now they've partnered with Discover to enable you to easily spend your Bonus Points. Discover offers a bonus points program for using the card. If you're smart and disciplined, it can be a great way to get some cash back for all your purchases. I use it for just about everything, then pay the balance each month faithfully (as opposed to using a debit card). In return, I rack up cash back points. Like many people, I find the actual use of such points to be bothersome. Sometimes you're restricted to what the system provides - GM, for example, has a credit card that racks up points, but only to buy a new GM product. (Now, if they'd let you take your car to a GM service center and get an oil change or brake job, that would be another story!)

Amazon - wisely, in my view - allows Discover card users to spend their points by simply linking the appropriate card to your account. It then interacts with Discover to find out how many points you have, and allows you to use the points to pay for some or all of your purchase - or use none of them and still use your Discover card.

Not only is this a very useful service, but I keep wondering: If Amazon can a) think these great ideas up; b) implement them quickly; and c) make it all work quickly and seamlessly - maybe the government should have hired them to program the Affordable Care Act's website? But that's another article!

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