If you’ve ever used or are currently using Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program, you might have been enticed by the great initial prices on items you use everyday.
But it could actually be costing you more money — leading some people to call the Amazon program a ‘bait and switch’ scheme.
Read more: 5 ways to maximize your savings on Amazon
Does Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program save you money or cost you more?
The New York Times recently published a story reporting on changes to the prices of Subscribe & Save items after a customer’s first purchase.
What’s surprising about this is that with most recurring items people sign up for (i.e. Netflix, gym memberships, newspapers, a wine club, etc.), they expect to pay the same price every month.
Well, that’s not the case with Subscribe & Save: In fact, author Brian Chen discovered price increases of up to 170% on Subscribe & Save purchases.
‘To get a preliminary view into whether people can save — or not — with Amazon’s program, I plugged prices of 50 featured Subscribe & Save items into a spreadsheet and looked at their price histories over the previous six months. I compiled the results with the web tool Camel Camel Camel, an Amazon price tracker,’ he wrote.
Though Amazon promises you’ll save 5% by using Subscribe & Save, the company also notes that the prices do fluctuate in its terms of service.
‘The total cost charged to your payment method for each Subscribe & Save order will be the cost of the item on the day that order is processed less the Subscribe & Save discount, plus any applicable sales tax,’ it says.
To be fair, it would be difficult to keep goods such as paper towels, napkins and dish detergent the same price every month, and if prices on these items dropped lower elsewhere, customers would miss out on the savings if prices remained fixed.
However, you have to pay attention if you want to save.
Bottom line: If you use Subscribe & Save, make sure you monitor the prices of the items you’re buying to be sure you’re not overpaying when you shouldn’t be. Also, you can receive alerts from Camel Camel Camel should the price of an item you purchase frequently change.
Read more: Is Amazon Prime worth it?