Business Companies customer service Latest News Topical

What’s wrong with Amazon?

This week I was on LBC talking about “Amazon remorse”, the feeling of buying on Amazon and then regretting it. In their hearts people want to support independent retailers. However, that isn’t the reality. Because although a certain percentage do feel remorse, they still buy from Amazon.

During the Covid pandemic we have obviously seen a record number of people buying online. People want the here and now. We have got used to next day delivery and sometimes even same day delivery.

Amazon Prime members feel guilty

In a Sitecore survey of over 2,000 UK consumers, it was found that almost a third (32%) felt guilty after they’ve shopped on Amazon. Despite this, 59% of those people are Amazon Prime members and 46% said they go to Amazon first when shopping online before checking any search engine results.

The younger generation felt the most remorse about their Amazon purchases, with millennials the most likely to feel guilty 44%. This is in stark contrast to 82% of baby boomers who said that after shopping on Amazon they “feel pleased I got what I wanted end of story“

At first glance, the survey would suggest that the younger generation are moving away from Amazon and supporting independent retailers instead. However there is a long way to go from feeling guilty to not doing it at all. How many of us feel guilty for eating chocolate and still carry on?! And where we shop, one could argue, is a far bigger decision when it saves time and money.

Remorseful or indifferent?

Many of us loathe Amazon, questioning its tax affairs, believing it is the killer of small business, treats its staff appallingly and, unless complaining about something simple like faulty goods or a delivery, their customer service can be shocking. But we continue to use them.

When I asked consumers if they felt guilty about shopping at Amazon, there was a mixed reaction. However, this could be because people feel like they couldn’t comment as it isn’t a popularist view when clearly more people are using Amazon more than they say they are! [this last sentence isn’t clear – what are you trying to say?] Those keen to express their dislike of Amazon included Jane Mills, who said “online shopping isn’t my first choice. I live in a small community and try to support local businesses.”

Suzy Jones put it strongly, “I absolutely avoid Amazon like the plague, unless it’s a no-other-last-ditch-do-or-die-absolute-necessity. I can’t remember the last time I bought from them & intend it to stay that way. Small business all the way.”

Is Amazon an ethical choice?

At Christmas last year Ethical Consumer wrote a guest post Christmas shopping in a lockdown – how to avoid the unethical online giants. In it they talked about ways to shop ethically and how and why not to use Amazon. They said in this article that

“Online giants like Amazon are the death of independents. By driving low prices – largely through avoiding tax, and taking a big cut from marketplace sellers – Amazon continues to increase its market share.”

For years, Amazon has been associated with pretty much every kind of alleged unethical business practice, from alleged unfair working conditions in supply chains to alleged tax avoidance schemes. Ethical Consumer has been leading an Amazon boycott since 2012.

By spending money this way are we complicit? Is it a necessary evil?

How are Amazon prices so low?

5 Valuable lessons we can learn from Amazon’s pricing strategy provides an in-depth analysis of how Amazon prices its products and how and why it makes 2.5 million price changes a day. It is very aggressive. Smaller companies just don’t stand a chance.

UK Money bloggers on Amazon

Reducing the Amazon spend

Andy Webb headshot


Be Clever with Your Cash blogger Andy Webb wrote a really interesting article about Amazon. He is trying to reduce his spend at Amazon, citing the following reasons which he details in his post



Reasons not to shop at Amazon:

1) Amazon isn’t always the cheapest

2) Amazon try to lock you into their “eco-system”

3) Prime makes you more likely to spend money

4) Amazon hurts the High Street

5) Amazon is not an ethical company

Of particular interest is the cost of postage stamps! Yes, they are sold on Amazon for far more than the face value for which you can purchase them at the Post Office and other places! Amazon takes advantage of them being an easy filler when you probably don’t know what the actual price is.

Amazon for people with disabilities

“Choice is a luxury and not a privilege that everyone has” says Lisa Kaveney who blogs at Alieshia. She provides an interesting perspective. “As a disabled person, I see massive value in Amazon Prime. The speed of delivery and the fact it has no minimum order limits makes them incredibly accessible. I am acutely aware that the company is perhaps not the most financially ethical; however, I do not have the luxury of choice that people who are able-bodied and in a higher income bracket do.

If I were to run out of an essential item, e.g. toothpaste, it would take a lot of planning and energy to get out to a shop. I would require the assistance of another person. With Amazon Prime, I just click a button, and it is delivered to my doorstep the next day. Complete independence and I have the energy left to do stuff I actually want to do.”

Admiring Amazon

Funding her Freedom blogger, Steph Punfield, has no problem with shopping at Amazon, though. “Personally, whilst I love shopping local and everything it stands for, as an Amazon seller with a couple of private label products listed on the platform, I don’t experience guilt when purchasing through them as there are thousands of UK businesses also selling their own products. They are making the most of the reach they have.”

Amazon as a necessary evil?

However, as an author Amazon for me, it is a necessary evil for selling. I sell both my books on my website and on Amazon. Amazon takes a huge cut and reduces the cost of the book. I therefore cannot sell the books at full price. Why would people pay an extra couple of quid just for my signature?! There just aren’t enough people ready to support small businesses. And, as for not selling a book on Amazon, that’s just never going to happen for any author.

Revive the High Street by shopping locally

Even as we come through Covid and some people don’t want to return to shops yet or have got used to the ease and speed of online delivery there are ways forward. We need to bring creativity to the High Street and Town Centres such as the ideas in The Art of reviving the great British High Street.

In addition, Julie Ashworth founder and director of BroadReach Retail consultants says

“Online doesn’t always have to mean Amazon! It could mean social ownership, shared local websites alongside not for profit communities. Have a heart…think community, think diversity, think about investing in the High Street.”

Dan Ericsson from The Financial Wilderness provides a number of Reasons why not to choose Amazon when shopping online. He even mentions books that you can get cheaper elsewhere!

Do boycotts even work?

Even if individuals do boycott Amazon, does it make a difference? Probably not, in fact, definitely not.

So, for the short-term at least, people will still be buying from Amazon. For both price and convenience, even where people don’t realise they may be paying over the odds. If you want to check if you are paying a good price for an item from Amazon check out Camel Camel Camel. This site tells you all the different prices an item has been at, and when, and will notify you when the price drops.

For businesses there is the opportunity to try and fill the slowly growing market for an alternative to Amazon. However, it will be important for businesses to realise that in order to do this they will need to up their game in terms of personalising shoppers’ experience and providing excellent customer service, as consumer expectations are high.

The Complaining Cow free support for businesses

If you want to start fighting back and increase your sales see below for resources!

Join the Facebook Group Customer Service: Compassion, Care and  Integrity  A private group where you can give and get support, advice and share good practice on how to improve complaint handling and imporve customer service throughout your business.

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Customer Service how to turn customers into superfans raving about your products/services

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Holidays and transport Latest News ways to save money

Are we nearly there yet? Saving money holidaying in the UK

Going anywhere nice this year?

The UK is bracing itself for news of the lifting of national and international COVID-19 travel restrictions as early as 7 May 2021.

Whilst we are becoming more confident that we may be able to travel and go on holiday after a turbulent year, many of us may still be nervous of going abroad. This includes concerns about other countries, flights and possible difficulties with refunds. Also many people are wanting to support UK business owners and are now on tight budgets.

UK money bloggers provide some tips for booking and taking holidays in the UK this year to ensure your hard-earned break can go as smoothly as possible.

Consumer rights

Helen Dewdney The Complaining Cow, consumer champion, advises that consumers should be aware of their rights when booking holidays, especially if they have to cancel. Over the last year we have seen a number of companies illegally refuse to give refunds offering vouchers or alternative dates when lockdown prevented holidays being taken. The Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) has intervened in some cases, taking action against companies.

She advises looking at the companies who have treated customers badly over the last year and take reviews into consideration. Helen says “Remember also that you are covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. Services should be carried out with reasonable skill and care and so you are entitled to redress if they aren’t! Your contract is with the business to which you paid the money.”

If you have to go to different accommodation due to overbooking then you can claim for breach of contract. This would be what a court would deem as reasonable and could be the difference between the cost of the booked hotel and the new accommodation. You might also claim for extra travel expenses (such as taxis) incurred due to the overbooking. Your rights when your hotel overbooks

If you need to complain see Top 20 Tips for complaining effectively.

5 top tips for complaining effectively

When a venue cancels

Coronavirus - how to ensure you gain redress when a venue cancels

Where to stay

“If you’re not too bothered about a beach break, then consider visiting to a UK city”, says Claire St from Stapos Thrifty Life Hacks. Typically it would be rather costly to visit London or Edinburgh, but there are some real bargains to be had at the moment.

“Many of these city hotels survive on business travel and international travel. Obviously this has tanked over the past 12 months and it’s unlikely to pick up for the foreseeable. These hoteliers have rooms to fill and they’d rather reduce their rates to get a bum in a bed, then have half of their rooms lying empty. So if you’ve always wanted to visit Manchester, Bristol, or York, then now’s the time. Consider booking a room with an in-room fridge and a kettle, so you can keep food costs down during your trip.”

Saving money on accommodation

Young Fun and Thrifty blogger, Jo Yeomans, loves to stay in places that have their own cooking facilities available, as it helps her to save on food costs. Sometimes this will be private AirBnBs, but she’s also made use of shared kitchens in guest houses and hostels. “You can even get creative with just a fridge. I’ll typically still have one meal out each day, but will eat breakfast where I’m staying and often make up a picnic lunch to take out for the day. Just remember to add a food container to your packing to avoid any squashed sandwiches!”

If you’re booking a cottage or holiday let, it’s always worth contacting the owner directly, rather than booking through a travel company. Hayley Muncey from Savvy Sloth says that “Owners are often happy to give you a cheaper rate for booking direct. Travel companies charge fees or commissions, so the rates are usually higher for the same stay.”

Be careful of properties that are on sites like Airbnb though. Booking direct may not be the safest thing to do as regards protection and an owner could get banned for trying to book privately. See more How to prevent problems when booking a holiday let (plus what to do when things go wrong) for more on this.

How to prevent problems when booking a holiday let (plus what to do when things go wrong)

Think of house swapping too!

Things to do on holiday in the UK

Faith Archer, from Much More With Less, has lots of simple free and low-cost ideas. “I always pack my driving licence and ID, so I can get visitor membership of the local library. Means we can borrow books and DVDs for the kids, and libraries often have toys to play with on a rainy day. I also take National Trust and English Heritage membership cards, plus the 2-for-1 garden entry card from Gardeners’ World magazine, so we can visit local attractions for less. We go on self-catering holidays to cut costs, so I make a vat of bolognese or curry beforehand to eat on the first night. This helps avoid the temptation of an expensive takeaway after travelling!”

Vouchers, discounts and cashback sites

Money Saving Central blogger, Claire Roach, always purchases trips to UK hotels and getaways via Wowcher and Groupon. “You can save a fortune via these discount deal websites, particularly Groupon as they often have a voucher code you can use alongside the already discounted prices. I recently purchased a week at Pontins for £139 during half term. The same break was £459 on the Pontins website.”

Emma Bradley, who blogs at Mums Savvy Savings, uses discount codes and cashback sites like Topcashback to save some money on booking breaks. “These sites give cash back which you can then use as spending money. It can take a little time searching out any offers but it is worth it”. She  also uses Clubcard points and swaps them for reward partners meal vouchers which makes eating out a real bargain. “You just need to be prepared and then you can make good savings!”

Travelling in the UK

If you’re a National Trust member, look for NT coastal car parks to slash the cost of parking – they are free with your membership and parking near beaches can otherwise be costly if you’re there for a long day. Emma Maslin, The Money Whisperer blogger, takes advantage of this and in the same vein says that “Often it’s cheaper to purchase a season ticket for beach parking, it can work out the same cost as a few days of regular parking but works out a lot cheaper if you’re there for a couple of weeks. Ask!”

There are still ways to save on travelling even if you don’t drive! The Savvy Scientist, Jeff Clark, doesn’t have a car, so often travels by train. He advises booking tickets far in advance and travelling at unpopular times which can massively reduce the costs. “I once saved a fortune by booking an early morning train to the Lake District on New Year’s day. The Two Together railcard also comes in handy when travelling with my partner as it gets us another 1/3rd off.”

Virgin train not providing tickets early enough

He cheekily suggests using work too! “In the past I’ve also had holidays at conference destinations as the travel is already paid for through work!” Naomi Willis from Skint Dad advises using Tesco Clubcard points too. She gets a free annual Friends and Family Railcard and says “It slashes the cost of our train travel when we have breaks away in the UK.”


Happy holidaying!

More help with UK holidays

For more tips on saving money on UK holidays see How to give your family and your wallet a holiday

Look out timber frame on a beach "researching, booking and complaining aabout holidays and flights. Tips, ideas and your rights"


SeeAll you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays/flights/travel for numerous posts on saving money and your rights booking and taking holidays and trips and stays in the UK and abroad and what to do when things go wrong.


You can also Purchase downloadable templates to gain redress to help with most issues. Includes Holiday, flight and event complaint templates