When you’re a tech journalist, writing about Black Friday is obligatory. But the whole idea drives me nuts. So for this week’s Technologizer column for TIME.com, I decided to wait until the week after Thanksgiving, and then share five tips for opting out of Black Friday but still getting good deals on gadgets.
But I could have added a sixth: “Just buy everything at Amazon.com.” It’s pretty much what I’ve been doing for years–okay, not absolutely everything, but the majority of my big tech purchases, such as computers, digital cameras, and the like, plus a gaggle of accessories and other minor needs. (More on Time.com: 5 Online Scams To Avoid This Year)
Amazon is cheap. It doesn’t always have the very lowest price on every product, but it’s usually close; it’s one of the relatively few major Apple resellers who usually discounts at least a little, and it sells phones from the big wireless carriers for less than they do.
Amazon is well-stocked. It has the big stuff and most of the little stuff, and what it doesn’t stock itself, its various affiliates usually do. (I’ve used it for oddities like the replacement wrist strip for a Canon camera.)
Amazon is fast. I’m not crazy about the fact that it’s patented the idea of 1-click shopping, but I understand why it guards it so zealously–it makes shopping so painless that I do more of it.
Amazon has respectable return policies. You get thirty days to think your purchases over, and the ability to get a full refund in most instances. (There is a fifteen percent restocking fee on open computers.)
Amazon Prime is wonderful and insidious. As I said in my column, I pay $79 a year for free two-day shipping on everything and the option to pay $3.99 for overnight delivery–it’s as close to instant gratification as you can get with online shopping.
Amazon appears to work 24/7. I’ve sometimes ordered products on the weekend and gotten them on Monday.
Amazon is reliable. I’ve been buying from it since the days when it was strictly a book merchant, and while it’s possible it’s messed up one of the hundreds of ordered I’ve placed, I can’t remember an instance of being anything less than satisfied.
Amazon keeps better records than I do. I can look up the details on all the stuff I buy, all the way back to an expensive Disney book I ordered on December 23d, 1998. That’s handy at tax time.
Is there anything I don’t like about Amazon? Sure, although nothing huge. For one thing, there’s something about its incessant promotion of the Kindle that irks me. For eons, most of my Amazon homepage was devoted to the e-reader even though I was logged in and Amazon could have presumably determined that I already owned one. (These days, I get a big promo for Kindle cases.) And I’ve never understood Amazon’s search results, which are often dominated by random crud like products which aren’t actually available. (So why tell me about them?) (More on Time.com: Behind the Scenes of Cyber Monday)
If Amazon had a “Stop promoting the Kindle to me quite so maniacally” option, and a “Never show me products I can’t buy from you or your partners” one, it would be that much closer to perfect. Even as is, it’s darn impressive. There’s something about many retailers, online and off, that rubs me the wrong way–remind me to tell you sometime about how I got banned from my local Costco–but if Amazon is around twenty or thirty years from now, I expect that I’ll still be a happy, addicted customer.
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