Alcoholics Anonymous? No, I don’t think two glasses at the weekend quite qualifies me as an alcoholic. Road side breakdown? No, although they do a great job. No unfortunately my new club shares the same letters, but mine stands for Amazon Anonymous.
I’m trying to remember a world before we had Amazon and internet shopping. I think it was when we had dial up modems that used to ping harshly in our ears and then disconnect whenever they felt like it, when he still remembered what an Amstrad computer looked like and those ghastly floppy discs. If Apple were around they had yet to reach cool status and a smart phone was something that had enough battery power to make a phone call. It was a time when you had to buy your presents in the shops or go without. You were forced usually against a clock of parking tickets to make a decision.
There were two pivotal moments for me when I think internet shopping created that perfect initial outlet, by showing me there was an alternative world. The first was walking into Waterstones with their Christmas catalogue, and not being able to find what I wanted, I asked a staff member. She looked at the page I had ear marked. “Oh, no, we ran out of those around a week ago.” It was the 1 December! If this had been the 21 December say, I would have shrugged my shoulders and berated myself for my lack of planning, but the 1st when most people put on the outer gear and head to the shops? I remember being stunned that Christmas items were already out of stock, but also at the lack of ability for her to order more in, or get one sent over from another store. Neither were offered. As is the way I was then forced to find something else, which of course I was less happy with.
The other time was finding a gorgeous pair of shoes in Clarks, on the day the new season stock came in. Price being bearable, I asked the assistant, “Do you have these in a seven and a half?”
“Don’t do half sizes,” she told me like everyone knew. You still do for men I wanted to retort, but not to be distracted and the shoes being winter shoes, enquired about a size 8. She took the shoe off me and sauntered into the back. The song over the speakers finished and the next one was fading before she eventually made it back out. She had a box under her arm. This was very hopeful. I made to sit down and undo my laces, but her raised hand stopped me.
“We don’t have an eight, we only had one pair and they were sold, but we have a six!” Her voice was chirpy. I was flabbergasted. It was the first day of the new stock being in so what she meant was her friend had already earmarked them. A size six?! How did she think this would work? I am reliably informed by friends that having a baby makes your feet bigger, but I’ve yet to discover anything that makes them smaller! I could lose six stone and my feet wouldn’t change size. I think she got the message by the time I left without the shoes.
For too long shops were able to offer this sort of service and we the consumers had no alternative, but all that has changed.
Of course now I would go onto Amazon and one of two things would happen; I would find the shoes for half the store price and with my Prime membership they would arrive the next day, or I wouldn’t be able to find those shoes, but I would find something even better, be half the price and arrive the next day.
But in the beginning when I first heard about Amazon, it was in its infancy. I was not to know that one day its altar would be the only one I would kneel at! Initially it was screens and screens of information to fill in to make a purchase – card details that had to be inputed each time and at the last screen you were told it would take 21-28 days to arrive. After initially being £2 cheaper than the shops, it was actually now £4 more expensive with delivery. You would then have to wait a month for it to arrive and often as not you would be at work and get a ‘While you were out’ card for the postman.
But Amazon improved massively and now anything and everything can be purchased while you sit in bed in your PJs at midnight. Last September I bought my whole summer wardrobe half price with a new Indian clothing range they were selling, meaning I don’t have to stick to white, black, blue and red. This seems to be the bulk of UK shop colours. The only way the shops could compete with this is if I shopped in India! Other things I’ve bought on Amazon? Anything and everything! Printed books, e-readers, ebooks, chewy vitamins, Christmas presents, birthday presents, camera gear, cases for anything with a plug socket, duplicate charger wires, travel wash. With the addition of Amazon Pantry I now don’t have to lug heavy bottles to the car, can get shampoo, ear buds etc for a bargain price, all next day.
The weirdest thing I’ve ordered? This would have to be a pill-box. After too many handbags (bought them on Amazon too!) ending up with disintegrated pills breaking free, I invested in a solution. It cost about £1 and I was quite shocked to find it was delivered on Sunday with a set delivery hour and came in a paperback sized hard envelope, even though it was only an inch long. For a week I calmed down my spending worrying I was sending delivery men from Scotland to Wiltshire just so that one person to disillusioned with town shopping could get this herself.
But it’s so easy isn’t it? Amazon make it easy. 1 Click is fatal and you’ve forgotten you’ve spent money all too soon, and now we have Prime membership we can watch things like “The Grand Tour.” I was never a huge fan of “Top Gear” but now Amazon has “The Grand Tour” it’s compulsive weekly viewing.
Perhaps it just plays into my emotional well-being in the same way as chocolate does. If I have a bad day I need a pick me up, if I have a good day I need a celebratory purchase. Either way the Amazon app is first to get checked. Just one word of warning – don’t look at the Recommends – I will just say I never learn!
I seem to go through waves of items. I have only emptied my Wish List before I start populating it again. Only just felt the pleasure of coming to an end on spending when another seventeen items find their way there. A while ago I decided I wanted a charm bracelet but the ones in town were too expensive so I would make my own. The first one I completed weren’t sterling silver so tarnished in time for me to complete the bracelet, so I started again. Then I wanted one with Murano glass beads, another travel one with koalas etc to represent places I had been on holiday, and then one with country flags for every where I had been. I’m the same with travel books – why have one when five look good.
Lately its notebooks. I love writing and it has to be the right paper, the right size, the right ruled lines. Sometimes when the notebook arrives it does not fit this requirement, but the monster must be fed, so another one is hastily ordered that I convince myself will be better. It has to have an inspiring cover, not just one block colour. I now have enough notebooks to last me if I wrote in one each day until about 2050. They are stacked up like books to be read. By 2050 I will probably have arthritis and won’t be able to hold a pen, but it leads to the most important question; how do you know when you have enough notebooks? When you can’t think for the life of you what that pile over there will be used for? I could use one to write a list of what I could use the others for! I am certainly the master in finding justification in any purchase – that is when I am at my most creative.
Still, for today I will be good, or at least for this afternoon. The chewy vitamins ordered this morning were needed, I was running low. I have been good all afternoon, I have spent no money on plastic or saved card websites whatsoever. All is well. I feel at ease with myself any account.
Except for the two notebooks I ordered this afternoon – roll on Tuesday delivery!
#Amazon #Shopaholic #TooLateToSave #GrandTour