Boo Hiss Award —

by Katy on December 8, 2011 · 66 comments Cheaper than your local bookstore, easier than getting off the couch and yes, a killer of small businesses across our great nation. And now . . . wants you to go into a brick and mortar store, scan the barcode of the item you want to buy, and then walk empty handed out of that store. And to reward you for price checking their competition, Amazon will pay you $5 if you purchase that item through them within 24 hours.

So, let me get this straight . . . Amazon wants us to walk into a shop which employs our friends, families and neighbors, scan their merchandise and then walk out empty handed and then buy from an online store that’s putting them out of business?!

Sure, this special promotion can be utilized at big box stores as well, but at least they’re employing local people., you have been awarded a big fat Boo-Hiss Award.

Because you suck. Big time.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

This blog post contains no affiliate links. Because, you know, sucks!

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{ 66 comments… read them below or add one }

Chelsea December 8, 2011 at 12:21 pm



Megyn @Minimalist Mommi December 8, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Another reason I don’t own a “smart” phone. This is just insane!


Lily December 10, 2011 at 1:02 am

I don’t either, but this has not to do with the smartphone. Just as the Internet doesn’t “cause” phishing.


Jennifer December 8, 2011 at 1:04 pm

I have this app. I didn’t know they paid you to buy from Amazon instead. I use it to scan barcodes and then read the reviews of the items I’m looking at in the store so I can buy the better reviewed item.


Mary December 8, 2011 at 1:41 pm

That’s as bad as walmart! I do my shopping from small locally owned stores, farmers markets or resale shops.


Kayleigh December 9, 2011 at 5:01 am

I’m still not seeing what’s so bad about Walmart. They give so much back to the local community I live in and they sure do employ ALOT of people in our area and they’ve built an incredible art museum called Crystal Bridges which is drawing in so many people. Again that is bringing a lot to the local community with extra hotel rooms being booked, restaurants doing well, etc. I think Walmart is wonderful. If it were not for Walmart there would be a lot of kids going hungry where I live and not getting much for Christmas either. You guys really don’t have a clue.


Diane C December 9, 2011 at 6:14 am

What they “give” is not in proportion to what they take, on both micro macro levels. Kindly do your homework before you accuse others of being without a clue.


Kayleigh December 9, 2011 at 7:38 am

Actually, I can provide you with lots of numbers that they give, but can you actually give facts to what you think they take?


Katy December 9, 2011 at 7:47 am

Here’s a recent piece about how Wal Mart is cutting benefits to their employees:

When companies don’t provide benefits to their employees, then those people end up using public resources. So in essence, us taxpayers are left paying the cost of Wal Mart’s “cheap at any cost” mentality.

Wal Mart creates a working poor.


Mary December 9, 2011 at 7:49 am

well said Kayleigh. There are alot of good documentaries and indepth articles that explain in great detail why walmart is bad for our country. I live in Arkansas and I have personal experience working for a walmart vendor (many years ago). If those low prices are so important to you just remember they pay the vendors such low prices that they had to resort to child labor in other countries. They don’t pay their employees decent wages and their health care option is a joke. They make deals with cities so they don’t have to pay property taxes like locally owned small businesses do. I’ll never shop there, I think it’s unpatriotic!

Sheron December 8, 2011 at 1:58 pm

If you would like a more in depth eye-opener, and have not yet done so, I suggest reading “Fast Food Nation” by Eric Schlosser.


Laura's Last Ditch--Vintage Kitchenwares December 9, 2011 at 9:00 am

That is one of my favorite books. I really changed the way I eat after reading that one. Plus it was just plain interesting.


Marilynn December 8, 2011 at 2:15 pm is a handy resource… for researching and reviewing what I then buy or order from my local merchants!

My Christmas gift list is mostly books or bookstore gift certificates. This grandma does enjoy buying fun things for babies and small children, but not teenagers because all they seem to want is pricey electronics and VERY specific clothing styles (about which I am clueless).

It has become so difficult to find goods made in the USA that I admit to buying stuff I don’t really need when I do find an American product, like the cooky cutters made in Vermont that I got at our local mercantile yesterday. Guess I’d better get busy baking…


Laura's Last Ditch--Vintage Kitchenwares December 9, 2011 at 9:02 am

Love it! I bet your teenaged grandkids would love a tin of homemade cookies made with your USA-made cookie cutters as a Christmas gift!


Renee December 8, 2011 at 2:18 pm

If I read another write up of this scheme correctly, they only actually give you 5% of one item you purchase, up to $5. So you’d have to buy something that is $100 or more to get $5.

I think it’s pretty abhorrent to start with, but to sell out your local community for such little change (and when you’ve already invested the resources and time to get to the store, which isn’t free!) is sad.


namastemama December 8, 2011 at 6:46 pm

V. good point. I did this same math. And you can get 3 rebates max.

Way too big brother to me. Here’s the clincher. The people that are scanning the items are doing Amazon’s work for them. Amazon is the lowest price because they constantly monitor every other store. If 100,000 people are scanning items, Amazon can know instantly if their price is cheaper. Amazon can also gather market trends etc. from this info. What a scam! It’s really genius though.


Laura's Last Ditch--Vintage Kitchenwares December 8, 2011 at 2:30 pm

I have a feeling this promotion might come back and bite them in the behind. It strikes me as questionable.


Dogs or Dollars December 8, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Wow. I think Amazon just earned a removal from the Big Box exception list too. Costco is already nixed in 2012 (as soon as our membership expires). It’s one thing to be competitive. It’s another to actually deter business from small local businesses.


Megyn @Minimalist Mommi December 8, 2011 at 6:16 pm

May I ask why you nixed Costco? I’m a bit on the fence about it, but last I heard (ok, years ago), the owner put a lot of money back into the company. Plus, the offer lots of organic options in bulk at a fraction of the cost.


Megg December 8, 2011 at 10:43 pm

I cannot nix Costco myself. Around here it’s one of the biggest employers (next to Microsoft and Boeing) and employs a LOT of people. Costco was founded locally, so I think that helps, and their corporate offices (at least one of them!) are here, so I don’t mind shopping there. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, of course!


Diane C December 9, 2011 at 6:18 am

Don’t forget that Costco pays a living wage, complete with generous health and retirement benefits.


Elspeth @ paperarmour December 9, 2011 at 6:43 am

I’m curious as to why you want to nix Costco too. I’ve been considering getting a membership and have heard many good things. I don’t doubt your reasons are legitimate, I just would like to hear them. 🙂


Dogs or Dollars December 12, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Sorry I missed all this earlier. I live in the Seattle area, where Costco is headquartered. I made them an exception BECAUSE they pay living wages and are a ‘local’ company for me.

Then they decided they had to sell booze in WA State. Last year we voted it down. This year it came up again, and Costco put a record $22Million dollar donation toward the initiative.

Who do you think won?

I feel like Costco bought the election. And that stinks. An election that cost 400 people their state jobs, in a time when that really hurts. Do you think Costco is going to hire 400 people to sell booze? I don’t.

I think they put profits over people in this case, in multiple ways.


Megg December 14, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Actually, they have promised an interview to every person who worked in a state run liquor store. Sure that isn’t a guaranteed job, but it’s at least an interview which is a big step in the right direction. (And it wasn’t just Costco’s idea to sell alcohol privately in Washington)


Dogs or Dollars December 15, 2011 at 1:55 pm

I don’t think its a big step in the right direction. I think its a cursory step, because they know it sucks to put 400 people out of work. Making money was more important. Many of the liquor stores are in places without a Costco. Not much a chance for those people

It wasn’t just Costco’s idea. I agree. But I didnt see anyone else who thought it was worth $22 million to prove their point, again.

I’m not saying that liquor should or should not have been privatized. I just dont like corporations buying elections. Maybe its naive to think that doesnt happen more often than I’d like to admit. I’m sure it does. And when I hear about it, I won’t patronize those businesses either.

Elspeth @ paper armour January 23, 2012 at 11:10 am

That makes sense, and I understand your reason for letting your membership lapse. Thanks for sharing!


Alison December 8, 2011 at 5:49 pm

In the small town I live in we don’t have most of the electronic and similar items sold at Amazon locally. A neighboring town does have a Target, and I have used a similar app to price compare and read reviews between the two stores. Sometimes it leads me to make my purchase at Target, and sometimes on Amazon.

I also have to say I love Amazon and I have been a customer of theirs since 1999. They are efficient. Their efficiencies allow them to offer discounts, and given my too busy life style, they make my life easier. And, given where I live, I still buy my groceries, clothes, and gifts locally, but when it comes to electronics, appliances and the occasional mainstream toy, Amazon is my go to store.

I also think that it is unrealistic of certain local stores to try and carry certain mass produced products, such as electronics. A store like Costco or Amazon can leverage customers’ needs when it comes to warranty and replacement at a lower cost than mom and pop and with less stress. However, when it comes to clothes, art, handmade gifts, and food, these are the things I like to buy local. These are the things that build connection and relationships, and that individuals can take pride in making and selling.

Some change is good, some not good. Rather than put my energy into dissing Amazon, I’d like to put my energy into my local shops carrying local goods…not ornaments and clothes made in China or wherever else.


Ellie December 9, 2011 at 9:33 am

I agree with many of your point about Amazon, BUT…

What Katy describes disgusts me. I have a serious problem with is one store basically bribing cutomers to help it do it’s own price-anaysis work to help it put other stores out of business.

What Amazon is basially saying, with the nice language stripped away, is this: “Hey, customers, do our job for us! Take your time, your phone, and your gas and go to a store and scan their prices for us. We’ll collect the data y’all send us, and use it to set our own prices just low enough to help us put the competition out of business. In exchange, we’ll “pay” you will a negligible discount off of an item. This is much cheaper than employing people to do price research for us, and hey, you’re probably watching your pennies so closely these days that you’ll do the work for a pittance! C’mon, give us a hand!”

There is no way I can’t see that as a smarmy business practice.


Frugal in the City December 23, 2011 at 2:14 pm

I agree with Katy – amazon is really over the top with this promotion. I will not participate in price scanning for them (not that I have a smart phone).

However, I will continue to buy from amazon occasionally. The “local” stores in my area are more often than not huge chain stores, they don’t employ friends and family as much as they exploit and churn them. The stores also have terrible return policies and no customer service, amazon has the opposite of both.

Let’s further explore this whole “stealing local jobs” theme. Almost all my items (furniture, clothing, every appliance in my house) are purchased used off craigslist. Is craigslist stealing local jobs? You can bet your next paycheck that when I see something I want in a retail store I put it on my “lookout list” and use craigslist to find it.

There is no goodwill outlet in my city but how much do goodwill employees get paid and what benefits do they receive compared to those who work at wal mart?

Why throw stones at one place and not another?


Karen December 8, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Another reason not to support Amazon. There are many, including how badly they treat their warehouse staff, and how they don’t want to collect sales tax. I could go on…

A number of years ago, Comcast had a similar “competition” going with (or should I say against) other cable companies. We were Comcast customers then, and were always being harassed to turn in our neighbors who were not Comcast people. With that mean-sprited and crappy campaign and their less than stellar cable service, not to mention a higher monthly price than other cable services, we moved on to another company. Please, big business, don’t make me part of your questionable ethics!


Barb December 8, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Yep. Spent a few years in germany where amazon was one of the few that shipped to APOs….since I got back they are history. What I do is I use them as a search source, I make wish lists that are like ten pages long, print them out and then look through local stores and so on for the items I want.


Lilypad December 13, 2011 at 8:56 pm

I thought I was the only person exploiting their handy wishlist function! 😉 I have about 300 things on my wishlist, just so I remember what I’m looking for. I find about 90% of the books at my local library sooner or later (hooray for library wait lists) and I’ve even ordered books on inter-library loans by using information (about the publisher etc.) from Amazon’s pages. I also read product reviews. After I heard about this evil promotion last week, I drove to the nearest independent bookstore and bought 2 books for my son for Hanukkah. I’m also in the Seattle area and used to consider them a “local” business. I’m just getting really tired of their shenanigans.


Christina December 8, 2011 at 6:53 pm

This happens quite often where I work. People come in and ask lots of questions because they know the staff is knowledgeable and helpful. After using our time and other resources, they proceed to tell us they are buying online because it’s cheaper, but just wanted information. They don’t seem to get that the ‘service’ they just used costs money to provide and the reason things are cheaper online is because you are dealing with companies who don’t pay rent or provide much customer service. People have a right to make their buying decisions on price alone, but to use up the time and resources of a small business when you have no intention of supporting that business is incredibly rude and selfish, IMO.


Laura's Last Ditch--Vintage Kitchenwares December 8, 2011 at 7:11 pm

That just doesn’t seem right. If you want to buy online, research online.


Lisa December 8, 2011 at 7:46 pm

If your local choices are Target or Walmart, you’re not really doing better by shopping locally. Big box stores are the reason small local bookstores and the like are rare nowadays. Amazon was a relatively late player in that game.

I think the bar code scan is a keen idea, actually. Use the technology at hand!


Samantha December 9, 2011 at 7:21 am

We have the same problem here. We do not have small businesses, they’re already gone 🙁 Our choices for shopping are Wal-Mart, Costco, and Home Depot.


Laura's Last Ditch--Vintage Kitchenwares December 9, 2011 at 9:04 am

If you don’t want big box, there’s always buying online from small businesses. Not local, but at least they’re not corporate behemoths either.


Lisa December 9, 2011 at 2:49 pm

That’s a good point and definitely something to check out. Some small businesses have a significant online presence and it’s possible to do some digging to “check them out” before making a purchase.


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl December 13, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Yes. If someone scanned a product at Walmart and then bought it on Amazon, I’d have a hard time scaring up much in the way of outrage.

A small local store is an entirely different matter.


nancy December 8, 2011 at 7:48 pm

I buy my text books, used online through Amazon. Sorry, my school bookstore is an absolute ripoff and I can sell back through Amazon and get more money.
I want to shop local and do whenever I can, but there are just times I don’t want to run all over creation looking for something so I turn to Amazon. Maybe if local shops had better websites it would help as well. (I bought from the local businesses that offered goods online and like a previous poster, I prefer things not made in China if I am going to pay premium prices)
As far as the app goes with people scanning and then getting the discount, back before the Iphone was even a gleam in anyone’s eye, folks would come into the shop where I worked, get me to look up everything under the sun and work up prices for them only to tell me they were going to the shop down the street because they were cheaper. The app makes it easier, but I still think the person who takes up your time and then buys from Amazon is the same person who used to take up my time (and that was back in the days when we were on commission, so it really used up your resources)
Sorry this is so long.


Megg December 8, 2011 at 10:47 pm

I love Amazon. Yeah. I get free gift cards through Swagbucks, and though I can choose to get other prizes, that is what I like to get. I do shop locally, but while we are trying to limit our spending, buying used books on for less than even our local (chain) used book store is really appealing to me. Plus, Swagbucks has funded 80% of my Christmas shopping and it was all done on Amazon.
While I respect people for boycotting or avoiding the site, I also feel like I need to pick and choose the things I personally boycott, because if I avoided every abhorrent company out there I would be left with nothing, and would be farming and raising chickens from eggs! (Not that that’s a bad thing…)


Elaine in Ark December 9, 2011 at 8:30 am

An off-topic reply to your chickens/eggs – the local feed store sells farm eggs, which I used to buy. Then I found out the hens were confined to a really small cage (they didn’t even have room to turn around), and I couldn’t, in good conscience, contribute to that practice. So I buy bland supermarket eggs because I don’t know any farmers who raise cage-free chickens.


AnnDenee December 9, 2011 at 8:40 am

Can you raise your own?


Laura's Last Ditch--Vintage Kitchenwares December 9, 2011 at 9:07 am

We buy ours from a local farm. Have you ever checked Craigslist? When we pass the farm, we buy several dozen (they don’t rot too quickly), and that gets us through to the next time. There is no comparison in quality, and we can actually see the chickens they come from.


Kate December 9, 2011 at 12:41 am

I used to work at a local retailer, and it was just so frustrating to watch people use apps like these. I think a lot of consumers just don’t get the connection between saving a buck & someone else not making a living wage, or having benefits, or a job being outsourced. We all want to save $$$, but sometimes savings comes at a price.


Jennifer December 9, 2011 at 3:47 am

It’s the consumer who participates, not the company, who deserves your Boo Hiss Award. The company is simply playing the free market game, as is anyone (large and small) in business. The consumer has the choice as to whether to participate.


Yankeegal December 9, 2011 at 8:17 am



Linda December 9, 2011 at 4:55 am

My sister only wants to go to restaurants in her little town and buy gas in the town. Yet, she buys everything from Home Shopping! I tried to tell her that Home Shopping does not help the local economy other than the UPS man who delivers the items. There are local stores (in other towns) that would love her business but I can’t seem to get her to stop buying from Home Shopping. There is a package at her door every time I go to her home.


Megg December 9, 2011 at 8:14 am

At least she’s balancing it out, though, and trying to go to local restaurants and gas stations. (Although it’s disturbing how often you imply that she seems to shop there!)


jan December 9, 2011 at 5:03 am

what is Swagbucks ??


Jenn H December 10, 2011 at 5:09 am

Jan-Swagbucks is search engine that randomly awards you “Swagbucks” for searching. It basically works like Google except you get bucks sometimes. You can then exchange these bucks for stuff or gift cards. You can fill out surveys, promotions, etc to earn extra bucks. I use it a lot by searching for the blogs I read (like this one!) instead of just clicking a bookmark. It takes an extra 2 seconds but a couple of weeks ago I cashed in a bunch of bucks for $55 in Amazon gift cards so it was like free money! Here is a link if you are interested in signing up or checking it out.


Alyssa December 9, 2011 at 6:06 am

That is very sneaky of Amazon. However, I’m not going to boycott them because of it. I live in Austin where there’s huge support for local businesses. I buy local a lot. There are some things that are just better to get online that you wouldn’t be able to find in a local store (the specific item that comes to mind is a Fit Bit Wireless Trainer that I want). If you’re worried about local Big Box vs. Amazon, a big issue that hasn’t been addressed is the footprint for buying something and having it shipped (lots of fuel used). I haven’t used the barcode scanner before, but I’ve definitely looked up an item on my phone simply to read the reviews. Then I bought it from the store.


Laura's Last Ditch--Vintage Kitchenwares December 9, 2011 at 9:12 am

I’m all for local shopping, but there’s a footprint to driving to a store, and there’s a footprint for the store operating. There are also ecological economies of scale from a big warehouse like Amazon with no showroom for customers, and no need for a big parking lot for the customers. I’m not defending Amazon’s promotion, but it does seem like the driving from a UPS truck delivering hundreds of packages is less than a bunch of cars going to a bunch of stores. The best thing, really, is just plain not to shop, or to buy used, whether at a thrift store or online, if you care about such things.


Michelle December 9, 2011 at 6:33 am

Gotta say I love Amazon! I live in the middle of nowhere, my husband lost his job a few years ago and now we both work hard and make little, and Amazon saves us! I would love to buy from the few local businesses we have around here but the prices are soo high! If it weren’t for Amazon and Walmart low income people would have very little. I think you are all seeming a bit judging!


Elaine in Ark December 9, 2011 at 8:35 am

You bring up a good point, Michelle. When money is tight, you need to consider everything when making your decisions. And in a lot of areas, the big box stores literally are the only options around. I live in a rural area (in Walmart headquarters country). In the past 7 years, almost all the new stores and restaurants that opened are big box and national chains. However, thrift and consignment stores are popping up everywhere, which is a great alternative.


Laura's Last Ditch--Vintage Kitchenwares December 9, 2011 at 9:13 am

There’s always not shopping, too. If you seek out alternative ways of getting what you need, and just reduce your wants, it helps immensely. Then, when you do have to pay more for the few things you do want, the money’s there for them.


Ellie December 10, 2011 at 3:42 pm

There’s also a limit to “not shopping.”

As Elaine points out, some people live in places where big-box stores really are the only place for miles around to purchase anything – and that includes groceries, pharmacy items, socks underwear. Even if you can find a thrift store (which can be harder than you might think in some areas), you still need to buy SOME things new. And there’s always going to be the occassional situation where you can’t find something you really do need sooner rather than later in a thrift store. And then there are things like books and computer acess that can be really hard to do without in modern soiety – and believe it or not, with all the cuts to libraries and other public services, not everyone has access to a decent library, or even any library.

As much as I hate big box stoes, I think it’s important to realize that there are limits to individual choices. Not everyone lives someplace with a lot of other options, and unless one is a subsistence farmer (and even those guys used to buy seed and tools!) “not shopping” can only take you so far.


Barb December 9, 2011 at 9:59 am

I have to admit that for many years amazon was my salvation. Not from the financial aspect but the from living in Germany with no american library to speak of and missing some things from home aspect. They always shipped to APOs and dvilian addresses were efficient and game me all the stuff from home that I missed.

I also have to admit that my son is an online bookseller (when you cant get a job, you gotta come up with something).

i am at that point in my where I have everything I need for the most part, and stick with mainly used or local stores. But I understand that someone is not htere may have to do anything else.


Jenny December 9, 2011 at 8:58 am

Boo-hiss, indeed! This will appeal to the set of “frugal” folks who buy endless amounts of cheap Chinese-made stuff but have to get it at rock-bottom prices.


Yafube December 9, 2011 at 11:00 am

Question is… Is there any item on sale on amazon that is costing less than 5$… Could be a nice way to make a few bucks before xmas 🙂


Alison December 9, 2011 at 11:03 am

I was planning to order a few books and DVDs from Amazon for Christmas gifts, but instead I just called my local independent book store and asked THEM to order the books for me (they are titles that aren’t on the shelves right now). It will take a few days and I may end up paying a little more but this time it feels right.


Gerard Kiernan December 9, 2011 at 7:29 pm

I have had amazon prime for a couple years. It is a very easy way to purchase stuff since the service is incredibly fast, the prices are good, and shipping is free. No car trip is required. I think this is a very tough time to have a traditional bookstore or music store. I don’t have a clear solution for them, particularly since each generation now will be digital natives. For food , on the other hand, buying local has so many clear advantages beyond price, that it seems to be growing. We seem to be making a choice about things that don’t spoil and ship cross country fast (books and CD’s) and food items that do spoil and taste better without pesticides etc….
complicated times!


Elaine in Ark December 12, 2011 at 8:47 am

“Complicated times” is right!

I was a child in the 1950s, and getting any produce out of season in Wisconsin was a very big deal. Of course, it had to be trucked in from California, Texas, or Florida and cost a lot of money.

Nowadays, I try to buy local, and it costs more than grocery store produce. Of course, it tastes better and is probably more nutritous, but I do have to walk that fine line between what I want and what I can afford.


Kris2 December 10, 2011 at 7:18 am

I don’t have a smart phone. I guess I am old fashioned at 41(how sad). I just have a regular phone ( I don’t even text 😉 I shop the old fashioned way. I do shop on Amazon if I can’t find what I need but I like shopping at my local businesses, including chain stores that are in my small town. They pay good wages here trying to compete with the “big boy” payers and the money stays in town and is great for our local college kids. My daughter works at a local chain store and almost all of her money stays in our region. It gives her the flexibility to work around her class schedule.

I just bought my daughter a gift certificate to our local independent book store. Book stores of all kinds, even chain stores, seem to be losing out big time to electronic books. Thankfully our little book store has an antique coffee bar, unique toys and regional authors who have book signings. It is one of my favorite places in my town.

When my daughter needed information from a very expensive book for her history class and couldn’t find it anywhere else, the owner of the bookstore allowed her to use the book for her class for free. THAT is why I shop local.

I do have a NOOK but I seem to use it less and less. I realized that electronic books don’t do it for me by and large, so I order a few books for my nook and then buy the rest of them from our bookstore. Like to hold the book in my hands

My rule of thumb. I try to buy what I need locally. If I can’t find it locally I try to find it regionally. If I can’t find it regionally then I try to find it somewhere in my state. If I can’t find it any other way then I go to Amazon or call my mom and have her look in her area out of state for me.


Megyn @Minimalist Mommi December 10, 2011 at 10:53 am

You’re not the only one! I’m 25 with no smart phone either!!


Jinger December 15, 2011 at 4:28 am

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