Update 6/17/20: It was never clear why this sometimes happens and sometimes does not. There’s a recent DDF thread which sheds some light on this: apparently, if you update the S&S to ship within a month of the order (e.g. today is June 17th and you update your date after initial order to any date until July 16th), you should not lose the discount as the order ‘updates’. However, if you change the date to a date more than a month away (e.g. today is June 17th and you update your date after initial order to July 17th or beyond), the system then ‘cancels’ and reorders, so you lose the discounts.
Original Post on 12/31/18:
Amazon’s subscribe-and-save program is a nice way to save 5% or 15% on many everyday items which are needed on a regular basis. Multiple Slickdeals members report today a shocking find that the price you see at check out for S&S orders is not necessarily the price you’ll end up paying, EVEN ON YOUR FIRST SHIPMENT.
It’s well-known to veteran Amazon users that after the first shipment the price on your S&S orders are subject to change, but it became apparent today that Amazon will often adjust the delivery date, even when no adjustment was requested from you end, and that results in the order being cancelled and reordered in the backend of Amazon’s system. The system treats it like any subsequent S&S order, and charges whatever the current going price is. That’s not necessarily the price you initially agreed to, and it won’t include other things, like coupons, attached to the order.
Worse yet, no email is sent out from Amazon with information about the cancel/reorder, it’s a behind-the-scenes adjustment. To be clear, I don’t think Amazon is processing a reorder just to gain an extra buck. Rather, the system requires a different delivery date (or you push out the delivery date), and the Amazon system views the first order as if it were a subsequent order with the price not locked in, rather dependent on current market prices.
Initially, I had the word “shady” in the title, but changed it to “awful” since it’s probably unintentional, just the result of computer programs. Folks on Slickdeals point out that this issue also affects affiliates (blogs, etc.) who lose out on their commission for that first order since Amazon considers it cancelled. Obviously, the much larger hit is to the consumer who loses all their coupons, offers, and discounts on the first order. It’ll be interesting to see if this gains traction resulting in corrective action from Amazon.
[Update 3/3/19: Another issue with Amazon S&S is discussed in this SD thread with the 15% discount not always reflecting properly.]