We have official word from Amazon: The Amazon Mum discount program is open to “all Mums and Dads” including “parents with imaginary children.”
On Monday, Slate’s Matt Yglesias wrote that Amazon Mum is a good way to save on products you buy regularly. The program offers an extra discount on “Subscribe and Save” items that you sign up to have Amazon deliver every month or every few months.
To join, you have to tell Amazon information about your child, but if (like Yglesias) you don’t have a child, you can just make one up. As far as Amazon knows, his “son” is called Tim Duncan Crawford.
This led to a discussion: Is Yglesias a moral monster for taking a discount that’s supposed to be for parents? Adam Weinstein at Gawker wrote a very earnest plea for “the rich privileged rentier class of child-free Beltway dipshits” not to take this discount even if it’s logistically available to them:
Forget about discounts. Forget about our status as consumers. Think about people as people. Think about what we need. We all need help. People with children, people without. Young, old. But we don’t all need the same help in the same way.
For harried parents — and if you don’t know any, go out and meet them, and find out what it takes to raise life-sustaining funding these days while keeping a child from killing itself — for harried parents in this endlessly acquisitive society, mail-ordering for sundries and staples is a godsend, and discounted mail-order is a blessing, indeed.
Obnoxious parental superiority: It’s not just for Park Slope anymore.
Anyway, I put a simple question to Amazon: Do you mind if people with only fake children sign up for Amazon Mum? Answer: they don’t. Here’s what Scott Stanzel, Amazon’s Director of Consumer Communications, had to say:
We’re happy to have all Mums and Dads in the program, although parents with imaginary children won’t be able to take full advantage of the great discounts on diapers and other baby products that the program is designed to provide.
You’re in the clear, Tim Duncan Crawford.
To address Weinstein’s substantive argument for a moment: He says using Amazon Mum even if you don’t have a kid is like taking a retailer’s veteran discount even if you’re not a veteran. I agree the latter behaviour is immoral. The retailer is offering that discount as a thank-you for veterans’ service, and if you’re not a veteran you’re basically taking a gift that wasn’t offered to you.
But is Amazon Mum really a similar “thank you” to parents, or is it just a price discrimination strategy premised around the idea that parents (and especially mums) are more likely to be price-conscious? I’m pretty sure it’s the latter. And while I think price discrimination is a-OK, I don’t think consumers have any obligation to help businesses implement their price discrimination strategies.
For example, hotels often offer discounted weekend packages aimed at price-sensitive leisure travellers. Sometimes these packages have names like “Romance Package.” It is perfectly morally acceptable to book this package and use it for an unromantic business trip that happens to occur on a weekend.
You can also go ahead and add someone you dislike (but unfortunately must communicate with regularly) to your phone company’s “Friends and Family Plan.”
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
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