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Amazon Prime: How to get one month for free

Amazon Prime members whose packages aren't delivered by the 'guaranteed delivery date' can request a one-month membership extension. In fact, you can request an Amazon Prime extension up to 12 times per year. 

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    An Amazon.com package on a UPS truck in Palo Alto, Calif. Amazon Prime members can get a free month of membership if their package arrives later than Amazon's 'guaranteed delivery' date.
    Paul Sakuma/AP/File
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Did you know that if you're an Amazon Prime subscriber and your package isn't delivered by the "guaranteed delivery date," you can request a free 1-month extension to your membership? Sounds too good to be true, but that's what one Redditor discovered simply by reading the fine print that most of us just overlook.

In fact, you can request a Prime extension up to 12 times a year. So, if you order a lot and your deliveries are frequently late, then you could end up receiving a full year of Amazon Prime for free, simply by asking! There are restrictions, of course, but most of them simply require that the order meet some obvious stipulations, and almost all regular orders are be eligible for this courtesy.

We know what you're thinking. "Yeah, but will Amazon really honor it?" or "How hard is it toactually get?!"

DealNews Tested and Confirmed — Twice

Well, it just so happens that right after we heard about this policy, our order of Spider-Man Printed Duct Tape didn't arrive on time. (What? Why are you chortling?)

We decided to do some hands-on investigating! We sent this email to customer service:

"Hello! My order, #XXX-XXXXXXX-XXXXXXX, was scheduled for delivery on the 18th, however, it has not arrived. I saw that Amazon will extend a Prime membership by a month, if a package misses its delivery date. Am I eligible for that extension for this order not arriving on time?"

You can probably tell by our phrasing that we felt a little bit guilty about asking for this extension. Why would they give us a free month over something as silly as Spider-Man Duct Tape?! And furthermore, when we sent that email, the delivery was only late by an hour and a half. (We wanted to see how closely they stuck to that "promised delivery date.") But lo and behold, the very next morning, this email was waiting for us in our inbox:

"Hello, I'm sorry to hear your "Duck Brand 280905 Spider-Man Printed Duct Tape" didn't arrive by the estimated delivery date of December 18, 2013. This usually doesn't happen. To help make up for the inconvenience, I've extended your Amazon Prime membership by one month. The membership will now renew on September 2, 2014.

"In my experience, late packages arrive not long after the date listed. Please wait a little longer, until December 20, 2013, before requesting a refund or replacement. Otherwise, you might have to return a package. We hope to see you again soon.

Well, Amazon, you will see us again ... and again and again — for an extra month!

And to prove it's no fluke, mere days after the above incident, another package of ours arrived late and we decided to push our luck by requesting the extension again. And again, it was granted! Two delayed packages, two 1-month Prime extensions!

If you're not an Amazon Prime subscriber, you're not completely out of luck. Using the same policy, you can have your shipping fees reimbursed for the tardy item. It's not a month of free shipping, but it's not a bad apology for a late item, either.

Success (And Some Misses) For DealNews Readers

The last time we published this information, dozens of DealNews readers commented to tell us that requesting an extension of Prime, often using the exact wording suggested here, was successful. A few did not get a free extension. But of those, several instead got an Amazon credit, sometimes worth more than a month of Prime or the late order itself.

User rjprux noted, like several others, that requesting a free month of prime is especially useful if Amazon often uses FedEx Smart Post to ship your orders. Under this system (meant to cut costs and increase efficiency), FedEx delivers packages to the post office nearest the destination, and USPS then makes the final delivery. And it often makes packages arrive a day late, meaning more Prime for you!

What about now readers, have any of you tried to request an extra month of Prime for free? Did you have a different experience? Do you feel guilty asking for the extension even though it's well within your rights — and Amazon's policy — to ask for it? Tell us all about it in the comments below.

Jeff Somogyi is the media editor for DealNews, where this article first appeared. 

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best personal finance bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

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