SHANE WATSON reviews last night’s TV: How to buy on Amazon without selling yourself down the river
The Truth About Amazon: How To Shop Smart
We Are Who We Are
Boy, do we have a love-hate relationship with Amazon! At the start of the year we were torn between the temptation of getting anything, any time, anywhere, and the creeping feeling that Amazon was slowly taking over the world.
Then lockdown hit and online shopping went through the roof. Now even those who had never ordered over the internet are hooked, and any doubts the rest of us had have been put on hold by instructions to stay at home if we possibly can.
So with the biggest shopping day of the year, Black Friday, only a few days away, it seemed like a good time for The Truth About Amazon: How To Shop Smart (Channel 4).
Amazon’s sales are up 40 per cent this year and it makes £1.6 billion in profits every month, we heard in the opening minute. Here we go, you thought: a call to consider local retailers, shop out to help out, save those independent booksellers!
Helen Skelton and Sabrina Grant presented The Truth About Amazon: How To Shop Smart
But The Truth About Amazon turned out to be more of an experts’ guide to navigating the pitfalls of online shopping.
There was some useful guidance, to be fair.
Lesson one: remember that Amazon is not the only seller. If you automatically click on the big yellow ‘Buy’ box, as 80 per cent of Amazon customers do, you might well miss out on a cheaper deal because (surprise!) the algorithm favours Amazon’s own goods over those of other sellers.
Instead, you should look for ‘other new items’ elsewhere on the page. Good to know.
Lesson two: watch out for brands selling their products on Amazon for less than on the High Street and, if you find one, ask for the same discount in store (there was no mention of what driving down the price does to these businesses in the long run).
Extra dose of Diana:
Fans of The Crown who love Emma Corin’s portrayal should try the enthralling documentary Diana: In Her Own Words (Netflix) for the real thing. You feel like her confidante as she unburdens herself on tape. Astonishing.
Lesson three: ignore the reviews. We already knew they could be fake; now it turns out they may be stolen from unrelated articles to cheat the algorithm and boost a product’s search-rating position. Read reviews for a five-star headphone adapter and you may well find that three-quarters of them are for Sharpies and cat-scratching posts.
Finally, a particularly good one: always check out other colours. If you opt for a less popular shade of bike helmet, you could save a third on the price.
There was a bit of criticism, particularly of Amazon Wardrobe with its seven-day try-on policy — should you return something if you can pretty much guarantee it will be thrown away? — and Amazon Renewed (second-hand), which can often be more expensive than new.
But mostly the programme was a lesson in shopping better online. As for opening our eyes even wider to Amazon’s takeover of the world while drowning it in packaging, that comes in next week’s programme. We hope.
Eye-opening and provocative film-making is Luca Guadagnino’s stock-in-trade and We Are Who We Are (BBC 3), the first episode of an eight-hour HBO series from the acclaimed director of Call Me By Your Name, ticked those boxes.
It’s a coming-of-age story, seen through the eyes of a 14-year-old New Yorker who has just moved to a U.S. military base in northern Italy.
Fraser has ratty peroxide blond hair, a drinking habit and an unhealthy relationship with his mother Sarah (Chloe Sevigny), the new commander of the garrison, who is married to Maggie, a military medic. Right away we were in complicated, unsettling territory. But (whisper it) not that interested.
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