On July 20, billionaire Amazon cofounder Jeff Bezos went into space for a brief period of time in a rocket built by his rocket company, Blue Origin.
When he returned, the former Amazon CEO expressed gratitude to Amazon customers and employees for making the trip possible: During a post-flight press conference, Bezos said, “I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for all of this.” “Seriously, thank you from the bottom of my heart to every Amazon customer and every Amazon employee out there. It is greatly appreciated.”
Some of the customers he thanked, on the other hand, saw the trip to space as a sign to stop paying $120 a year for Amazon’s wildly popular Prime subscription service.
“You guys, I just canceled my Amazon Prime membership and feel GREAT about it,” one such customer posted in a private Facebook group. “I’m tired of paying to shop on a website and/or ride in a billionaire’s rocket. I guess I just had to tell the world.”
They were among several people Insider spoke with who said they canceled their Prime membership in the days following Bezos’ trip to space, and who were directly inspired to do so by the trip.
Katie’s decision had been a long time coming.
She first became a member of Amazon Prime in 2004, and she has remained a member ever since. “Back then, it just seemed like a good place to buy books online,” Katie, who declined to give her last name, explained.
But, as time passed, more and more reasons to be skeptical of Amazon emerged.
“First, it was realizing how negatively this company affects the publishing industry,” she told Insider, referring to Amazon’s tumultuous relationship with book publishers over the years. “Then there was the revelation of the warehouse workers’ appalling treatment. Then there was a growing awareness of my own consumerism, which was starting to disgust me.”
Bezos’ trip to space was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Katie.
“I saw a few posts from people in some of my online groups that they finally pulled the plug, and reading all of the positive replies, it’s like it just clicked for me.”
A similar situation occurred with Katy, another former Amazon Prime subscriber: As more stories about Amazon’s treatment of its employees emerged, and she became more aware of the environmental impact of her purchasing habits, she began to reconsider her Prime membership.
“I started really budgeting for the first time in July of 2020,” she told Insider. “Seeing that I was wasting a lot of money on convenience that didn’t align with my values and could be done cheaper was a big part.”
The decision was made clear when Bezos went to space.
“The whole thing was such a spectacle of a single person amassing so much wealth that they simply lost touch with the reality for the average person,” Katy explained. “My membership was renewed despite the fact that I had forgotten to cancel. I had moved some money around in my budget to cover the cost of another year, and the coverage actually inspired me to log on and cancel, resulting in a refund.”
Though she has no regrets and has no plans to return, Katy said she understands why millions of Americans continue to subscribe to Amazon Prime.
“For many people, Prime and Amazon gives them access to things they cannot get in other ways,” she said. “I am lucky to live in a place where I have access to many locally owned shops including a local grocery and a locally run shop that sells bulk items to help reduce single use plastic.”