Amazon Quietly Limits the Way Prime Customers Can Share Benefits With Household Members

PHOTO: An Amazon logo is pictured on April 11, 2015 in Lauwin-Planque, France.Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images
An Amazon logo is pictured on April 11, 2015 in Lauwin-Planque, France.

Amazon is limiting the way Prime members can share benefits like free two-day shipping to the chagrin of some customers.

Under a new program called Amazon Households, Amazon Prime members can share with one adult family member and four children the free two-day shipping benefit, plus Kindle Owners' Lending Library, Amazon's video streaming service and early access to Prime sales.

Amazon Prime members pay $99 a year or $49 if you're a student for free two-day shipping.

Prime customers could previously share their shipping perk with up to four household members, but not the other features. The website gives customers who are presently sharing their membership the option to only share with one adult family member the shipping benefit and the other Amazon services.

"Because we want you to be able to share the very best of Prime, we are introducing the Amazon Household Program," Amazon.com states to some Prime customers when they log into their accounts.

"With Amazon Household, in addition to sharing your access to the Prime FREE Two-Day shipping that you love, you and one other adult family member and four children will be able to share Prime Instant Video, Prime Early Access, and the Kindle Owners' Lending Library," the website states. "Additionally, Prime members with Amazon Mom can share their 20% diaper and 15% Baby Registry discounts. Create a family library to share books, apps, and games with your Household members across all of their Amazon devices and media apps. Both Household adults can manage parental controls with Amazon FreeTime for children in the Amazon Household. Create your Amazon Households to share your Prime benefits here."

If you remove an Amazon Prime shared member, you cannot add them back, complained some users on Slickdeals.net, an unrelated deals saving online community that posted about the change in Amazon's policy on Friday.

"This is an example of the man trying to bring us down," one user commented.

The thread with the subject, "Heads up!!! Changes to amazon prime terms and conditions that went into effect July 31, 2015," has elicited about 370 comments.

Regina Conway, a consumer expert with Slickdeals, told ABC News: "With the change, the two sharing the account will have access to one another's credit card info. The change is essentially making it more difficult for people to share their membership with non-family members, and also presumes that the users won't mind making credit card info available to the other person on the account."

A spokeswoman for Amazon noted that Amazon Household account holders cannot see each other's purchase history or order information, though there is a "shared digital wallet, which allows for easy purchasing of books, shows and other products." The program also offers parental controls over Amazon FreeTime, which is a monthly subscription for children's content.

The spokeswoman said in a statement to ABC News, "We are excited to allow Prime members to share more benefits within their household. This was always our intention, and the new Amazon Households Program allows a family unlimited access to Prime Instant Video so they can share access to videos included with Prime. It also allows households to create a shared library of ebooks, audiobooks, apps and games across all of Amazon devices and media apps, in addition to sharing shipping benefits and more."

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