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Tag: Amazon

What to do When your Holiday Gift doesn’t Show up

Packages don’t always arrive on time. Here’s how I try to handle that inevitability.

“Your package is on the way, but running late. We’re sorry for the delay. Now expected December 27 to December 29.”

That’s the email I recently received from Amazon. Yes, the package in question was a holiday gift for our son, and now it wasn’t.

You might think I was upset to receive that disappointing update. I was not.

Expect the Unexpected
I’ve always been something of a last-minute shopper. Try as I may, wrapping up gift purchases comes down to the wire every year. But I’ve always gotten it done. That said, this year was particularly difficult. (More on this in another post.)

As you might expect, online shopping has made the gifting equation easier for me, until it didn’t, when the pandemic and supply-chain issues delayed almost every delivery.

I was retrained to expect disruption.

And when online shopping returned mostly to normal, I wasn’t so quick to assume that ‘promised’ delivery times would always hold up.

So, did I expect some shipping delays and ultimately buy more gifts for our son than needed during my 2022 last-minute shopping sprint? Yes, I did.

And yes, there was a back-up gift ready to go to the front of the line.

Do You have a Back-up Plan?
So no, it was not disappointment I experienced when Amazon shared the bad news with me. I actually felt relief and a bit of joy. I think I even smiled. I was happy that I had successfully hedged against this possibility.

And I knew that I could easily return the package. Or perhaps I’ll keep it as a back-up gift for next year. (How’s that for early planning?)

It’s Not about the Gift
I know that the holidays shouldn’t always be about gift giving. Instead, it’s an opportunity to be with family and friends. It’s a time to connect and sometimes reconnect.

And it’s a time to celebrate who and what you have in your life.

You just don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

And if a gift shows up late, so what? As long as everyone you care about shows up, that’s all that really matters.

Happy holidays, and here’s to smiling at every late package arrival.

The Double-Edged Sword of Repeat Deliveries

Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program is a great time saver, but over time it may be more than you need. Here’s why…

Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program originally made me feel like I had been transported to a Star Trek-like future where people could focus on higher-level cognitive challenges as opposed to pondering if they were about to run out of toilet paper.

It was a magical leap forward in shopping design, where you could automatically receive your supplies without worrying that you’d forget to reorder. Plus, you’d get an ongoing discount on these Subscribe & Save orders. How great is that?!

It was set-it-and-forget-it, and your stuff showed up.

What could possibly go wrong?

Too Many Vitamins!
This morning, I woke up, walked downstairs to the kitchen and opened up the cupboard to take some vitamins, including my daily Omega 3 supplement. I grabbed the plastic bottle, unscrewed the top and took out the very last capsule.

I smiled, because I knew I was ready for this moment. There would be another Subscribe & Save bottle in the back of the cupboard ready to go. I peered behind some other vitamin bottles, and I squinted to be sure what I saw. I didn’t see a replacement bottle. I saw three.


Clearly my family and I weren’t consuming as many Omega 3’s as my subscription was providing. You might say it’s an easy arithmetic equation to figure out. It is, but somehow it had gotten way off balance.

And I hadn’t been paying attention, because it was set-it-and-forget-it.

Inevitable Imbalance
I sat down at my desk with my cup of Joe and finally allowed myself to fully face the other recent clues of imbalance in my shopping utopia from the future.

  • I had collected in my basement an extra year’s supply of AC/furnace air filters.
  • My paper towel subscription for the premium Bounty brand had been inexplicably cancelled and replaced by the less luxurious Brawny.
  • My toothpaste subscription was also cancelled, and I needed to actively replace it, which I didn’t. (I was supposed to “forget it,” right?) Then, I ran out of toothpaste.

The Best Price?
Amazon clearly states that prices go up and down. If you’re looking for the best pricing over time, I’m not sure that repeat deliveries will get you that, even with the subscription discount.

You’ve got to keep track. And that doesn’t align well with the set-and-forget mentality.

The Easy Fix
Yes, the odds are running out of supplies are certainly lower with repeat-delivery subscriptions, although it can happen if your subscriptions get cancelled, and you don’t choose an alternate item (guilty).

But unless your estimated consumption metrics are perfect, you’re likely to over order.

Subscribe & Save will save you shopping time, but over the months, your supplies may start to pile up.

It’s not like I was entirely unaware of this, and it’s easy to fix by going online and adjusting the frequency of the repeat deliveries. But it’s the kind of thing you tell yourself you’ll do tomorrow.

And then tomorrow never comes.

Until you realize you’ve got an extra year’s worth of Omega 3 tablets piling up in your cabinet.

So today, I reviewed all of my subscriptions and made the necessary adjustments.

It’s Time to Wake Up
Amazon would tell me that I regularly receive reminder emails to check and adjust my Subscribe & Save items. And I do.

So why didn’t I just follow their ongoing recommendations to perform a little subscription maintenance?

Because I wanted to set-it-and-forget-it.

Autopilot-mode is nice. But you really shouldn’t disconnect for too long. Otherwise you may wake up one day and realize you’re surprised by what you see.

Summer Activity Ideas for Kids: How to Read Library Books on a Kindle

If you find that the FreeTime Unlimited reading app on your child’s Kindle isn’t quite as robust as you’d like, here’s how to transfer library e-books from OverDrive.

How many of you have received more screen-time requests from your kids this summer? Yes… we have as well. With most everything out of whack, there’s obviously a lot more time for our ten year old to fill during COVID-19.

To help relieve some of the pressure to grant more screen time, my wife and I decided to redirect the reading piece of the equation. Our son really enjoys spending time with his books, and due to the circumstances, more of that has been happening lately via our iPad.

Obviously, since we’re no longer taking our weekly trips to the library, we’ve been backfilling that gap with library e-book lending apps like Libby and Hoopla. Sure there are still physical books around our house to read, but the reading apps have replicated our boy’s treasure-hunt experience to uncover new library books every week.

Time to Put the iPad Down
And while that has generally been a successful solution to feeding our boy with new titles to read, it’s also increasingly positioned our ‘family’ iPad as the dominant object he stares at.

And this same screen houses his Minecraft app as well as any number of video apps to watch, including his favorite “Captain Underpants” series on Netflix.

These other apps are just an inch away on the screen and so easy to tap! No matter ‘the rules,’ the mere presence of a glowing iPad as an active reading device has invariably opened up more screen-time opportunities for the other non-reading apps.

Does an E-Book Reader = Screen Time?
I thought about how we might separate his ‘reading’ from his screen time. And of course, an e-book reading device seemed to be an easy solution. Why not just get him a Kindle?

Now, I know there are any number of debates about whether using an e-book reader is also screen time. That said, after some conversation, my wife and I decided it would still be better to move his ‘reading’ onto a different device. That choice would then allow us to leave our iPad out of the picture more often.

It’s Time for a Kindle
Amazon offers the Kindle Kids Edition. It’s a 10th generation Kindle, bundled with a case and a one year subscription to Amazon’s FreeTime Unlimited app, which houses thousands of kid-friendly books for our son to read. (The Kindle also comes with a 2-year repair warrantee.)

It’s all packaged as a ‘worry-free’ reading solution for the kids.
(Fingers crossed.)
$109.99 on Amazon


Testing the Limits of FreeTime Unlimited
Our son was absolutely delighted when I walked up to him this past weekend and revealed the box from behind my back. I had already set up the Kindle and tethered it to my existing Amazon Prime account (easy to do).

He opened up the magnetic cover and smiled. His first gleeful words were, “It’s like a little iPad.”

I wanted to reply that it was actually his ‘anti-iPad,’ but I allowed him his tech glow.

Then, he began looking up some of his favorite books. FreeTime Unlimited may offer thousands of titles, but some of his usual suspects weren’t there.

He suddenly got quiet. I could sense an enthusiasm leak. So I said, “I can add in additional e-books from other sources.”

He responded, “Oh…. phew!”
And then his general state of excitement resumed.

My boy found a cherished book from his physical library days. He immediately downloaded it and began reading.

Success? I think so! Except…

The Road to Kindle from OverDrive
Downloading books onto a Kindle from other sources isn’t actually a snap. But it’s not impossible either.

The first place I needed access to was the same e-book collection from our local library that the ‘Libby’ app had been feeding our iPad. (Otherwise, our iPad would still remain as his legacy book-reading platform.)

The good news is Libby is owned by the OverDrive website, which is an alternate access point to your local library’s e-book collection. They are just separate ways to access the same content.

Admittedly, Libby is a one-stop book-borrowing experience for the iPad. OverDrive takes a little more work behind the scenes before new titles can magically appear on your child’s Kindle.

But if you need to do it, here are the steps to borrow an e-book from OverDrive and then transfer it over to your Kindle:

  • Log into your OverDrive account
  • Find your e-book
  • Click “Read now with Kindle”
    (That takes you to an Amazon page listing your e-book. There’s a yellow box on the top right that says, “Get Library Book.” Under that box, there’s a white drop-down box that says, “Deliver to: (your Name’s) Kindle.”)
  • Then, click on the yellow box

Finally, go to your Amazon Parent Dashboard ( to load the e-book into your Kindle’s FreeTime Unlimited app.

  • Click on (Name) Settings on the bottom
  • Click on ‘Add Content’
  • Click on ‘Books’
  • Click on the button on the right side of the book’s name
    (The sliding button then turns orange.)

Now, your new e-book will pop up to read in FreeTime Unlimited.

No, these steps do not exactly replicate a streamlined e-book borrowing experience, but it does work. And I think it’s a big deal to be able to feed our Kindle with other library content when FreeTime Unlimited shows it’s inevitable limitations.

Unlimited Summer Reading
Of course, you can buy any book you want on a Kindle, but in the beginning of this technical relationship, I’m interested in simply replicated the same ‘borrowing’ experience we had in the days when libraries were physically open.

There are so many limitations to this summer due to COVID-19. Thankfully, with the help of our new Kindle, our son’s access to books will not be impacted. He can continue to read to his heart’s content.

As for how much summer screen time he should have… well, that’s now a separate conversation. And separate from the Kindle.

Let all summer reading continue!

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