Amazon Offers – and Pulls – Free Shipping Deal for Israelis

Amazon wardrobe
(Ellen M. Banner/Seattle Times/TNS)

Amazon, which recently began direct deliveries to Israel, made a special offer to Israeli Amazon Prime members – free delivery on a host of goods from the U.S. Amazon site. But just a few days after it began, Amazon pulled the offer on many of the items – and Israelis who were planning to use the deal on Prime Day, which takes place this week, are disappointed, if not angry.

The deal applied to most items sold directly by Amazon. At checkout, purchasers had the option of choosing Amazon GlobalShopping Delivery; according to the site, the average shipping time was 12-17 days. The deal applied to a wide range of items, including furniture, ice chests, children’s highchairs, vacuum cleaners, and much more, with a minimum purchase of $80. Purchases under that amount require shoppers to pay shipping, but at a reduced price.

But just a few days after it started, Amazon curtailed the offer. Israelis can now order only “light” items, like clothing, under the deal. The minimum purchase is still $80. Israeli customs authorities charge VAT sales tax on purchases of more than $75 – so between the limited variety of items, for which shipping would generally be less than $10 anyway, and the VAT payment, the utility of the deal has become much more limited.

It should be noted that GlobalShopping Delivery is available in countries around the world – but it was apparently only in Israel that Amazon has limited the deal. Sources in Amazon’s Israeli organization told Yediot Acharonot that the company was simply overwhelmed by the response of Israelis; in the five days the deal was available, Israelis ordered millions of dollars worth of merchandise, much more than the company expected, and was unable to cope with the load. In addition, the sources said, many of the items ordered are likely to be held up by Israeli authorities, who will inspect them to ensure that they are up to local standards, which are tougher than in many other countries.