We tested out Amazon's one-hour delivery service, and it worked so well it was a little creepy

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Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

With its latest mobile app, Prime Now, Amazon is one step closer to world domination.

With the app, which is available on iOS and Android, Amazon Prime subscribers have the option of free two-hour delivery — or delivery within an hour for $7.99. The app also encourages you to pay a $5 tip to the couriers.

Prime Now service finally launched for select zip codes in Austin on Wednesday, making it the sixth city in the nation to have it. Prime Now originally launched in New York City in late 2014, later expanding to Baltimore, Miami, Dallas and Atlanta.

In the name of journalism, The Daily Texan tested out the service by placing two separate orders for two very important items. The first was a Barbie Collector’s Edition Texas A&M University Ken Doll, at the request of Texan film critic Alex Pelham. The second was 125 feet of bubble wrap, because the Texan knows how to have fun. The first item was hyper-specific, the second big and bulky.

Daulton Venglar | The Daily Texan

Both were ordered using the one-hour service and delivered to Almetris Duren Residence Hall, where I was waiting with a stopwatch.

Ken arrived to my reluctant embrace 19 minutes and 59 seconds after we placed the order. The gentleman who delivered him appeared stumped as to why a young man would require a doll. Perhaps he thought I was into voodoo magic.

The bubble wrap arrived in 25 minutes and 38 seconds, and it was delivered by a different person. Popping will ensue.

So there’s no question about it: Amazon Prime Now lives up to the “Now” in its name. It works exactly as advertised, and the couriers who delivered the items were courteous despite the time crunch. No company’s customer service has ever been this horrifyingly good.  

But don’t be mistaken, Prime Now has a few drawbacks. Orders must cost at least $15 to be eligible, and for the one-hour delivery service, the cost adds up more quickly with the shipping fee and tip.

 
It’s also strange that a service based on convenience is rather inconvenient to use — Prime subscribers have to order exclusively from the mobile app in order to use Prime Now. Amazon should look into making Prime Now delivery options available on its website in the future.

Daulton Venglar | The Daily Texan

Of course, you also have to be a Prime member to use Prime Now. This means you have to pay an annual fee of $99, but the membership gets you free two-day shipping and access to streaming movies and TV shows.

Amazon Prime Now offers reliably speedy service, but UT students have mixed feelings about it.

Civil engineering junior Vanessa O’Kelly, an Amazon Prime member, would rather use the two-hour service than the one-hour one.

“There’s nothing I need in one hour that justifies [spending] $8,” O’Kelly said.

Plan II freshman Seton Uhlhorn, also an Amazon Prime member, said the cost of using Prime Now is reasonable for the service, and she would use it for certain items.

“It would definitely be helpful for buying books for school,” Uhlhorn said. “I hate waiting to receive books, especially if I need them quickly for research.”

Amazon Prime Now offers impressive delivery times, but its pricing strategy may deter customers, and its speedy service feels mostly unnecessary. Unless you really need a Texas A&M Ken Doll or can’t wait for 125 feet of bubble wrap, you’ll probably only use Prime Now for one reason: to time the delivery guy.

Daulton Venglar | The Daily Texan

Amazon Prime Now is now available in these Austin zip codes: 78613, 78701, 78703, 78704, 78705, 78708, 78711, 78712, 78713, 78714, 78720, 78722, 78723, 78727, 78728, 78729, 78731, 78751, 78752, 78753, 78754, 78755, 78756, 78757, 78758 and 78759. To read more about how Prime Now came to Austin, click here.