After the holidays are over in January, we are spending more time indoors than any other time of the year. Most of the recreational programs our daughter attends are on a hiatus. College doesn’t start up again until the end of January, and it is very cold outside. It is easy to find that the family is spending more of their recreational time on television, video games, Netflix or other electronic gadgets.

My oldest daughter Melissa suggested I join in the Amazon Prime offer to help with holiday shopping and shipping charges. All the shipping costs of “prime” merchandise are free for two day shipping. Along with the contract came a surprise, another package of digital streaming videos for free. We already have “on demand”, “Netflix” and a large collection of DVD’s.  I was surprised when Sara alerted me to a few videos she would have liked to watch on Prime were charging a fee. I was pleased that Sara scanned through the information carefully and caught the charge. Sara has a developmental disability and epilepsy. She could easily scan information but impulsively wants to press all the buttons for a quicker, instant prize.  Prime dangled the words “free” in their advertisement but clearly these were not “free” videos to view.

I saw this as a great opportunity to work on some general life skill goals I am currently working on with Sara. First, together, Sara and I wrote a list of shows she liked that were not free. Then we searched the Amazon internet site to see if they have a customer service number. Recently in Sara’s college class she had to do some public speaking. Sara found this difficult to do in front of a group & advocating and speaking on the phone is something that might help her with class presentations.  Sara could let Amazon prime know which shows she would like them to change the charges on. There wasn’t a phone number for customer service, but a link to send an email. Sara and I went over together what she should put in an email to let Amazon know her desire for a “cheaper” or free video stream of her favorite shows. Amazon emailed her back and said they would pass on her suggestions to the correct department. Then I had Sara decide if she was satisfied with the response she got. Sara decided she wants to get back to them in a few weeks about other shows she might be interested in. Sara felt that it was okay to email Amazon in one month. She posted it on her new calendar to remind her she would like to review the Prime free streaming in a month and monitor if any of her favorite shows have gone down in price or changed their fee to free. I was pleased to turn some of our electronic time into learning about customer service, consumer complaints, calendar skills, and the art of negotiation.