It appears Amazon has changed its pre-order policy in a number of countries in Europe, including the UK.
Traditionally, you can place a pre-order on any item on Amazon and only get charged once it actually ships. For years, many made use of this with video games to claim pre-order bonuses such as beta codes and so on, intending to cancel the order before release.
Now, Amazon customers in Europe and the UK are reporting a major change in this policy. Going forward, Amazon will place a hold on the full amount on your payment method when making a pre-order, but won’t charge you until your items have shipped.
Orders whose shipping dates are set five or more days after the order was made – such as in many cases of video game pre-orders – will be charged five days after placing the order under the new guidelines.
Spoke to customer services who said their help pages haven’t been updated yet, but that is new policy.
— Dave Scammell (@VG_Dave) May 29, 2019
Though pre-ordering an item and cancelling after receiving a pre-order bonus can be viewed as exploitative of Amazon’s policy, it’s not clear if that is what caused the retailer to make the change.
Amazon customers who contacted the retailer’s support were told that they’ll continue to pay the cheapest price between placing the pre-order and the item actually shipping. In other words, if you pay more for a game that gets a price cut before release, you’ll be refunded the rest.
This may dissuade some from doing the pre-ordering-for-beta-codes trick, since they won’t be able to use the money in the interim thanks to Amazon’s hold. While you’ll still able to cancel pre-orders as normal, you might have to wait a few days for the funds to be released, which is likely the hassle Amazon intended to introduce with this policy.
So far, no similar change has been made to Amazon in the US.