UPDATE: See Amazon's mid-day statement at the bottom of this story for a description of how the site feels its Prime Day has been successful. Original story begins below:
Amazon Prime Day, marking the site's 20th birthday, arrived with much fanfare, but it seems like no one's in the mood to party.
Making bold claims that it would surpass Black Friday in scope, the e-commerce giant told customers they should literally set their alarms to wake up at midnight for hot deals only available to Amazon Prime members.
Prime devotees made wish lists. Throngs of people grabbed credit cards to reinstate their once-expired Prime accounts. (At least there was a free trial for Prime newbies.)
And then the deals went live, and the excitement quickly began to fizzle.
There were a few attractive offers like discounted Kindles and Roombas, but mostly there were weird deals like 35 percent off Velveeta Shells & Cheese, discounted socks and a six-pack of microfiber cleaning cloths for $7.95.
Needless to say, a lot of bargain hunters—even the most loyal Amazon devotees—were miffed. Critics are calling it an Internet yard sale, and after staring for far too long at beer cozies and a Van Gogh Starry Night key lanyard, you might be hard-pressed to disagree.
— to$h (@toshpointrowe) July 15, 2015
— Andrea Karis (@amek33) July 15, 2015
Well done Amazon, the only deals I was really interested in were sold out before I woke up. #PrimeDay
— Dave Bohnert (@copiedline) July 15, 2015
Glancing at the #PrimeDay deals all I can think of is Marge Simpson saying "Ooh, that's a good price for 12 pounds of Nutmeg"
— Brad Abraham (@NotBradAbraham) July 15, 2015
— Lauren Simonetti (@SimonettiLauren) July 15, 2015
When I die, I want whoever was responsible for #PrimeDay to lower me down into my grave so I can be let down one more time
— Tyrone (@liam_barry_99) July 15, 2015
The backlash has been swift, and Amazon is remaining unsurprisingly mum on its Facebook page and Twitter. Well, mum about criticism, at least, because Amazon still keeps tweeting a dancing robot GIF in celebration of Prime Day.
Walmart had already come out swinging at Amazon, publishing a blog post Tuesday stating that "You shouldn't have to pay $100 to get great deals" and launching its own sale with the slogan "Dare to compare."
Amazon could likely salvage the day by throwing out solid deals on big-ticket items, but it's likely that Amazon execs are already seeing #PrimeDay as a big win for subscriber acquisition.
UPDATE: An Amazon spokesperson sent us the following comment on Prime Day at 1:30 p.m. Eastern:
"Prime Day peak order rates have already surpassed 2014 Black Friday. Prime members have bought tens of thousands of Fire TV Sticks, 35,000 Lord of the Rings Blu-Ray sets, 28,000 Rubbermaid sets, and 4,000 Echos in 15 minutes. The Kate Spade purse was gone in less than a minute. The 1.2K of $999 TVs sold out in less than 10 minutes and there are thousands more deals coming. New deals start every ten minutes until late tonight."