Amazon, Online Ordering, Shopping, Uncategorized

Shopping with Amazon -or- How to Wrestle with the 800-Pound Gorilla & Sometimes Win

I use Amazon. These days, who doesn’t? I own a Kindle Paperwhite and use it about 80% of the time when I read eBooks. When I read at my desk I use the computer Kindle App. And because the Kindle device and app synch, I can switch back and forth without losing my place. Convenient.

About once a month or so I order something, occasionally more, but it has never been enough for me to justify the expense of an Amazon Prime membership. Yes, it would be nice to download and read books for free, but not worth the monthly fee. And I’m not one of those people who needs two-day delivery on everything I buy. If I do, I guess I can pay for rapid delivery.

So, even though there are a lot of things about Amazon that I like, their hard and heavy push to boost their Amazon Prime memberships each time I buy something irritates me. What’s more, I don’t appreciate the heavy-handed tactics they use to entice people to subscribe. Let me explain.

In case you don’t know, Amazon delays shipping orders going to non-Prime customers. It is a fact. I’ve seen it first-hand. Things that I order will sit in the queue for 3 days (or more) before processing begins. It’s a penalty for checking the little box that says, “No, I don’t want my order shipped in the quickest way possible” – or whatever the exact verbiage is for that button I must check to not sign up for the trial Prime account they offer with each purchase.

If the order is fulfilled by Amazon from one of their warehouses, sometimes it appears to be routed from an alternate location that is farther away. Yes, I get it that sometimes a nearer location may be out of something, or perhaps they don’t stock the item, but it happens often enough that I think I’m right on this one. It is yet another way to delay an order from shipping.

The tactic used to be blatantly obvious. If you ordered two things, one fulfilled from an Amazon authorized supplier on the other coast from where you live and the other from Amazon (an item they stock in the warehouse nearest you) the item from across the country would arrive a couple or three days before the Amazon supplied item. To prevent that from happening (and being obvious), if you don’t use Prime, Amazon sits on your order for three days regardless of the fulfillment.

If you doubt any of this, test it. I have several times.

If Amazon wants (or rather if they need to because of a problem) they can get something to you from one of their warehouses on the same day you ordered it. They can certainly ship anything you order that is stocked in one of their facilities and get it to you within two days. That’s the Prime deal, right? They should be able to get a non-Prime package to me within four days, which I’m okay with. I think most people would be. But that is contrary to Amazon’s goal of having everyone signed up for Prime. So, without Prime I’ve come to expect seven days or maybe ten.

Why does Amazon rule the world? That’s the real question every one of their competitors needs to ask. You see, any company that wants to capture the hearts of disgruntled Amazon customers (like me) only has to do things the same or (preferably) better. For example, guarantee FREE two-day delivery for any purchase $20 or more, which undercuts Amazon’s $25 – without any membership fee. Heck, guarantee FREE 3 or 4 day delivery without a fee. That’s still better than the service from Amazon for non-Prime members.

Last Saturday I ordered a few things I’ll need for a trip I’m taking to the Midwest to promote my books. As always, I didn’t select the One Month Trial for Prime. And I confirmed that I didn’t want the items shipped in the fastest way possible. I expected I’d get them in a week or so. And that was fine. One of the four items was coming from an authorized supplier. The other items were fulfilled by Amazon, two from the warehouse south of Tampa and the other from a warehouse in South Carolina. I use past tense because the items have all arrived (two on Monday and one of them on Tuesday). Why so soon? Well, you see, I decided to cancel the item coming from the authorized supplier because it would take so long (possibly two weeks). I had decided to buy somewhere else or make a different selection. The box I checked for the reason for the cancellation was “It will take too long to arrive.” Then a funny thing happened. The next morning, Sunday, I received shipping confirmation on all my Amazon fulfilled items, showing them expected on Monday and Tuesday. This sort of proves that Amazon could get the items to me faster if they wanted to. Obviously, someone decided to get my stuff to me before I cancelled the whole order.

Despite my attempt to cancel the order for the last item (within 24 hours, mind you) Amazon was unable to kill the order with the vendor. I’m skeptical about that whole thing, but I’m receiving the item on Saturday. That is a week earlier than the expected date given to me when they sent the order confirmation. We’ll see if the product suits my needs, which was one of the reasons I tried to cancel the order. The supplier received some negative reviews about the item being a cheap knock off, not the real thing.

Yes, all this expedited order shipping could be a coincidence? Except, I write mysteries often enough that I don’t believe in coincidences. The fact remains that an 800-pound gorilla can do pretty-much what it wants. Amazon can make anything happen with shipping, if they want to. You can believe that.

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