Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Amazin' ineptitude of Amazon

IF YOU DON’T LIKE READING POINTLESS RANTS…well, I can’t help you there.

So I put an order in for a couple of books back in September with Amazon, remembering that they have trouble with order fulfillment. As in, they tend to tell you “yah, yah, you should plan to see that reach a shipping date between next month and your third prostate exam”. I tried to order some Christmas gifts from them, two or so years back. But I did it in mid November. So they told me they would be booked up until February with delivery issues if I continued with the order.

I cancelled, of course, because that’s absolutely atrocious fulfillment. They said “sorry”, I said, “get a new business model you lazy-assed, cheeky fuckers”, and we parted ways. Until last year when Mothers’ Day came around and I got this coupon for something I thought my mother would like. It was a good month out from Moms’ day, so I figured they could handle it.


“Please expect delivery to be beyond the actual holiday, as we are experiencing a high volume of orders.”

Oh really? No fucking shit? You mean to tell me that coming up on Mothers’ day, you’re getting MORE requests for Mothers’ day items than normal?

Get OUT!

Needless to say, I chose to do nothing for Moms’ day, until my girlfriend convinced me to go on a midnight run to Randall’s for a last-minute gift basket that kicked so much ass, the Amazon gift was an insult to have even been considered in the first place. Seriously, the gift basket was tight, and put together with begrudging love, as my girlfriend rightfully insisted it should be. It really was nice, and I’m glad I did it. But that’s another story for another time.

So I ordered two books from Amazon on September 7th. They estimated the delivery to be somewhere in the following two weeks. I figured, what the hell? Better than digging through the bookstore, right?


The first book was sent for delivery on October 20th, which isn’t that bad, really. A month and a half to deliver a book... Certainly not stellar, but not entirely stupid either. Things can get complicated. It happens. They sent me an email beforehand, asking me if I still wanted it, explaining that I would not be charged for it until I agreed to finalize the order. A month and a half after I made it, for only half of what I ordered. Awesome. I got the book just after Halloween. It’s an okay book. I should have done better research, since it did not end up being the “internet impulse buy” that I initially took it for. Oh well.

Today, the 22nd of November, I got a notification from Amazon asking me if I wanted to complete the transaction for the second book, which would be delivered by December 24th, according to the message. Christmas Eve? THE Christmas Eve? What mail route runs by my crib on that day?


After passing through some hoops, hunting down my password and whatnot, I got to the actual page where one agrees to complete the (retardedly retarded) order. It stated that I should expect delivery north of January 16th…

For a book I ordered on September 7th. A book which was supposed to be in stock and available at the time of order. I ordered that shit when it was 100+ degrees outside, before hurricanes started wrecking shit on the coast DURING HURRICANE SEASON. Why the fuck am I in line behind the Christmas shoppers for delivery?

Yeh, I agreed to take the delivery. I really do want the book, and I have enough other shit going on right now that I can wait to read it. But that doesn’t excuse how ridiculous the whole thing is. I’m no super-star employee or anything, but the efficiency of the Amazon system makes me feel like a human amongst walruses in a Pick-Up Sticks competition.

So I wrote them a letter to accompany my agreement to complete the purchase. They make me feel better about myself, and that’s gift enough, I suppose.

Dear Amazon Employee Who Has to Read This,

This order was put in ON SEPTEMBER 7TH. I will be getting the book FIVE MONTHS LATER, AFTER CHRISTMAS. This makes NO sense whatsoever. Did I need to wait for a classroom of kids with Downs to finish reading them first? One by one? Oh, lighten up. I’m the one who should be upset here, not you.

Let's be reasonable here.

I realize that your company is in the business of collecting information, not selling "things" (that’s just the method, which is fine by me), but... wow. It isn't like I live in an electricity-free, thatched hut in the Andes Mountains where books must be delivered by three-legged burros. Or that you need to wait for a time machine to be invented to *actually* find these books you claimed to have access to. I assumed they had already been written when I ordered them, five hairstyles back.

The point being, I didn't just want to ORDER them back in September, I wanted to have them DELIVERED BEFORE THE CHRISTMAS NIGHTMARE that will besiege your company in the next month. I planned properly for this, knowing that Amazon, without fail, will become so constipated by the deluge of Christmas orders, that its shipping department will choke, seize up entirely, and deny anyone delivery of anything beyond disappointment. Happens every year.

But how could this ruin me if I ORDERED IN SEPTEMBER?

You miraculously found a way to scuttle my diligent efforts. My reasonable plan: unreasonably scatted upon. I am left a broken man, with nothing to read. Please weep for me. But only briefly. Then kindly get crackin’ on filling my order.

Since I am a man of honor and have respect for (however egregiously late) purchase fulfillment, I will continue with this purchase. I really do want the book. But until such time as Amazon is capable of selling and delivering items WITHIN the average lifespan of a healthy hamster, I am afraid it will be my last of such orders with your company.

Hopefully I will not be too old to read by the time this book arrives. Or perhaps you’d be willing to trade it for one on tape. If I can still hear.

Trying to laugh it all off,


For the love of internet commerce, Amazon, get your shit together.


Impulsivecompulsive said...

Nice. From now on, you're writing my angsty letters for me. Hell, make a business of it. You could make a killing.

(Holy crap, my word verification is half the bloody alphabet, and a chinese character or two. Whaddup with that?)

EcamirG said...

as a customer service rep for an e-commerce site, i have a few thoughts. first, i can assure you, the person you're yelling at is about as powerless as you are. sure, they're on a first-name basis with the assholes fucking everything up. but that's about the extent of it. they'll be in the lunchroom and they'll say, "hey, dan. where the fuck is that harry potter book for that guy in nevada?"

and dan will say, "i'm on my fucking lunch break. have a heart, will ya?"

and then dan will sneak through the back door and run into the woods. no one will ever see dan again.

it's frustrating, being in their shoes. trust me. on the other hand, i would kill to get that email. i rarely have very angry customers. most of them at least have a sense of humor about things, and i assure you, those are the ones we try to help. the bitchers and the moaners? they're just as fucked, only none of us wants to help them. so "follow up first thing monday morning" becomes "eh... give someone a call sometime this week and leave a voice mail."

anyway, hang in there. this is just one more reason to love bookstores. you know it's in stock.

not that there need be any more reasons. there are so many.

Glitzy said...

I've never had a problem with Amazon. Sorry to hear that they're fucking up your shit and what not. I think they should send you a $100 gift certificate or something.

Lycan said...

Back when Amazon was ramping up in the early days, everyone was amazed at how cooler & faster it was to fulfill an order over the Internet instead of a brick & mortar store.

Now everyone's on the bandwagon, Amazon isn't adding enough capacity bandwidth and everyday at Amazon is like rushing into Macy's the day after Thanksgiving and the Internet myth finally dies.

Or some half-baked shit like that.

I want you writing my next customer service letter. I shriek and foam at the mouth like a Tourette's on anphaetamines.

Truecraig said...

ImpComp: I like the word “angsty”. It’s just fun to say.

Grimace: Been a while! I certainly hope that San Diego is becoming what you need it to be. That’s really convoluted, but you get the gist. The letter I wrote started out with mild frustration, but then I decided that if I were on the other end, forced to read a bunch of bitchy complaints about crap I had no control over, I would want them to at least be entertaining. I may have missed that mark, but whatever. I expect nothing from Amazon (beyond my book) at this point.

Hopefully my letter will make someone laugh though. I know I would laugh at that.

Glitzy: I guess I’m just lucky. If everyone but me gets their orders within a two-month timeframe, then that’s fine. I’ll stick with brick and mortar, no problem.

Lycan: It’s strange, but Amazon was never in the business of selling things. Sure, they sold stuff on the interweb, but ONLY to collect information with the purpose of building up customer profiles for targeted/cross promotions and the like. Their business was to become the middle man, the gateway through which all other internet sellers would WANT to sell THEIR stuff.

I don’t know how well the info collecting and profile building is going (they certainly try to cross promote the hell out of me every time I’m there), but the fulfillment appears to be lacking something serious.

Girl With An Alibi said...

The odd thing is I rarely order from Amazon but I do use them for information. I check a product I want to see what other people who've bought say about it. Then I go buy it somewhere else.

Occasionally I buy things but they are usually the items that are fulfilled by third party vendors like Target who just use Amazon as a portal for orders. Those things you get pretty quick.

I loved your letter though. If I were a customer service person reading it I'd love you enough to go the book store buy your book and send it to you.

Debbie said...


I like that you are now using the open letter format I use on my blog. Yes, I normally write fan letters to attractive men, or attractive groups of men, but it's the same principle, really.

It seems to me that when a large company fucks up, they fuck up big time. it's like they have a "go hard or go home" attitude to EVERYTHING they do.

Truecraig said...

The lovely folks at Amazon have already gotten back to me. They were a bit confused by my letter, which is understandable (I tend to ramble), and have decided to send me another copy of the book I already received. I think that’s what they tried to tell me anyway. I’ll believe it when I see it.

And they promised that the second book will be in my mailbox the first week of December, no extra charge. It really was a sort-of nice gesture on the shipping bump. But, in reality, there’s really nothing that can be done to remedy the situation. If there was, I would have asked for it specifically.

Honestly, I was just trying to make some poor soul who is responsible for reading crappy complaints: smile. That’s it.

Roy said...

Oh man, the adventures I've had with Amazon. Whenever you open the box they send I never quite know what to expect inside. Seems every time I order with them they decide to thow in a random extra, like the time I got a book of blueprints for the 'Perfect American Home'.

Evilicious Blonde said...

Absolutely classic.

I am having similar trouble with Victoria's Secret on line. What can I do to talk you in to writing my complaint letter for me?


Debbie said...

I thnk the Amazon people are waiting for you to update your blog.

Truecraig said...

Busy Busy Busy. Trying to scratch an itch over here.

Besides, Amazon can fucking WAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIT forever for all I care.

But I'll try to hurry, just for you!

shadow of a doubt said...

Well, quite the coincidence this is. I am sitting in a dank college basement after having purchased some text's for an exorbitant price when I ponder purchasing on-line come the new year. I curiously open your link, to distract myself from my looming paper I have to write, and I get this lovely case study of e-commerce in action. Now I will quiet my internal condemnation of the college bookstore, and write my paper, being at peace that my texts aren't being warmed by someones ass in a desolate warehouse.

EcamirG said...

now that i think of it, the place i work sells through ebay.

we don't do very much business through them. in fact, we do very little business through them. pitifully little business.

they're fairly worthless, actually, now that i think about it.