Tuesday, June 21, 2005

amazon strikes out

I recently canceled an order for $49.42 worth of books. That's not a significant portion of Amazon's receipts, I realize, but I want to say why I did this.

Quite frankly, I've noticed a significant decline in the service that Amazon.com provides its customers. In three separate orders this year, I've been beset with problems as Amazon keeps shifting the shipping date further and further back, with no explanation, even though all the items are listed as "ships within 24 hours." On the Super-Saver Shipping feature, which is supposed to ship items within a week, I'm noticing shipping estimates of three or four weeks, and when I log in after a week has passed, I'm finding that the shipping date has been pushed back further.

That's more than just a little disappointing. E-commerce in general and Amazon.com in particular have succeeded by and large because of the convenience they present. When I first ordered from Amazon.com ten years ago, it was convenient knowing I could order a book and have it in a few days' time, for birthdays, Christmas or for my own pleasure. That assurance is gone now, and I'm learning to do my shopping elsewhere, either at Overstock.com, which is also cheaper than Amazon when it has the items in stock, or at the bookstores in my area, which while it might not have every book in the world in stock, still has a decent selection and has them for me to pick up right then and there. Best of all, when they don't, I know I can order it and have the book in my hand within a week.

With Amazon, I just can't count on that anymore. With three strikes in a row now, Amazon is out of the running where I'm concerned.

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