The Perils of Online Christmas Shopping
Despite the fact that we live in the DC Metro area and thus relatively near a myriad of terrific shopping opportunities, my wife and I are big online shoppers. We’re members of the Amazon Prime program, which provides free 2-day shipping on anything purchased through Amazon that’s actually sold by Amazon, a surprisingly wide array of things. We rent all our movies from Netflix rather than going to local rental stores. I was buying coffee online from the same Atlanta-based company for more than a decade until they radically upped their shipping charges.
Given this background, it’s no surprise that we do a large amount of our Christmas shopping online. We’ve both been doing this for several years, gradually increasing the percentage to the point where we go brick-and-mortar only when forced–and actually forgoing borderline wants that aren’t available online.
This year, oddly, it’s really backfired on us. Both of us have had substantial problems with Amazon and my wife has encountered frustration with Bath and Body Works as well.
Two of the four items I ordered from Amazon, ahead of the deadline they e-mailed me for absolutely guaranteeing that the items would arrive in time for Christmas, did not. One of the items was out of stock and canceled two days after my order, ensuring that there was not time to order it elsewhere. Thankfully, I live close enough to a high-end shopping mall that, for the mere investment of two hours of traffic and dealing with crowds that I was trying to avoid in the first place, I was able to get it. I received a shipping notification saying that a second item had just shipped yesterday and would not arrive in time for Christmas.
My wife has several items that she ordered that have also not arrived. She had grown concerned about her B&BW order and phoned them yesterday and was assured that, if the item didn’t arrive yesterday, they would absolutely get it here today. The Postal Service and UPS have run and no shipment.
My sister-in-law, who flew in from California, also was expecting to get an item delivered here from Amazon that she had ordered at the last minute and paid for next day delivery on. They shipped it 3-day standard, ensuring it will arrive just in time for New Years.
Were we buying presents for small children, or living in Two Dot, Montana, this would all be more than just merely annoying. Frankly, if we get a couple of our Christmas presents on the 27th, it’s not that big of a deal. But it could just as easily have been The Toy that a 6-year-old had been dreaming about for months.
How is it that companies whose sole enterprise is selling goods online and shipping them out to customers can be so inept at that basic task? Amazon has been at it more than a decade now; you’d think they could handle it. And it’s not like the fact that sales go through the roof in the month of December is a big shock, nor is the fact that those items are needed NLT the morning of the 25th a state secret. If the surge is so overwhelming that they simply can’t handle it, it’s a relatively simple matter to move up their “guaranteed by Christmas” deadline a couple of days.
Rest assured, Amazon will not be getting my Christmas money next year. If getting stuff on time matters to you, I wouldn’t recommend them, either.