What happened at Amazon? Potential ToolGuyd topic?

Three things are disturbing to me, that I believe should be called out on ToolGuyd.

  1. Even accounting for the quietly rolled out Amazon Prime delivery promise change from two-day to five-day delivery, for the same Prime fee, I’m seeing a marked decline in the five-day on-time delivery of products purchased on Amazon.

By marked, I mean over 25% of ordered products arrive way late or not at all. And it’s getting worse.

  1. I’m also seeing Amazon up-charge for rush delivery, yet still not deliver the purchased products on time (my rush shipments are normally overnight), with overnight deliveries turning into five-day deliveries, if they arrive at all.

  2. Amazon is actively blocking reviews that mention this problem. I have a growing collection of email notes like the one that is attached.

Whether this is a labor issue Amazon is trying to keep out of the press (my issues seem to originate from the Shepardsville KY distribution center - not because it is my center but because the tracking messages entered from that center turned out to be very inaccurate on some of my missing packages when I got senior Amazon complaint folks <in this country - not the overseas hired help that seemed too interested in misdirection> to look at issues from their consoles), or Amazon management has decided no-one will stand up for the Prime paying customers (perhaps Amazon is buying off the folks that run the sites where such criticisms may arise to keep the complaints quiet), I do not know.

In any case, there is a story here that needs to be told.

Last question, if an Amazon review to warn other consumers about a product arriving late or not at all cannot discuss"…Sellers, Delivery, Packaging, Pricing, or Availability…", what use is it - other than hiding problems at Amazon from people paying those Amazon Prime fees?

I have experienced delays and nonsense tracking updates on Amazon orders–as well as with Reverb and Ebay–and it seems to have gotten worse in recent months. However, at least in my case the problem is not Amazon, but the US Postal Service. Amazon ships products promptly but once the package gets in the hands of USPS then all bets are off.

An example: about two weeks ago I placed an Amazon order. Amazon shipped the same day. It was to arrive the following Monday, and Monday morning tracking (USPS) showed “out for delivery”. The package did not arrive. Then at about 9pm the tracking status updated to something about “addressee unknown - Return to Sender”. The next morning tracking went back to “out or delivery”. Package was not delivered that day either, but again around 9pm the tracking status now said that delivery was attempted but could not be completed due to “interference of an animal”. Neither I nor my neighbors have dogs, livestock, etc, so obviously that was BS as well. The next morning I had had enough and went to the post office. Luckily the person at the counter was unusually helpful, and the problem was thus: our regular driver was on vacation so they had to use a substitute driver for my route. This person was either lazy or incompetent and was entering fictitious messages into the tracking system each day to make excuses for why they didn’t deliver the package. Luckily the package was never returned to sender, and I finally got it after all that hassle.

That’s one example, I could give more, but in my experience it is the US Postal Service at fault. I think their tracking system demands an update from the personnel every day, and there isn’t an option for them to say something like “we’re running behind, sorry” so instead they make up a BS excuse. It’s been years since I experienced a delay or problem like that with UPS, FedEx, or DHL.

I’m curious: where along the shipping process are your delays and questionable tracking updates coming from? Amazon should email you when an order ships. Is that taking several days to happen? Or is it being shipped promptly and then the shipping agent (USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc) is screwing up?

You may be onto something. After my last bout of complaining to Amazon (I now refuse to use their chat or other tools - I demand a human - only way to try to get the truth as the chat bots seem programmed to lie), I got a straight answer, followed by the text “Package transferred to another carrier for delivery” now appearing in the tracking for all products purchased after that.

It does not however change who I hold responsible because I am paying for Amazon Prime delivery service and am getting an inferior service (two-day delivery changed to five - if at all). Time to cancel Prime and find somewhere else to shop.

What really burn me up about this is the websites that purport to be all about looking out for consumers won’t touch this issue with a ten-foot pole - guess those kickbacks from Amazon mean to much to them…

You should be able to get to the bottom of this without having to talk to Amazon’s people or chat bots at all. It’s quite simple. When you click the “track package” link from your amazon order’s list ignore everything except the tracking number. Go track that number directly “from the horse’s mouth” at whatever shipper that was. If it’s a UPS tracking number go track it at UPS.com. If it’s a FedEx number go track it at FedEx, etc. Then look at the times. If the shipper received the package soon after you placed the order then the delay is not coming from Amazon.

The message “Package transferred to another carrier for delivery" usually means the package was sent UPS Surepost. That means UPS carries the package part of the way and then it gets transferred to USPS (the post office) for final delivery. You can get more information if you track directly from UPS/USPS rather than using Amazon’s page. Remember all Amazon’s tracking site does is regurgitate what it gets from UPS, USPS, etc. Skip the middleman, read the updates on the shipper’s site directly. If the delay is happening before the shipper is even getting the package then Amazon is causing the delay. If the shipper gets the package fast but they are the ones posting the delays or the BS excuses like I often seem to get…that’s not Amazon.

Though I agree what is so frustrating is Amazon’s terrible customer service in this regard and inability to answer these questions for you. I used to run my own business, I know what it’s like when customers are mad when they don’t receive their product on time. It is very easy to check the records and see when someone did or didn’t ship the product. Furthermore, Amazon has massive clout with the shipping industry. If they find that USPS (or whomever else) isn’t delivering on time or is feeding them excuses then they ought to be leaning hard on the shippers to get their act together.

I have nearly stopped making purchases on Amazon, with maybe two purchases in the last year. I purchased a PC cooler a few weeks ago with regular, not-prime shipping and noticed the delay from order to processing/handling - two business days, for any action to be taken. I have never been a pime member, but recall the faster shipping from a few years ago, when they were always pushing for faster deliveries.
I hoped the delay in processing my purchase meant that the company was trying to ease the burden on its distribution neworks, but your experience, and the changes in membership benefits, suggests to me that Amazon has entered a new phase of business where they no longer feel the need to be especially competitive, as they have sufficiently quashed their competition. Thus they can provide a lower quality of service without significant financial consequence, as there are few alternatives or few that their Prime members would consider using.
I am surprised by Amazon’s review policy, but it makes sense as a means to their goal of becoming THE online retailer for people. If everyone uses their site to find product reviews, it is that much more convenient to just ‘add to cart’ than to find alternatives elsewhere. I would expect third-party seller reviews to be an option separate from the product, but honestly with the numerous made-up brands, products, and sellers on the site, the seller could easily change names to distance themselves from negative feedback.

I think it’s honestly a bit challenging how to handle reviews. On the one hand if someone experienced shipping issues or delays which were Amazon’s fault then that absolutely should be shared with others. On the other hand, does that belong in a product review? Not in my opinion. The product review should focus on the product only. Shipping problems–while important to know about–are not associated with specific products, and are also inconsistent from person to person. They belong elsewhere, not in a product review. It reminds me a bit of restaurant ratings where I often see things like:
“1/5 stars, my boyfriend was SO RUDE throughout the whole meal”
“traffic was terrible and my phone wouldn’t stop ringing 2/5”
None of that has to do with the food or the service.

Reviews are often best ignored altogether as so many of them are clearly worthless at first glance. For example, I very often see people rate brand-new power tools and give them 5/5 stars for durability. How on earth would they know what the durability is like when they’ve only owned it for one day?