It appears that Amazon’s greed is continuing to degrade the customer experience.
Many areas of the US have had AMZL US become the primary logistics and delivery service for Amazon Prime shipments over the last couple of years. The problem is that for many of us, it has largely eliminated the incentive for Prime membership: fast, ‘free’ shipping. Of course it’s NOT free, since Prime membership is not free. But the bigger problem is that for many of us, AMZL US is dreadfully bad compared to USPS, UPS, FedEx or DHL.
I’d estimate that most of the Prime orders delivered to my home via AMZL US have not met the Prime promise. They’re often not on time, or even close to on time. 2 days becomes 4 to 7 days. On many occasions the final tracking record says “handed to resident” when in fact that was not true (no one was home, package was left in driveway). And recently, a package arrived with the outer box intact, and the product’s box (inside the outer box) intact but EMPTY. And all of my recent AMZL deliveries have been late by at least a day. Today’s notice is typical of what I’ve seen lately:
Note that ‘Wednesday’ is 5 days after I ordered. This is a small Prime item (would easily fit in my mailbox and hence USPS would be inexpensive), as was the item that didn’t arrive (the empty box shipment). And these are just a couple of the recent issues. Less than 20 percent of my AMZL shipments have been completely logistically correct. All of my recent shipments have found their way into the abyss above; delayed on the day they were supposed to arrive, at which point they can’t tell you when it will arrive or when they’ll even ATTEMPT to deliver it. This isn’t how FedEx, UPS or even the USPS do things. They have actual logistics, while AMZL apparently does not. AMZL can not reliably deliver packages on time, nor reliably track them. And of course, the day they expected to deliver it was a Sunday. Umm, I don’t need or even want Sunday deliveries. Especially if it triggers the “we no longer know when we’ll deliver your package” tracking status when that Sunday passes.
This is what happens when a company decides it would like to leverage its increasingly monopolistic position to make higher margins. As near as I can tell from stories from AMZL drivers, former AMZL logistics employees, other customers and my own experiences, AMZL is a logistics morass. And the last mile, arguably the most critical, is essentially slave labor. As the old adage goes, you get what you pay for. This isn’t open capitalist markets choosing the winner; as near as I can tell, there are almost no customers who prefer AMZL over USPS, UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc. And there are many stories of customers dropping their Prime membership because they can’t control who is used as a courier and get stuck with AMZL. This is Amazon deciding that they’d like to squeeze a few more pennies from their business by underpaying for courier services. Who suffers initially? Amazon Prime customers, and those who think they might build a profitable business delivering products sold by Amazon (good luck; the last time I ran the numbers, it was worse than trying to make a living as an Uber driver). Who suffers in the long run? Amazon and its shareholders. When Walmart and BestBuy start looking like significantly better options to your customers, you know you’re in the running in the race to the bottom.
This isn’t a bottom-up problem. While I’m sure there are some bad apples in the driver and contract courier company ranks, the real cause is much more likely the pricing demanded by Amazon. This is an Amazon initiative, and from my narrow view, very poorly implemented. I’m quickly becoming an alienated customer, and it’s been made clear that they don’t really give a rat’s ass about it since I can’t blacklist their AMZL service. Prime is now mostly a contract that’s regularly broken by one party (Amazon).
It’s unlikely that I’ll renew my Prime membership when it comes due. Nearly everything I buy from Amazon is available elsewhere, with free shipping from a RELIABLE courier service, and often at a lower price. Since 2005 I’ve been preferring Amazon because my Prime membership yielded fast, reliable delivery (via UPS or FedEx). That’s no longer true, and I have no recourse other than ditching my Prime membership and shopping elsewhere. Amazon doesn’t allow me to blacklist their lousy AMZL delivery service. The time alone that I’ve spent chasing down AMZL delivery issues costs more than the annual Prime subscription.
Today I spent $240 at my local BestBuy on an item I had intended to buy from Amazon (exact same price). And I generally hate BestBuy. But… walking out of a brick and mortar with product in hand is orders of magnitude better than waiting 5 to 7 days for something to POSSIBLY arrive and paying extra (Prime membership fee) for that ‘privilege’.
Who will get more of my business? For technology, the usual suspects: NewEgg, B&H, Adorama, Microcenter and BestBuy. For tools, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Menard’s, Performance Line Tool Center, Tooltopia and others.
To be clear, I’m not oblivious to the problems of scale with respect to Amazon delivery. And I’m _far_ from a luddite; I strongly believe in technological advancement and don’t need a human to hand me a package. But AMZL has been around since 2014 and it still sucks for many of us. I didn’t sign up for this experiment; I signed up (and paid for) 2-day delivery. If you ask me, a smarter move on Amazon’s part would have been to use AMZL as the free (as in Prime membership not required) delivery service, and kept the reliable courier services as the only ones used for Prime membership. And been willing to invest more in making AMZL viable before forcing it on customers who are paying extra for 2-day delivery service.