Friday, July 25, 2014

The Amazon Difference

I have to hand it to Amazon. In spite of the many negative comments one hears about how the company does this wrong, or handles the other in an inappropriate way—which may all be correct for all I know—they really proved to me, as a customer, that they have mastered the way they handle problems.

I had ordered a book a couple of days ago, and as a Prime member, I received it two days later. The way they have that figured out is mind blowing.

However, they did manage to drop the ball on the simplest part of the whole transaction. They used the wrong packaging; in other words they used a flimsy—albeit insulated—envelope, and they used UPS to "handle" the transport and delivery.

Don't get me wrong, UPS is a great company, and how they manage to deliver billions of packages, both large and small, every year, is incredible. But, sometimes packages that contain more delicate items get thrown in the mix with larger ones, with disastrous results.

And so, my GM G-Body book arrived looking like a car wearing parking garage scars.

I do own a Kindle, use it often, and I could've downloaded a copy of this particular book, but I in some instances, only a "real" book does the job. Call me old-fashioned, if you will, but I prefer to read books printed on paper.

Anyway, I try to be practical and not get bothered too much by little details. After all, we live in an imperfect world. But the condition of this book went beyond the limits of what I consider okay, so I decided to return it.

Not being in the habit of doing so, I thought that the process would be a royal pain in the ass, but that's where Amazon surprised me in a very positive way.

I logged into my account and quickly found the item I had just ordered. I clicked the "return" option and selected the reason for returning it, and what I wanted Amazon to do for  me (send me a new book). That task took me only a few minutes, and then I printed the return label. I chose to bring the package to my local UPS store.

After that was done, I came back home to find an email from Amazon letting me know that they had received notification from UPS that the return was on its way, and that they had already shipped a replacement which should arrive today. The very next day!

There was no charge for me to send the damaged item back and no charges whatsoever for the overnight delivery of the replacement.

I know that this exercise probably cost them (Amazon) money. Not a lot, mind you, but still some, which could've been easily avoided had they chosen to use a sturdier, corrugated envelope.

But that aside, would I start shopping elsewhere because of the "inconvenience?"

Absolutely not.

In my opinion they made it so easy for me to handle the issue that, frankly, I almost feel bad I returned it. And they also reinforced my determination to buy more stuff from them. Heck, in most cases when I am searching for a particular product to purchase, I search Amazon (followed by eBay) before I even use a search engine.

I understand that many (maybe most) of their Prime customers were not pleased with the fact that Amazon raised the annual membership fee. I think that it is still a bargain and, until other companies figure out how to deliver product in a couple of days and handle returns without hassle, I will continue buying from Amazon.

And who knows... by the time others figure out the above, Amazon may be using teleportation to deliver packages to their Prime customers.

Luis to Amazon...

Amazon here. Go ahead, Sir.

Beam me down another book, Jeff.