Over It: Why We Dumped Amazon Prime

Here’s your package – crushed, torn, and hastily re-taped!

‘Tis apparently the season…of late deliveries, squashed packages, and strange (unmarked) vehicles pulling down the driveway. I’m pretty much out of patience with Amazon, especially the Prime services, and it’s just not worthwhile anymore. It used to seem like a value add, but now, with the (frequent) 2-day delivery window misses and the damaged packages, I’m done with it.

I recently read a Seattle Times article that stated that Amazon maintains that “two-day shipping refers to the time an order takes once it’s in the package carrier’s hands to the time it arrives at its destination. The two days do not include additional processing time.” Really? So when I’m looking at a time-sensitive item, like a generator that I need in case the power goes out again and I’m bailing water out of the sump pit for hours, and it says on Amazon’s site “order in the next hour and x minutes to receive it by Monday”, I take that to mean that if I order within that timeframe, I’ll receive the item by Monday. I have pretty good reading comprehension skills, and the language seems clear.

Apparently not. That generator failed to arrive until Tuesday. Based on what Amazon told the Seattle Times, that means it was the carrier’s fault. Of course Amazon got it to the carrier timely so that it could be delivered in the timeframe promised, right? Wrong. Checking the tracking on the item, Amazon appears to have failed to get the item to the carrier with enough time for the carrier to deliver it by Monday. For detail folks out there, here are the shipping details to illustrate my point:

  • 11/15 (Thurs): order placed. Per Amazon’s site, item [in stock and no additional processing time required], would arrive by 11/19 (Mon)
  • 11/16 (Fri): Amazon shows package was shipped from their facility to UPS. UPS site shows package in transit to UPS facility from Amazon.
  • 11/17 (Sat): UPS site shows package was not received from Amazon as scheduled and indicates there may be a delivery delay as a result. Amazon’s tracking showed no updates.
  • 11/20 (Tues): both Amazon and UPS show the package finally arrived at UPS’s facility. Once UPS had the item, which arrived at nearly 3 a.m., they got down to business and delivered it at 3 p.m. But it was still a day late.

And this isn’t the first time, based on the tracking information, that Amazon failed to get an order I placed from their location to the carrier with sufficient time to make the represented delivery timeframe. In this case, UPS delivered the item the day they received it, so it wasn’t a UPS-caused delay.

Ironically, when we first moved to this area, we began receiving our Amazon Prime deliveries as soon as the next day. That’s because there are several fulfillment centers near us, and if Amazon shipped items right away, they could arrive as soon as the next day. After some time, though, we began noticing that we stopped receiving items that quickly, and discovered that it was because the items were no longer going out the day we ordered them, and sometimes not even the next day…which would have been fine as long as they arrived within the 2 day window, but, instead, they began arriving late. Nice.

In addition, Amazon employs some contractors who deliver packages in unmarked, presumably personal, vehicles. Driving down someone’s driveway in a rural area when they’re not expecting you isn’t the best idea, and when you’re doing it at night, that’s even more ill-advised. How about providing those contractors magnetic signs for their doors that indicate that they’re Amazon delivery drivers? In fairness, our bashed-up box was delivered by a UPS driver…in his personal, unmarked vehicle.

I take issue with paying for a service that purports to provide the purchased items within “2 days” and then blows the timeframe on a fairly regular basis – and without acceptable justification, like a freak snowstorm or other “act of God”. Further, I’m exasperated with the poor condition of the items that arrive, due in no small part to the careless, sloppy packaging.

Recently, I received a box that held a (14 pound) heavy-duty extension cord, a plastic (knitting) loom, and a small bottle. As you can see from the photos above, the box was in sad shape and had clearly been crushed and re-sealed with tape. When I opened it, I realized that the three items were simply floating around in the too-large box, without any kind of padding. By sheer luck, the loom wasn’t shattered. And this isn’t the first time a box has arrived with substantial damage…and items don’t always survive unscathed.

This package of tea was sent in a plastic mailer – must have been my lucky day because it wasn’t flattened

A previous order included a set of small iron weight plates, also floating loose in the too-large box, and they beat the living daylights out of the package that a bronze door handle was in. So just stuff those metal weights in with whatever else is in the order, without padding and without regard for potential (and likely) damage? Who does that?? What kind of training is Amazon providing to its employees…and how about some quality checks to ensure that training is being applied?

My experience has been that Amazon’s “FREE Two Day Shipping” is hit or miss, at best. Since I don’t use the other services that are offered with Prime, if the shipping time isn’t actually 2 days on in-stock items that are ready to ship, then it’s not worth the $119 year to me. Amazon can twist itself into knots trying to explain away the Prime delivery misses, but I’m done with it. And the next step? Not shopping on Amazon at all. 

BTW, when you go to cancel your Prime membership, Amazon wants to ensure that you really mean to do that – by asking you to confirm multiple times and helpfully offering the monthly subscription option (before you cancel and lose all those benefits!). Whatever. It reminds of calling to cancel cable service and getting transferred to the “retention” department. These companies could save themselves the effort (and me, the annoyance) of trying to change my mind; by the time I decide to cancel, I’m resolute. I have, in fact, already purchased items from other businesses that I might previously have ordered from Amazon. It can be done…and life still goes on.

Read more about why people are cancelling their Amazon Prime memberships here.

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