Amazon: Getting customer care wrong

Recently my wife pre-ordered a book from Amazon. She put her order in the day after pre-orders opened and chose super-saver delivery. Her understandable assumption was that if she pre-ordered, then the book would at least be dispatched on the day of release. She knew she would have to wait a few days for delivery, but that was fine.

The truth was a little different. The book was due for release on the 18th of June. Looking at her delivery estimates in Amazon, it stated the book was due for dispatch on the 22nd of June with a delivery estimate of 27th of June. She was a little confused by this.

So, she opened a dialog with customer support. Here is that conversation.

You’re now connected to Bob (name changed for privacy) from

Me:Hi there,

I pre-ordered a book on 2nd June. I’ve just checked my order and it says that the item won’t be despatched until 22nd June which is 4 days after release day. I thought the point of pre-order was so that you had it either with you on the release date, or it was at least despatched on the release date? Can you please explain this to me.


Bob:Hello, my name is Bob.

Thank you for contacting May I know your name please?

Me:Yes, it’s Laura

Bob:Hi Laura.

Me:Hi there.

Bob:I am sorry for the delay in delivering your order.

I will surely check this and help you.

Are you referring to the order for the item ” This Book”?

Me:Yes – it’s on order number xxx-xxx-xxx

Bob:Thanks for the details.

I have checked and see that you have placed this order via Free super saver delivery which will take 3 – 5 days to deliver the items.

This is the reason for the delay.

Me:I get that, but that doesn’t explain why it’s not being despatched on the release date at the very least.

Delivery type shouldn’t mean a delay on despatching the item in line with the release date.

Bob:To help you better I have now upgraded the delivery method to first class at free of charge.

Laura, we used to dispatch the items according to the delivery method.

Hope we are connected.

Me:I’m sorry but why should super saver delivery mean that a customer doesn’t have their product shipped in time for release or on the release date. That’s treating someone who places a bulk order and takes advantage of your own delivery offers as a second class citizen, and quite frankly makes you feel like you don’t particularly matter as a customer.

Bob:I am sorry that you feel this way.

Since the item is releasing on that day we will dispatch the items accordingly and there is no need to worry about this, Laura.

I have just requested them to dispatch your order as soon as possible.

Once we dispatch this item we ill update you via email.

Me:You’re missing the point here. If I order something in advance, it shouldn’t matter what the delivery method is, it should still be despatched to either reach me on release date or be sent on the release date otherwise what is the point of pre-ordering?

Bob:There is no need to worry about the estimated delivery date which is on our website.

I have requested them to deliver the this item much sooner.

Yes, I apologies for that Laura.

To get Release Day Delivery, orders must be placed by the applicable pre-order cut-off date – you must select First Class delivery no later than 4 days before release day, or One-Day no later than 2 days before release day.

Me:I’m not worrying about the estimated delivery date, I am questioning how Amazon can justify doing this on pre-ordered items when the whole point of pre-order is to receive an item on release date or at the very least have it despatched on that date. Delivery method should have no bearing on this. I ordered on 2nd of June which was 16 days ago, well before any ‘cut off’ date, and delivery method should have no bearing on despatch date. That is the point.

Bob:However, I have now upgraded the delivery method to First class at free of charge.

I have checked and see that you have placed this order via Free super saver delivery, Laura.

Me:Amazon have utterly failed in terms of customer care here. Upgrading me now is completely pointless given that release day is tomorrow. If you are not willing to treat Super Saver delivery customers orders as equaly important as those who select First Class, Next Day etc, then why even allow them to pre-order items in the first place?

Bob:I have also forwarded this issue to our internal team and requested them to avoid this issues in future.

Me:I am absolutely disgusted by this, and shall be cancelling my order.

Bob:I am sorry that you feel this way.

Laura, I have made everything to get your order on the 19 June, 2015.

We are sorry for the inconvenience caused by this.

Hope we are connected.

Your chat has been idle for one minute. I may close this chat after one more minute. If it isn’t convenient for you to reply to me at the moment, please contact us again later:

Me:I doubt that Amazon actually is sorry for any inconvenience Bob, but I appreciate your sentiment. I shall leave the order as is, but I think Amazon need to take a long hard look at how they treat super saver customers on pre-ordered items in terms of when an item is despatched. We are not second class citizens and should be entitled to the same despatch efficiency as any other customer. Thank you for taking the time to help me.

As you can see, my wife tried to valiantly explain that the issue was not that there would be a 3-5 day delivery time, but that the dispatch of the item would also be delayed by 3-5 days, even though she had pro-ordered. This meant that because she chose super-saver she would have to actually wait up to 10 days from release date, not the 5 she was prepared for. Bob was lucky he could not hear what she was saying during this conversation, just read her more tempered comments!

Whilst it seemed like a pleasant gesture to upgrade her delivery to first class, that was not the solution to the problem she had actually raised! Also, as it later transpired, the upgrade was not free, her charges had now updated to include this new delivery option!

What made the whole thing even more insulting was the closing message from Amazon;

Customer centric Amazon Getting customer care wrong

No Amazon, you did not solve the problem. You solved a symptom of the problem, but ignored the actual problem entirely. The whole thing felt prescriptive rather than “Customer-Centric”. It was as if there was a script with canned responses and solutions that could not be strayed from. She of course clicked no.

Further insult was piled on when she discovered that a friend who had ordered at the same time, using the same delivery options, received her book on the day of release.

There are a lot of issues with how this played out, but there are three main ones that stick out for me.

  • The first is that it was not made clear on the pre-order that the method of deliver not only affected how long it would take for the item to reach you , but that it also affected when the item would be dispatched.
  • Bob, whilst very polite and offering to upgrade the delivery method, completely missed the point of the complaint. This just lead to more frustration and a very circular conversation.
  • The gesture to upgrade delivery was not a gesture of goodwill as it was actually being paid for by us.

The outcome is that my wife now feels that Amazon may not be all it is cracked up to be. Had she just gone to a shop, she would have got her book a the same price (actually cheaper if you account for having to use premium delivery methods to get the book near release date). She would have never had to deal with Bob and would not be left wondering why she had bothered in the first place.

As I have said before, loyalty is about more than just price or convenience. It is a mix of things with one key feature being that you are made to feel valued as a customer. This sort of thing makes me wonder if Amazon has hit the point where they no longer care at all. Is that the fate of all companies that grow too big?

As a small conclusion, after a second frustrating conversation with Amazon, she declined the book and I bought it from her from our local Waterstones. It was a much nicer experience and worked out cheaper. I also had the opportunity to take my daughter, buy her a book and even buy myself one. Physical stores must not die!


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