So, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out yesterday, right? And it was a massive laydown, a huge book release unprecedented in the history of mankind, or something? You know the deal. And everyone got their books right away and all was right with the world, yes?
My ass, it was.
If you ordered from Amazon, odds are good you got completely hosed. And here begins our tale of a major internet retailer that should have known better doing things in just about the most unreliable manner possible.
Since the USPS recently raised its rates, Amazon shipped all their Harry Potter preorders through UPS. You ordered with next day delivery, you got a handy dandy UPS tracking number. Your package has left the shipping center. Your package has reached the sorting center. Your package is on the truck.
Your package is on the truck.
Your package is on the truck.
Why is my package still on the truck, UPS? Why isn't the truck out for delivery? It's freaking 5:00 on Saturday, I've been waiting all day, but I can't write to Amazon to complain until 7pm. I could have gone out to freaking Wal*Mart at midnight and picked the damn book up if I knew you were going to be this late.
So here's the problem: although Amazon told everyone they were shipping through UPS, and gave everyone a UPS tracking number, that wasn't the whole story. Since UPS only runs on Saturdays for special deliveries (and if this wasn't a special delivery, what freaking is?), UPS teamed with the Postal Service to actually take the last step and deliver the books.
Take a minute to let that soak in: UPS shipped the books, USPS delivered the books.
But Amazon didn't TELL anyone this is what was happening. You're sitting around all damn day Saturday, waiting for the UPS truck, not for the postman. And the books didn't even come with the regular mail - the mailman made a special run after the fact, so if you'd already checked the mail by the time they came, why would you ever think to check again? And that's even assuming they left the package - tons of people just got notes (well after the post office was closed) that delivery had been "attempted" (a lie; a blatant lie) and that they'd have to pick their package up at the post office. Which means they have to wait until Monday for their "guaranteed" Saturday delivery.
Amazon really dropped the ball on this. Big time. This is a major screw-up from a company that should know better. That does know better. Amazon is the premiere online retailer - you can pretend different, but it's the truth. When people think of shopping online, they think of Amazon, not Buy.com or Borders or anywhere else. "Name an online store." "Amazon." That's how it works. But this time, it didn't work. Amazon didn't keep their customers informed on what it was doing, and a lot of people suffered for it.
With its guarantee, Amazon said that if the book wasn't delivered by 7pm, you got your money back. It'll be interesting to see if they uphold that for the hundreds of thousands* of people who got screwed over by their bifurcated shipping scheme, or if they try to weasel out of it by claiming that the Post Office receiving the book counts as "delivery." Much as I love Amazon, I hope this hits them in the pocketbook, hard. They played around, and they screwed readers. And if it takes a major financial loss for them to never do that again, bring it on...