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How Amazon Invalidates its own Prime Shipping

When one orders something on Saturday, is a current (has paid through November) Prime customer, and the key thing about that is the “free” two-day shipping, it’s reasonable to expect to happily have the (bought) product in-hand Tuesday (Two-day shipping: Monday is 1 day, Tuesday is 2nd day). If the time of day means they count Saturday (or apparently Sunday) and the item is delivered Monday, great.

…Except when that item arrives damaged.

Which is apparently such a common thing that they have a built in system to just generate a replacement order and return-mail label and such.

So, Item arrives Monday, damaged. What I’ve taken to calling “an oversized paperback” in my Amazon feedback, sent in a flimsy, oversized bubble mailer. Sure, bubble mailer. Ok, it’s not just put in a paper envelope and shipped; maybe the plastic of the bubbles helps protect from potential water damage (?!?). But that’s really about all–it certainly does not protect against bending, creasing, folding, denting, nor the book sliding around in the envelope, and depending on the angle, pressure, and whatever beating it’s taking, sure allows plenty of room for the cover to be creased and folded, the books corners and top/bottom spine to take damage and dents, etc.

I immediately turned it around–initiating the return/replace mechanism. Replacement was due to arrive Wednesday. Didn’t arrive Wednesday. Didn’t arrive Thursday. Amazon’s own “tracking” only shows the thing at some in-between “on its way” stage. Will it arrive Friday? Or will I be waiting til Monday?

Two other items I’d ordered at the same time arrived together Tuesday. One was another paperback, the other a large, heavy hardcover. Both of which were tossed loose in a cardboard packer together, with a gaping corner not even sealed off from the elements or external exposure. Both, of course, damaged. Corners a bit dinged up, some dinging to the spine, on the hardcover. Not horrible, but noticeable to me for looking for the damage. The paperback was banged up as well–sliding around, hitting the sides, and not exactly helped by being somewhat loose with a heavy hardback (which seems to have helped drive the paperback against the sides of the package with just a little more force/pressure than it would have managed on its own. So again, I initiated the return/replace process for both of these.

Despite initiating the process back to back, only the paperback immediately got a replacement “order” right away, the hardback was apparently held up in some kind of queue to be reviewed by a human first, resulting in it not making the cutoff for a two-day turnaround.

Wednesday, nothing arrived, despite expecting that first paperback’s replacement.

Thursday, the replacement of the second paperback from Tuesday arrived…and like the first one Monday, this was loose in a bubble mailer, and actually in more of a beat-up condition than the other book. Of course, I’ve initiated a second round of return/replace…but because I have these delivered to work and it won’t allow me to edit what address to send to…a two-day turnaround on Thursday means Saturday–I’m not at work, no one is there to accept deliveries…making it a four-day thing with Monday being the earliest I’ll be able to get it.

Still no sign of the replacement of the first paperback.

At present, I’m expecting possibly that one arriving Friday, along with the replacement hardcover (3 days instead of Prime’s 2 days).

And really, I should have just gone through something like InStockTrades or CheapGraphicNovels, because I might have received stuff tomorrow (Friday) or possibly Monday…but at least they’d’ve been thoroughly, securely, safely packed to prevent damage in-transit.

I was stupid and opted to pay a bit more per book through Amazon as the difference was still cheaper than the “paid” shipping through either of the other sites, and darnit, I wanted my books ASAP. Instead it’s a far more actively-involved effort on my part, a longer wait, and I’m still going to have to get shipping labels printed, buy my own tape (I don’t currently have any) to affix them to and seal return packages, as well as get the damaged books’ packages to a UPS box for them to make their way back to Amazon…or I’ll be charged for however many (damaged) copies they don’t get back.

At “checkout,” Amazon attempts to have you opt for an alternative shipping over the Two-Day Shipping…offering a couple dollars’ credits toward other Amazon ‘services’ (such as their digital music digital store) if you’ll downgrade your shipping to whatever it’d be if you hit the $35 (up from many years of $25)  minimum for “free” shipping. No, I’m NOT getting suckered–I pay for Prime specifically, totally FOR that two-day shipping. Not for music, not for a crummy streaming service far inferior to my Netflix experience. I pay for that two-day shipping so I can order something and actually get it quickly and predictably, not on a 3-day spread of “3-5 days” or such.

But if it winds up taking me a week (or more!), multiple return/replace processes and my own time and resources to get damaged goods returned before I finally have the product in satisfactory condition and have divested myself of any responsibility toward Amazon that has me in danger of an extra charge and a (damaged) duplicate of a book…

Then why am I paying for this Prime crap? WHAT am I even paying for? I don’t use Amazon for music, I don’t use them for ebooks, I don’t have a Kindle device and refuse to use a Kindle app, and I loathe their streaming service, finding it has nothing of interest to me that’s “free” with my Prime subscription–everything and anything I’m interested in actually costs–for a “rental” OR “purchase,” but is ever-so-conveniently intermingled WITH the actually-“free”/already-paid-for-by-paying-for-annual-Prime-membership.

And it’s only really in the last year and a half to two years I’ve been having this problem. It used to be that paid, “free-with-minimum,” and even a trial Prime membership, stuff would arrive with packing materials to keep things in place in a box (usually big air “bubble” pad things) and generally with or without that, stuff would be shrink-wrapped together on a box-length-and-width-sized piece of cardboard so that if anything was moving around in transit, it’d be the generic cardboard taking the dings , hits, and beating from standard conditions.

Given the multiple copies that have to be pulled, packaged, and mailed as well as one or more damaged copies to be received and processed back in, it seems to me as a non-Amazon ‘civilian’ that it’d be cheaper and engender much more positive will to just package and ship stuff properly to begin with.

Maybe I’m just the only one that expects–and will (while grousing about it) be a stickler for receiving something in new condition when it is bought as a new item. If something is “used” and has a dented corner, slight damage to a spine, a crease in the cover, whatever, and is being sold to me at a significant discount from any other asking price because it is used/etc. then it’s on me, if I accept the price and actually buy the item anyway (because hey, I consider the condition of the item to be worth the asking price, and therefore carry out the transaction).

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