7 December 2010

Amazon #fail

Once again the otherwise good name of Amazon is being degraded by those deemed trusted agents. I am of course referring to their resellers. I imagine it works well for Amazon, sitting back in control of the portal while other people take and fulfill the orders. I hadn't really given it much thought as after it was introduced the service was generally very good. The cracks are beginning to show though.

Today I received an email to say that order for an item I ordered as a christmas present has been cancelled. Nothing to suggest a reason why and a review of my Amazon orders reveals that not even the original order is stored online. So I am left baffled. Why did the reseller cancel this order? Amazon thoughtfully included a link to the product in the cancellation email which I followed out of curiosity. Strangely the item is still being offered by the same seller who apparently still has the item in stock. Had I not logged into my home email account I might have been left in a real panic this time next week when I realise the present hasn't arrived.

The real question though is what happened to the audit trail? I know I placed an order (after all I have a cancellation email about it). I just can't seem to find any information about ordering it in my account history. Now if I want to return an item or cancel an order I generally have to give a reason. I'm now really curious to know why my order was cancelled when the seller appears to be still selling the same item. I appear to have lost that buyer-seller communication. Since this sort of thing has now happened on multiple occasions I am learning to steer clear of resellers when possible. It's not that they are all bad (far from it) but I have learned a lot about shopping online over the years. First of all never buy unless the web-site clearly says the item is in stock. Luckily Amazon takes care of this automatically. The second rule is always check contact details for the seller which is much harder when dealing with resellers.

So why is Amazons reseller program having these difficulties? After all if I order something which is sold by Amazon.co.uk it usually arrives within 5 days. If I order from resellers though things sometimes don't arrive at all and then I just get a cancellation email like this (and sometimes too late). In fact last time it happened I gave the seller several weeks to sort out the delivery and then had to file a non-delivery complaint at which point I was refunded. You have to ask why Amazon are allowing their resellers to behave like this when their own core business is generally good? I have no idea but if the items I want to buy are not offered direct from Amazon then I do now look to see if I can find them from another trusted retailer, even if they are slightly more expensive. Sometimes you need to have a high level of confidence in a retailer. Sadly that's something that a few resellers are being allowed to spoil for all the others. If I were in charge of Amazon, I'd look into this further. I think I would also want to collect data on who is cancelling orders and how frequently. After all if the seller cancels a transaction, no feedback gets posted after the event to warn their future customers.