Friday, January 15, 2021

Your Order Has Shipped! (No, It Hasn't!)


All online retailers play this gag of telling you something has shipped, when it hasn't.

A reader chastises me for the number of materialist entries in my blog.  And he has a point - whenever I buy anything these days, it always seems to end in tears.  Better off not to own anything.   But the hot tub really helps with the aching joints as you get older.  Too bad I can't find another one for $300, but that was a one-shot deal, I'm afraid.

But I was thinking about my last posting about Amazon and how every online retailer plays this game.  Amazon calls something as "shipped" when they create a shipping label on USPS, UPS, or Fedex.  In this instance, they called it "shipped" when they created a Bill of Lading for the truck freight company.   When you buy anything these days, you get these messages saying "Congratulations!  Your item has shipped!"

Congratulations?  I am to be congratulated because they are fulfilling their part of the economic bargain?  And worse yet - have not really fulfilled it?  You go to the shipper site and enter the tracking information and find out that all that has happened is a shipping label has been created online - by a computer - and that the shipping company is still awaiting receipt of the package.   In some instances, I have waited 2-3 days for the package to get to the shipper.

Why do they do this?  Well, for eBay sellers it may not be their fault - eBay creates these messages for them.  I suspect they do it because it calms the nerves of nervous buyers.  Perhaps also, it just is a generic message when any "tracking" data is generated by the shipper - and the first tidbit of tracking information is the creation of the label.   Whatever the reason it is misleading and should be stopped.  You can't say an item is "shipped" or "preparing to be shipped" when in fact nothing has been done whatsoever, other than one computer talked to another computer and created a shipping label or bill or lading - which may not even exist in paper format yet.

This can be frustrating, as you never know when the item will arrive, and since they are claiming it has "shipped" you can't cancel the order.  And perhaps that is why they do this - if they claim your item is shipped or "being readied to ship" (whatever that means - this takes three days?) they can prevent you from cancelling the order.  Of course, you can always send things back, but once you receive an item, I am sure their computers know you are less likely to send back and request a refund.   I suppose also that once the order is in the pipeline, it is actually easier for them to accept it as a return than to try to intercept and cancel and order.  All things are possible.

But this game of saying you've shipped when you haven't shipped - they all play it.  And it sucks.

On a positive note, the Yogi Tea ordered from Walmart arrived in two days (suck on that, Amazon Prime!).  Walmart has really improved their game, Amazon isn't keeping their eye on the ball - too may pots on the stove.  I mean, they are a defense contractor for chrissakes!

I wonder with AWS - Amazon Web Services or whatever - cancelling Parler if there will be a blowback from the nutty far-right.  I thought about this as an Amazon truck rolled by me on the Interstate.  Will monster truck owners be cutting off Amazon trucks or trying to run them off the road?   That is the problem with having such a huge presence in so many different fields.  Amazon may find itself subject to the wrath of the mob.   And few people will weep for Amazon, I suspect.