Amazon's "Super Saver Shipping"-why so bloody long?

I ordered a couple of discount games a couple of weeks ago-the ship date was the 2nd as shown via email and the “Where’s my stuff?” page. So it’s now 9 days later, it’s not here, and I can’t imagine the US Mail (which is how it’s being shipped) being that stinkin’ slow with it. “Projected arrival date” is given as being between the 13th and the 19th inclusive. I am beginning to wonder if Super Saver Shipping is all that it’s cracked up to be (esp. if you make the assumption that time=money…).

Ya know the beer in here would not be so expensive if the lunch wasn’t free.

You paid nothing for the shipping, and you are complaining about the amount of time it is taking? :rolleyes: Next feel free to upgrade to 2 day air and pay for it.

Have you checked to see if it has actually been shipped yet? I think that information should be available to you and may be different from the “estimated” shipment date.

I ordered a number of things one time and used the Super Saver Shipping. The projected shipping date for all items was too far into the future for my patience. I removed the item which was holding up the shipping for the longest period of time. Interestingly enough, the other items weren’t as readily available as they had been. So I cancelled them and reordered. They were even more delayed. So I subtracted another item from the list.

Rinse, repeat.

That cured me.

Are they using Media Mail?

It’s cheap, but very slow.

I’m not saying it’s the case here but some businesses will artificially downgrade their services. Bizarrely enough it’s a sound business practice as long as they don’t downgrade enough to lose a significant amount of business and as long as they offer a “premiere” service as an alternative.

Consider airlines. Most of the services offered to first class passengers could also be given to regular passengers for relatively little cost. But how would the airline benefit? The people that are willing to fly in regular class are already willing to do so - any extra luxuries would not bring in more customers. And the people in first class are those who are willing to pay for luxuries - but if regular class offered a close approximation, some of them might decide to forego the extra cost.

Amazon could be following the same model. Some customers (me for one) want to minimize costs and are willing to wait longer for an order to arrive. Other customers want to minimize delivery time and are willing to pay for this. Amazon offers both alternatives - ten day shipping for free or two day shipping for three dollars (I made these figures up as an example). But suppose they can ship any order in four days and absorb the cost in their general profit. The cheap people like me would be happier but we wouldn’t change our book buying habits overall. But some of the special shipping customers might decide that free four day shipping is an acceptable alternative to paid two day shipping. Amazon would lose money.

So what is the smart move? Prepare all of the free shipping orders and then stick them on a shelf in the warehouse for a week or so. Now there’s a noticeable difference in the two shipping alternatives and some people will be willing to pay for the faster choice.

Amazon also sells items that they don’t have in stock, without telling you the item isn’t in stock, betting that they can find the items and ship them to you fast enough that you won’t notice. I had this happen with a book that I chose as a Christmas present. I ordered it at the end of November; in early December they said it was on back order, and then in January I got an e-mail telling me that the book was out of print and they couldn’t locate any copies.

If the discount games you ordered are old, obscure, or had a surge of popularity after they’d already left the bargain bin, you might be getting a note from them… in a few months.

This move requires you to pay more for warehouse space. The smart move is to wait a full day (or two) before putting the order in the queue, and then design your queue so that priority shipped orders can move ahead of regular orders in the queue as long as the regular order isn’t N days old. That way you’re keeping the pending order on a hard drive instead of on a shelf, but the effect is the same.

I’m not sure if this actually applies in the case of Amazon, but with some shipping schemes, an extended lead time can enable savings by grouping consignments - if, for example, your shipping company offers discounted rates for something like a bulk pallet of packages already partly pre-sorted for the same route - the longer you can potentially hold on to orders, the greater chance you’d be able to make groupings of worthwhile size.

Really? I thought Amazon indicated, on all their items, whether they were in stock and ready to ship or not. Occasionally they’ll even say something like “Only 1 left in stock—order soon,”

Are you saying they’re lying?

I used to have Super Saver Shipping items sent the same or next day, even though they said it could take a week to leave the warehouse. Because I’m a one-day UPS drive away from a major Amazon distribution center, I’d often get things the day after I ordered them with the free shipping. It was great, and I saw no reason to upgrade.

Then one day, maybe a year or so ago, I noticed that they became much more likely to be slowpokes about it (which is well within their rights…after all, they warned you). They actually started fulfilling SSS orders as advertised. After a few items that took over a week to arrive, I realized the free ride was over. That alone was enough to convince me to pay for an Amazon Prime membership. I did the math, and decided that $79 a year for all-you-can-eat Two Day shipping was cheaper for me than a year’s worth of Standard Ground shipping (even if they realistically take the same time for me).

I’ll say they’re lying. The following happened to me twice:

  1. Want one in-stock book, costs just under the amount that qualifies for free shipping.
  2. Add a second, inexpensive, in-stock book to the order to reach the threshold.
  3. Order goes through.
    4, 5, and 6. Amazon sends near-instantaneous e-mails saying, “We’ve received your order,” “Sorry, Book 2 is out of stock,” and “We’re sending you Book 1 and charging you full shipping.” :mad:

I have always suspected that Amazon uses SSS to even out their workload. It’s not the shipping in the mail that is taking a long time, it is that when workload is high they take advantage of the fact that they don’t have a committed ship date (or to be more accurate, they have a lot of slack in their committed ship date) on the SSS orders. With so many folks ordering textbooks online now, this may be a peak season for Amazon. Thus, SSS orders are waiting to be pulled and shipped while more rush orders keep the staff busy.

Isn’t your post a few days premature?

Harriet the Spry nailed it. Amazon fills the SSS shipping orders after all the rush orders and standard orders are handled. Depending on their workload they may ship tomorrow or next week.

xnylder I order a lot from Amazon and in the case you describe Amazon will send an e mail asking if you want to split the order, or hold for the out of stock item. Last April I ordered two books on SSS shipping, one of which was not published yet. :smack: Anyway since I was in stock on books, I let the order ride. I got an email 2 weeks ago saying that the 2nd book had arrived early and would be shipping early. It shipped the next day.

Nemo your tin foil hat is slipping. To do what you are suggesting would increase costs two ways. First there would be extra warehouse space for the half filled orders. Secondly you would have to have your people handle the order twice. So the business model would look something like the underwear gnomes
Step 1 lower revenue & increase costs
Step 2 ???
Step 3 profit!
I’m a little hazy on step 2

SSS used to be pretty quick; in the last year or so (since they began promoting other options, like their subscription shipping plan), it’s gotten slow. Consider shopping at instead. Their free shipping can take the same amount of time, but at least you’re supporting a independent bookstore, and you can get your used items shipped as a group as compared to Amazon’s piecemeal Marketplace shipping.


No it isn’t, IF the given ship date was actually the 2nd, as I detailed in the OP; I can’t imagine the USPS taking more than 5 days to ship something cross-country (which likely isn’t the case here, as most distribution centers are in the Northeast). So either the USPS is sitting on it somewhere (but why would they do that?), OR the given ship date is not the actual ship date-or it’s lost. Either way something stinks. I don’t mind getting it w/ free shipping in a reasonable time frame (5-7 days later), when I could bite the bullet and get it in 2-3 days (as others here have said I grok their reasoning here), but a seventeen day gap (2nd-19th)? Something’s rotten in the state of Florida. The two games in question are about 1-2 years old.

well, as posted earlier, if it is in fact Media Mail, it can honestly be that slow. I think the USPS plays a game with MM packages to see what the longest possible path is. I’ve gotten Media Mail from 100 miles away that took almost two weeks to arrive.

I don’t know if Amazon uses MM for Super Saver on books, because I don’t get many books from them.

Ok, I haven’t ordered from Amazon in a long time. Did you know about the expected delivery between the 13th and the 19th prior to finalizing the order and still decide to go with the super cheap shipping, or did you just figure that even if they put in on a mule it still couldn’t take more than 5 days? Sucks that you have to wait so long for your stuff.

How much did you save by using the super cheap shipping? It sounds like the games were not very expensive and you didn’t want the shipping to cost and much as the games. I can understand that.

I like it when my order takes a long time to ship. That way, I’ve forgotten what I ordered by the time it arrives, and it comes as a nice surprise—like getting a present in the mail! :slight_smile:

I looked for them locally, but the big retailers-including Wal-Mart-“clean” their shelves of old games far more quickly than they used to (probably because of competition with console titles). So yeah I figured the “mule” (heh) would get it here in no more than a week, since it was inconceivable that they would lie to me, or use something as obviously inefficient as that Media Mail. In my case it was “absolutely free”, but obviously with certain unofficial strings attached.