TLDR: I’m puzzled by an Amazon bot instantly gifting me a item to replace the one that never arrived in my mailbox even though USPS tracking said it was delivered (and that’s GPS nowadays, right?) How does Amazon know it actually wasn’t delivered?
I ordered an electric toothbrush replacement head from Amazon a week or so ago. The package was supposed to be delivered by USPS on Monday but didn’t arrive. So I checked USPS tracking which told me it had been delivered to my apartment mailbox. Alas, that was not the case.
I’m about 99.8% sure it wasn’t stolen because it’s very secure system at my apt. It would be delivered straight to my own locked box. So I was in a little quandary about all the unknown hoops I would need to jump through to address this.
Here’s where it gets weird (at least I think so, that’s why I’m posting this! ) although the very idea of it filled me with dread I went to the Amazon support page after having the necessary steps laid out for me by another website.
Ended up being triaged by the Amazon chat bot. “Oh boy,” I thought. “I’m about to spend an hour playing games with a bot. Yay.” But instead the first thing the bot asked me was, “Is this concerning (brush head order)?”. Now that’s not so crazy because it was my most recent order. Then it asked me to select from a list of about 8 reasons for my inquiry.
I selected, “Never received my order.”
and Mr. (or Ms.) Bot said, “Would you like me to re-send the product to you?”
Naturally I said, “Yes.”
But it made me think… Amazon must have known that I truly did not receive the product or they wouldn’t have had some bot just automatically send me another brush-head. And unless our Amazonian assimilation is complete there’s no way they can see into my mailbox. They *can *check the USPS tracking which says it was delivered, so why give me another one?
Only thing that makes sense to me is that Amazon knows it was never even sent because they still have the product number (SKU?) in their inventory chain. Or perhaps they somehow know that it was sent but has been irretrievably lost so they’re sending me another one.
But I really think that the Amazon bot “knew” that that piece of inventory was still in the system–it was never sent. But then what was USPS tracking? If Amazon “knew” this why didn’t they just tell me? Or send a replacement and nice email on their own? Why did they wait for me to contact them?
Amazon know the Post Office makes mistakes. They would rather eat the cost of this brush than investigate. They don’t know it was lost but they know at this point it is easier to send a replacement and better also as they hope to keep you as a happy customer.
The Amazon delivery is taking photos and sending them immediately, eventually Amazon will stop using the USPS as they have better control or the USPS will need to conform to Amazon requirements.
The bot is probably programmed to automatically resend a replacement product under $X if it’s reported as never received. Probably cheaper to do that than generate an electronic trail that may require human intervention.
Look on YouTube for people buying pallets of Amazon returns. Some of which were never opened and perfectly resellable, but probably not worth the effort and cost to restock on the shelves.
It had occurred to me that Amazon just wrote it off but I didn’t think about the existence of a value cutoff point (i.e. the algorithm says "Send a replacement for any “did not arrive” product priced less than $50). Which looks rather silly in hindsight. Because of that I guess I assumed that if they’d send me another brush-head then they’d send someone another $25,000 video camera, too. Slow thinking to say the least.
Nonetheless I’m still curious about exactly what is going on in these situations to wit: where is the first brush-head? Is someone going to eventually steal it? Do they expect that person to be me? There’s some other stuff too but I haven’t time to think it through just now. I’m just curious in general about 21st century customer-interface algorithms, the assumptions they make, and the new business customs and practices they introduce.
They probably think of it as cheap advertising. You’ll tell all of your friends how nice and easy to deal with they were, and so your friends will be more likely to buy things off of Amazon. They’ll probably make more profit off of that than the cost of a toothbrush. Especially when the alternative is you telling all of your friends that it was all Amazon’s fault that it never arrived, and now they’re making you jump through all of these hoops just for a toothbrush.
Just remembered. A couple of times when my order was late on <$20 items, without any prompting on my part, Amazon would send me another one with a notice saying I don’t have to return the first one if it arrives.
I normally never do this, but cite? It doesn’t make make sense that Amazon or any vendor would charge for lost or stolen products. The potential cost of damages/loss is usually factored into the wholesale price of the product.
From the Amazon Sellers Agreement:
“2.4 Delivery Errors and Nonconformities; Product Recalls. Except as otherwise provided in
the Business Solutions Agreement you have entered into with ASE and any other Affiliate, you
are responsible for any non-delivery, mis-delivery, theft or other mistake or act in connection
with the fulfillment and delivery of your products or services except to the extent caused by (a)
Card fraud for which we are responsible under Section 3.1; or (b) our failure to make available to
you transaction information as it was received by us. You are also responsible for any nonconformity or defect in, or any public or private recall of, any of your products or services. You
will notify us promptly as soon as you have knowledge of any public or private recalls of your
products or services.”
For an apartment, I bet it was delivered to the wrong mailbox. I’m not scared of my own shadow, so I just take mail to the other apartment unless it’s obvious junk mail (political flyers/pizza coupons) if they’re not home, I just go the door person and have her/him deal with bit.
Sometimes, people aren’t honest but we do have a lot of airline employees in my building so they may not check their mail often being gone all the time.
Thanks. That’s interesting. RE: the bolded part, what sort of monetary value are we talking about here? I’m curious because if there’s a price cutoff point beyond which Amazon doesn’t simply replace via algorithm, no questions asked it’d be nice to have more data.