Amazon, a necessary evil?

I’ve been an Amazon customer for about 25 years, first from the M/E then in various European countries and Oz. I have always found the service excellent.

For example I’m in Dublin currently tweaking the heating and lighting in an apartment. I want to automate the whole place, so after some research I decided to pilot some gear, Tado rad valves, TP-Link smart plugs and light switches. I could have started searching for local suppliers and if I found the stuff at a reasonable price driven through dreadful traffic to one or more stores to get the gear. Or perhaps they would have mailed it to me, but who knows how quickly.

Instead, being lazy I opened my Amazon UK A/C, found exactly what I wanted, one at 26% discount and one, despite being in £, considerable cheaper than Amazon FR. So I pressed click. My Prime account is in France, but no delivery charges for me from the UK either (? - think it might be a post (no pun intended) Brexit thing) and they handle all VAT/import duty issues which had negligible price impact (and no effect at below a certain threshold, about €50 I think).

All the stuff is being delivered hassle free today, to my doorstep. So that’s me sorted.

Now for the guilt. I’m the first to complain about high streets turning into wastelands inhabited by pound shops, charity shops, betting shops a Boots and a Wetherspoons. Where are all the retailers gone? Well to out of town malls I thought, but I wonder how many have gone down the Swanee courtesy of Uncle Jeff. I’m the first to complain about the gig economy and the exploitation of workers but I’m supporting one of the major offenders. Likewise, in my own tiny, tiny way I’m supporting corporate tax avoidance and the immoral (IMO) concentration of personal wealth. I’m sure there are other downsides but that’s enough to be going on with.

Apart from excellent customer service, excellent product choice, exceedingly swift delivery and easy returns, what has Amazon ever done for us? :joy: And can we ever wean ourselves off it :thinking:

Interestingly, bricks and mortar bookshops, Bezos’ first target, seem to be holding their own :slightly_smiling_face:

Meanwhile……. I wsh them the best.

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Had one bad experience with an Amazon purchase, never bought anything from it since. I like decent customer service.

We manage to survive without using Amazon fr or uk. Possibly a few €s more, which we have the luxury of not having to worry about. And sometimes takes more research, and planning to avoid needing things urgently.

But we are committed to supporting independent retailers, so happy to plan to make sure we can do so without major detours.

And we want to support local shops when we can. We like the feel of small town life, and I don’t want to live in a dead town.

I too had one bad experience with Amazon…but literally thousands of good ones, it’s a no brainer for me if it saves me travelling 30 kms for something which may not be there. :grinning:

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Amazon sell stuff of their own, do logistics for a lot of others and act as an online shop window for yet more - always worth making sure you know which of these scenarios is involved when you order as “bad service form Amazon” might actually just be bad service from someone using them for online order processing only.

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I have had bad service from local suppliers. If it hadnt been Jeff who else would have bothered giving up to the hour delivery information. How many days have I wasted staying in for other couriers who just lied about deliveries?

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I absolutely refuse to buy anything that isn’t at least delivered by Amazon, and would choose stuff that is sold by them over other stuff that isn’t. I made one mistake through carelessness and bought a computer from a 3rd party seller in Madrid and when it stopped working after only a couple of weeks Amazon refunded the purchase price but the seller refused the postage cost. Never again.

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The trouble is, when you have problems with a supplier and complain to Amazon about it, they just say, not our problem. That’s enough to do it for me.

It’s certainly a factor when I order stuff and I also avoid stuff from independent vendors - not totally but if there are alternative vendors for the same item I would tend to choose the one whree Amazon handle the logistics, even if it is slightly more dosh. I also don’t tend to order expensive items from random companies using the Amazon store-front and limit it to items where I can cope with them arriving late or not at all.

One thing to be aware of is that Amazon Prime is often not really free delivery - as well as paying the subscription the Prime price on may items is higher than the non Prime price.

But it’s supplied by Amazon, so telling me “it’s your own fault” is no good when the interface they provide somehow changes an order for a single item to two and you are double-charged. Now whose fault would that be? Not the customer’s, ever.

Ah, yes, I remember the Prime scam where they were sneakily enabling it in such a way that people didn’t notice until they discovered money regularly being debited every month.

Well it isn’t (anything to do with Amazon), unless they were the vendor or handled logistics.

I don’t think I said it was your own fault.

I can quite see that you would not want to deal with Amazon having had a bad experience - in general I have found the experience at least as positive as other online retailers, but you do have to take note of whether Amazon is selling it to you, just doing the delivery or just providing an online portal for some Chinese manufacturer of dodgy knock off goods - and there is a good bit of overlap between the categories just to spice things up a bit.

Edit - sorry, missed this bit

Yeah, have to be careful you don’t wind up with more in your basket than you bargained for, when it’s happened to me it’s because it was hanging around from a previous visit to the site, then I added it again.

You have to watch out that you’re not accidentally setting up a regular order as well - that is the default for some quite odd things.

I don’t think the website is more inherently trap-strewn than the average e-commerce site though.

If it’s not clear what is happening when ordering, then it’s wise to give it a wide berth. Was Amazon or the supplier responsible for manipulation of the interface? Not my problem. There certainly was a dubious manipulation of the Prime subscription by Amazon a while back. Never seen anything like it with other retailers. Anyway, I’ll continue to take my buying power elsewhere. :kissing_smiling_eyes:

I use it all the time. I don’t like shopping for anything. The rare bad experience seems to be when it’s something outside Amazon’s control (and they seem to shrug if that’s the case, which I agree is lazy).

So yes, a necessary evil, I think, at least in the UK.

In France, I use real shops, but we’re fortunate to have a decent supermarket and the other necessities within walking distance. And I enjoy les Espaces Culturelles for books, CDs when I need them.

Quite - at the end of the day you have to have some  confidence in he retailer to want to buy from them.

Some items have minimum order quantities - I’ve spotted that before and not gone through with an order, it will have been something like that or accidentally adding the same item twice. I’ve ever seen anything on Amazon’s web interface which was fraudulent manipulation of orders during the ordering process.

There was no minimum order. It was a specialised ruggedised phone. The quantity selected was one, the amount charged was for two. The seller was advised immediately and refused to cancel the second charge. Whoever was responsible, I will not buy through Amazon ever again.

Yes their order splitting is great for their logistics but has several downsides for customers.

You could have got that back under Section 75 if you had paid with a UK credit card. Or if not, asked card for a chargeback.

I agree, but a lot of the stuff I buy is “high” tech and not always available locally. Our FNAC tends to be overpriced and I tried to shop on their website once. Days later a partner of theirs emails me and says the item I wanted isn’t in stock (despite saying it was on the site) and offered me a totally different and inappropriate alternative :joy::joy::joy:. I won’t be shopping with FNAC online again, ever. However having shopped with FNAC for forty years, one thing that has impressed is how they have managed to maintain a consistent level of complete indifference to customer service through so many generations of staff :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

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So very true!

I have just tried to make my first ever purchase with FNAC - I won’t be doing another - appalling company.

3 weeks on still waiting for refund which apparently will arrive by post in the form of a cheque - slight problem is that the half of the order that actually did arrive, after I returned it to a shop they lost it!