Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Is amazon losing it?

484 words

I’ve been using amazon for years now. And the reason for doing that is that their service is of the solid no-nonsense type. You can find stuff on their pages reasonably easily; you can ‘remember’ stuff to buy in your shopping basket; if you don’t go for that ‘one click’ nonsense, their checkout process seems reasonably safe without getting in your way too much; they deliver for free when placing an order above €20; and whenever there have been problems, they dealt with them in a quick and helpful way. Not much to complain there.

A not-so-short while ago they introduced external sellers as well. That’s actually great to sell your old stuff if you are willing to trade the hassle and speed of eBay for considerable comfort at rip-off prices. One thing with those offers is that they aren’t included in the free shipping scheme, so you may end up having to cough up some extra money for the shipping and end up paying more than you would have paid when paying that extra Euro with amazon straight away – make the listing worthless for a price comparison.

Note that I don’t want to say there is no place for these third party offers. If third parties can offer additional products (usually with crappy descriptions though) that’s great. And if capitalism works so wonderfully well in terms of efficiency that it’s cheaper to have someone send a CD to you from half-way around the world rather than someone down the road shipping the very same CD to you, I can be tempted as well…

To me, that is a hassle, and particularly in competitive product areas where the price differences are quite low anyway I tend to wish for a ‘amazon only’ button that only gives me amazon’s original offerings and just doesn’t list the gazillions of other offers for which I’ll have to worry about shipping costs and how they handle things if something goes wrong. But to my knowledge such a button doesn’t exist.

Still, with a bit of looking, you could easily tell amazon’s own and 3rd party offers apart because amazon tend to print their own prices in bold while the other ones come in a normal weight. That seems to have changed now however. Somehow they started listing things as ‘amazon price’ in bold, but when you actually proceed to buy the thing you’ll see that it is being sold by a thrid party – and you have to cough up the shipping costs.

Third party offer listed as 'amazon price'

I’ve seen that creep up for a number of products by now, and I found that it makes shopping more stressful and makes things less transparent. And even if amazon have done a good job for years, they always have to keep their no-nonsense attitude up. If shopping with them starts being as much of a hassle as entering a real store, they’ll lose.

November 5, 2006, 1:42

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