07 Apr

Even better than your cable TV technician's 3-hour delivery window

Americans love it when things turn out better than expected, especially when it comes to waiting time estimates. But man, if the actual waiting time is longer than the estimate, all hell breaks loose. The customer goes into "bust-a-cap-in-someone's-ass" mode.

So businesses err on the side of caution and quote very conservative waiting times. There has been no better example of this than my latest purchase on Amazon:

We shipped the items in your order placed on April 06, 2011.
Delivery Estimate: April 13, 2011 - April 28, 2011
This shipment will be delivered by USPS.

You have got to be kidding. Not only is that not an accurate delivery window, but it's a direct rip on the U.S. Postal Service. I'll bet you anything I get that package BEFORE April 13th. That, or the company sent the package 17th class, where it will be delivered by children working for the USPS riding their tricycles.

But seriously, let's pretend that they SENT it on the 12th, and we're not talking about priority mail either... just first class. There are some addresses that would possibly receive it the next day, but give me an address ANYWHERE in the U.S. where the USPS would take 16 days to deliver the package! That's right, there IS none. Moreover, since they sent it on the 6th, that would mean it would take them 22 days to deliver the package. I don't think so Tim.

Then the package arrives... earlier than expected. We're all supposed to jump around and cheer because it came earlier than expected. "Yippee!!!!! Wooooo-hooooo!!! That Amazon did it again... they always exceed expectations." Amazon gets a good reputation because of it and if something happens to occur, causing a delay, they have their butts covered courtesy of the absurd delivery estimate. What a crock.

Liberal delivery estimates have occurred in every other Amazon purchase I've made at least within the last 3 years. And some people (me included) have even become immune to the delivery estimate. "Oh, it'll never take that long. We always get it within a few days." The concept of delivery quote times is almost ignored.

But Amazon is not the only one to give absurd estimates:

  1. Ever order a pizza and get it before the 30-45 minute window?
  2. Ever go out to your favorite sit-down restaurant and get seated within 20 minutes, even though they said it would be an hour wait?
  3. What about your spouse, who says they'll only go shopping for their $50 pair of pants only to come home with $600 worth of miscellaneous clothes?
  4. Ever wonder how, even though all flights seem to be delayed, airlines still have an 80-90% on-time record?

Look, everyone likes getting things before expected, but if you're going to quote a expected arrival time (especially after you have officially sent the package), be accurate with the estimate. UPS/FedEx can get the estimated time down to the day. We're just asking to get the right week, Amazon.

Categories: Gripe