If you live in New York, Seattle, or a handful of other cities, and you’ve got to have that book, DVD or Zhu Zhu Pets Hamster Funhouse right now, Amazon has a deal for you. The mega-etailer is now offering same-day delivery — for a price that may just send you out to the nearest subway: as much as $19 to get a single book delivered.
The new service, Local Express Delivery, is being rolled out in New York, Seattle, Philadelphia, Boston, D.C., and Las Vegas. Members of Amazon’s $79-per-year Prime service can get their quick fix for $5.99 per item. Everyone else will have to deal with shipping rates that include both per-shipment charges of as much as $18.99, plus additional fees based on weight or number of items (which means you could easily spend more than $79 to satisfy your urge for a new computer or LCD).
If Local Express Delivery reminds you of Kozmo.com or UrbanFetch, you can stop palpitating. Those doomed bubble-era services snuffed themselves out with a business model based on charging as little as possible to customers who abused them mercilessly (raise your hand if you ever ordered a pack of gum at midnight, and then demanded it for free because the delivery guy didn’t make it there in under an hour) and praying they wouldn’t run out of cash before they could go public.
In addition to steep delivery fees, the Amazon service requires customers to place their orders early in the day for same-day delivery; by 10:30am in most cities. But it could be a better solution than roaming aimlessly searching for the right birthday gift two hours before a party. And if you want that pack of gum, they’ll deliver it too, for about $19.