Amazon Delivers With Santa-Like Speed

Benjamin bought his sister iPod speakers on Amazon, but when he found out they wouldn’t get to him in time to take to his sister for Christmas, Amazon sprung for free overnight shipping for a new set of speakers, as well as free return shipping for the others. That’s the sort of swiftness that can only be rivaled by eight tiny reindeer.

He writes:

I thought I’d share a very recent above and beyond customer service experience with you: Being a good brother, I decided to spend a little extra this year and get my sister the nice ipod speakers that she had listed on her amazon wishlist. I ordered them Dec 8 and had them sent to my home in NC with the free super-saver shipping thinking that they would arrive long before I left to see my family in KY on Dec 21.

Wrong… the speakers didn’t ship until the 15th and were not due to arrive until the 23, too late to be able to bring them home. I called customer service and explained the situation, and they immediately offered to ship a new set to KY overnight for free ($17 for shipping) and allow me to return the speakers they sent to NC after I get back in January, also with free return shipping. Problem solved! I’ve been a pretty devoted amazon wishlist user for many years, and will continue to be after they were willing to eat shipping costs that when combined are more than half the purchase price of the product.

Amazon is well known for such over-the-top gestures of benevolence. What’s your favorite trip down the Amazon?


Edit Your Comment

  1. W10002 says:

    I love Amazon and their fast shipping. But it’s all at the expense of their minimum paid and overworked warehouse elves….

    • tbax929 says:

      It’s a free country. If Amazon’s employees are unhappy, they should work somewhere else.

      • AstroPig7 says:

        Does the phrase “not in this economy” sound familiar? Some people enjoy the work, so I can’t and won’t speak for employees whom I’ve never met, but I’m tired of hearing this unrealistic remark. If it were so easy to find work elsewhere, then we wouldn’t have such a high unemployment rate.

    • pot_roast says:

      A lot of the process is automated now. Here’s a video showing some of it:

      And order picking jobs really aren’t that bad. I used to have one in a very large warehouse distributing CDs. This was a long time ago before digital wifi bar code readers and automated systems. Good exercise, and we could listen to walkmans.

    • maximus says:


      they earn $11.75 an hour for a starting level seasonal level 1.

      $7.25 is the federal minimum wage.

    • Amish Undercover says:

      So your strategy is to say something positive about Amazon to get folks who like them to relate with you, then make a vague and ungrounded claim against Amazon to undermine their support?

    • brianguyy says:

      translation: orders fulfilled by fine hardworking, taxpaying Americans. you’d prefer Chinese?

  2. DoktorGoku says:

    Every year, I do more and more of my Christmas shopping on Amazon. It’s really convenient- but mostly, it’s because that for the vast majority of what I buy, it’s so much cheaper. I actually had a couple of baskets full of stuff at Borders this year that I was going to buy, until my friend used his Android app for checking prices online.

    It only took me 8 min. to put everything back where it was.

    • elangomatt says:

      That is nice that you put everything back in its proper place. I always do that too, but it is usually at the grocery store when I forget my wallet or something :P I was out shopping yesterday and there were a bunch of abandoned carts around filled with stuff that people decided they didn’t want to wait in the checkout lines to purchase. Granted the lines were really long, but still.

      • sasakan says:

        I used to work in a grocery store. Return carts were horrible. My very first day, a lady brought a very full (overflowing) cart’s worth of stuff to my register. Her card was declined and she had no other way to pay. She left her cart at the register. It took another person over 2 hours to put it all back. I hate when people leave full carts. An item here or there isn’t bad but a full cart?!

  3. EatSleepJeep says:

    I did all of my shopping for out-of-towners via Amazon this year. Signed up for the free trial of Prime and got free 2-day shipping on everything. Good thing, because the east coast is basically shut down right now as far as shipping is concerned.

  4. jesusofcool says:

    So I’m having the opposite situation…ordered practically all my gifts through Amazon on Dec 15th and used the free shipping since there were almost ten left to get it in time for Xmas. However, somehow my box didn’t ship out until the 19th and now I won’t get it til Xmas day at which point we will already be traveling to family. I called customer service on the 18th, and a woman who was very hard to understand (outsourced CSR?) basically said they couldn’t do anything. I really would have appreciated a discount or even an apology for the fact that due to a four day delay on their end, I will short of some miracle at the post office have absolutely nothing to give out on Xmas day. Unfortunately the CSR said the only option was the refuse the package on Xmas day and receive a full refund – but still have no presents – not at all helpful. OP must have lucked out and gotten a good CSR because this may be my last trip down the Amazon.

    • fatediesel says:

      Amazon is very hit and miss when dealing with the CSRs. Sometimes they’ll help you, sometimes they won’t. It’s pretty much luck of the draw, although you could try repeatedly calling and hoping to get a helpful CSR.

      Amazon is notoriously slow with the free shipping. They often estimate the delivery date as far as a month away to try and persuade people to either sign up for Prime or pay for faster shipping. Your packages not leaving the warehouse for 4 days is pretty normal for Amazon’s free shipping. They work to get all the Prime and paid shipping orders out quickly and get to the free shipping orders when they have time.

      • jesusofcool says:

        I’ll probably try back and see if I can’t get a different CSR if I still don’t have it by the 24th. At this point, I ordered on the 15th and I do understand you take some risk when you order around Christmas, but I did figure 9 days was enough time, especially since on the checkout page I was told everything would arrive on the 21st. I think what gets me more is the fact that at the time of ordering I could find no clear disclaimer that said their “3 days left to order with free shipping and get it by Christmas” banner on their home page is not a guarantee or that they fulfill free shipping orders last. If there was a disclaimer like that, sure, I would have thought twice and gotten everything I could have at a brick and mortar store.

      • AnthonyC says:

        That must depend on where you live. Near cities- I’ve lived on Long Island and in Boston- free shipping almost always ships as fast as they estimate regular shipping would take.

    • privdog says:

      Sorry to hear that. I think my good fortune came because amazon didn’t even ship my order until a full week later. I’m not sure if they would have extended the offer if it wasn’t for their mistake.

    • elangomatt says:

      Once something ships, it is really out of Amazon’s hands to change anything. The OP got the upgrade in shipping since he called before his order shipped.

      • privdog says:

        I actually called 4 days after it shipped. I think it had more to do with it taking them 7 days to ship the item in the first place. I was also careful to explain the situation I was in calmly and following with “I really need your help in figuring out what to do,” rather than demanding they ship a new one for free up front.

      • MikeB says:

        Actually, they had already shipped, but the CSR at Amazon next day’ed him a new set and told him to return the set already in transit.

    • tbax929 says:

      You should call back and see if you get a more sympathetic CSR. I agree, it is very hit or miss.

    • slyabney says:

      Always call back and see if you get another CS, usually does the trick. Also, I understand being upset that’s there is a 4 day delay on your package being shipped but every time I order from Amazon they don’t promise it will ship same/next day and they give you a 2 to 3 day window of when it will arrive.

      This year I ordered a gift through Amazon that would have arrived a day before my original departure date but when I realized I would be traveling durning that window due to a schedule change, I went in ASAP and changed the shipping address to my parents house and let them know not to open the package that was coming.

      I’d suggest you give Amazon another try as it seems like it was some poor planning and possibly poor estimation dates they gave you. Or maybe I’m just not a fan of things being ruined after years of great service by ordering gifts close to the holidays and being surprized when things don’t work out.

    • jesusofcool says:

      Yay! I followed everyone’s advice and called back because I was kind of worried…got a WAAAY better CSR who was able to tell me exactly where my package was and was very apologetic. Still may not get it in time, but at least I received a polite explanation : ) I think I just got a bad egg the first time around.

  5. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    I did almost all my Christmas shopping on Amazon this week, too. The free shipping is a godsend for me, too, since nobody in my family lives in the same state I do.

    Two packages this year have gone astray, though. For one package, Amazon sent me (like the OP) a return label and sent out another order free to the recipient. They had got the address wrong, though, sending the package to me instead of to the address I had entered.

    The second package, ordered on the 15th with two-day shipping to arrive on the 17th, didn’t even LEAVE Amazon until the 17th, and the UPS tracking history tells its own pathetic story:

    December 21, 2009 12:45:00 AM Stafford TX US Arrival Scan
    December 20, 2009 12:41:00 PM Louisville KY US Departure Scan
    December 19, 2009 01:37:00 AM Louisville KY US Arrival Scan
    December 18, 2009 10:05:00 PM Sioux Falls SD US Departure Scan
    December 18, 2009 05:10:00 PM Sioux Falls SD US Arrival Scan
    December 18, 2009 04:50:00 PM Sioux Falls SD US Departure Scan
    December 18, 2009 01:50:00 PM Sioux Falls SD US Arrival Scan
    December 18, 2009 09:25:00 AM Aberdeen SD US Departure Scan
    December 18, 2009 07:03:00 AM Aberdeen SD US Arrival Scan
    December 18, 2009 02:52:00 AM Bismarck ND US Departure Scan
    December 18, 2009 02:06:00 AM Bismarck ND US Arrival Scan
    December 17, 2009 11:00:00 PM Minot ND US Departure Scan
    December 17, 2009 10:00:00 PM Minot ND US Arrival Scan
    December 17, 2009 08:30:00 PM Williston ND US Departure Scan
    December 17, 2009 07:40:00 PM Williston ND US Arrival Scan
    December 15, 2009 01:28:30 AM US Shipment has left seller facility and is in transit

    • coren says:

      It looks like it did leave on the 15th. Obviously a refund is in order on that 2 day shipping, but it left when it should have…

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        Nope. I order something like a hundred UPS packages a year, and that particular message (“Shipment has left seller facility and is in transit”) means nothing but that the shipping label has been printed and the shipping number generated by the computer program the shipper uses. UPS assured me that the package does not actually go anywhere until it is scanned at the starting facility.

  6. elangomatt says:

    That’s the problem with free super saving shipping, Amazon says it will be there before Christmas but they don’t make it a priority to get it there quickly. I have had super saving shipping items not get shipped for 5 or 6 days before and it is just the price I pay for free shipping. What I was really impressed with is the fact that amazon is offering a pretty great discount on 2 day shipping for non-prime people. I ordered a gift for my dad and sister yesterday and only had to pay about $3 for 2 day shipping.

    • dragonfire81 says:

      I have done super saver shipping on a number of different items for Christmas this year and everything got here on time, in fact one of them even showed up early. I’ve (fortunately) never had a problem with amazon shipping in the several years I’ve used them regularly.

  7. Dr Intrigue says:

    Years ago I had a $300 PDA ordered from Amazon delivered to my apartment. Well, the clever UPS driver left it on the stoop in plain site, and it disappeared before I got home. I called up Amazon and asked them what they could do about it, expecting a long claims process.

    They said they were sorry and would ship out the new one overnight. A new $300 PDA without hesitation!? And it wasn’t even their fault!

    This is the clever bit that most companies don’t understand: always assume the customer isn’t a liar. Yes, keep records of previous orders, and if they customer calls again about the same missing PDA, maybe hold off on shipping out the third one til the investigation can be done. But for 98% of the people that call with issues, take the hit and treat them like human beings that just want their problem resolved. Those happy customers will end becoming loyal customers and spending much more in the future.

  8. lucky929 says:

    My mom ordered a (non Christmas present) DVD Thursday night. We just got the standard Prime 2-day shipping. We had it Friday when we got home from work. Ridiculous (in the good way)

    • Rayon Fog says:

      Same thing here. Ordered an iPod Thursday night, used included 2-day Prime shipping, and had the iPod at 10:45am Friday morning. 16 hours after I ordered it.

  9. valueofaloonie says:

    I bought myself a Kindle for Christmas this year, and it was in my hands within 36 hours. I live in Canada, so I consider that ridiculously, unbelievably fast. I sent Amazon a nice email about it, since I was so pleased.

  10. Ellimack says:

    I’m taking a break from Amazon. I ordered a digital frame for my parents for Christmas. I got what I thought was an unbelievable deal. I paid for two day shipping because the in stock date was Dec. 21. A day later, the estimated delivery date went from Dec. 24 to February 18. Apparently, they were out of stock and the new stock was delayed. But if I wanted to pay $35 more, I could get it from a third party seller. I cancelled the order and bought the same frame from Newegg for the same low price and free three day shipping.

    I sent an email to Amazon relaying my dissatisfaction and they responded with this: “Unfortunately, we don’t have any more stock of … right now, and we’re not sure if/when we’ll be able to get more. Our supply of some items is limited, and these products sell out quickly. I realize this is disappointing news. As you can imagine, especially during the holiday season, our inventory and availability estimates can change very rapidly from one day to the next. I’d suggest checking our website from time to time to see if this item is available. However, the item is only available from third-party sellers at this point.” Yet they still continued to sell the frame (direct from Amazon!) with a Dec. 22 in stock date. Not cool.

    Like I said, I’m taking a break from Amazon. I now love Newegg.

  11. PanCake BuTT says:

    Gr8, now all we need is an Amazon dance group / viral video…and we’re set!

  12. mattarse says:

    I have recently had a wonderful experience with Amazon. I am an American living in Europe and have used Amazon for years while I lived in the states – but seldom while here. Recently a friend asked me to order a book for his girlfriend for christmas (She had just seen Julie and Julia and he wanted to get her Mastering the Art of French Cooking). While we were booking the order the normal shipping date was listed as being Jan 4th, and expedited international shipping was to arrive on the 18th of December, however in the email that came the next day the shipping date had changed to December 29th – and the expedited shipping had cost $13 more than the normal shipping. I emailed Amazon expecting to get the difference in the two costs refunded, and he would have to give the gift late.
    Within a few hours Amazon had replied offering to ship via international courier – which costs more than $30 and the book would arrive in 2-4 days. They also offered to pay for the original book to be shipped back and to issue a full refund!
    the copy of the book arrived by courier – which on a $49 book they paid more than $30 shipping, and today the original copy has arrived :) Funnily enough the original copy will not even be going back as I was thinking to keep it – then another friend begged to have it to give to his wife.
    With this Amazon has earned a pass to screw up anything in the future with me, and I think i will be ordering a third copy (it really is a great cook book) for myself.
    I am also wondering why they couldn’t find the book here (although with the current weak dollar I am sure it will be cheaper to get it shipped from the states anyway).
    All I can say really is thank you Amazon – the customer service went well beyond what I expected. I really would have been perfectly happy with getting the difference in shipping costs refunded.

  13. capstinence says:

    Yeah, I’m constantly recommending Amazon Prime to everyone. It pays for itself if you use Amazon with ANY sort of regularity (I’ve had it for the past two months and it’s already paid for with the shipping costs it’s saved me). Heck, for Christmas shopping alone it’d probably pay for itself if you’re buying presents for enough people.

    Also being able to upgrade to overnight shipping for $5 is amazing.

    • ahleeeshah says:

      I swear Consumerist is full of people I know. You’re the second one I’ve seen.

      Since I don’t think I’m friends with you anywhere that would have this username, it’s Alysia, we went to school together.

  14. pittstonjoma says:

    I’ve been a longtime customer with amazon, shopping with them for 8+ years. I’ve only ever had one problem, but they helped by upgrading my shipping for free. I plan to continue shopping with them because I am a very satisfied customer.

  15. SyntaxError says:

    I’ve never had a problem with Amazon the few times I’ve ordered from them. Just last week (Dec 17), I ordered a Suncast Big Scoop Snow Shovel, and Amazon guaranteed delivery no later than the 22nd. I got it this morning via FedEx, a day early and never had to pay shipping.

    What makes this even more amazing is the fact that we got 8 inches of snow and ice (North Carolina’s Piedmont foothills) just days prior to my ordering the shovel. My road and the only connecting road are private so the county doesn’t scrape them, which means we were snowed in.

    • brianguyy says:

      oh the irony, Amazon contracting with UPS to plow through the storm and delivering a show shovel to dig yourself out of the biggest storm in a few years. awesome

  16. HogwartsProfessor says:

    “What’s your favorite trip down the Amazon?” Okay I love this.

    I’ve only had to return something once, but it was very hassle-free. Whenever I order from them I always get it way, way before I think I will. That’s Amazon, mind you, not third-party sellers, although I do buy from them every once in a while and try to use ones with high ratings.

  17. RandomJane says:

    I ordered a memory card for my camera the other week to be delivered by the Super Saver Shipping method. I’d kind of like it by tomorrow so I can use it on our Christmas vacation. Amazon’s tracking info says the item was delivered by USPS on Friday. It wasn’t. I called their customer service today and they are sending me a replacement via next day delivery free of charge. I was told it should arrive tomorrow. If it does I’ll seriously be impressed. No one gives that kind of service anymore. I’ve been a customer for years and will continue to be if they keep up that type of service. I have to say, this is the first time in many years of ordering through Amazon that my package failed to arrived. I’ve never had any problems with Amazon.

  18. Bix says:

    They need to have more transparency about the fact that Super Saver Shipping packages don’t even get sent for several days or just abandon the practice.

    • myrna_minkoff says:

      I use Free Super Saver all the time … they’re very clear that it’s not as fast as the other options.
      As a matter of fact, in my experience, they give a longer “estimated” time. If my order’s expected arrival date is the 10th, I routinely get it on the 8th or 9th.

    • brianguyy says:

      yes, I’ve had this problem before. very unpleasant when you’re not expecting it. however, they seem to do a little better job these days of putting it in the fine print. despite that I still don’t see why it takes several days to ship, especially when it’s not during their busy season.

      others have said they also rarely have problems with marketplace sellers. I can say the only one time I didn’t get my item, Amazon refunded my money. however, slow shipping is a big deal. I don’t order a lot, yet I’ve had 2 or 3 items over the years arrive outside the shipping window (which is quite long). this is a big problem when it involves textbooks…

  19. lalakl says:

    I find it funny that there’s a picture of an AmazonFresh truck when this post is about No customer service stories here, though. Well, honestly, too many, as I’m an Amazon CSA. Haha. But things like the story from the OP is all just part of the magic we provide. ^_^ Especially with Christmas coming up.

    @ jesusofcool: We’re are prioritizing all shipments, even super saver ones, with an estimated delivery date of December 24 or sooner. I hope your package gets to you in time. However, any CSA should able to help you place another order that will get there in time and they can also keep track of your original package to make sure it gets refunded in a timely manner once you send it back to us.

    @ speedwell, avatar of snark: If you don’t have that package in your hands when you wake up tomorrow, call CS and you’ll get a replacement sent with overnight shipping to arrive on the 23rd.

    • brianguyy says:

      I couldn’t read it, but the best I could figure it said “Amazon Trash”. I thought it was a photoshop (had never heard of Amazon Fresh).

    • webweazel says:

      I have ordered from Amazon before over the years, not very often, though. Well, I would just like to note that because of all the good things people have to say about Amazon here on Consumerist, I did almost all my holiday shopping with Amazon. Not everything will get there before Christmas, but that’s okay. (I had a sick kitty and time got away from me) I have something else to shop for after the holiday, too, and I’ll be getting it from Amazon.

      Keep up the *magic*.

  20. anime_runs_my_life says:

    I order a lot of anime and manga from Amazon, mostly because they run a lot less than Best Buy or Borders – and sometimes the used prices are better than the new (not to mention a lot of the “used” dvds are still in the shrink wrap).

    I got good service on one order where all the manga was in stock, but for whatever reason, it didn’t ship for nearly a week. One e-mail to their customer service got me next day shipping and a $10 credit on my next order. Amazon does go above and beyond service when you need it.

  21. widestance says:

    amazon also has great customer service. i order a ton of video on demand and on the rare time there is an issue, they have an option where they call you right then and there. you are NOT transported to india and instead the person who calls you directs you to the right department and the problem is fixed. compare that to virgin mobile with its insane “alex” voice prompt hell and it really stands out as it did today. amazon should give lessons to other companies on how its done. seriously.

  22. brianguyy says:

    now if they only offered local 1-day delivery in more metropolitan areas, order of availability determined by size. (Seattle? umm, ok.)

  23. EndlessCT9A says:

    Seems like I’m buying more and more stuff from Amazon. Recent purchase was a couple of PS3 games. 9.99 off each, no tax and free shipping. A heck of a deal. Had it shipped via Super Saver shipping, which indicated it would arrive about 6 days later. I made this order on a Friday. Arrived Monday afternoon to the office. Can’t beat this deal. Best Buy sucks with their often outlandish pricing and incompetent sales people. Fry’s sucks with their complete lack of customer service. For most things, Amazon FTW!!