What Amazon Prime's 'Two-Day Shipping' Really Means 

Amazon Prime's free two-day shipping is a pretty great deal, but it doesn't necessarily mean you're going to get your order two days after you order it. Confused? I was too when my recent in-stock order took nearly a week to get to me.

Photo: Patrick Allan

Last week, I ordered a new video game from Amazon to take advantage of that sweet, sweet Prime discount. I ordered it Thursday morning, so I figured it would arrive Saturday evening - just in time for me to enjoy it Sunday morning. However, come Sunday, my game was nowhere to be found. It wasn't in the mailbox, at my doorstep, or in the bushes the delivery guy sometimes hides my packages in (I believe this to be a theft-thwarting tactic).

Did I accidentally forget to confirm my purchase? I opened up my Amazon account to check, but sure enough, I had indeed ordered it. Maybe it wasn't in stock? No, it was. But now the delivery was slated for Tuesday, five days after I had placed my order. Why was I suddenly not getting the two-day shipping I had expected?

In a pouty huff, I reached out to Amazon customer service to find out what happened. When I asked, the rep didn't answer my question of "why" at all. They simply regurgitated what I already knew - that the delivery was scheduled for Tuesday. Thanks.

Again, I asked why it was taking so long, explaining that they were failing to uphold their two-day Prime shipping agreement. After several reps had popped in and out of our chat saying the same thing over and over, one of them finally told me something I didn't know, or at least something I had never properly grasped:

Amazon Prime's two-day shipping doesn't kick in until the item is actually shipped from a fulfilment centre.

OK, this makes total sense, especially when it comes to items that aren't released yet or are out of stock. I mean, how could they possibly ship something that isn't available? But apparently it also applies to items that are listed as in stock and available for purchase.

My game wasn't available in a nearby fulfilment centres, so it had to be shipped from somewhere much farther away. It was still technically "in stock" somewhere, just not anywhere near me. That meant they didn't actually ship my order until Saturday, two days after I had placed the order.

I didn't like that logic, so I argued with the rep saying they could just never ship something and still fulfil their two-day shipping promise, but it was fruitless.

Now, I'm not actually all that upset with Amazon about this silly interaction. There are a number of things on my end that could have made this situation possible: In my haste, I may have misread the estimated delivery date during the purchasing; or they may have sent me an email telling me my delivery date had changed and I failed to notice it. Also, I could have paid more attention to how two-day shipping actually works to begin with. Live and learn.

If anything, I'm sharing my story as a cautionary tale, explaining the nature of Amazon Prime's two-day shipping. If you already knew this, good on you! If you didn't, now you can avoid feeling like a fool the way I did.


This story has been updated since its original publication.


Comments

    I wonder how long before the ACCC get to examine this and ask them to correct their "2 day" delivery agreement.

    I could see the issue of when you order something, that has to be shipped from overseas to their fulfillment centre that could take weeks, once they receive it they then ship it in 2 days.

      Yep. That kinda crap might fly in the US, but won't work here, where we have strong "truth in advertising" laws.

      Might be worth getting the ball rolling by putting in a submission to the ACCC.

      Last edited 25/06/18 10:44 am

    I started the trial when I ordered some bearings on Tuesday and they used Fastway to send to Canberra. Normally, that may be ok, but here Fastway deliver to suburbs depending on the day of the week. That 2 day shipping would easily be more.

    So much for fast delivery.

      Ugh, “Fastway Couriers” would have to be the misleadingly named business in Australia.

        It's SlowWay or NoWay most of the time - the worst courier in Australia. They always ignore delivery instructions as well.

    "Two-day shipping" = "We only ship on two days of the week. We will not tell which two days they are. We may change those two days when it suits us."

    Kogan are the same, and tie that in with Australia Post's woeful tracking and you have no updates between "delivery booked" and "we found no one at home" 10 days later - with "it's too late to change your delivery options" from start to finish.

    So we have Amazon that's not Amazon (it's Mr Joe's Electronics with Fulfillment by Amazon TM), and Two Day Shipping that's not two day shipping.

    I'm not that impressed.

    So I ordered an item on Wednesday last week. It showed that it qualified for Amazon Prime. Got delivered on Thursday morning 8AM. Awesome! The other two items didn't qualify for Prime but instead had priority shipping available. They will be here between the 18-26th July. Very happy with the first package. Still impressed with the second. Tracking and notification was also great. I'm sure this will get better for everyone and for a lot more of their products. Looking forward to trying out more items now.

    loving the prime day very happy with SUPER DEALS so far on the #amazonecho, #amazonkindle and #lumiylightblade lamp those must the best deals this year!!!!

    I have just received my fourth "Arriving today" email from Amazon in two days, with no sign of when Farceway is actually going to deliver. Amazon's tracking bar reminds me of an old Windows file-copy estimate.

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