Amazon Prime's Promise Of Two-Day Delivery Is Dying

Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

Having a baby in 2018, as my wife and I just did, means becoming an Amazon household. We’re not proud of this. We know that Amazon treats its workers terribly. We know that the company has extorted billions of taxpayer dollars out of our home city of New York in exchange for turning our neighbours into terribly treated employees. But babies need a lot of stuff, and they need it quickly. Diapers on demand are a very tempting prospect.

So we bought our diapers on Amazon. And then they didn’t come when Amazon said they would come.

One of the foundations of Amazon’s brand is its guaranteed two-day delivery, “free” to Prime subscribers. The company has taught America to rely on this instant gratification. Sometimes this reliance seems soft, or self-indulgent, like when we get mad that a pair of Bluetooth earbuds took three whole days to arrive. You can go an extra day without earbuds. A newborn cannot, generally, go an extra day without diapers.

We asked our friends where they get diapers. “Amazon,” they said. Great. On Day 3, customer service couldn’t even keep its story straight on when our diapers would arrive, or whether they’d even shipped. Of course, this wasn’t a real emergency. We live three blocks from a Walgreens—also a bad company! — so I popped over, bought a pack, problem solved. I’m lucky. But it finally made me realise that two-day shipping is a sham.

It’s a sham because overworked employees and delivery contractors like UPS can’t possibly fulfil all the orders on time. Rather than lose their most powerful client, they lie about whether packages got delivered.

But it’s also a sham because Prime no longer means two-day delivery. As Fast Company describes, Prime delivery times are often listed as three or even five days. The site offers no easy way to filter for two-day Prime shipping. (You can filter by free Prime shipping, but that includes items that take longer to ship. You can filter by two-day shipping, but that includes third-party items with an extra shipping charge.) And because Amazon lets third-party sellers clutter up results pages, you need to comb through results.

You could try an online competitor, but you won’t do much better. Wal-Mart’s Jet.com lets you filter for two-day delivery, but as of December 20, “two-day delivery” already meant December 26. And that’s if the item didn’t get held up further.

None of this is the worst ordeal in the world! It’s just very different than the rapid, no-hassle experience Amazon promised. It’s the promise that helped Amazon muscle out bookstores, threaten Wal-Mart, fleece cities, avoid taxes, bully suppliers, and make its owner the richest man alive. We let Amazon suck the world dry because in return, we could get anything delivered, for free, in a couple of days.

And now that’s gone too. Amazon pulled the old predatory pricing trick on us, got us hooked on an unsustainable shipping speed, then eased up on the delivery once it had pushed its competitors to the margins. So it’s time to suck it up and buy something from a real store—before they buy that too.


Comments

    I'm not sure whether to feel pity for the author, that their life metrics are so shallow, or to laugh at them for publicly criticising a company they've help build to be the commercial behemoth that it is.

    Congratulations on your new born, but may I suggest you do a hell of a lot more planning, if you're wanting to be a decent/prepared parent. Just In Time logistics are fine for companies, but certainly not for babies.
    I can only imagine the reaction from rural Australian (or even American) mothers, if you were to suggest leaving your parental duties in the hands of the postal service.

    Please go do your moralistic hand wringing elsewhere.

      I feel neither.

      I found the information presented useful and worthy of discussion, as the author has outlined, he had other options and resolved the issue with no impact.

      I think this discussion should be held as to whether this service is still delivering what it promised and what customers have come to expect

      Why attack the author and his parenting when the article was obviously about neither?

      Thank you Nick for this article, i appreciate it and the interesting thoughts it brought. I'm trying to convert my own habits to buying more local to prevent these predatory practices that seem to be becoming mainstream but find it hard when it is soo much cheaper/more convenient using services like amazon.

      Satirically If only we had as many alternate choices in politics when it started getting predatory...

      Last edited 24/12/18 4:16 pm

        Mate, no one cares if Americans believe they have been terribly inconvenienced (and that's really all it is) by the fact a delivery wasn't made in time, but good on you for finding it interesting and thought provoking.

        Personally, like a lot of the Lifehacker US articles, I found it shallow and a little bit whiny. Why Americans continue to play the victim continues to baffle me, but it seems to be a national characteristic.

        Mountain=molehill. Boohoo.

      I book express postage for something expecting it the following week. Standard postage can be up to 3 weeks in average.

    I understand the reposting of American stories on the lifehacker Australia site, but this story has very little relevance to Australians at all. Our Amazon store is garbage, and you're lucky if you get two day shipping on what you're looking for. And the shopping alternatives have absolutely no relevance to Australia at all.

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