July 16, 2010

Amazon’s Mind-Reading Service Not Ready For Primetime

I call this: tech — Posted by KP @ 12:53 pm

Dear Amazon,
I have been a loyal customer for 13 years. I’ve had your credit card for as long as I’ve had credit. But today I am very disappointed.

I was running low on dietary supplements, and decided I should order some more ASAP. I was going to do it when I got home, which is where I prefer to place online orders, so I don’t rush through them. But this seemed like a simple one, so when I had a moment of free time at the theatre before our final dress rehearsal, I selected the one item I wanted, and with a few clicks placed my order.

Because I’m an Amazon Prime member, I sent it using two-day shipping for free. I received your notice that it had shipped on the day I ordered it (thanks!), but since it’s a pretty boring delivery, I never clicked on it to check the tracking status.

So today was the day it was supposed to arrive, so this morning I clicked on the tracking status to see if it had been delivered yet. When I get to the basic summary screen I see
I thought it was kind of funny that it was going through the Bronx on the way to Boston. I also was a little disappointed, since obviously that meant it was going to be late.

Then I clicked on the details.
Amazon.com - Your Account

Oh. OH! Ah. I see where there was some confusion.

Now Amazon. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you what happens when you assume. In this case you seem to have made an ass mostly out of me. But still.

I’m at that stage where the other day I was talking to my board op about interior decorating or something, and had to take a minute to concentrate very hard on remembering what my apartment looks like before I could comment on whether I would like to decorate that way. That also happened last year, when I saw some towels I liked at Bed Bath & Beyond, and then realized I couldn’t decide if I liked them until I was sure what color my bathroom was.

So in light of this, the fact that my default shipping address at Amazon is my apartment seems completely nonsensical, and never once crossed my mind while I was placing that order.

If I’m receiving a package, it’s going to:

  1. Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston
  2. My parents on Long Island
  3. The Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis
  4. Some random hotel somewhere in the United States

The last place on earth I would actually be is at my apartment!

I would think with your billions of dollars, you would by now have developed a better system to read your users’ minds, and prevent things like this from happening. At the very least there needs to be an app for that. I have the Amazon app, and I never use it because it doesn’t seem to offer much. Here’s what it needs:

  1. Customer places order with Amazon
  2. Push notification sent to customer’s iPhone asking them to open the app to load their order status
  3. When the app opens, access the user’s current location
  4. If the user is more than 100 miles from the shipping address, and the package is addressed to their name, be like, “Are you sure you know where you live?”
  5. If the user says no, tell them what an idiot they are and pop up a screen where they can select a different shipping address.

Thankfully it looks like UPS has an option to change the delivery address on an item (for a fee) once a delivery attempt has been made. I’ll have to try that. But for the future, please work on that mind-reading thing.

Update: I had to have someone get the delivery sticker off the door to get an additional code number off it, but with that number I was able to have the package redirected to me up here. It cost me about $15 for my stupidity (a $4 flat stupidity fee, and the rest was the actual cost of the shipping from NY to Boston), but the shipping was surprisingly fast. It took like two days. I figured they’d send it by mule or something. So there you go. I hope you never do something stupid like that, but there is a solution and it was a lot cheaper than the value of the item.