A while ago, I decided to pre-order a book from Amazon for the first time. The book was Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun and it’s the first time I remember being really excited about a non-fiction book coming out. The thing is, I’m cheap, so if Amazon says I only have to add something worth $8.51 to get free shipping, I’m going to do it ’cause I don’t want to pay for shipping. There were actually a couple other books I wanted to get, so I added them to my cart and checked out.
Here is where my expected experience completely deviated from the actual experience.
What I thought would happen is that Amazon would ship the other books right away and once the pre-ordered book became available, they would send that out. That’s how it works in regular stores – if something is available in-store, you can pay for that and walk out with it, but you can also pre-order something else at the same time and come get it when it becomes available. So I waited. A week went by and my books hadn’t arrived. Then another week went by. At this point, I got worried and logged back on to Amazon to see the status of my order. I was shocked to see that they hadn’t even shipped it yet! Apparently, they were holding back my entire order until the pre-ordered book became available.
While I understand that in order to save on shipping Amazon needs to combine orders into as few packages as possible, it was the last thing I would have expected that they would hold my entire order because one item was not available. It just doesn’t make sense. What Amazon should have done is one of three things:
- Make it crystal clear that the order will not ship until the pre-ordered item is available.
- Ship the available items right away and send the pre-ordered item when it’s available.
- Don’t give customers the option to mix pre-ordered and available items in the same transaction.
While #2 is my preferred option, any of these would have been acceptable. As it was, I lost two weeks waiting for an order that didn’t come and then had to go through the trouble of canceling the entire order and re-purchasing the available items separately. Thankfully Confessions of a Public Speaker comes out next week and I’ll finally feel safe ordering it. And in the future, I’ll steer clear of Amazon’s “pre-order” system.