Pre-ordered? Have a seat, buddy…for a week

Pre-ordered? Have a seat, buddy…for a week

Oh, Amazon. I love you, I do, but sometimes your social skills need some work.

I’ve mentioned that before…Amazon is great at a lot of things, but they don’t always think about how people are going to feel when they do something.

Removing the infringing copies of a George Orwell titles from people’s Kindles without telling them first? That was a major Public Relations disaster. We still hear people saying that Amazon can take your books …and that’s two years after the Orwell event. Yes, they more than made up for it…Jeff Bezos called the decision “stupid”, and they compensated people for it….so that people actually profited from it. They also said they’d never do it again in the same situation.

Last year, they had a Black Friday special on Kindles…and even people who hovered over the buy button might not get it because it sold out so quickly. That doesn’t mean they could have had more available, but they could have explained the situation better…maybe set up a lottery rather than basing it purely on your reaction time and your computer and network.

This year’s example of social unawareness?

Getting people excited with a big intro presser for new Kindle models. “See the amazing Kindle Fire, creating a whole new segment of the tablet market! Behold the Kindle Touch, with its amazing X-Ray feature, transforming the educational lives of your beloved children! Hurry, hurry, hurry! Make your pre-orders now, to guarantee you don’t miss out on these opportunities this year!”

I did…I ordered both Kindles. I even paid extra for one-day shipping.

Admittedly, my situation is different from mot people’s, in that I have potential  buyers waiting to see what I have to say about the new devices. Anybody who is lucky enough to have a public platform over time has it because readers/viewers/listeners pay attention to them. That doesn’t mean that my readers will buy something just because I say I like it (thank goodness! That would be a crazy, scary amount of power). It means that they take the information I give them and the opinions I share into account.

I, for example, have movie reviewers where I know I tend to disagree with them, and that’s great information for me! I want them to review a movie I’m going to like as silly nonsense, because that tells me I’ll probably like it. 🙂

Whether you agree with me or Andrys Basten, Steve Windwalker, Abhi, Gizmodo, Gary Pogue, Jeffrey Trachtenberg, David Pogue, Len Edgerly or any other voice, it helps you to get that information sooner.

I’ll admit that I love breaking a scoop (that’s fun!), but I think I’m sometimes more deliberate than some other blogs (not than the people above, by the way). I may take a day for a flash rumor to settle before I report it (if it’s not affecting my readers right now).

So, I agreed to pay $18.98 extra to be one of the first people to get a Kindle Fire, and the amount to be near the front of the line to get a Kindle Touch. My shipping and handling costs combined for those two are about half what a Mindle costs.

I didn’t mind that at all…I didn’t mind paying the extra money to get the extra service.

And then…

Amazon announced that 16,000 stores would have the new Kindle family on November 15, the release date for the Fire.

I figured I might still get my Kindle Fire that day. Mine still doesn’t say it is shipping soon, but it’s one day shipping. Today is only the 13th…it’s still possible I’ll get in on the 15th (although my estimated delivery date is still the 16th, as it has been all along).

I thought the Kindle Touch being included in the ones available to buy in the stores on November 15th was probably wrong. After all, the release date, according to Amazon’s own product page, is still November 21st. How can you consider it not a release when 16,000 stores will stock them? That’s like not calling it a stampede when there are no horses left in the paddock. 😉

So, I asked Amazon to clarify it.

That’s one reason I really like Amazon. They are accessible, and you do tend to get answers quickly.

I contacted Kindle Customer Service by sending them an e-mail. You can do that too at

http://www.amazon.com/kindlesupport

They say they’ll get back to you in twelve hours, and they did.

Will the Kindle Touch be in retail stores for purchase on November 15th and not in the hands of people who pre-ordered until at least November 22?

That would be important information to have…thanks!”

They got back to me.

“Hello, I apologize for the frustration in regards to the availability of Kindle Touch in retail stores starting November 15th. Amazon.com announced that over 16,000 stores across the U.S. will be selling the new Kindle family starting November 15. Customers will be able to visit any Best Buy, Target, Walmart, Staples, Sam’s Club, RadioShack, Office Depot, as well as several other retailers, to experience and purchase the $79 Kindle, the $99 Kindle Touch, the $149 Kindle 3G and the $199 Kindle Fire. To make up for this inconvenience, I’ve waved off the full shipping cost to your order. If you’d like to keep track of your order’s progress, view the order details in Your Account: [link deleted] I hope this helps and thank you for your interest in Kindle Touch.”

Is it good customer service that they waived (not waved, by the way) my shipping costs?

Sure…but it’s empathetically blind. Like many other people who pre-ordered, I wanted my Kindle early. That’s what they should be addressing, not the money.

How could they have addressed it?

One way would have been to…get it to us the same day the stores get it. 🙂 I know there may be some logistical issues there…a truck delivering one hundred Kindle Touches to one location is different from twenty trucks delivering them to five locations.

I have to believe it could be done, though. Amazon does Prime orders in one day all the time, for $3.99 (and two-day orders for no additional cost). We know the Kindle Touches will have been built…send fewer to the stores. If they run out and have them again a week later, that’s not a terrible thing. Black Friday isn’t until November 25…the ones that individuals would have gotten by November 21st could have gone to those stores.

My Fire hasn’t started shipping yet…and it will be here hypothetically on the 16th…so I believe you could get the Touch to me on the same day.

Otherwise…

Waive everybody’s shipping fee (who ordered a Touch with expedited shipping). Don’t make them rely on a blogger like me to tell them to e-mail you in order for them to get it. If somebody is going to find out something you did, tell them first. That’s old advice from Dale Carnegie, but I think it’s good. Give them a choice: you can get it on November 22 with no expedited shipping costs…or you can cancel your order with one easy click in this e-mail.

At the very least, apologize proactively to everybody.

Here’s the story…I’m not cancelling the order until I see if I can get one in a store on the 15th. That’s not at all guaranteed…they could easily sell out. We don’t know how many each store will get (and will probably vary by store). We don’t know what the demand will be in each store.

If I do get one on the 15th (and I really would have preferred not to go to the store that day), then I’ll cancel it.

Amazon could be looking at certainly thousands of cancellations for Touch orders between the 15th and about the 20th (which is roughly when it becomes too late to cancel). That looks bad on the books…and breeds bad will.

It also means that people will be more reluctant to pre-order next time. Pre-orders clearly help Amazon. When Jeff announced that they were going to have to make (or have made, rather) millions more Kindle Fires to meet the demand, that was a news story that has had lasting value. If pre-ordering means you are going to get it a week after your neighbor who just bumps into it while buying dog treats at Target, why order early? That week is a real figure…November 15th versus November 22nd…that’s not good.

So, if you’ve pre-ordered the Touch, I’d e-mail Amazon and see if they’ll waive your shipping and handling. I’m not really happy about saying that, because it will cost Amazon considerable money…but it seems fair. I’d wait to cancel until you see if you can actually get one in the store.

If you can and do get one, though, canceling doesn’t seem unreasonable.

What do you think? Is it a problem for Amazon to apparently put stores in front of online customers? Are you upset? Does it matter to you? Do you feel like Amazon has handled the situation well? Feel free to let me know.

Update: people in the Amazon Kindle community have started to report the estimated arrival dates on their Kindle Touches moving up to the same as the Fire, which would resolve this issue for me. My guess is that mine won’t change until tomorrow, but we’ll see. It may have to do with how far away your fulfillment center is from your home as to how soon you hear.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

19 Responses to “Pre-ordered? Have a seat, buddy…for a week”

  1. Georgia Says:

    Amazon has great customer support. Perhaps Amazon will step it up and at least have them shipped by the 15th. It will be interesting to see if in the next day or two if the Touch and Fire Kindles bought from Amazon are shipped out early.

  2. Carol B. Says:

    Thanks for the info, Bufo! I send a note to Amazon CS, complaining that the stores will have the Fire before me (who paid extra for next day delivery in order to be first). I’ll let you know what they say.

    Carol

  3. Aimee Says:

    I ran into this same issue with a book I ordered a few years ago. It was the next in a series and had been 10 years in the making. I preordered it so I’d get it right when it came out…and then I didn’t get it until 10 days after release!

    That burned my hand, and I haven’t preordered anything since until the Fire. It’s a gift for my husband, and he said he didn’t care when he got it, as long as it was before Christmas 🙂 We already have Prime, so I just chose the two day shipping.

    I love Amazon, and I buy lots of things for home and work there, but you’re right – this is a definite PR issue.

  4. Richard Orlin Says:

    I preordered a Touch and Fire when they were announced.
    While patiently waiting for them to arrive I picked up two $79 Kindles at Target using my Red care (5% discount=no tax) – one for me and one for my wife. I’ve been using mine for c=x=several weeks now, and here is my mini-review. It’s great – better than Kindle Keyboard that I previously had. However, I don’t need an e-reader AND a tablet. When I get the Fire, I will be returning one of the Kindles to Target and using the Fire for everything. So, I guess I will be recharging it every night – big deal. I already do that with my phone. No big problem there. Can’t wait for the 16th.

  5. Nick Senger Says:

    I had EXACTLY the same experience this morning in an online chat with an Amazon customer service representative this morning. I had changed my Kindle Fire and Touch shipping to one-day, and yet it is still scheduled to arrive “between November 18-22.”

    The representative waived the shipping costs, but still, what I wanted was the Kindle Fire on the same day the stores get them. What was most frustrating was that the rep didn’t seem to understand that this was a pre-ordered item. He kept trying to apologize that the item hadn’t arrived yet when I had ordered it on September 28. I finally just gave up trying to explain, and just accepted the waived shipping fee.

    I will not cancel my order and buy the Fire in stores, because I used Amazon credit to pay for both the Fire and the Touch.

  6. Diane DeHart Says:

    Ok, I just sent Amazon an email about this issue requesting they tell me what benefit I will receive by having pre-ordered my Kindle Touch in 9/28 since I can now purchase it 8 days before its expected arrival date. I received an email response in less than 1 hour telling me they are changing my delivery method to 1 day and that therefore I should expect delivery on the 15! They provided a link that shows my delivery date as Nov 15. Does this mean that they are shipping all new Kindles the day before the release date? And if so, does it mean this is in response to customer complaint? Just a few days ago my delivery date was still showing as Nov 23. Now they are shipping “a day earlier” with a Nov 15 delivery date. Interesting, but I’m just happy I don’t have to cart myself to Best Buy on the 15th to make a point.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Diane!

      That’s interesting! I had one day shipping from the beginning, and my Touch is still showing that is expected to be delivered on November 22.

      Fascinating! I just looked at the product page. It still says “pre-order”, but it doesn’t show the release date (it was showing it earlier at 11/21). It says it is expected to ship in eight or nine days.

      Maybe they’ll announce tomorrow that we’ll get our Touches the same time we get our Fires. I’d love to see that…but it would be a crazy couple of days for me. 😉

      Thanks for letting me know!

    • Timothy Wilhoit Says:

      Excellent…I see someone on MobileRead received a similar email:
      http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=156943

    • Nick Senger Says:

      I’m glad you got a positive response, Diane! My order now says One-Day Shipping, but still shows a Delivery Estimate of Nov 18-22 for the Kindle Fire and Nov 22 for the Kindle Touch. I wonder if the delay is because I ordered them all together along with a Kindle Touch leather cover, and I have to wait until they are all ready to ship.

      • Diane DeHart Says:

        Maybe Nick, but I thought I saw on the site that the covers will ship separately. I didn’t order a cover because I want to wait and see what covers become available. I almost never need a light to read so I use a separate clip-on light for my Kindle Keyboard and have a simple M-Edge cover. I would check the site tomorrow morning and see if your delivery date is updated to 15/16.

      • Nick Senger Says:

        I just got the email that others are getting, saying that the Kindle Touch is now coming on the 16th instead of the 22nd. It will be shipping along with the Kindle Fire, so it looks like Amazon did great by me–both devices and free overnight shipping because of the mix-up.

  7. Jennifer Blanchard Says:

    Strangely enough I just checked my order information for the Touch and the Fire that I pre-ordered. As of now, both models show a delivery date of November 16th.

    I do have Prime but only paid the additional 1-day shipping for the Fire.

    • Diane DeHart Says:

      I guess it’s, “complain and gain.” It will be interesting to see what happens overall the tomorrow. I must say, the few times I have complained about something to AMZ I have always been pleasantly surprised by how they show value to customers.

  8. Sherri Says:

    I have Prime and paid the $3.99 one day shipping for both the Fire and the Touch, and right now, both are in “Shipping Soon” status with the Fire’s estimated delivery as Nov 16 and the Touch’s estimated delivery as Nov 15-16. Neither have a serial number yet in the Manage Your Kindle area, though.

  9. Roberto Says:

    “Strangely enough I just checked my order information for the Touch and the Fire that I pre-ordered. As of now, both models show a delivery date of November 16th.”

    Same here. I just an email from Amazon telling me that my Kindle Touch would be delivered on the 16th or 17th. Since there’s an Amazon shipping depot in my area, that means the the 16th is the more likely date.

  10. Carol B. Says:

    I just heard back from Amazon regarding the Fire I pre-ordered within hours of its announcement. They will be refunding the $18.98 I paid for next day delivery. They also said:

    “Please know that we have many customer orders for this item, and we’ve just begun receiving devices from our manufacturers. We are filling orders as quickly as we can on a first-come, first-served basis.
    I’ve researched your account and see that your order has entered the shipping process.”

    I logged in to my account and it still says Shipping Soon. But based on the email from Amazon, I would not be surprised to see it at my door step on the 15th, rather than the 16th. I’ll let you know.

  11. Flash! Kindle Touch shipping moved up to 11/16 or 11/17! « I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] I Love My Kindle Fun and information about the Kindle and the world of e-books « Pre-ordered? Have a seat, buddy…for a week […]

  12. Ann G. Says:

    Even though I preordered right after the release, my shipping date (with prime) is still well after November 21. I e-mailed Amazon about this soon after I learned that several customers are already getting Touches on the 15th. Amazon responded with a stock e-mail about the Touches being released on the 21st. How disappointing! I’m going to try to contact CS again tomorrow during business hours to see if they can move my shipping date up.

    Here’s the response that I received from Amazon:

    Hello,

    Thank you for your interest in our latest Kindle models and I’m sorry for any misunderstanding about release date.

    As per your e-mail, I checked and can confirm that that our new Kindle Touch will be released on November 21, 2011.

    We are currently accepting pre-orders for Kindle, Kindle Touch, and Kindle Fire for customers in the U.S. Visit our product detail pages to place a pre-order. Orders are prioritized on a first come, first served basis, and you won’t be charged until your item ships.

    [link removed]

    If you need to receive an order more quickly, we offer two faster shipping options: One-Day and Two-Day shipping. Please keep in mind that using one of these methods does not mean that you will receive your order on the next or second business day after you’ve placed the order, as upgrading to One-Day or Two-Day shipping does *not* change how long it takes us to assemble and ship out your order–it only reduces the delivery time after the item leaves our fulfillment center. For example, an item marked as “usually shipped within 2 to 3 days” and upgraded to One-Day shipping will usually leave our fulfillment center on the second or third business day and reach you on the third or fourth business day.

  13. Ann G. Says:

    Update: After chatting 3x with Kindle CS this morning, I got my Kindle Touch shipping date moved to November 16! They also upgraded me to 1 day shipping for free. Just goes to show that it pays to be persistent. So relieved to know that I won’t have to spend time & energy tracking down a Kindle in stores!

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