Maybe this was true once, but now Amazon has brought back that fear and confusion of getting scammed.
You used to be able to count on reviews for some idea of the quality of the product, but now you need to do research at someplace like www.fakespot.com to see if the reviews are fake.
And even if the product is legit and works well and it's fulfilled by Amazon, when you get the product you need to check it carefully to see if it's a counterfeit knockoff that some vendor sold through amazon's commingled inventory.
I've switched to https://www.bhphotovideo.com/ for most of my computer/electronics purchases now - they seem to price match Amazon automatically (or maybe amazon price matches them, many products have an identical price) and delivery is almost always within 2 - 3 days. I used to go to newegg, but have had a few issues with their third party sellers (product never shipped after ordering) so stopped going there.
Also see the cases where houses burned down because of hover boards sold by Amazon. These items didn't meet the standards to be sold in North America and burnt a family's house down. They went to court and amazon won because "they're only a market place and your beef is with the manufacturer, and we can't tell you who they are or how to contact them because they're some fly by night company in China."
But I have had some bad experiences with "Amazon warehouse deals" where they do resell returned/opened merchandise at a discount, once the product in the box was completely different than what it was supposed to be.
They've been good about replacing/refunding those but now I only order the warehouse deals if I'm ok with waiting for a replacement if the one they sent is bad.
It's extremely frustrating because I know that it hurts the artist's bottom line when I have to return the same book 3 times because it comes with a worn spine or bent pages or unknown substances on it.
And I've had to report USPS multiple times for stuffing giant paperbacks from Amazon into my tiny mailbox but nothing's changed as of yet.
I thought books were what made Amazon famous? I'm so turned off by the quality that I'm wary of making purchases with their sister site at Comixology.
Amazon's counterfeit problem is only getting worse, and there's no reason to expect anything to change anytime soon.
This is very true although, to be honest, even as a reasonably decent skier I'm not sure I could spot a counterfeit. In fact, except in the worst cases, I'm pretty sure I couldn't because I'm not enough of a gear-head in that arena.
I'm more confident with watches but, even then, it's only certain brands and models, and I'd have to do quite a bit of research and comparison to images of the real deal to spot a fake. For example, I'm not at all sure I could easily identify a fake G-Shock because there are so many different models, whereas I might do better on something like an SKX.
The sloppiness of a lot of counterfeits gives them away though: for example, I bought a Gamecube controller that turned up unbranded and (worse) with a USB connector. Of course, my old Wii - which I use for Gamecube games - was having none of it.
I often pay full price at REI instead if cheaper elsewhere because of the generous return policy so I guess it works.
I have zero interest in shopping a platform. I didn’t like ebay one bit. I’d be perfectly happy to buy from amazon or newegg but if they insist on making it difficult to do that I’ll go elsewhere.
I’m not even saying they can’t be a platform, just make it easy for me to turn that part off.
There's a mom and pop computer store down the street. I went in for a USB cable that I really needed and ended up paying > $20 for that should have been less than $5. I never went back.
I was going to note that $10 for a 4 foot cable, while fairly reasonable, still isn't a great price. But, there's also this one, which is $7, supports 4K, and is 6 feet long. And, both of these are cables are actually available at my local store for immediate pickup.
2. In the country where I currently live, if I order something from another country I am charged the tax on import plus a substantial processing fee that's usually much larger than the tax. I miss the US system in comparison...
They don't charge them because they can get away with (or believe it is legal to) not charge sales tax for customers not in the state or area from which they operate.
If it makes one feel better to do it, by all means do it. Among the list of egregious tax offenses that exist, this is likely pretty low on the IRS list to audit people.
I've written a little about it here .
But seeing things like "Top 3 Recommended" on your website makes me believe you're falling into the same trap everyone else is, at least partially. I don't care how sophisticated your detection of paid content is; you simply can't win a direct war against these pathogens (marketers). The only way to win is not to play, i.e. don't provide a platform for mass reach in the first place. Mass media is really a type of monoculture, with all the same weaknesses.
Unrelated: how do you plan to solve the problem of identifying and classifying essentially every product in existence? Resolving duplicates, slight variants, etc. is a very hard problem, as is categorization.
Re: product identification...actually people tend to shop from the same places (think of the product coverage of the top 5000 retailers). We don't have those top 5000 yet, but we're working on it. We get most of our product data from affiliate networks, who offer up that data to drive sales back to their site. For whatever we can't import and internalize, we have a "search anything" feature which allows the user to use a web view to navigate to a product page and import the product.
You're right, resolving duplicates and variants is a very tricky problem that can become incredibly complicated. Right now we use some very basic heuristics like normalized name and brand, ASIN, GTIN, EAN, UPC, etc. But actually, we don't need things to be perfect. So long as a user can get to a product that is more or less what they want to recommend, they're happy. Also, when you are searching for a product to recommend (this is not "browsing," it's when you are trying to answer a recommendation with a specific product) we boost products that have already been recommended. This way we can get users who are looking for a particular product to recommend the same instance of that product. We also focus our efforts on cleaning up the data for products that have already been recommended, which is a much smaller subset than our total catalog.
Our data is stored in Neo4j, we find its structure to be well suited to a product catalog and taxonomy, and it allows us to derive relationships between products. The process of improving our catalog is an ongoing task, and one that will likely never end.
Why do I trust user reviews on your site more than user reviews on any other site? Or is this assuming that my some of friends have already become users and we will only look at each others' reviews?
It would be nice if you could "glue" together one's reviews across all third party sites.
You're more likely to trust user reviews on this site because the reviews are likely to be coming from people who you are connected to in some way.
We haven't been around too long (launched mid-November, have a team of 7: 1 iOS, 2 backend eningeers, and product/marketing/community folks, plus a few contractors), but we'll be rolling out more features to help evaluate the trustworthiness of the reviews that users see.
One concern is that I don't generally buy products starting with Q&A from people I follow. My process is more like: research products that solve problem X, then look at trusted reviews for X. It just seems like the intersection of reviews from people I follow and products that I want to buy would be extremely sparse (i.e., most of the time there wouldn't be a matching review).
Luckily, Bezos owns the Washington Post, has a 600 million dollar contract with the CIA, and is close to signing a 10 billion dollar contract with the Department of Defense. The new HQ in DC probably helps grease those hands as well
I asked the seller and they did not respond, but when I tried to write a review Amazon would not let me: "Sorry, we are unable to accept your review. You are no longer permitted to review products on Amazon because you have violated our Community Guidelines." I called Amazon and they said the'll investigate and get back to me, but never did.
Note that the article you linked to doesn't mention Amazon at all -- if Amazon was part of that counterfeit scheme, you'd think the NYTimes would be happy to get in a dig at the owner of the Washington Post if they could.
I guess you could argue that Amazon is in a unique position somewhere between, say, Craigslist (which simply allows independent sellers to connect with buyers and should bear little responsibility for counterfeits) and an old-fashioned mom-and-pop (which buys goods directly, choosing legitimate or illegitimate wholesalers and handling the merchandise). But everyone is in-between these days.
And the time for a defense from ignorance is long past...
Are you sure? The linked article said that the retailers that were busted were part of the scheme, doesn't sound like they were innocent bystanders that were cheated by the distributors.
Three retail businesses in Queens and two in Manhattan were part of the scheme, Mr. Melendez said, adding that they had closed
I've sold new items on Amazon (fulfilled by Amazon). I assure you, I provided no such paperwork other than me marking it as new when I set up the shipment on their site.
Now you're risking of getting your payment stolen. Bad product/no product delivered could be seen as equivalent to stole payment.
It's an improvement, isn't it?
If a shady seller can prove delivery of a package to the buyer, it becomes much harder for the buyer to get through winning a dispute irrespective of what the package's contents were. Particularly if the merchandise is counterfeit but definitely proving that it's counterfeit is difficult.
Also with forum commerce for used things, it's difficult to sort out "this item isn't is the condition that was communicated to me".
If the seller can't prove delivery, then the buyer wins almost hands down.
On the flip side, an unscrupulous buyer can use this to their advantage with international shipping where it is extraordinarily difficult (and expensive) to prove delivery all the way to the destination across different country's mailing services.
Having proof of delivery did not help any of my cases. Things were still claimed lost and I would be forced to eat the cost.
Paying for signature confirmation just changed the nature of the buyer's claims to concealed damage, or they just signed it illegibly, insist it wasn't them, and still claimed it lost.
All it helped were a few cases where I was able to make insurance claims with the carrier but it never got me anywhere with Paypal.
I hear power sellers get more credibility.
In my experience, this is less true than it used to be. For example, my mom ordered a DVD in early December to be given as a Christmas gift. It was a Prime item, and she is a Prime subscriber. For some reason, it wasn't showing that it would be delivered until just before Christmas. Even though this was odd — and arguably a breach of the Prime agreement — she figured it was no big deal because it would be in time for Christmas. Then, just before it was supposed to be delivered, Amazon updated the delivery to after Christmas. This was actually OK by her, since the recipient (my daughter) would still be at her house for a few days after Christmas. Again, just before it was to be delivered, they updated the shipping again, and now said it would arrive Jan 15 to Jan 30. When she chatted the Amazon reps, they just said sorry for the inconvenience, and offered nothing for this shipping miss. Eventually they agreed to put a credit on her account for the inconvenience, but the credit never actually materialized.
We canceled the order and bought the DVD (plus digital copy!) from Walmart. This is just one of many negative customer service experiences we've had with Amazon in the last few months. The other big problem is that they now want each return put in its own box — even if it was shipped to us with multiple other items that are also being returned. We have been Prime customers for years, but perhaps not for much longer.
>The other big problem is that they now want each return put in its own box — even if it was shipped to us with multiple other items that are also being returned. We have been Prime customers for years, but perhaps not for much longer
The reason for this is because each seller can set their own return address. I receive all returns to ensure that they are destroyed and that no customer accidentally buys something new and receives a customer return.
Beyond minimizing costs for Amazon/sellers, this also reduces waste and environmental impact because each good only has to be shipped once.
Spoiler: buried in the fine print, and listed as a "feature," it says "open box refurb".
Customers are unwittingly paying full price for refurbished chairs, which typically sell for under $400. Many reviews claim that the chairs do not seem up to standard quality. You might think this is from some shady third-party seller, but it's in fact, "Ship from and sold by Amazon.com." And if you list all New/Used/Refurbished sellers, Amazon.com shows up in the New category, despite being described as a refurb in the product description. What a mess.
Disclosure: I work at Amazon.
The product description field should never comment on the new/used/refurbished nature of the product being purchased because different conditions can (usually) be sold on the same listing.
What probably happened is someone copied and pasted the description from somewhere else where the listing was specifically for refurbished chairs, or the very first seller of this item was selling it refurbished and wanted to call it out explicitly.
Amazon detail pages are confusing, but honestly, I don't know how to improve them. I get loads of returns for people claiming they bought something used that was sold as new, even though the condition is clearly marked as used and a lengthy description next to it about the condition.
Buy Used and Save: Buy a Used "Steelcase Leap Fabric Chair, Black,46216179FBL" and save 78% off the $1,699.00 list price. Buy with confidence as the condition of this item and its timely delivery are guaranteed under the "Amazon A-to-z Guarantee".
I bought this chair from them several years ago (same configuration). In those days, they listed the new price as $800. I got it a lot less than that because of some Christmas discount they had.
I went on Ebay, found decent UK sellers in less than 5 minutes, and ordered my tea. Downside of course, is that it will take 2-3 weeks to get here, but at least I know what I'm getting.
Amazon is, at this point, undoubtedly one of the largest enablers of open counterfeiting in the world. It needs to be met with a massive investigation and crippling fines. That probably won't happen until we have a federal government that is no longer slavish prostituted to business interests, unfortunately.
If you lend an ear to some contemporary ideas about how technology changes our societies, there might be a chance we will see this happening in our life times. Current government models, democratic and authoritarian alike, seem to grow ever less capable of coping with technology and how it reshapes society. Yuval Noah Harari has a section devoted to it in Homo Deus.
I suppose Angela Merkel's famous "Das Internet ist für uns Neuland."  (engl. "The Internet is uncharted territory for us.") shows off just how overwhelmed even G7 economies are with a technology that became common 30 years ago. We generate tons of information which is barely translated to knowledge, especially if you leave out ad tech.
Those aren't opposites, they are entirely different concepts. Any law that mandates behavior is authoritarian, which is not inherently good or bad. Are democracies incapable of producing such laws? Criminalizing murder is authoritarian, for example, but unobjectionably desirable. Freedom of speech is actively anti-authoritarian, as an alternative, as it is a restriction placed on the state.
Ticket to Ride https://smile.amazon.com/Days-Wonder-DO7201-Ticket-Ride/dp/0...
Ticket to Ride: Europe https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B000809OAO/
7 Wonders https://smile.amazon.com/Asmodee-5511788-7-Wonders/dp/B0043K...
They're not hard to find -- popular games from smaller publishers with high prices but relatively simple (cardboard/plastic) components seem to be what counterfeiters target.
I've heard that phone chargers almost always are fake, and perfume doesn't surprise me. I'd assume brand-name clothing is suspect. Would not have guessed board games, the market doesn't strike me as big enough to be worth it (though I'm not into board games so I could be wrong).
If you're referring to the Trump administration, he hates Jeff Bezos and Amazon (and the failing Washington Post, which JB owns)
Lorddddd I am holding back laughter right now. Ebay is the original defintion of online scamming and counterfeiting.
The real way to do this would be for someone to buy a bulk order from the manufacturer, import it, and then sell it piecemeal with a social media profile that demonstrates legitness and quality of product.
Ebay's fees and lack of quality control add negative value to this transaction.
Of course one wonders why in 2019 the manufacturer doesn't sell direct to consumer
Amazon does not track things 100%, so you may think you're buying from one seller, and you are actually getting something from a different seller. That should be illegal and actionable by consumers as well as sellers, with more than just a refund.
Thus ratings are useful, as are reviews.
What you're proposing with somebody buying a bulk order and divvying it up is basically describing what the existing retailers do. The reputable ones are worrying about their reputations.
Retailers that aren't big enough to do this themselves go through suppliers, who in turn handle breaking a bulk order down into units to sell to smaller retailers. Those suppliers are worried about their reputations too, you just don't see that because you largely don't see them.
(Edited to clarify)
Isn't eBay basically a social media profile? Facebook selling groups are also scam hotbeds, I don't see how that works any better.
If they have videos on instagram and do a live demo and walk through and you can see who their real friends are, then you can probably trust them as much as currently possible.
I've found myself buying more and more from eBay in the past 12 months. Prices are decent and no whack a mole with sellers. You buy from one seller and can easily tell how long they've been on eBay and a gauge of their reputation.
We drop-ship directly from the manufacturer. Companies you are very familiar with.
We have to work through counterfeit claims all week long... reviews, complaints, returns, etc.
That said, Amazon occasionally asks us to provide ordering proof of our lot.. an official invoice from Big Brahd Apparel company is good enough for them (it has to match across many points, to be sure). Plus, we inspect and review all returns.
It’s official product. In good shape.
Or the FBA label service  can apply the stickers for you, at 0.15/item
Either internal components, or people parting out a broken system, you can find it all.
Need one screw for your iMac? It’s there.
Need some random resistor size? You can buy 1000. In through-hole or different SMT sizes.
Need a power supply for a particular TV? It’s there.
Need a USB male to male 4’ cable? It’s there.
Need a 5V to 18V 2A power supply? Etc.
So I'm genuinely curious why you thought Amazon wasn't good for this item.
(They just chuck it in harbor full of water and wonder why it's salty and weak?)
It would be great if you could filter the reviews not only by the form factor (8 pack, 1 pack, etc.) but also the vendor. If anyone at Amazon is reading this...
TBH I recently bought an end table that had 0 reviews, and it was kind of an adrenaline ride. "I'm supposed to judge this product simply by what I see on the page, and my own investigative capabilities? How quaint!". :)
For me, the $15 isn’t itself a big risk, but since my spouse is so reluctant to throw out food that I’d be stuck with lousy tea for months.
I've never had it, i'm not a tea expert, and this doesn't definitively say its different, but it would certainly make me pause.. Granted, in this case it doesn't seem to be an amazon issue as much an issue of the manufacturer, different recipes for different regions, etc.
There's a reason why so much commerce has moved online in general and to Amazon in particular: We often value price and convenience and oodles of consumer reviews and easy access to competition and related info more than we value meat space salespeople with specialized knowledge laying on personalized sales pressure.
Not always. I drove for three hours to shop for an office chair in a brick and mortar store, because I had to actually try it before paying the big bucks. But often enough to remake the economy.
My parents generation, now in the 70's, has this implicit trust in salespeople. They know "in principle" that there are "bad apples", but if a salesperson shakes their hand, looks them in the eye, and says "Of course Mr. <Insert name>, we'll take care of you", they buy it wholesale. Which is how my dad bought $600 tires for $1800 at a dealership, a $1200 "DSLR camera" which was actually a superzoom point and shoot, a wired phone headset which was actually wireless headphones with no boom, etc.
I have basically zero trust in the "specialized retail stores with specialized sales people". Any time I geek out a little bit about any retail area, I learn the 101 ways they have and do scam you, and my trust erodes further. A specialized expensive shoe store swore my shoes I bought specifically for air travel don't have metal shims in them; of course they do. The electronic stores are never staffed with people who know more than I do, or frequently anything at all other than to push extended warranty. Small car maintenance store I've dealt with regularly for 15 years have turned out to be skimming and scamming once I learned more about their product and service, all the while greeting me warmly by name and "taking care of me". And yes, my dad and his friends still go to them.
So yes, bring on the faceless online warehouse. I feel safer there - or at least, am better equipped to determine fake/counterfeit/exploitative than I am in person. For all the decades that Amazon and the like had to develop methods to scam us, in-person salespeople had centuries, and I ain't winning that game.
Then the tech revolution happened and took the corporatist economic model to massive new levels. Large capital owners could more effectively circumvent the lack of social capital (trust) by investing in technology. Communication tools allowed them to better manage sprawling business empires and reach the consumer directly. The mom&pop gave way to the franchise and the retail chain, it's social capital was undercut by media-induced branding and billion dollar advertising campaigns.
For the national chain, it's largely irrelevant if some old guy got suckered into buying crap by an underpaid employee looking to make a commission. He might complain to his neighbors but unless the media takes an interest, it's not an existential threat to the corporation with national level PR and advertising. The chain has other things to worry about, like expanding faster than the competition and hiring even more cheap & sleazy guys capable of producing income.
The end game of this brave new world is precisely the "everything store" against which no mom&pop can compete. Our generation instinctively mistrusts the corporate drone regardless of it's physical or online incarnation. Your father is the product of a different social arrangement.
Sorry, this is bogus. Salesmen for electronic goods have been terrible at least since the 70s - my father, who designed ICs used in TVs, used to rant about their incompetence and bald-faced lies...
My assumption is that they've always been awful.
We are in a post middleman economy. Its goining to be hard for people to adjust. But we aren't going back.
I've stopped shopping on amazon for years now and perhaps the best thing they've done is make the online shopping experience better on every other website, purely out of necessity. I think any convenience in amazon has an advantage with is mostly perceived at this point. Also, their review system had become so huge and untrustworthy even the stars next to an item are basically meaningless.
I agree, but still find big value in reviews, partly because I focus heavily on the more trustworthy part: the bad reviews. If they convince me I move on. But sometimes they're complaints about things I don't care about, or they don't rise above the baseline background bad-review radiation.
Mostly though it's a way to learn about aspects of a product that are crucial to its use but absent from the marketing materials. E.g. I found out in a review that I couldn't use a piece of plumbing hardware because I donn't have enough water pressure for it. It can be quite hard to discover this kind of thing from the maker or seller.
It works too, you can put an established business down by robbing their sales for a couple of years pretending your product is better. By then there's no [affordable] quality option available. Plus, the morally corrupt owners make oodles more money; inspiring others to do likewise. Greed feeds its self.
Of course the alternative doesn't have to be Amazon - there are countless shops that serve specific categories and niches way better than Amazon or your local store, if you even have one, ever could.
However, that confusion within categories has increased is undeniable. Try to buy a bath towel and be flooded with similar items with similar reviews. The ability to search and sort efficiently has definitely declined dramatically. It takes a lot more effort to make sure you're buying what you wanted for certain categories, particularly soft ones. I can no longer trust that the best selection is going to be on the first page of results.
I wonder if Amazon will draw the line somewhere on how wide, how encompassing of a platform it is for third party vendors. It seems to have pushed itself over a limit.
But I'm starting to think they might be making it bad on purpose to give more visibility to their ranking schemes.
Bath towel is a good example. I'll only buy softlines like that on Amazon if they have their own brand. When I go search on Amazon and get the piles of random stuff, I just don't buy anything. It's not worth the trouble to sort through it all.
They've also implemented the most frustrating customer rewards program I've ever seen in a grocery store. You have an app with a QR code that you scan at PoS--but the scanners they've got almost never detect the code! Probably 60-80% of the time, the cashier has to scan it herself with the regular barcode scanner. I tried using my phone number once--a common practice at other store that always works--but it couldn't detect that I was a Prime member, despite my phone number being very clearly entered into my Amazon account. Even when I do finally get scanned in as a Prime member, I usually save less than $2. It's so much frustration that I often don't bother. Whoever was in charge of creating and implementing that program should be fired.
I’ve always suspected this is intentional. But if I could compare prices this way and be confident I’m getting the best deal, I’d buy things on Amazon a lot more.
That's $0.98 / oz, but if you switch from fruit punch to blue raz it becomes $15.18 / lb, and if you switch from the 60-serving pack to the 30-serving pack it's $24.58 / lb, but if you want to subscribe and save that's $0.93 / oz.
Judging from shopping trips with housemates, I imagine most people don't look at those things, so putting more effort into that feature isn't worth it. But then again, Amazon's search is also notoriously bad, so maybe they simply don't have good metadata for products, and they're all derived in an ad-hoc way.
Still for the bits where it worked I was surprised how big the variances per unit were
I think the one area amazon absolutely has done right is customer service. If any other company made their customer service as good, easy, and simple, I think they would be able to catch up quickly as well.
For example: I recently bought a jacket on sale from Columbia sportswear. It didn’t get delivered to my unit properly (despite their usps tracking saying that it did), and when I emailed them about it: absolutely no response. My issue went into a black hole. Of course I have now blacklisted Columbia sports: never again. If this was an amazon purchase, I would have been able to resolve it almost immediately.
Products they act as a seller for, and products they act as a producer for.
When I'm buying item X and it's not up to par, Amazon's response is invariably "just send it on back and we'll refund you." At one point I complained I'm not taking a half-day off work to get this $5 item in the mail and they said never mind, just keep it, and we'll refund you anyway.
OTOH, they have a $10/mo (or so) a la carte book service, labelled "Prime Books," with a "free" subtitle (or it was - I haven't checked back recently.) Clicking on it was auto-enrolling. I didn't find out for a few months that they'd apparently one-click-enrolled me in a recurring monthly bill. It took me 3 hours on the phone to get them to partially refund it, and it ended with me closing my account then and there. Despite having been a member since they more or less "opened their doors," and a good chunk of my household spending going through their portal, refunding money from their own service was a line in the sand for them.
Navigating amazon customer service itself has become a learning experience. Typically the fastest way when getting an annoying customer service agent who “just doesn’t get it” is to request a transfer to amazon USA customer service. You can also request speaking to a supervisot and continue escalating. Sometimes calls end up being 30-45 minutes regardless of method, since they do not always make transferring to amazon USA easy (and then once you get to amazon USA you play the same game over again).
It’s certainly nowhere as good as my original post made it sound, but it’s still better than most online shops.
Its mindblowingly amazing.
And a seasoned carbon steel or cast iron pan will be non stick for when you're cooking fragile stuff like eggs or fish, as well as being far superior for searing meat and allowing you to use metal utensils.
Not to mention all of those alternatives will likely allow you to raise the temperature much higher without damaging the pan than you would with a non stick one.
The worst I've seen recently is non stick saucepans! Why on earth would that tradeoff be worth it?
But I love my non stick saucepan for heating milk. Nothing comes close to that.
I've got a stainless skillet. Every single time I fry eggs like that, without > 1T of fat per egg, it burns to the bottom. So you must have a better technique. I'm willing to switch to a more forgiving option rather than keep scraping off my mistakes. Every time.
Also, don't be afraid to use however much fat you need, it's not like you're actually going to eat it all - there's probably only going to be about 1/2 teaspoon of it left on the egg after cooking regardless of how much you put in the pan and that's (probably?) pretty negligible health-wise.
The key is adding fat just moments before adding the food, and adding just the right amount of fat (which is more than people realize).
I cook eggs on high temperature in butter and steaks on high temperature in olive oil, and I never burn my fat. You can only do this for one portion though, if I use the same pan to prepare multiple batches, I switch to lard instead of butter/olive oil. I still like to finish my steaks in butter though, but I just do that as an extra step at the end.
As an unrelated note, I very much prefer lard or duck fat, or if they are unavailable then coconut oil or some other kind of saturated (?) fat, to vegetable oil. Not because of taste (lard is good though), but because the surface tension is different for these solid (at room temperature) fats and these fats coat the pan much better than any kind of vegetable oil. They coat the pan instead of pooling up.
In fact, butter and olive oil are more difficult to use, and more prone to scorching with non-stick pans because of lower thermal mass, which makes it much harder to regulate temperature.
The temperature of the pan needs to be the same, regardless whether it's non-stick or not, in order to produce good results. If you start with a cold non-stick pan, the food won't stick, but it will be of far less quality than if you had started with the proper temperature.
So I guess that non-stick pans allow you to more easily make bad food without making a mess, but that's not a metric that I care about. If you care about the quality of food, non-stick pans are more difficult to use because temperature control is harder, they can't get as hot, and generally you can't put them in the oven.
I'm willing to fall for some credible marketing that convinces me I could spend a few hundred on a non-stick pan I could hand down to the grand kids, as with cast iron. But it doesn't seem to exist at the moment.
Given the additional soap and water, I wonder if it would be greener to scrape and scrub my eggs off of a sticky pan instead. It'd be better exercise.
Mostly though I agree with your point that it makes little sense to spend big money on an omelette pan. The coating is going to be pitted within a year or two, and that’s that. A good guide to how you should buy these things is found in the restaurant industry which does what you do now; buy them and toss them.
That also leads to the best advic I can give here... buy your pots and pans from restaurant surplus stores or closing sales! I bought half a dozen omelette pans from one of those for $35 bucks, and I just swap them out every two years.
I've spent a lifetime hearing this and not being able to achieve anything close to it on cast iron. Either it's false or a skill that's beyond me. Either way I've quit worrying about advanced semi mythic forms of cast iron seasoning and just use non-stick.
I use a very seasoned cast iron pan regularly to sear meat ... and a little piece of chainmail to scrape off the clingons.
Non-stick caught on for a reason!
Maybe I just got lucky with the one I bought :-)
> There’s no ambiguity about what you’re getting when you buy a particular book, CD, or DVD.
About a year ago I ordered a soundtrack CD from Amazon. It turned out to be a “fake”, it was a CD-R that had a printed label. If you didn’t know it was a CD-R, it looked reasonably convincing, the case was quite good quality. And it did contain the correct music - it was just a pirate copy.
I get lots of seemingly purposely mislabled products in the automotive section now. I think i get maybe 50% success rate ordering car parts. Lots of fakes. NGK, DENSO, and HONDA products seem to be prolific with counterfits. Had good luck with GM and Toyota parts so far, but I expect that to change, or be a fluke. Their automotive idea may see profit, bit I think they underestimated the extra complexity and returns inherent. Brick and mortar stores do much better at soaking up cost of returned parts I suspect.
I'd describe it instead as their search and filtering stinks, and it is not just Amazon.
The first issue is that Amazon and almost everyone else seem to think that either we want, or it is in their best interest, to include in search results anything vaguely resembling the search terms. Perhaps sometimes this is nice, but the one thing that would help is:
PROVIDE A STRICT BUTTON
This would allow users to specify that the search items MUST include the specified terms. If it returns an empty set, fine, remove the STRICT criteria, or enter new terms. Simple.
The author also touched on the issue that you can't find anything by a particular attribute (his example was a frame/matte of a particular size). This cannot be emphasized enough -- they really need a system in each class of products to extract and provide search/sort/filter on these particular characteristics. Ideally an AI-ish solution would identify attributes and list them. They could also simply require vendors to put up particular attributes, and accurately.
It'd be REALLY nice if they had a usable API so we could setup our own search & select UI, but...
With eBay, you can sort by 'used' items, and there is some focus on the seller history- and by combining them you can form a reasonable expectation of whats going on.
With Amazon, you're buying a lottery ticket, every time.
I've now gone back to getting what I can locally in most cases.
It ruined workplace ethics. It ruined Seattle. It also ruined a lot of things.
I felt happy today going to a mom and pop franchise to purchase stuff. Happier knowing that I've just started on my quest of moving away from Amazon. I make money and some regular non-tech people make money and I'm happy they do.
AmazonBasics? Find a brand outlet - or go to AliExpress. Amazon is merely an expensive broker here. I'd rather Jack Ma make that money than Jeff does.
Groceries? Go to your local offline vendor, preferable Mom and Pop.
Computers? Set up a deal with the local distributor. Tell them that you respect reasonable prices and good support and they will give you a great experience.
Books / Movies / Videos? Rent from a library.
I've been a long time Amazon shopper and for the last two years I'm consciously moving offline. I'm doing my bit and I've never felt happier.
Shameless plug: A few days ago I created the site amalternative.com  which lists alternative online stores. There is still a lot of work to do but I decided to launch as soon as I could.
And I guess it meets a lot of HN requirements:
- It's an MVP
- It's a side project
- There is no useless crap on the site
- It's simple
- It's fast (Static, on Netlify ;))
- It has an high information density (Okay, not yet. But I'm working on it)
Let me hear what you think :)
Admittedly, I'm buying "weird" stuff online: principally woodworking tools and hardware for furniture. Tools are a high-value item that lends itself counterfeiting. Somebody I knew bought a 3' (90 cm) Starrett blade for their combination square (MSRP ~$340) from Amazon, and got one that wasn't straight. Was it counterfeit? Was it a second that slipped out the back door of the factory? Was it a genuine one that slipped past quality control at Starrett? Who knows.
He returned it and got a straight one, but there are other tools that are less obviously "wrong". Chisels with lower-grade steel, knock-off planes with poor quality castings or machining, counterfeit clamps (at $20-$30 a pair for basic handscrews you could probably make a tidy profit making sub-par ones and passing them off as the real thing).
For my money, I'll buy from somebody who only sells tools, and stakes their reputation on delivering the tool I ordered, and a genuine one to boot.
It turns out that dedicated retailers still exist for this stuff; beyond the US chains of Rockler and Woodcraft, there are a whole slew of independent vendors (Among others: Little Machine Shop, Infinity Cutting Tools, Lee Valley, Highland Woodworking).
And they take far better care of their customers. On the hardware front, I ordered a lock and an escutcheon from (I think) Whitechapel, and when they picked the order, they determined that the key wouldn't fit through the hole in the escutcheon. /They called me/ to make sure I ended up with an escutcheon that would fit the key.
To be sure, you pay for this level of service. Horton Brasses, Whitechapel, Brusso, etc all charge a handsome price. But at the end of the day, you know what you're getting, you can reach an actual human being if you need help picking something for your application, and they stand behind their products.
I'm going to extrapolate from my area of interest here. Amazon only makes sense for stuff that's essentially fungible (e.g. USB cables), or you're just muggling around and don't mind exchanging a bit of your time to make something that isn't quite right work for you once.
If you're doing anything in volume, predictability and repeatability matter a lot. Knowing that the X you order this year is going to work the same as the X you ordered 2 years ago counts for a lot.
After scrolling through the listings & reading reviews I just got anxious about getting a bad one and gave up. It didn't matter whether it was a $6 knockoff or a $55 fancy one, EVERY listing had at least one review that claimed to receive an out-of-square one. Oy.
$5 chisels are universally crap (terrible steel, terrible finish)
$35 or thereabouts chisels (Stanley 750, Two Cherries) are almost universally fine (modulo weird personal preferences that some people have?). Companies manufacturing chisels at this price point tend to do a lot of QC or have their processes down to the point where they put out consistent product for year after year.
$50 and up (potentially way up) chisels (Lie-Nielsen, Blue Spruce, Veritas) are probably all outstanding. I wouldn't know, I don't own any.
At the $15 price point, some are decent, some aren't. The Buck Brother's chisels that are made in the USA are generally regarded as having decent steel. Some are rumored to have less flat backs than others. I have a 2" one that I like just fine (except that the handle is damnably uncomfortable where the striking cap meets the plastic; the blade, however, is well made).
Somebody I knew had a Narex chisel at the $15 price point that wouldn't hold an edge well. I understand that Narex is generally considered reputable, so maybe that's an aberration, or maybe they've gone downhill.
Point being, the midrange is kind of terra incognita for quality.
I think I might have misread the countdown clock which appeared to be like 5hours (maybe it was 5 min??). but later when I returned to the cart (less than 5 hours later but more than 5 min later), I had a note saying I had less than 2 min to make the purchase) which I thought I completed in time but was charged full price regardless.
maybe this is a new feature(?) and buggy but I thought it was quite misleading and confusing. I still bought the product b/c it was useful to me but the pricing mechanism could have been more transparent.
the online shopping experience was theirs to ruin. which they have. i think it’s almost intentional that buying from the marketplace is a crapshoot, usually to be avoided. it’s a win win for amazon.
it’s not surprising that the experience is poor these days. when you are a virtual monopoly that’s what happens. it is surprising that there’s no real competitor taking advantage.
Once upon a time if I wanted to buy something, I would stick its name in Google and click the Shopping tab to find the cheapest. Often a random online retailer. Products and prices were scraped from the internet like any other organic SERP.
Then they started charging for access. The number of suppliers decimated. It was no longer competitive.
That allowed Amazon and eBay to become the bazaars they now are, including what TFA is talking about.
If you search for anything that isn't (1) a book or DVD or (2) a specific item from a specific brand, you are likely to find that the top, oh, several hundred search results are near-indistinguishable things presumably drop-shipped from China, each of which is supposedly made by a company with a weird six-letter all-caps nonsense name. Perhaps some of these are actually excellent products, but the only way to tell whether they're any good is from the Amazon reviews, and we all know how reliable those are.
I want a checkbox that says "only show me products from manufacturers with names I might recognize" or "don't show me anything that is shipped directly from China" or something.
(Not because there is anything wrong with things being made in, or shipped from, China. And these might, for all I know, be excellent products. But I have no way I actually trust of knowing whether these particular goods are actually bads.)
Random example: I was recently looking for an external USB-connected DVD drive. If I put <<<external usb dvd drive>>> into Amazon UK's search box, the "manufacturers" I get on my first page of results are: Rioddas, Rioddas, Patuoxun, Patuoxun, Oudekay, Asus, Oudekay, HOCOMO, LG, Rodzon, LG, PIAEK, Patuoxun, Amicool, Blingco, Inpher. This is actually an unusually good case: LG and Asus are "real" hardware vendors. So far as I can tell, the others are all Amazon-only pseudo-vendors.
The basic idea: Vendor places unique 2D barcode on each unit of a branded product, only products with those barcodes get placed into Amazon warehouse inventory, consumers can scan the barcode themselves to verify it's legit.
It's restricted to trademarked items, though.
Main reason is that I'm not used to Amazons' shopping experience and it's huge selection of items, once I tried buying a travel trolley and felt overwhelmed by the huge choice, so I went to the shop and bought one in person after inspecting it visually.
I don’t have problems when I shop on Amazon, and their instant video collection let us cut cable. We do have a boomerang subscription for another $5 a month for the kids. Last Christmas, we did purchase All Clad cookware, and one of the items was damaged, like literally a hairline crack. I called amazon and they sent the replacement with next day delivery. Pain in the ass but the only defective product I’ve had from them since 2015.
Imo there’s generally an anti Amazon article by one of these media sites each week. I’m not sure how true it is the writing are, but to say Amazon ruined internet shopping sounds pretty inaccurate and laughable. I grew up in Bellevue, WA but many years ago left for the Midwest. I’m not sure if there are some better services that blow Amazon out of the water used by these media, east/west coast elitists or if it’s just the anti corporate hate train of smearing companies that get too large and founders get too rich.
I suspect Amazon has millions of shoppers each day and these threads just turn into the angriest crowd of the 100 or folks who didn’t like their experience. Out of millions of shoppers per day, a hundred or even a few thousand angry customers are a rounding error and probably well within their customer satisfaction metrics. Hence, Amazon doesn’t change how they sell things or their delivery promises.
There are clear examples of carelessness or downright nefariousness (see FB), but there’s also a complete lack of government regulation.
They’ve had crazy growth or valuations in the past several years. There’s a lot of hateful sentiment driven by that, imo. People get jealous.
Amazon may have 1000s of misses among millions of customers, but those people are the loudest when it comes to writing their opinions.
I do think outlets like the Atlantic are inherently against Amazon and see Bezos being too powerful. These articles are less objective and more politically driven.
Just my 2 cents
Books I trust from Amazon. The rest, not so much.
Labels like "not for sale in the US" are aimed at distributers and stores, but are not legally enforceable.
IMHO /gets on soapbax/L
I think Amazon has burned EVERYONE who has used it, and would argue it has taught us to become more savvy shoppers.
The three companies I list go out of their way to be transparent about their products. This builds trust and loyalty. The faults of Amazon (and Yahoo! Shopping in the early 2000's) led to the emphasis on these new digital-shopping virtues.
It sucks. Every time I buy something on Amazon, I'm always suspicious if I'm going to get what I ordered. 95% of the time I'm satisfied, but ironically only because I buy fewer things. But I'm glad that more and more companies are going out of their way to validate themselves in the same way brick-and-mortar stores are authentic.
My confidence that I’ll actually receive something I buy from them is low enough that I don’t think it’s worth it to buy from them, plus the store is full of counterfeits.
I don’t understand why people like buying from them so much, in my experience it’s markedly worse than almost any other e-commerce store. The whole selling point of e-commerce is convenience, but transacting with them is not convenient and their customer service sucks. What’s the point? This whole idea that they’re fanatically customer-obsessed, I just don’t see it.
Amazon's focus was on fast and free shipping, removing the friction from the experience. Having scratched that itch, they got the scale benefit of reviews. Gold for the consumer. Retail is based on a specialist buying products customers want and ensuring and backing up quality. Amazon made that into a digital platform. The other retailers lost site of thier value and took customers for granted. That was why they didn't recognize the opportunity.