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> The merchant alleges he could offer the same products on Amazon at lower prices and with faster, more reliable delivery if he could handle logistics himself without being penalized for late deliveries. Merchants using Amazon’s logistics services don’t face penalties for delivery mishaps, which is why many choose to use it even when better options are available, the letter states.

It would be great if someone had numbers on how often Amazon logistics are late, as compared to third party services. If their logistics are indeed much more reliable, then I can understand where their policy is coming from. If a merchant wants to use a 3rd party service that is cheaper/faster but less reliable, that does seem like something the merchant should be penalized for. It all depends on their relative rates of reliability though.

Either way, the optics certainly don't seem to favor Amazon here. They may have to restructure their pricing and penalties, to avoid the perception of bias.

In my experience, Amazon drivers will mark packages as delivered when they haven’t gotten around to delivering yet. When I call Amazon to complain, they tell me to just wait and the package will show up later.

I suspect the drivers are given an impossible number of packages to deliver, and there’s a misalignment of incentives where everyone is better off pretending they delivered the package on time. It’s not hard to imagine how this situation would arise when the delivery company is also the merchant, and there’s a command from on high for everyone to get one-day delivery. If the package is marked as delivered, everyone up the chain makes their numbers. @bezos, are you paying attention?

"In my experience, Amazon drivers will mark packages as delivered when they haven’t gotten around to delivering yet."

Packages delivered by USPS, the country's national mail carrier, are often marked as delivered 1-2 days before they are actually delivered.

The first couple of times this happened to me, I stepped outside after seeing the delivery notification from Amazon, and got worried that someone had taken the package. But now I know it's a common issue due to the way USPS collects and displays data:




I recently moved to a new apartment in a new city/state. It has one of those nice locker systems for packages. You can tell who are random contractors for Amazon deliveries based on their inability to access the room without help from apartment management.

Anecdote time. A few weeks after moving here, someone rang every single apartment buzzer one-by-one at 2:30AM. AM!! I assumed the first was a mistake. The second made me get up. By the third, I was angrily making my way to the callbox. Before I could answer, I heard my neighbor angrily screaming into the phone. Turns out, it was an Amazon delivery driver who clearly had no way to make a delivery at that hour. I suspect they did the mark as delivered “trick”.

That wasn’t the only time this happened since I moved here either. It happened again but this time at 6:00AM. I was expecting a package that day, but certainly not at that hour.

I’m not angry at those delivery drivers. Their job has unrealistic expectations and low pay. What does anger me is how Amazon is abusing the worker pool to the point where people need to behave poorly to accomplish their jobs. It’s pushing Amazon’s inability to deliver onto society. That is pushing the limits of what is acceptable to the point where I’ve recently started reconsidering purchasing from Amazon anytime I shop online.

Not saying where I learned this from, but the Amazon fulfillment services (fulfillment centers and their 1st party delivery services) have a greater than 30% month over month turnover in my region. No one taking these jobs has any intention of making a career out of it and most aren't even planning to work them for more than a couple months at most. That is exactly the kind of environment that encourages gaming the system in the way you describe because the risk of getting fired within the expected time period employment is so low that it isn't worth doing the job right.

I misread month over month as YoY. That's insane. I don't think even Uber has a lower turnover rate and drivers are independent contractors in that case.

It seems like something they could easily verify: they know the exact location of the truck when the package is marked delivered. If it doesn't correlate with the delivery address then something is up. Another clue would be a bunch of packages marked delivered at the same time that don't have tightly clustered delivery locations.

I agree with you about performance metrics being gamed, wouldn't surprise me.

I get pictures of the delivery on my front porch. I wonder if that is to prove to me that the package was delivered or to prove to Amazon that the delivery person delivered. If the photos are taken with a cell phone app/camera they will be tagged with location and time which would be pretty difficult to falsify.

I don't always get these pictures so I suspect it is Amazon spot checking their delivery people.

I was getting these for awhile on every single delivery, then they stopped. I wonder why?

I imagine the Ring acquisition has been helpful in that regard.

Amazon has GPS trackers in their cars and can tell you how far from you the delivery vehicle is. I doubt they would accept this trivial kind of cheating. Yet they seem to work their drivers to the bone.

That's just like lyft or uber drivers taggint themselves "As waiting for you" while they are still moving. A pure gamification of the system.

Complain in chat and you can get a $5 promo credit per package

Knowing amazon, this also includes support calls resolved as solved, thus good luck actually getting help on the issue.

> They may have to restructure their pricing and penalties, to avoid the perception of bias.

They don't need to avoid the perception of bias because they're free to run their marketplace however they want. They have absolutely no obligation to look out for anybody's interest except for their own.

But, FWIW, it totally makes sense for them to have different rules when the third party merchant fulfills orders. Amazon and merchants selling on their platform have different incentives. Amazon cares a lot about their customer experience and has an extremely long-term perspective on customer satisfaction. Many third party sellers are either 1) incompetent, or 2) actively malicious. As a result, Amazon has to structure incentives accordingly whenever they let a third party seller handle part of the customer interaction.

I really enjoy the high level of comments here generally, unless there's an article that paints a tech company in a negative light. It's the one time I can always count on a large number of apologists showing up to defend them, and I think that bias is something everyone should look withing themselves and address.

When you get as big as Amazon is, along with the cushy tax breaks and cozy relationship with government that go along with that size, your decisions and business practices need to come under closer scrutiny, the end.

On a slightly different topic, the fact that the seller said he was held to binding arbitration made me very sad. I am super excited for these bullshit "binding" arbitration clauses to get shot down in court, they need to go.

> It's the one time I can always count on a large number of apologists showing up to defend them, and I think that bias is something everyone should look withing themselves and address.

Funnily enough, I notice the same for intellectually dishonest comments that are _critical_ of big tech companies, or at least certain ones. It seems like the fact that you only notice one side of this dynamic is a bias _you_ should examine within yourself.

Amazon is nowhere near a monopoly in retail. Walmart does almost double their sales.

? neither parent nor GP said they were.

GP says, "When you get as big as Amazon is". The only scenario in which the size of a company has a bearing on which laws apply to them is if the business is a monopoly.

> The only scenario in which the size of a company has a bearing on which laws apply to them is if the business is a monopoly.

I'm sorry but this is not true. There are tons of labor laws, just to give one example, that depend on how many employees a company has.

Aren't the labor laws discriminating at a scale that is several orders of magnitude smaller than Amazon, though? The implied context in the GP is that they're talking about Amazon's size as opposed to, say, Target or Walmart.

Sure, but I was using labor laws as an example to show that there exists precedent to discriminate based on company size.

Further, GP also claims that “being a monopoly” is the only scenario in which size matters, but monopoly power is not about overall company size — it’s about market dominance. You can be a (relatively) small company and still exert complete dominance in a market, and engage in anti-competitive behavior that will attract regulatory scrutiny.

This is false. Amazon doesn't have the same rules as most companies, they have cities paying them bribes to put a headquarters in them.

Many large companies try to extract concessions from cities in this manner. Sports franchises are notorious for this, despite being much smaller than Amazon.

This has been going on since the 80s in my first hand experience. Im sure longer than that as well.

"Need to come under closer scrutiny" is not based on the exact details of current legal enforcement.

Why consider brick and mortar retail and ecommerce to be the same space? They are quite different businesses.

> they're free to run their marketplace however they want.

That's only true if they don't wield monopoly power.

Personally, I think there's a very strong argument that they do.

It would be interesting to see to what extent courts agree.

In my view, there has never been a more diverse and vibrant marketplace than online shopping. Amazon offers decent services, but whether it's shoes, or TVs, or food, there are many, many, very viable alternatives. It's very interesting to me that some folks are able to define "monopoly" in their head in a manner that captures Amazon.

I think monopoly is a bit of a misnomer here. There's certain levels of market power at which you no longer need to cut corners to make a profit, and at that point the right thing to do is pay it forward. Start treating everyone better. Amazon obviously isn't doing this, and are instead taking a more parasitic route and I think monopoly or not, people are fucking tired of the whole "legally right but ethically wrong" thing.

In what world is Amazon a monopoly in retail? Walmart does almost double their sales.

It is possible to be a retailer, and a monopoly, without being a monopoly in retail. Indeed, most determinations of monopoly power use a much narrower definition of the field they hold that power in.

For instance, Amazon holds a significant percentage of online book sales—and, in fact, of online retail sales in general; see one of the sibling comments for references.

The context is selling physical goods, in general, on Amazon, not just books.

"They don't need to avoid the perception of bias because they're free to run their marketplace however they want."

See there's two points this comment can be coming from, the first one is as a legal statement, like they don't need to do it because legally speaking there is no way that they could be forced to run their marketplace any way but the way they want, and it seems like that is what you mean - but the fact that governments exist means that nobody is really free to run their market in any way they want. There are always restrictions. And if someone were to think otherwise I would wonder what led them to think that.

The second way is as a moral viewpoint, which is what your next sentence "They have absolutely no obligation to look out for anybody's interest except for their own." also implies (as obligations are often referred to in the context of morality, while in a legal context we requirements are more often referred to - at least in the vernacular).

So which is it? Do you believe there is no way they can be legally bound as to how they run their marketplace, or is it just that you believe there is no moral obligation as to how they should run it (or ethical obligation, I actually prefer the word ethical in this case).

Both. Amazon is not a monopoly, therefore they aren't subject to any legal restrictions other than the same ones any retailer faces. And Amazon has no moral obligation to bend over backwards for third party sellers. Amazon created and nurtured the customer relationship. They should guard it fiercely.

This lawsuit is the equivalent of a consumer goods brand bitching and moaning because a supermarket imposes conditions on them if they want to get valuable shelf real estate.

This is a common misconception. Anti-competitive practices are generally outlawed, even for those that have not already acquired monopoly power.

Trying to acquire a monopoly via these practices is also not allowed.

An example in the article was Kodak. You couldn’t call them a monopoly in copiers. But they ran afoul of anticompetitive tying and lost their case.

There's numbers for Amazon logistics in the article.

More to the point, Amazon themselves use UPS/Fedex under the hood in addition to their own system. But they hold sellers responsible for using UPS/Fedex if it's late only when not using FBA.

> fewer than 25% arrived within two days; more than half arrived in about three days and more than 15% arrived in four days

Those numbers are for delivery speed. Not percentage of deliveries that are late relative to the date promised to customers when they made the purchase

Considering that it takes Amazon-level resources to get UPS/FedEx to track down errant shipments and honor claims, this seems like a fine idea at first glance.

In my personal experience, “Amazon-level logistics” is just about the least reliable way to get anything to show up on time.

In my experience, it’s the opposite. I’ve had hundreds of packages delivered by AMZL, and only one was late.

Here in Germany they are late about 30% of the time for me but at least that means I get yet another month of free prime.

If a delivery is late it is often because of how it is packaged, and not purely on the delivery service

It's much more likely that Amazon will just start to sunset the Amazon marketplace all together. In some ways they already have.

VendorExpress was an initiative designed to get rid of 3P sellers and create a direct relationship with manufacturers. It sort of worked. The 3P sellers started pretending that they were manufacturers though. They recently sunset/sunsat/sunsetted that program.

The new program, OneVendor, will give Amazon a lot more control of who sells what and how. And their new Transparency program will eliminate a lot of the middle men playing the arbitrage game all together.

It's worth noting that most of the complaints against Amazon are from middlemen, scammers and arbitrageurs who make a living as leeches. When Amazon destroys their "business", they sue. While it's true that prices on Amazon are going up that's not necessarily a bad thing. You often have a situation where a manufacturer's items are leaking out into the Amazon ecosystem through arbitrageurs. When they finally take control of their own product listings they want to raise prices to parity with the rest of retail. The arbitrageurs lose. Amazon wins. The manufacturer wins. Traditional retail wins because Amazon is no longer undercutting them so deeply. And while the customer does lose, in a sense by paying more, the customer service is greatly increased.

That's a lot of words to say "Amazon is conspiring to raise prices, benefiting manufacturers at the expense of consumers". Sounds like an antitrust violation to me.

>Transparency program will eliminate a lot of the middle men playing the arbitrage game all together.

Transparency isn't that new, over a year old by now. And it doesn't eliminate middle men since it requires the manufacturer to label all their products regardless of source.

I think the past tense form of "sunset" here should be "sunsat".

No cause the sun doesn’t sit, it sets. Ergo past tense is sunset, not sunsat.

I’m assuming you aren’t being sarcastic.

Or "sunsetted".

Personal experience has been that Amazon delivery estimates and deliveries are extremely unreliable.

A one-day shipping ordeal could turn into a week. A two-day shipping will arrive past its "guaranteed" day for a solid 10-20% of all packages I get. And usually that guaranteed date will suddenly change on the day of. So you're expecting, and nothing gets there.

Basically, if you want to have a guaranteed delivery time on a package, do not use Amazon.

I think this must be a consequence of where you live. I live in Santa Monica, and literally 100% of my Amazon packages have arrived on the day Amazon originally said they would. I order probably 1 item from Amazon a week on average and have lived in Santa Monica for 4 years. Thus around 200 items and I literally can't think of a time when the package arrived later than advertised at checkout except one Christmas.

My experience has been the opposite. Also, Amazon's deliveries have become extremely fast. I ordered an item at 6pm yesterday. Amazon's guaranteed delivery time was 8am this morning... and it was actually delivered at around 6am. I was blown away. The item arrived in around 12 hours, and the delivery was free since I am a Prime member. This is miles ahead of competitors!

People have come to equate Amazon with fast delivery. It's literally the only reason I use them. Often, looking at reviews, delivery time and condition are the biggest factor in bad reviews. To their credit, they usually strike these and put a note that they are responsible for logistics. That said, I don't blame them one bit for enforcing logistics onto sellers...

Amazon's logistics are fraudulent. They'll say "Can't access the building" when they never event attempt to deliver. They're gaming the metrics.

Sometimes they'll just outright lie, say the package is delivered, and it will show up in the next 48 hours.

Back when I still used them, this was why I only had things delivered to my office. If I tried to have things delivered to my home, one of two things nearly invariably happened: I'd either waste my time waiting on a delivery only to have it marked "no answer" or "can't access", or they'd leave it on the sidewalk outside my door. (I live in downtown San Francisco. You can guess how well that worked.)

But I dropped Prime a while back and stopped using them, and am still happy with that choice.

Anecdotally I've had both "delivered-not-delivered" and "office-closed-not-closed" happen at work while I'm setting in plain view of the parking lot and office.

Haven't had that issue working from home but now everything seems to come UPS or USPS; I haven't had deliveries from Amazon drivers. Not sure why.

My building has a large posted notice stating (to the amazon logistics people) that this area is monitored by and reported to Amazon’s quality dept. seems to have helped w delivery issues they were having.

> The merchant alleges he could offer the same products on Amazon at lower prices and with faster, more reliable delivery if he could handle logistics himself without being penalized for late deliveries.

I feel like this is not unexpected. If on-time delivery is non-negotiable for Amazon then that will be built into the price.

Anyone who builds anything is trying to get permission to relax one constraint in order to facilitate another.

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