Trying to return it was a bit of an ordeal:
Me 'Hi- I just called about a 12 foot balance beam
delivered to me – along with my toilet – in error.
Are you the one I talked to?'
Can I get your account number to get started?
But mine was a book, yours was a beam. So I got off easy I guess :-)
A package gets marked undeliverable. I go ahead and re-order the item. The next day the package is marked delivered on-time (it definitely didn't arrive the day before), and is un-undeliverable. I now have to cancel the replacement I ordered, and have to talk to customer support to make them eat the cost of it, because fuck them. There's no record on the amazon page that it was ever marked undeliverable at all - I now have started taking screenshots.
I'm assuming this is some fuckery played by people in the field having trouble hitting their metrics, but I don't actually know. I just know that at least once this has ended with a next-day-shipping replacement arriving alongside the "undeliverable" item, and Amazon demanding I mail it back to get my refund. Because nothing says "fun" like now having to take the time out of my day to ship an item back to them so as not to get double-charged due to their own fucked up shipping practices.
But giving an incorrectly addressed package to your neighbor seems like a general good idea :)
I've offered to pay for stuff since it saves me the bother of buying it again some time in the future and the reps will go out of their way to make sure I can't do that. Even to the extent of saying they've charged my card when they actually haven't.
>Amazon is now making arrangements with CEVA – some top secret group which is responsible for finding homes for lost balance beams and other unwanted and unusually sized packages.
"I think I accidentally received a refund of my mattress.", I said. "you want to return your mattress? I will send you a shipping label." they helped.
"NO! I have the mattress, and want to keep it, but also got the money back. I want to return the money!". "OK, I will contact the seller to take care of your refund."
"you don't understand! I want to return the money. The seller accidentally returned the money after delivering my mattress!."
They finally understood and asked the seller. The seller didn't refund anything. Amazon didn't either. But I have both the money and the mattress to this day. Go figure.
Handling the refund costs hours of work and might end up being more expensive than the return/refund.
I imagine there's still no formal process in place for "oops we sent you a thing, keep it or throw it out or whatever"
I guess that in their model of profitability they have included "items gone rogue" (returns are calculated in the financial statements, auditors "love" returns - especially for purchases made on year -1 and being returned on year 0)(I assume write-offs hurt less the bottom line/the auditors are less angry as long as it is not a fraudulent write-off).
Back to the story, a month later they sent me the item I ordered, free of charge and a friend of mine got a lovely hairdryer on her birthday. And I honestly didn't know that hairdryers can cost more than £€$100!!!
The context here is companies realized they could mail out merchandise that was never ordered, then demand the recipient pay for it. This is why the law you cited says it "constitutes an unfair method of competition and an unfair trade practice". This law is combating that practice, not punishing companies for making mistakes.
> When it talks about mailing unordered merchandise, it's not talking about stuff done in error but rather mailing of merchandise the sender knows was not ordered.
Since you apparently cannot click through the link I posted, I'll quote for you the entire legal definition of "unordered merchandise":
>(d) For the purposes of this section, “unordered merchandise” means merchandise mailed without the prior expressed request or consent of the recipient.
That's it. None of that context you're imagining. Unordered merchandise is anything you get that you did not order. It doesn't matter if somebody else ordered it. It doesn't matter if nobody ordered it. It doesn't matter if you ordered something else. All that matters is whether the recipient ordered what was actually mailed, because that's all that the legal definition stipulates. The extra requirements you are trying to add are not part of the law.
That part make this kind of confusing. If it doesn't, then can it still be considered a gift?
> What do you do when you receive merchandise that you didn’t order? According to the Federal Trade Commission, you don’t have to pay for it.
This is on ftc.gov. Did they write it or not? Do they stand behind it?
The natural inference is that this is an article written by a third party which appears on the FTC's official website for unclear reasons. Is that true? And if so, is it nevertheless somehow binding on the FTC?
You know, mail out $20 sets of headphones with no return address, then bill people $500 a few months later.
Like, a simple magic phrase that makes it clear you don't want the thing they (perhaps accidentally) dumped on you and that they should come remove it, something like "I don't want it, come take it back."
Although it's funny how my perspective on this has changed over time:
Once, I would just be delighted that I could get a company to accept a return and not eat my money for their fuck-up.
Now I take that for granted, and I demand that they come take care of the logistics of removing it from my home as well, because I have 0% intention of paying for your shipping fuck-up with my time. If you expect me to go stand on line at the UPS store to return an item I shouldn't be dealing with, I should be able to send you an invoice for my hourly rate.
But for something as large as a balance beam it's more of a problem.
(I don't mean they should never make a mistake, I mean they should have a robust process for dealing with the mistakes)
“Ok. hold on please…” Comes back 2 min later… “It sounds like it was sent in error. But no problem- you do not have to return it to us. You can keep it, or donate it to charity or just dispose of it yourself”
They certainly can ask.
So the granola company, coaster company, etc. forgot to remove the old bar codes from the outermost box before packing it full of their own product and sending it out. One could tell them this, but there will probably always be more small companies making this mistake.
Probably what should happen is for Amazon to mark this item (the box of boxes) as requiring special handling when scanning on entry into the warehouse, verifying that it actually is a box of boxes (right weight, no other barcode, etc), and explaining why. And audit all the ones currently in the warehouse.
I have no idea how to convince Amazon to do this. Like the author, I'd give up and start buying my boxes elsewhere.
Funny enough, I do. I know and work with a lot of the people who would be involved in that. My org in Amazon is all about ensuring everything is ready to be used for customer orders. (We're hiring; Toronto, Seattle and Nashville).
We call this the "multiple scannable barcodes" problem. In terms of inventory tracking, we trust that there's only one barcode on the item that maps to a valid product because that's nearly always the case. It's also really hard to notice/catch when it happens.
I'm going to send this to a few friends today. I definitely know someone on the operations side who would know what to do about it (and would laugh at the absurdity).
This will lead to the inventory of granola to be out of sync with the actual amount at the warehouse, but in that case I'm assuming Amazon would eat the cost since they're the ones that "lost" the missing inventory. Think about a physical store. If they lose some of their inventory, it's the store's problem, not the product's.
To me it seems... far from certain that Amazon would attribute the inventory errors and customer complaints correctly.
From the perspective of Amazon's system they're mailing out The Packaging Wholesalers' sealed box, customers are saying it has the wrong item in, therefore The Packaging Wholesalers must be unreliable chumps that can't pack a box correctly.
Sadly that leaves me to believe the sellers will have to eat the cost in these cases, which leaves relatively little incentive for Amazon to improve vetting.
Maybe it's only every 25th box that has a barcode sticker.. so they've just assumed it was package theft.
I would imagine this is hard to debug as a seller.
In that case the OP should consider themselves the (un)lucky one since they several times happened upon box no25!
It may happens only every 25th box, but he specifically order that specific barcode, so it happens on every box he order.
I guess in his closest warehouse, there's less people that require theses boxes and more that require granola bar or Harry Potter coaster, thus that's always what he gets.
Probably too costly for such an edge case problem though
So the idea seems to be that amazon.ca is collecting goods in boxes from various suppliers, and those boxes have no shipping labels on them, only product labels, which it trusts the suppliers to produce correctly. Amazon then fills the original downstream order, matching it by type, which is indicated by the product label.
In my case, I ordered road bike tires. They shipped me mountain bike tires from the same manufacturer. This was hilarious because the road tires were "folding" (they have a kevlar bead instead of a wire bead, so don't take up as much space in shipping) but the mountain bike tires weren't, so the set of 2 tires arrived in a refrigerator-sized box. I opened a ticket with Amazon. "Oh sorry, we'll send you the right item." Same mountain bike tires arrive. "Oh sorry, we'll refund you for both." This was about 2 weeks later and I checked the product page... everyone in the reviews section was complaining, but Amazon took no action to fix it. Like the author of this Twitter thread, I finally ventured to a bike shop that I heard was really good, and they were really good. I never bought another bike part from Amazon.
If I were Amazon, I would be super alarmed that people "in the field" don't have the ability to talk to people in the back office. Every one of these incidents should be a ticket for the supply chain management team. But instead the customer service team looks at CSAT scores, the warehouse team probably looks at "average time to pack an item", and the investors look for growth. Nobody cares if the business runs well, just that each individual department set an arbitrary metric and met it. If you want to eat a big company's lunch, this is how you do it: look at the business as a whole, not as a million parts that don't work together. (See also: Google and 5 chat apps, Google WiFi vs. Google Fiber WiFi, etc.)
- Amazon would have paid the seller of that motherboard 12k, out of pocket
- the seller of the motherboard would have made money as if you had ordered the motherboard
- Amazon would be out 12k
- You'd have a 12k mobo you can resell
- And also, Amazon would be out 12k
I doubt anyone would buy a 12k mobo from someone off the street. In fact, I doubt anyone would accept a _free_ 12k mobo from someone off the street - if you need that kind of hardware, the risk of questionable sourcing is probably higher than the cost the board.
Well someone just tried to sell one on Amazon... no idea if it stayed there for long, but it was there. Same goes on Ebay. I don't think he could sell it for 12k, but he can certainly sell it for quite a bit.
The humans I've gotten have unfailingly been helpful and effective at solving my issue. Every time. I don't care where in the world they're located; I care that my problem gets solved and they've been 100% track record on that (or as close as possible to that; if I needed something today and the package is late, they can't magic one up onto my doorstep tonight, but anything short of that, they've solved).
It's also maybe 1 in 100 orders that give me any cause to contact them in the first place.
That's wrong (from a non-Prime member). I've had certain cases where I had to revert a refund I got for an untracked item that arrived several weeks after the ETA.
Just thinking about what a process managed by Google for that would look like gives me cold sweat.
Again, not addressing this personally to you but just responding here.
As a free-market capitalist, I feel funny having to go back to communism 101, but: management is not your friend. Ever.
I asked a rhetorical question which targets the issue of wasteful exploitation being the default where cooperation would have a lot of upsides.
In the best interest of a whole society, sometimes you have to cooperate to end wasteful competition (e.g. form utilities), and sometimes you have to compete to end wasteful cooperation (e.g. break up monopolies or cartels)
It's not the customer who actually bought it because amazon will always refund them or reship (as we see in the article) and I bet you amazon has some EULA or TOS that absolves them of responsibility. so now some random seller has to absorb the lost revenue/profit of amazon's mistake.
They told you not to do it.
You did it.
Now you’re pissed that doing it wasn’t a smooth process.
Should Amazon just take it back?
Suppose I order a watering can from the garden supply store. When I get home from work, I discover that instead of a watering can, they've delivered 2 tons of mulch in a giant pile in my driveway.
I'm not sure how you could make the argument that it's now my responsibility to get rid of the mulch that I didn't want or ask for?
2 Get mulch in erroneous delivery
3 ... 
 https://www.craigslist.org/ :-)
p.s. I actually agree with your point. Just occasionally you can turn a wrong into something good.
If they delivered, instead of two tons of mulch, a single unit of scotch tape, would you still give a shit about whose responsibility disposal is?
We can go ahead and treat these cases as distinct, because they're distinct. You recognize that implicitly, which is why you made your example two tons of mulch, and not 2 ounces of plastic.
It shouldn’t be on the customer to get rid of something sent in error even if other people might think it’s complaining over something petty.
Bare minimum effort:
1. Contact Amazon
2. a. Giving it back to a shipping carrier
b. Dispose of it
In the case of "2 tons of mulch", or by definition anything "bulky to store, impossible to sell and costly to dispose of", the amount of effort isn't the same at all between disposing of it and letting a shipping carrier dealing with it. This make it complaining about it, not something petty.
A billionaire sends you $12K in cash. You call her and offer to return it. She tells you sorry and to just keep it.
Should you be angry?
This is a little worse than cash, but not quite as bad a two tons of mulch.
IMO. You’re of course welcome to see the burden of throwing out a motherboard as higher than I do.
The customer asked for one thing but the company delivered something else. Don’t make your customers deal with your mistake.
You seem to have some concerns that being left with a $12K server to dispose of any way she pleases would be a burden.
I believe and her actual experience suggests that the rerun will be more trouble.
Ok same values, different views on likely outcomes, we disagree.
Yes, Amazon has the responsibility of return and disposal. But where disposal is a completely trivial "drop it in the trash can, forget it exists," let's not pretend that this ia Amazon doing him some kind of massive disservice.
It seems that if you made this mistake, it would ruin your own business, but it is not the case with them.
If you want to help Amazon get more money, let’s all order subj boxes, because for mass-enough wrong shipments they’ll take care and fix it. Someone could do a small short-lived business even, receiving these boxes, relabelling them correctly and reselling under the right markings. It is called arbitrage and there is nothing wrong with it. You take advantage of some inconsistency and make it so explicit that it either is fixed or left to you as a reward for fixing it.
That's not been my experience at all. I've had occasion to call them 3 times in the last 6 months or so, and in all cases I've had no trouble getting to someone who quickly resolved my problem.
1. I ordered an Echo Dot on Prime Day last year. The two colors I liked best were listed as out of stock, with no estimate of when they would be available, so I ordered my third choice.
That one then was delayed and the other two became available so I called to see if they could change my order to one of those colors. I went to "Help"/"Need More Help"/"Contact Us" and on that page selected "We can call you", and filled out the form.
In less than 10 seconds, my phone was ringing and when I answered I was talking to a person. (It turned out that she couldn't update my order, though, so I did end up with my third choice color. Turned out OK, though, because it also turned out that the place I had thought I'd put the Dot was not very good. The ideal spot, it turned out, was a spot where that third color fit much better).
2. I ordered some pants and shirts about three weeks before Christmas. I got a notice on a Friday that USPS had delivered them, saying that they had been left in the garage or some other outbuilding. I could not find them. Amazon's site says that sometimes you can get a notice notice up to 48 hours before actual delivery, so I waited until Monday. Then I went to the USPS office, and they told me that it had actually been left at my neighbor's and that USPS would retrieve it from the neighbor and bring it to me.
I went and checked with the neighbor and they had not seen it. We even checked her garage, since the delivery notice mentioned a garage, but nothing.
So I called Amazon. Again, less than 10 seconds after submitting the form I received a call from them. I explained what happened, and the person offered to send replacements. I requested a refund instead, since I didn't actually need this stuff for Christmas. It was just coincidence that I ordered near Christmas. I'd rather have a refund, and then just re-order the items myself later after the Christmas shipping madness ended. He immediately granted the refund which was processed within a day.
3. A week after that, the missing package showed up in my mailbox! So I again called Amazon. Yet again, less than 10 seconds from form submission requesting a callback to getting that callback.
I explained what happened and asked them if they could re-charge me for the order, or if they wanted me to ship the items back, or what. I was put on hold for maybe 30 seconds, and then told that they couldn't really re-charge, so just keep the items for free.
This sorta thing has been a problem for a long time.
> @amazonca responded: "You will get the correct item. I do not want any more hassles for you. Please do not worry. "
> So I re-ordered the @PkgWholesalers boxes...
... and got packages of granola again in 1 PkgWholesalers boxes.
I hate how frustrating it can be do convince a multijillion dollar company that, No, they are wrong, and I am right.
It's like we need an "No, I actually need you to help because they problem is unsolvable from my Point-of-View phone number" that's kept a secret from anyone.
Had a similar issue with my credit union where they referred to a payment number entry field the wrong way.
I managed to schedule a call with someone, and they didn't understand the problem. They said: "So you want us to change this just for you?". My answer of "No, I want you to change it for everybody." didn't go over well...
So the fact that those changes are occasional and caused by individual humans, and you can, I believe, revert them more easily than they can make the changes, is a good sign. With enough eyes all bugs are shallow.
- is Wikipedia’s reputation system useful for preventing this sort of abuse? I thought most changes have to be approved?
- how would one go about establishing the validity of a page from first glance? One thought I had is a browser extension which colors text according to its age on the page; relative to other text
You don't even need an account! But if you edit without an account, your IP address is recorded in the edit history. Accounts are recommended both for that reason and because an account gives you a contribution history and a "talk page" where other Wikipedians can communicate with you.
Why don't you try it and see? Find a page where you can make a minor and non-controversial improvement: clarify some wording without changing the meaning, fix a grammar or punctuation error, etc.
Create an account, make the change, and watch it go live!
The check and balance here isn't that you need approval, but that others with an interest in the page will be watching for changes, and you may find your change reverted if some other editor doesn't like it.
Of course if no one is watching the page, then you may have the problem lopmotr referred to.
So even if you're logged in, you can't edit from a large corporate/etc. network or commercial VPN.
If it were easier, then a lot of people who were wrong would be convincing the company that they were right and they wouldn't be a multijillion dollar company for long.
You have to convince someone who answers phones, and has no idea about the actual technical issue, and just clicked resend.
My speculation, never having set foot in an Amazon warehouse:
1) Amazon stockers are told to put the incoming inventory in a spot, and scan all visible barcodes on the product, which are all associated with that product in Amazon's DB henceforth. Normally extraneous barcodes are no problem because they aren't SKUs, so no one ever tries to pick them by the extra codes. Easier to tell the stockers to scan everything than to try to get them to pick the right one.
2) Company X, Y, Z ship their products to Amazon with their own barcodes and fail to remove the box company codes. Dozens of different random products around the warehouse end up with a secondary, identical barcode associated with them.
3) Someone orders boxes. Inventory system probably automatically sends pickers to the closest source of SKU 12345, of which there are - unusually - many scattered around the warehouse. So the product received is essentially random, out of whoever uses these boxes. Product roulette!
4) Customer service can't solve this problem. Maybe there's someone in Amazon's inventory team that can go in and fix it, but it occurred for good reasons! Everyone was behaving rationally. There are probably other similar problems in the database as well.
Amazon FBA requirements are that the UPC barcode for your product be the only visible barcode on your packaging.
I would bet money that in the name of "efficiency", warehouse employees are trained to scan the first barcode they see and use the result, whatever it may be.
It’s still regular old fraud, and still wrong and you deserve to get trouble for it. Just curious about who will finger your collar.
> places in any post office or authorized depository for mail matter, any matter or thing whatever to be sent or delivered by the Postal Service, or deposits or causes to be deposited any matter or thing whatever to be sent or delivered by any private or commercial interstate carrier
(Emphasis mine). It is clear from this that committing fraud via FedEx and UPS would be treated the same as USPS.
The one difference, AIUI, is that the USPS is protected by the US Postal Inspection Service (who are, as you say, quite zealous), whereas I’m not sure the same extends to UPS/FedEx (where you’d probably be looking at an FBI investigation instead).
However if you (or Amazon) mailed e.g. the return labels over USPS the USPIS could still get involved.
#4 is really by far the biggest problem here. No matter what, with a company of Amazons size things are going to go wrong that just cant be solved in an automated fashion. They need support with the training and authorization to escalate issues like this to staff that have the power to fix them.
You can get an actual human who can look at what’s going on if you send email to Bezos; that gets forwarded to the secret support team that can actually make decisions instead of just following a script. Or at least you could a few years ago.
Nature (i.e. the internet) will fix the problem for you by creating a large loss for Amazon/stock discrepancy.
8. Today I figured out the problem. The granola company and the coaster company buy THEIR boxes from the same people I'm trying to by mine from. And the barcode scanners at
are picking up the old sticker - from the box company!
Said by someone who did not understand the problem at all.
Compare the Uline box ordering page . Looks rather similar to Packaging Wholesalers, doesn't it? Order direct from Uline, and you'll probably get a better price.
It's hard to tell, because "Packaging Wholesalers" won't show prices until you log in, while Uline has theirs visible.
Uline only sells shipping and warehouse products. They're #1 in North America in a dull, boring, and essential business. No way will you get granola. If you're ordering in industrial quantities, order from an industrial supplier.
Regardless of your stance, I would consider the consequences of supporting their lobbying efforts.
So the Granola company buys boxes, puts in the product, sends it back to Amazon, then Amazon accidentally puts it into the boxes pile?
Except wouldn't it be a boxes of boxes pile?
Is the Granola company recycling the outer box?
They have a robot cycling around the warehouse, automatically indexing the items for sale by scanning all codes in sight, uploading to a database...that is used by other automated pickers.
On average, you still make a profit even if the wrong thing happens sometimes.
It could be a box of widgets and what happens is exactly the same.
Except a box of boxes goes to the box department, hence why they reuse it, for everyone else it's easier to throw it out the box.
In fact I don't think a box holding boxes is the same size, so it's a new sized box. Probably why they keep it.
Side interest: You would think scanner would see two bar codes and error. But there must be something slow in scanning per side so you quit after it's found. But I thought the tech would scan every side at once for speed.
No one ever will buy your product, but it will be sent out in error, customers can keep it and Amazon reimburses you for it.
Repeat for profit.
One day, after emptying the trash bin, the garbage truck driver stacked it inside the recycling bin.
The next day, the truck came and recycled the trash bin.
My wife started ordering some things and they kept going missing. We compared addresses and they were identical. Order tracking kept showing a delivery date, then the date came and the item was just returned to warehouse. Repeat 5x times and after many 40 min phone calls she just cancelled the order for a refund.
Repeat 7 or 8 times. Phoning up the Indian based call centre helped not at all. Hours wasted
She tried one last time and got a call back from a manager in the UK who looked into it. After a week or was resolved.
I still don't have a technical explanation, but apparently some special routing meta data had been added to that address where the package was always routed through another logistics centre or something.
Total nightmare getting it sorted out
This is kafkaesque.
I had already read this thread, and first thing I check is the barcodes. The box of packs of batteries has the same barcode as the package of batteries itself.
I can kinda get how you one ends up reading the wrong labels, but throwing in additional stuff requiring considerably larger packaging?
Cue having to call the assistance to back on that purchase and scan the right one. Happened a couple of times. I think I just actively started covering the wrong barcodes or got a different product.
If I remember right, one guy received two pallets of cardboard containing, after four levels of unpacking, a total of eight single 8.5 x 11 sheets of licensing policy for newly acquired servers.
Or the 12x12x12 box containing a ziplok baggie with two rack mount screws.
They never shipped me an undamaged copy; I gave up after their messaging went from "return the earlier book" to "don't bother; just keep everything".
A friend of mine once returned an item to amazon but forgot to remove the original shipping label. The shipping company picked it up and promptly shipped it back to him instead of returning it to Amazon.
My gf wanted a little Japanese plushie so I bought it for her. I don't recall the exact amount, but I bought 2 of them for roughly $100.
A few weeks later we get a large box FULL of varying types of these plushies. After doing some research we find out there was some issue with a new shipping company and they were sending orders to the wrong addresses and so forth. The plushie company basically just said "if you receive it, keep it", and they're currently taking this shipping company to court over it.
Well.... for the next several months every once in a while we'd receive boxes of varying sizes full of different types of plushies. Some of them are recognizable, such as Dragon Quest slime plushies, other's are little food based plushies. I don't know what they are, but like anthropomorphized bread and so forth.
At one point my girlfried tallied it up and I think we received over $3k (retail) worth of these plushies.
I guess the way things tend to be is that if you order online, sometimes you lose, and sometimes you win...
edit: family, not friends... brainfart.