It seems appropriate to say something nice about online shopping, after last week’s rant about Buy.com.
At some level you probably know that Amazon sells more than books, but you might want to try looking there for almost anything that crosses your mind. For the last couple of years, I’ve bought every computer device and peripheral from Amazon. I bought furniture a couple of months ago. I just bought a new TV. That’s how I buy HP’s Mediasmart home servers for my clients. Hardware and toys and kitchen utensils and pet supplies and sports and auto parts. It’s the biggest department store you’ve ever imagined.
I strenuously resist coupons and clubs and loyalty programs, but paying $79 for an “Amazon Prime” year-long membership was the best investment I’ve made in a long time. It sets up free two-day shipping for any item sold by Amazon (and an upgrade to next-day shipping for $3.99/item). I order frequently, large and small items, and this has saved me hundreds of dollars in shipping. Shipping was free on the 50-pound TV stand, and the 80-pound HP Laserjet printer for a client, and a lot of other things in addition to a flood of books. The free shipping is only available on items sold directly by Amazon, not items purchased through its multitude of partners, but that covers a lot of merchandise. Look for the little “Prime” logo by each item.
It’s probably easy to find anecdotes of people having trouble with Amazon over a shipment or return but (knocking on wood) my experiences have been flawless. Every order has shipped immediately – I’ve never experienced a delay or gotten the wrong item. When the Laserjet turned out to be defective out of the box, I filled out the return authorization online and the replacement was shipped that day and received two days later.
The Amazon “Help” page includes a “Contact Us” button. I clicked it last week when I needed to speak to a human being. The “phone” tab led to this interesting screen: “Request call back – To talk with us, please enter your phone number. We’ll call you. Right now. Really.”
I clicked. My phone rang. I was talking to a person. Frankly, after way too many voice mail systems, it was a little weird to have gotten through to someone that easily.
As always, your mileage may vary, but I’m having a wonderful time shopping online.