Hurricane Sandy has caused untold damage and problems to people all across the Eastern Seaboard; this much is true and cannot be denied. I have a lot of friends who live on that side of the United States and I, like most people in similar situations, have been worrying about them and checking the status of the storm and whatnot since yesterday. I live in Los Angeles, where for the past two days it’s been sunny and in the mid-70s. It’s very hard to comprehend how such horrible, destructive weather could be happening at the same time as a pleasant autumn in Southern California. Surely there are people in the country for whom Hurricane Sandy is simply a news story and their day-to-day activities aren’t impacted in the least. I understand this. However…
Last night I received an e-mail from Amazon.com (a business I give lots of money to every year) saying, in part, the following:
“Hurricane Sandy may impact fulfillment of some orders. If you anticipate that your seller-fulfilled orders will be impacted, we encourage you to take actions to minimize the effects on customers and protect your performance metrics.
If you have orders to be shipped to areas potentially impacted by Hurricane Sandy, we encourage you to contact buyers about the status of their orders.
If you anticipate that you cannot meet your shipping service levels, we encourage you to temporarily set your listings to inactive. ”
There’s a lot I dislike about this, and almost none of it is Amazon’s fault. What this e-mail is telling me and other sellers to do is twofold. 1) If sellers are shipping things TO areas impacted by the hurricane, we’re to inform customers that they won’t get their stuff until the couriers start running again; and 2) if sellers are shipping things FROM areas impacted by the hurricane, we’re to inform customers that they won’t get their stuff until the couriers start running again. Either way, you want to do this lest your “performance metrics” aren’t negatively affected.
I hate what this implies about people, specifically the “consumer” mentality of immediate gratification.
“I didn’t get the thing I ordered when it said I’m supposed to; I am most displeased!” Amazon’s customer service is, in my experience, incredibly thoughtful and prompt and I’m sure they’re sending this e-mail so they don’t have to deal with a bunch of irate people when stuff isn’t delivered by the date on the confirmation e-mail. But that means people either don’t understand how the mail works or they just don’t care.
Who’s the worse person: The guy who lives on the East Coast and isn’t getting any packages delivered because transportation is at a standstill during cleanup who is upset enough about not getting a package that he complains to Amazon and leaves the seller a bad review; OR, the guy who lives in New Mexico who ordered something from New Jersey or Maryland and is pissed off that it can’t be delivered when he wanted because transportation is at a standstill and complains to Amazon and leaves a bad seller review? Who sucks worse? One’s brainless, the other’s heartless, but they both are intensely selfish.
I’m sorry you aren’t able to get your used copy of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? by Tuesday when you wanted it, but there’s a goddamned HURRICANE! Maybe step outside of your own world for two seconds and realize your buyer satisfaction is not the most important thing going on right now. If you’re on the East Coast, look outside. See how a lot of people had to evacuate and millions are without power? Yeah, that’s number one on the call sheet today. If you aren’t on the East Coast, watch the news. Same thing. Suck it up and wait a week.
It shouldn’t be up to Amazon, or really even the sellers themselves, to have to inform people that something’s going on in the country, so maybe UPS won’t be making regular deliveries for a bit. I do, however, understand that sellers need to make sure their rating remains untarnished, especially in a world where every single person’s immediate happiness seems to be an issue. I’ve gotten very annoyed by having to fill out satisfaction questionnaires for everything I do. I had a question for AT&T that was answered over the phone in the course of about a minute, then was texted a 10 question survey about how the call was handled. People shouldn’t get to be that involved in how stuff works. But I digress.
I hope the storm doesn’t do any more damage and that the aftermath can be righted quickly, efficiently, and most of all safely. When people are back in their homes, with water, power, heat and food again, then I’ll worry about whether a thing I bought will arrive on time. And people to whom the arrival of an item is the most important thing in the entire world: have some compassion and some common sense. It’s your fault for not realizing what’s happening in the country in which you live and if you really need it that quickly, go the store like people used to do. You can leave feedback at Target if you want.