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January 2010
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My New Year’s Resolution – give up on Amazon Marketplace

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope 2010 brings you peace, happiness and success.

I’m not big on resolutions, but one that I am going to make is about dear Amazon and its third party retailing arm, Amazon Marketplace.

My recent experience corroborates past experience; between 1 in 2 and 1 in 3 fail to arrive, or arrive too late, or the wrong things arrive, or the product is damaged, and often you can’t get hold of the retailer to do anything about it. I’m afraid that it comes across as Amateur Hour, just the sort of thing that gives Internet shopping a bad name.

Here’s just one example out of several – it was a product ordered in plenty of time for an end-of-term presentation and for which I paid extra for rapid delivery; it arrived far too late, despite leaving more than enough time, and the wooden handle had been varnished then put into its plastic bag still wet which caused the damage you can see – it should be very smooth (the raised edges of varnish were so sharp you could cut yourself on some of them).

We were even lucky to get it in such ‘good’ condition; the packaging was so poor that it had a high likelihood of the metal parts being bent in the post.

For some time the supplier couldn’t be contacted because his “computer had problems and the chap who fixes it is on holiday”. Eventually he offered to send another one, then someone else associated with his business countermanded him and refused.

I did get my money back eventually, but that isn’t the point.

In my opinion the problem stems from the nature of Marketplace; although some of its vendors are large and reputable – or even small and reputable, I have nothing against small businesses – many of them seem to be hobby or spare-time businesses with no independent web or physical presence and little quality control. And you get the results you would expect, especially at a busy time such as Christmas.

So in 2010 I’ll vote with my feet. I’ll stick with Amazon itself (which has been fine in my experience), not its Marketplace; I will go to those that deliver great customer service, and I’ll eschew those that don’t care or won’t deliver.

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3 comments to My New Year’s Resolution – give up on Amazon Marketplace

  • Tom,

    Sounds like the problem with this may be that Amazon is not owning the quality on behalf of their marketplace vendors. I’ve never used Amazon Marketplace but I was struck by your comment that you would have no problem with Amazon directly, just the marketplace, which strikes me as odd. I would think that Amazon would be interested in protecting their good name since its so much a part of their brand. I would expect that they would proactively solicit feedback from both parties in a Marketplace transaction and apply pressure if the transaction does not go properly by either party or, as a last resort, disallow the party to do business through them if they don’t improve. If my name was on the door, I’d be very concerned about this bad press. Ebay does something similar to what I’ve described for their auctions. Both parties get a rating and you build up credibility by getting good reviews for accuracy, promptness, flexibility, etc….Just a thought.

  • Tom,

    Thanks for putting me on your blogroll to the left. I appreciate it.

    Jim

  • Tom G

    Thanks for the comments, Jim.

    In the past when I have questioned Amazon about the Marketplace they have given the impression of washing their hands of it, apparently seeing themselves more as an introduction agency (then Caveat Emptor) than a responsible agent. To be fair to Amazon they did get me a postage refund from one of the offending Marketplace companies when I complained this time round, but by then the damage was done.

    You’re right, I would want to protect my own good name and ensure quality (as my business does when we work with Associates). Amazon Marketplace does have a customer-driven rating system but it’s flawed; you can’t change anything you write in the light of events or even to correct errors, so the results can’t really be seen as accurate performance feedback.

    The Marketplace companies I dealt with had ‘reasonable’ customer ratings when I ordered, but dropped dramatically at Christmas for the reason I mentioned in the article. Hence the resolution!

    Tom

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