O Amazon, How I Love Thee – UPDATE

O Amazon,
At Christmastime
indeed I pledge my gratitude

Your canny stock
and shipping speed
vastly improves my attitude

Of Almond Paste
the local shops had
a most plundered inventory

Rainbow cookies
without the stuff
would bring this cook no glory

You shipped it
(overnight no less)
and for a mere three dollars

Thus insuring
a dessert met
with gustatory hollers

O Amazon,
your service doth
set fine new precedents

True service
we do sorely need
Would you run for President?

Seriously, I couldn’t find that brand of almond paste anywhere, and I will use no other for my baking, particularly when it comes to the rainbow cookies.

For less than it would cost me to pull out of the driveway, Amazon delivered the stuff to me overnight. In the evening there was weeping, but joy — and almond paste — dawned in the morning.

Why can’t every enterprise run this efficiently? Why is the notion of “service” so deficient in so many areas, and why do we accept that deficiency? Especially in the people who are called “public servants” and who serve so poorly and with so little apparent understanding of what the words mean?

Good service should be rewarded. I have written a bad poem with which to reward Amazon.com. But the truth is, great service keeps me coming back.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds links! Thanks Glenn!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Mark L

    “Why can’t every enterprise run this efficiently?”

    Because they do not need to. If Amazon were inefficient, it would swiftly and silently vanish away. Bricks & mortar stores have some foot traffic regardless. Maybe not enough to be profitable long term, but generally enough to cover the costs of staying open. And government offices have even less pressure. It is not as if the DMV is going to go away no matter how poorly they serve the public.

    And to reduce the pressure still further, if governments do not cover costs, they can force people to pay more — something Amazon cannot do with its consumers.

    (Now make poor service by a civil servant a legal justification for commiting violence against them — then service would improve. But that will never happen.)

    [Mark. Not for nothing...but...it wasn't a serious question. :-) -admin]

  • Elizabeth Schaffer

    The USPS comes to mind…

  • deiseach

    As a (former) civil servant, Mark L, I have to say – whoa!

    Yes, on this side of the service hatch there can be inefficiency. But on the public side, too, there can be culpability. From people who can’t fill in forms correctly (and sometimes it’s down to illiteracy and is not their fault, but other times people have rolled up and said “But can’t you fill that in for me?” to which the short answer is “No, that would be fraud”) to those who threaten to call their public representative and go on air on local radio programme to complain about your bad service – before you have even had a chance to serve them, because they just this minute rang up to ask about getting the grant. (True story, and yes, that person did go on air the next day to complain that they didn’t get their grant – never mind that they had just applied the day before and it takes six weeks to process!)

    Re: Amazon. Oh, they seduced me with their wiles: for years, I haunted bookshops both new and second-hand looking for certain titles only to be told “Out of print” or “Yeah, we have that – in a first-edition that will cost you £££££££”. I tried Amazon in a spirit of cynicism, only to be confounded when yes, in print; yes, send it out immediately; no, don’t want an arm and a leg. It got to the point where my employer might as well have paid my paycheque directly into Amazon and not bother with my bank account :-)

  • http://www.noodlingonit.com Kris, in New England

    I loves me some Amazon.

    My brother lives in Joplin, MO and has been a lifelong fan of Marshmallow Fluff. Sadly in Joplin the only thing he can get is something that masquerades as Fluff, called Marshmallow Creme (ick). I could have happily kept shipping him the one pound container when he needed it but then – I had an idea. Perhaps Amazon would have it and being a member of Amazon Prime, the shipping would be free.

    Oh they had it alright – 6 one pound containers for a great price and free shipping. I would have paid any amount of money to see my brother’s face when he opened that box. Certainly his phone call was the most fun – he was laughing as I answered. He protested at how much money I spent but I pointed out that 1) the price per container was about the same as the grocery store and 2) I didn’t have to pay for shipping so really, it saved me money.

    And it will go down between us as one of the more funny events in our lives – the year his twit sister sent him 6 pounds of Marshmallow Fluff.

    [It's true that when you go down south, everything is just a little bit different. And weird! And vice versa, of course! _admin]

  • Jacki

    I love Amazon. And in many years of doing a large portion of our family Chritmas shopping with them, I can remember only one time that they nearly failed me ( in which a package for which I was waiting desperately arrived with minutes to spare on Christmas Eve). They are efficient, reasonable, and offer time, gas and shoe leather savings. What’s not to love?

  • http://seasonsofgrace.net Kathy Schiffer

    You have inspired me to take Amazon to the next level! I have bought furniture, electronics and books– but it never occurred to me that they would also sell food.
    And you should share your recipe for the rainbow cookies.

    [Kathy -- the recipe was linked in the body of the text, but I slipped it into the poem, too, now -admin]

  • http://americandigest.org vanderleun

    Why can’t every enterprise? Because every enterprise is not run by visionary people. Remember when Steve Jobs got eternal praise for making “insanely great” products? Well, Jeff Bezos is dedicated to making “insanely great” customer service.

    And he takes the long view, the verrrrrry long view:

    “If everything you do needs to work on a three-year time horizon, then you’re competing against a lot of people. But if you’re willing to invest on a seven-year time horizon, you’re now competing against a fraction of those people, because very few companies are willing to do that. Just by lengthening the time horizon, you can engage in endeavors that you could never otherwise pursue. At Amazon we like things to work in five to seven years. We’re willing to plant seeds, let them grow—and we’re very stubborn. We say we’re stubborn on vision and flexible on details.”

    Worthwhile interview at

    http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/11/ff_bezos/all/1

  • zmama

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Amazon, ESPECIALLY this time of year! Also LOVE your ode to Amazon! Very clever!

    We have Amazon Prime so we have free 2 day shipping but several times I have ordered something around midnight and it is at our door the next day. I am convinced little fairies work for Amazon-or maybe Santa’s elves!

  • jkm

    I join gleefully in the chorus, because thanks to Amazon my CA family will have Christmas on Christmas instead of Twelfth Night, as I had feared, because freelance checks don’t arrive with Black Friday timing in mind. Shopped, shipped, and smiled this morning (as the “December 23rd delivery guaranteed if you complete your order in the next 53 . . . 52 . . . 51 minutes . . .” ticker clicked away), so Santa can squeak in just in time!

  • Ted

    You’re right. It’s a TERRIBLE poem. Merry merry Christmas, and a blessed and happy New Year.

    [I believe in truth-in-advertising! -admin]

  • Claire

    Why, has no one praised Amazon in poetry before? Why on earth not?! They have Amaretti di Saronno cookies, which I searched for in vain out here in the Midwest. And that’s not even mentioning all those out-of-print books!

    An injustice righted, I call it.

  • Teresa

    I have a relative who works in one of the Amazon distribution centers. he is one of the few people who work there. Most of the stuff is moved around in these huge centers by robots. On his break, he marvels at the efficiency of those robots. Wish Amazon could take over the postal service.

  • Susan

    Love Amazon. One of my best teas, PG Tips, arrives via Amazon as there is no where else close by that sells it.

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  • rowrrbazzle

    I posted the following story on a bulletin board in 2009. I was browsing Amazon the Tuesday before turkey day, around 6:30 PM. I got an offer for a free trial of Amazon Prime. I had had a free trial sometime in the previous year, but I’m happy to get another one. A smart move on their part to get extra Christmas business.

    I decided to order a 4-CD set of Christmas music. I saw that I could get free two-day shipping. What the heck, it’s free! Go for it!

    Since this was late Tuesday, I figured I wouldn’t get the CDs until Friday, after Thanksgiving. This didn’t bother me, because after all, it was a free trial.

    Wednesday, 3:30 PM. I’m home, and there’s a knock on the door. It’s my CDs! Delivered by A-1 Courier! LESS THAN 24 HOURS SINCE MY ORDER!

    WOW!

    The order may have been fulfilled locally, but STILL. This is the kind of service I could get VERY accustomed to VERY quickly. If I had a lot more money than I do. And was much less careful about spending it. And had a lot more space to store stuff.

  • Jeannette

    A few years ago, I was trying to help shut down a powerful, evil, pervert-worshipping cult. The more I researched, the more I realized I needed the founder’s writings but everyone said “No, it’s impossible. No one can get those.” So I prayed for “Envoy”, and found it on Amazon Marketplace. (I later realized I needed “Envoy II” but then realized that’s what I had because the different volumes weren’t labeled on the front.) That’s when I became an Amazon fan. Yay!

  • Brue Wayne in Louisiana

    Dear Admin, Are you calling Joplin Missouri ‘down South’? Seriously?
    :)

    in truth I have an awful sense of direction. But also, when I was a little kid my peripatetic father made us take long car trips which I hated. After a while anything south of New Jersey or west of PA became “down south” to me. Basically anywhere soda is called “pop”…I lived out west for ten years. Called it “down south.” it’s just a quirk. I can identify state shapes though! :-)-admin]

  • Martha

    And I have come to rely on Amazon’s website for customer reviews. I go to Amazon first before anywhere else to look for an item I’m interested in ordering and the price they have it for (which is usually a pretty good price depending) and then I read the customer comments. The reviews can often be spirited, funny, informative, combative, political, etc., like the comboxes of a blog or newspaper. I like to go to Amazon’s website just to check out people’s take on just about anything. It has also become a popular site for social commentary and protest. One recent example was the campus police pepper spraying of student UC Davis protestors that drew a large number of sarcastic mock reviews on Amazon’s product page for their Defense Tech DT-56895 MK-9 Stream pepper spray. Highly entertaining reading!

  • Pat Dooley

    There is a great interview with Bezos in the December Wired.

    I buy tons of stuff on Amazon, from TVs to Alaskan Salmon Jerky. Lots of books. Now we have two Kindles, so book buying is easier, cheaper and the books are a lot more portable. Amazon reviews are a great way to sort through products. We bought an LG vacuum cleaner, that does an incredible job, by researching reviews. A rug we were going to pitch out looked like new after the LG treatment. Without amazon, we would have gotten a mediocre Hoover or somesuch from a local store.

    The tribute is deserved. History will rank Bezos with Gates and Jobs.

  • expat

    As my name suggests, I have not had constant access to American boookstores for years. The biggest bookstore in my university town tends to offer Jane Austin and Mark Twain for English majors, but I really don’t need another copy of Pride and Prejudice. When it comes to the small selection of current nonfiction, there is a decided leaning toward people like Michael Moore. I love Amazon, including its .de and .uk versions. If I have contributed in a very small way to putting Bezos into the 1%, I’ll be happy to take credit.

  • Brown Line

    When my son was serving in Iraq, I send him books via Amazon: click, click, click … and a few days later, it was in his hands. Amazing.
    Kudos, too, to the USPS APO and FPO systems – UPS doesn’t do war zones.

  • Babs

    Amazon makes this mama very happy at Christmas! All year I put things in my wish list for the kids, parents and grands. Come Nov/Dec I order with free shipping. No more trying to hide gifts while I shop with kids!!

  • Myssi

    Brue said: Dear Admin, Are you calling Joplin Missouri ‘down South’? Seriously?

    I’m with Brue. Joplin, Missouri is a fine place I’m sure, but it AIN’T down South; it’s Midwest. Here in Tennessee, I bought Marshmallow Fluff at my local grocery the other day. It’s gluten-free and makes excellent peanut butter fudge.

    That little bone having been picked, I love Amazon because they have a large selection of lots of things that I use including Keurig coffees and gluten-free foods at good prices with Prime Shipping and I don’t have to drive one town over to the Earth Fare store to buy it. Several items (my GF bread mix, for example) can be set up on Subscribe & Save so that I know I won’t run out. I get so many grocery items from Amazon that my kids had to be warned NOT to open several Amazon boxes this year because they had Christmas gifts in them and my Dear Daughter’s new cell phone was chosen for having a Kindle app. :)

    We are definitely an Amazon family.

  • http://Reactionarydrivel.blogspot.com Mack Hall

    Thanks!

    A co-sign to all of the above. Amazon.com is easy to use even for a dinosaur like me, and the reviews feature is delightful.

    A for public servants, well, I was in Viet-Nam — does that count?

  • wolf t.

    Too bad your picture of rainbow cookies reverses the order your recipe call for.
    Also, no need to weigh down the cookies overnight in the fridge. That won’t make the cookies taste better. That comes with time.The cookie sheet, covered in chocolate frosting, not morsels, will age in the fridge for two weeks and up to 6 weeks, getting denser and more flavorful over time. Just wrap well with cling wrap after frosting has set Can easily be frozen for 6 months.

  • pst314

    ” ‘Why can’t every enterprise run this efficiently?’ ‘Because they do not need to’.”
    That certainly explains Microsoft’s notoriously mediocre online services. (“We’ll make it easy to use us, and very hard to switch to a competitor. So why should we bother to provide top-notch service?”) (Written during yet another Hotmail service outage.)

  • Anne B.

    ”UPS doesn’t do war zones.”

    Actually, they don’t do anyplace that doesn’t have a street address – and they’re not allowed to send to PO boxes, because that’s Post Office property, y’know.

    Many years ago, when I was a young housewife with two toddlers and no car, I quickly discovered the joys of catalog shopping – bought EVERYTHING through catalogs, except maybe groceries. Online shopping is just an extension of the catalog, only bigger (a paper catalog would have to be the size of a Gutenberg Bible to list everything that Amazon does) and faster.

    Thank you, Mr. Bezos ;-)

  • erp

    Ditto!

    Been a devoted Amazon fan for 15 years and always check with them first before I buy anything anywhere. Never had a single problem.

  • TheMama

    I am sorry to see you all continue to support Bezos’ brutal warehouse practices; I cannot in good conscience order from Amazon until Bezos treats his workers humanely. My niece’s boyfriend just threw in the towel and
    quit his management position in an Amazon warehouse location, so I have been able to verify first hand – it is a company chasing profits based on the exploitation of workers and lower-lever management. When 50-somethings have to crawl around in order to meet Bezos’ speed requirements, something is WRONG and I won’t sponsor it.

    http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-allentown-amazon-complaints-20110917,0,7937001,full.story

  • Vader

    “When 50-somethings have to crawl around in order to meet Bezos’ speed requirements, something is WRONG and I won’t sponsor it.”

    Are they acquainted with the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which ended chattel slavery? They don’t have to do anything for an employer. He can’t keep them from quitting.

  • Markshere2

    I boycott Amazon because they sell books that promote pedophilia.

    Google Amazon and NAMBLA ( North American Man-Boy Love Association)

    or just search their website for NAMBLA:
    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=NAMBLA&x=0&y=0#/ref=sr_pg_2?rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3ANAMBLA&page=2&keywords=NAMBLA&ie=UTF8&qid=1324678908

    Amazon has been confronted on this many times in the past and they hide behind the first amendment. Yes they have the right to sell it, but is is a GOOD thing to do? I don’t think so, and I refuse to business with them.

    Maybe you will feel moved to spend your money elsewhere, too.

  • Deb

    I have been a happy customer of Amazon for year and my daughter at school has Amazon Prime (which I use when I need free 2 day service)
    They were kind to me this year, I ordered my son a book and he brought the book home the next day on a whim…well, when I went to print out return forms, they said “The return is on us, keep the book and we will refund your money” and they did within 24hrs and I have a book I can donate. : )

  • Dandapani

    After TWO stores at my local mall didn’t have the video game we wanted for Christmas, I stood outside the last store and used the Amazon.com app on my Android phone to order the same game for $10 less, free shipping, and no local sales tax on a Saturday, and it arrived in my mailbox on Tuesday, 3 days later!

    I’m almost to the point of not shopping locally for any electronic or similar goods and only buy clothes and food locally.


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