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Amazon And The Royal Mail: A Parable Of Customer Service

So I did what I said I’d do with my Christmas money. I put it all together and ordered an Amazon Kindle e-reader. I placed the order on 28th December. Amazon emailed me that day with the good news that they had dispatched it that very day. Not being in a desperate rush for it, I opted for their free Super Saver Delivery, and they said it would be with me by 5th January at the very latest. That is, yesterday.
Enter the Royal Mail, entrusted by Amazon to deliver the Kindle to me. No sign of it by today. All we do know is they are in the habit of leaving various packages on our doorstep without bothering to ring the doorbell. With no Kindle having appeared by today, the day after the deadline, I wondered what to do.

Amazon’s website asks you to check with your local delivery office that it isn’t waiting there. When I finally got through to them, I basically got the “No, guv, not possible, everything that comes in here goes out. Goodbye” response.

Ringing Amazon was totally different. Their representative apologised, and told me that if the Kindle hadn’t turned up by the 13th I could ring again and they could then treat it as a lost package. They would then send out a replacement and upgrade my delivery, free of charge.

Which company impressed me? I think you can guess. The Royal Mail employee disdainfully said, “Amazon shouldn’t have told you to ring us, they know there are delays.” Not our fault, no chance, we’re not even going to consider it, we won’t offer to check, no criticism of us is ever justified.

Amazon were quite different. That’s £109-worth of kit (well, £111 with the VAT increase this week) they are willing to replace, just like that. My one gripe is that they use a service like the Royal Mail where you can’t track a package. I’m seriously considering upgrading to their Amazon Prime service, although I feel too mean to pay the annual £49 fee. Maybe you get what you pay for.

An unwillingness to be self-reflective and accept criticism, as it seems was the Royal Mail’s attitude, is something we display as individuals as well as institutions. It can be because we fear the acid tongue of the critic, who may take advantage of our error and crush us. So we try to wriggle out, justify ourselves and defend the indefensible. I’m rather good at that. Maybe you are, too.

And while automatically accepting the criticism and trying to put something right may also not always be wise – it can be done for the sake of a quiet life – it may be more Christlike. He ‘took the blame’ and put things right for the human race, if not all creation. While some elements of Amazon’s business may not always be that moral, on this occasion it seems to me they were the more Christlike.

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About Dave Faulkner

I'm a British Methodist minister, married with two children. I blog from a moderate evangelical-missional-charismatic perspective, with an interest in the 'missional' approach. My interests include Web 2.0, digital photography, contemporary music and watching football (Tottenham Hotspur) and cricket.

Posted on January 6, 2011, in Religion, Web/Tech and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. We are still waiting for a package posted two weeks before Christmas to turn up. Not an Amazon one though.

    Not sure if Christ opted for a quiet life. Upsetting all the stalls in the Temple is far from this.

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  2. I’m not suggesting Christ opted for a quiet life, more that some people who accept responsibility for a wrong that isn’t theirs can do so for a wrong reason like that.

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  3. Liz ordered one from Amazon the same time as you, it arrived within 5 days. She loves it and says its worth waiting for.

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    • Thanks, Mike, I certainly hope so! We are also within a day of the delivery deadline for a new camera for Debbie, which she chose as a present, too. I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but here we have consistently found that the Royal Mail leave packages on our doorstep without ever bothering to ring the doorbell, so things could easily go missing. After all, if an opportunist sees a package with an Amazon logo, it could be valuable. At our last address, the postie did the same with the delivery of an iPod, so I’m well and truly cheesed off with the postal service and wish I could control who the courier is!

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  1. Pingback: The Kindle Has Landed « Big Circumstance

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