Since 1998 I have used amazon.co.uk and spent thouands of pounds with them.
I have always received a very good service and whilst their prices aren't always the cheapest, their range of stock and shopping experience has brought me back again and again.
This Christmas amazon have managed to ruin that relationship by putting cost cutting above customer service.
Early in December I ordered a set of books for my 5 year old son Gabriel and the deliver company City Link tried to deliver the books on Monday 14th Dec but no-one was in and they left a card. I re-arranged delivery for Friday 18th Dec as I had the day off work and would be in the house all day, City Link did not attempt a delivery on the 18th and I contacted the City Link customer care line and after waiting in a queue for 20 minutes I was told that they were very sorry they hadn't delivered my parcel and they would re-schedule their delivery for Monday 21st Dec. I also asked them to leave the parcel in our re-cycling box if no-one was at home.
At this point I also sent an e-mail to amazon asking them how I could ensure that future orders were delivered by Royal Mail and not City Link. The reason I asked this is because Royal Mail offer a service where they will re-direct your package to a local post office where you can pick it up at a time that suits you, where as city link only allow you to pick it up from their regional delivery centre which is half an hour away.
Here is an extract from the e-mail I received from amazon customer support:
"Please accept our sincere apologise for the issue you have experienced with City link.
We realise this incident reflects negatively upon Amazon.co.uk and the feedback that you have provided will be used in reviewing the service provided by City link. Thank you for taking the time to contact to us and to bring this to our attention.
We take full responsibility for the delivery of our goods from start to finish and take complaints of this nature very seriously. We replace any items lost or damaged during delivery at a cost to ourselves and monitor our carriers very closely.
For UK customers, our orders are delivered primarily by Royal Mail, HDNL and Citylink for Super Saver, First Class and Express Deliveries.
Our ordering system automatically assigns a carrier to your order when it is ready to dispatch. Therefore we are unable to confirm by which carrier your order will be dispatch.
At the moment, we are not able to promise you that your future orders will not be dispatched by this method. However, the issues that you have mentioned will be forwarded to the appropriate department for consideration. We truly value this kind of feedback, as it helps us continue to improve our website and provide a better service to our customers."
It seems that amazon cannot predict which delivery company will be used and cannot allow me to choose which company will be used. I would be happy to pay a bit extra to use Royal Mail in the same way that I am happy to pay a bit extra to get amazon to gift wrap orders. But is seems that the final step in the amazon user experience is left to a random choice made by a computer system.
After asking my wife to wait in all day on Monday 21st Dec I was very annoyed when I came home to find that City Link had not attempted to deliver the parcel. After checking the City Link tracking service I was surprised to see that they said that had attempted to deliver the parcel at 12:36 on Monday 21st Dec but the note on their website said "There was no one to receive the goods at the delivery point so a card was left." I knew that this statement was a lie as my wife had been in all day and City Link had not left a card. I would guess that they falsified this record so that they could evidence that the failure to deliver was not their fault and they would still get paid by amazon.
At this point I asked amazon to cancel my order as I would need to get another christmas present for Gabriel and it was clear that I could not trust City Link to deliver the one from Amazon.
This very bad experience has left me in a position where I will not use amazon again because of the chance that they will use City Link to try and deliver my parcel.
I am surprised that amazon will gamble with their repuation and risk losing valued customers just because they choose to use a delivery company that are unreliable, untrustworthy and incompetent.
I will now start to use Waterstones to order books online as they offer a service where I can pick my books up from their local store which is 100 times more reliable than hoping City Link will do their job properly.