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How Amazon Broke My Heart

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Bad tech and bad service are never nice, but when they come from your favourite brand it feels like a betrayal.

Let me start this by saying I think Amazon.co.uk is FANTASTIC.

I preface with that because I’ve come to realize that for some US readers this will come as something of a cultural shock. Much like telling them that in England I don’t pay to go to a doctor or that I’ve never held a driver’s licence.

Amazon in the UK is fantastic. In the US it's another story entirely Click To Tweet

I know people have all sorts of valid issues against Amazon’s tax practices or cutthroat business strategy, but for the purpose of this rant let’s stick with the customer experience angle. And from that perspective, as I was saying, Amazon in the UK is VERY good.

Their app just works, their desktop site just works, the deliveries… just work. On the very rare occasions when things go slightly wrong, they’re quick to put it right. With a couple of swift finger strokes you can get pretty much anything delivered to your door, and as an Amazon Prime customer, 9 times out of 10 it arrives within 24 hours or less, even though I live in a small town in Somerset rather than, say, London, where you can get same-day delivery.

As an Amazon Prime customer in the UK, 9 times out of 10 I get what I order in 24 hours or less Click To Tweet

I get all my pet supplies and a bunch of household stuff on subscription, plus several orders a week ranging from perfume to electronics, books or bourbon. They get a lot of my money and I’m quite happy with that arrangement.

So having just moved to the US, one of the first things I did upon arrival was download the Amazon.com app and – since I don’t yet have a car – start ordering some things to save me having to pay for a $30 Lyft or harass my brother for a ride to the shops. “Walking Distance” is not really a thing over here.

I also went ahead and signed up for Amazon Prime, noting that here that only gets you free 2-Day delivery instead of next (or same) day. It was more expensive than in Blighty too, but hey, I figured that this is a much bigger country after all, so two days is still OK.

But two months is not.

Which is why this morning as I was talking to Amazon’s customer service people I started to wonder whether I was experiencing some sort jetlag-induced hallucination. But at the end of one of the most frustrating half-hours I’ve spent on the phone since I last tried booking a flight with British Airways, my worst fears were confirmed. Amazon in the US is nothing like what we get in the UK.

Amazon.com sold me a prime subscription with a promise of 2-day delivery, which turned out to be two months Click To Tweet

They deliberately sold me this service advertising delivery within two days. I filtered my searches so that they’d only show results eligible for Prime delivery, and upon checkout I selected the box that explicitly spelled out that I would get my item within 2 days.

Yet as soon as that order came through, it told me the window for delivery was that it would “usually be dispatched within 1-2 months”. I s**t you not.

Apparently, it makes sense that the 2-day delivery only kicks in once Amazon receives the item from the seller. So the entire Prime proposition is beyond worthless, as you have no idea whatsoever of when you’re going to get the item you ordered.

Apparently, it makes sense that the 2-day delivery only kicks in once Amazon receives the item from the seller Click To Tweet

Of course this wasn’t the first, nor will it be the last bad online shopping experience I’ll have, but when that level of WTF comes from a brand that you’ve used, trusted and swore by for close to two decades, it feels much more personal.



When that level of WTF comes from a brand that you’ve used, trusted and swore by for close to two decades, it feels like a betrayal Click To Tweet

So I’ve deleted my app, cancelled my “Prime” subscription, and will have to learn to cope with a more retro way of shopping. When in Rome… Go to Walmart

Alice Bonasio is a VR and Digital Transformation Consultant and Tech Trends’ Editor in Chief. She also regularly writes for Fast Company, Ars Technica, Quartz, Wired and others. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow @alicebonasio on Twitter.