Sunday, November 11, 2018

Dear Amazon Prime, do your job

We have new neighbors. A nice young couple with a kid and a puppy, who decided to move into the city from the suburbs to be closer to work.

Since they moved in right around Halloween, they were immediately initiated into the neighborhood ritual of welcoming more than 700 children trick or treating each year. It's good to welcome a new family to what's now perceived to be a good, welcoming place for kids and families.

While I'm hopeful the new neighbors feel welcomed as well, delivery companies seem to be having a hard time welcoming them.

Our new neighbors have done quite a bit of ordering products through Amazon Prime, a service of Amazon, which includes free, relatively swift shipping. We know this because for the past months dozens of packages intended for them have landed on our doorstep.

There's a good reason for the confusion. While we live on different streets, our house numbers are identical. Our US Postal Service deliverer has no problem in getting deliveries correct. He doesn't even need to read the street signs or the ceramic plaque on our house, which includes the house number and street address to get things right. Other deliverers delivering for Amazon Prime don't seem to share his capacity to get things right.

When the mis-deliveries began, we walked the packages over. But when we're out of town, there's no one to do this. Since the neighbors have paid to have their packages delivered to their house in a speedy manner, they deserve to receive them on their doorstep, regardless of whether we are home.

Efforts to contact Amazon Prime have been met with assurances that the issue has been addressed and corrected. (It has not.) Efforts to contact UPS and FedEx meet similar responses. If we happen to be home when a package is delivered, we re-direct the deliver. But still the mis-deliveries persist.

The most recent email from Amazon Prime reassured me that my concern has been "escalated" and that the issue "will not happen again." It would be pretty to think so, but we'll see.

This sentence referring to our neighbor's packages, however, threw me: "I would like to inform you that you can donate or dispose it -- whichever option is most appropriate and convenient for you."

Clearly, that's not the right thing for me to do. I am not disposing of my neighbor's packages and will continue to walk them next door until Amazon Prime and its deliverers find a way to get things right. My trash can sits halfway between my house and my neighbor's. It's no less inconvenient for me to re-deliver the goods than it is to dispose of them. But it's not the inconvenience of doing something nice for my neighbors that concerns me. It's the inability of a service provider to meet its commitment to get products purchased to the person who purchased them.

The right thing is for Amazon Prime and the delivery services it uses to make note of the recurring errors and set things right. As the much loathed outside New England football coach, Bill Belichick is fond of saying: "Do your job." 

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Simple Art of Business Etiquette: How to Rise to the Top by Playing Nice, is a senior lecturer in public policy and director of the communications program at Harvard's Kennedy School. He is also the administrator of, a blog focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to 

Follow him on Twitter: @jseglin 


1 comment:

Robin4Ascii said...

Amazon, etc do your job; is not the answer needs to verify their address is entered correctly with the USPS Zip Code Lookup Tool with all 9 digits. When I first moved here I thought my street was Ct. Actually, there is no such street. usps could figure out because of daily familiarity.