Dear Ama­zon Prime: Do your job

The London Free Press - - COMMENT - jef­frey seglin Jef­frey L. Seglin is a lec­turer in pub­lic pol­icy and di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tion pro­gram at Har­vard’s Kennedy School. Send your ques­tion to right­thing@com­

We have new neigh­bours. 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 neigh­bour­hood rit­ual of wel­com­ing more than 700 chil­dren trick or treat­ing each year.

Our new neigh­bours have done quite a bit of on­line shop­ping. We know this be­cause dozens of pack­ages in­tended for them have landed on our doorstep.

While we live on dif­fer­ent streets, our house num­bers are iden­ti­cal. Our U.S. Postal Ser­vice de­liv­erer has no prob­lem 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 in­cor­rect de­liv­er­ies be­gan, we walked the pack­ages over. But when we’re out of town, there’s no one to do this. Since the neigh­bours have paid to have their pack­ages de­liv­ered to their house, they de­serve to re­ceive them on their doorstep, re­gard­less of whether we are home.

Ef­forts to con­tact Ama­zon Prime have been met with as­sur­ances 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 de­liv­erer. But still the in­cor­rect de­liv­er­ies per­sist.

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

This sen­tence re­fer­ring to our neigh­bour’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 will con­tinue to walk them next door. My trash can sits half­way be­tween my house and my neigh­bour’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 neigh­bours that con­cerns me. It’s the in­abil­ity of a ser­vice provider to meet its com­mit­ment to get pur­chased prod­ucts to the per­son who paid for 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 New Eng­land foot­ball coach, Bill Belichick is fond of say­ing: “Do your job.”

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