Posted by: joha5 | June 15, 2010

E-Bay & Amazon: More Trouble Than They’re Worth?

I have never been a huge fan of shopping online – actually, shopping in general – yet there are times when I have no excuse not to do it.  Shopping online is often cheaper, faster, easier, more convenient, and is filled with far less hassle than getting into your car, fighting traffic, paying for and finding parking, awkwardly stumbling around the store and then doing the whole process in reverse again.  The only redeeming factor about doing the physical act of shopping is that the transaction is instantaneous.  You walk out of your door and you immediately exchange real money for real goods and services.  While it may not always be the most convenient process, there is at least some sort of instant gratification from it.

However, the one thing that I absolutely hate about ordering things online is the waiting.  I don’t get a physical receipt – although I suppose it wouldn’t be so difficult to print up the e-mail receipt they send me but why would I want to do that? – I don’t handle any money which makes the whole thing seem a little fake to me, and I don’t get the goods or services in that moment of transaction.  Instead I have to decide how fast I want it and how much I am willing to pay for shipping.  And what happens next?  You wait.  You sit and you wait…and wait……and wait.  Obviously you try to put it out of your head so that when your package finally arrives it is like a mini surprise party in your mailbox.  But I can’t ever help but feel some sort of anxiety wondering if it will arrive today, or tomorrow, or even at all.  Will it arrive in good condition?  Will it arrive in time for Christmas?  For birthdays?  Will the quality be as good?  Will I have to fight with the seller if all does not go according to plan or will they be amicable and understand?  For all of online shopping’s ease it is certainly filled with a seemingly infinite number of intangibles.  When they work it is amazing.  But when they don’t all you do is wish that you had been smart enough to make that 10 minute drive down the street rather than saving that extra few bucks. 

E-Bay: Does it make life easier or more complicated?

The reason why I am writing this today is because I have ordered a couple of things that I had found online for a very decent price so I decided to order them thinking there would be no problem.  As I surfed the internet and made the decision to buy these things online I thought to myself ‘I have a pretty good track record with online shopping’ but when I sat down earlier today and really thought about it I realized that I end up having to fight somebody about 25% of the time I buy online.  There was the time my package with all of the things I had bought for my family and friend’s didn’t arrive by Christmas even though it was guaranteed to get there by December 22nd.  There was the time I had an Amazon representative actually hang up on me.  There was the time that one of my packages arrived soaking wet and opened.  There was the time that I ordered something from E-Bay and it didn’t arrive for over a month because the seller had said that ‘his uncle had been in a life threatening motorcycle accident in Nevada’ but that didn’t seem to preclude him from selling plenty of other items during that time. 

Am I really done, Amazon? Or are you going to make me talk to somebody in a call center in Indonesia and then have them hang up on me because they can't answer my question's or do their job correctly?

As great as it is, online shopping just never really works like you really hope it would.  Sure, I have also had times when I have received things a day or so early, when I have had really efficient sellers, or even gotten things for amazing prices.  But there isn’t really a way that you can get good service from buying things online since you are eliminating that part of the transaction by sitting in your living room.  Things can never go well.  They can only go wrong.  And I bet that any number of you who read this will have had a number of similar experiences as well and are welling up with frustration as I remind you of these events that have happened to you.  Well, I don’t blame you.  The sad thing is that we will all still shop online for something else some day down the road even if we say we won’t.  And – most likely – it will arrive in great condition in the appropriate length of time as well.  But then you will get comfortable and complacent and you will buy something else online and then something else and then all of a sudden you will have a miserable experience and you will start right back at square one wondering ‘Why the hell did I go and do that again?!’.

In spite of the fact that I am fighting with this seller on E-Bay as we speak I must admit that I made a purchase on Amazon this morning.  Even though my head tells me that I should know better, it is my pocket-book that tells me sometimes it may just be worth the risk.



  1. Unless it’s on Santa’s sleigh it’s not arriving tonight!

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