Did Amazon Inflate Its Cyber Monday Shipping Statistics And How to Return An Item

Like many Canadians, I’m getting lazier about my Christmas and birthday shopping so I order many gifts from amazon.ca. The prices are usually good and the delivery speed is excellent. So during the week before American Thanksgiving, I put in a few orders each of which qualified for free shipping. What happened next left me curious about whether Amazon is playing games to boost its Cyber Monday statistics and left me making my first return.

Was the Shipping Date Just Coincidence from Amazon or an Attempt to Boost Their Shipping Volume?

I placed four orders the week before Cyber Monday: two on the Wednesday, and two on the Thursday. They all qualified for free shipping. Usually when I place an order, it’s picked and shipped within 24 hours. This time, no ‘pings’, no email telling me my order was on its way.

I shrugged figuring they were just sticking to their own rules which say free shipping will take longer. I thought it might be a deliberate strategy to encourage me to switch to Prime. Since I didn’t need the items for weeks, I wasn’t concerned.

Cyber Monday Surprise from Amazon

Imagine my surprise when Cyber Monday morning when my email pinged 5 times in a row at about 9:30 a.m. One after one, in came messages telling me my orders had shipped—including an item I had pre-ordered in June and forgotten about.

I was pleased they were on their way and didn’t think much about it.

Then on Tuesday, I heard on the business news that Amazon was reporting how many items they had shipped for Cyber Monday. Apparently people compare that number year to year to judge both holiday shopping trends and Amazon profits.

It left me wondering: Did Amazon delay my shipments to boost its Cyber Monday shipping volumes?

I have no way to know, but it is a very interesting coincidence!

I also found it interesting that they shipped items from different orders made on different days in one package. They must somehow amalgamate the picking and packing information.

My First Return to Amazon.ca

Unfortunately, by putting some many items into a very large carton, Amazon didn’t succeed is safe shipping unlike all of my previous orders. One paperback got seriously damaged when some items shifted in transit. Since it was a full-price gift (in fact it was the pre-order item from June) I couldn’t just ignore it. I needed a good copy to give: this one had to go back.

I wasn’t actually sure how returns work with Amazon. With Chapters-Indigo, I knew you could take it to a nearby store. But would I have to pay for shipping to make a return to Amazon?

Luckily, no.

When I clicked the links from my email notifying me that my items had shipped, I found the information about making a return. I reported the damage to the book and requested they send me another copy. I had to agree to pay for the first item if it was lost during its return to Amazon. Then it let me print a mailing label and a return shipping slip on my home printer.

Of course, the box they’d sent the item to me in was huge, since it had held a variety of different items. So what was I going to ship this one paperback back in? The mailing label would have worked with the huge box, but it seemed ridiculous and awkward for me to take to the post office.

So I waited till the replacement book arrived. Then I shipped back the original damaged book in that box. The replacement was shipped on the day I reported the damage, so I didn’t have to wait long. They had given me two (business) weeks to get the damaged item back to them.

How Does Amazon Reduce Shipping Fraud?

One thing I found somewhat annoying but interesting was that I was warned to get “proof” I had mailed back the item for my own protection in case the parcel was lost or stolen in transit. Amazon suggested taking the parcel to the post office and getting a receipt for it to show it had been put in the mail.

Normally, this would be fast and easy—but it’s nearly Christmas! Most post offices around here have long lines of people trying to send money orders, buy gifts, and mail oddly shaped packages overseas. I managed to minimize my wait time by arriving just when the outlet opened. Even then, I was third in line.

As I turned over the parcel, I chatted with the Canada Post worker. She told me that they used to just stamp a receipt for the customer, but Amazon had now arranged an entire form to be printed for the customer confirming that the parcel had been received by Canada Post. So I walked away with a work order verifying I had shipped a package and giving a tracking number.

Luckily, I never needed it: within two days, I received a confirmation email from Amazon that they had received my return.

I guess Amazon may have had problems with people returning expensive goods not just paperback books!

Overall, I was satisfied with how the return process went. Good thing, too, as I plan to make another order today!


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