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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What Makes a Great Gift for Someone Who Has Everything and Doesn’t Want Anything?

If you’re like me, this is a question you have to ask yourself about more than one person more than once a year! I agree that some people really don’t need more “stuff.” So I try to think of things they can use, or things that get used up and need replacement. One gift that has proved quite acceptable to a few people on my list in a CAA membership.

(NOTE: I don’t get anything from anyone including CAA if you join. This is something that I recommend just for the fun of it.)

What Makes a CAA Membership the Right Choice for Certain People Who Have Everything?

This is an especially good gift if the person receiving it

  • doesn’t believe in snow tires
  • drives more assertively than you’d like
  • is prone to doing things like dropping their keys in their purse, dropping their purse in the trunk, and slamming the lid shut, and not realizing what they just did until they come back from a day’s outing exhausted from the portages and welting up from the mosquitoes (Yes, I know someone like this.)
  • thinks gas gauges lie and there is “always another few litres in the tank even when it says E”
  • is convinced nothing will ever happen to them to make them need roadside assistance and therefore will pay $1000/year for car insurance but will refuse to spend a few hundred on an auto plan, and then IT happens

For sure a CAA membership won’t take up space in their already over-crowded home, smell funny, be the wrong colour, or make them gain any more weight.

What Are Some of the Overlooked Benefits of a CAA Card?

When I think CAA I usually just think about

  • dead battery boosts
  • maps and touring guides and TripTiks
  • towing

But I’ve often paid out my membership’s cost claiming other valuable rewards which have included

  • a significant discount of 10% off the lowest available fares at VIA Rail. This discount on train tickets is available for tickets purchased before December 31 2015 for travel before December 31 2016. I don’t know if it will be offered again in 2016 or not.
  • unexpected discounts at stores: One year I saved 50% on a rush pair of prescription glasses from LensCrafters (the store told me to go home and print the coupon!)
  • discounts on Cineplex movie tickets both for our own use and to give as gifts (Yes, Costco has some good deals on these too, but the local CAASCO office has NO LINES.)
  • hotel room rate discounts: We don’t travel much but many places, especially small hotels who don’t want to develop their own rewards system, offer an almost automatic 10-15% off for CAA members
  • admission and sometimes gift shop discounts at attractions across Canada including the Aquarium in Quebec City (which unlike Ripleys in Toronto is huge and has marine mammals and a large outdoor play area for children) and the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic in Lunenburg.

These are just some of the discounts we have used to save money. You may want to check your CAA branch website for a more complete list to see if anything matches your hobbies.

You may want to mention to the person you are giving the gift membership that these types of benefits are available. Like me, they may not even think to check the CAA website.

The December Petro-Points to CAA Dollars Bonus Is Back

What brought this post on at this time of year? I received a postcard from the southern Ontario branch of the CAA reminding me of an annual promotion. If I redeem 10 000 Petro-Points for $10 CAA Dollars, I’ll get 2 500 new Petro-Points, worth about another $2.50 in the future.

Unfortunately, the offer is not “scaleable” so I can’t get 25 000 Petro-Points for redeeming 100 000 Petro-Points into $100 CAA Dollars. Still, it’s a pleasant little bonus and a good reminder to get someone special their usual birthday gift.

You can read this article if you’d like details on how I used this promotion in previous years.

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Have you had another, probably better, idea of what to give someone who neither needs nor wants anything? Please share your suggestion with a comment.