Amazon's Shipping Estimates Are Becoming Fraudulent

I have noticed for the last 6 months or so, at least here in Phoenix, that Amazon frequently does not deliver items when they promise.  It is not just an issue with the shipper, in the last two cases the item did not even ship until 1-2 days after the date they promised for delivery.

This has reached a head in the last week, when I ordered a number of items to be delivered immediately  -- I am leaving town and wanted some items to take to my son's apartment.  They are useless to me even a few hours after I depart home.  I ordered seven items on Monday with my prime membership, and all promised delivery that same day (one for free, two with a nominal upcharge).  Of these, none arrived on Monday.  One arrived on Tuesday and as of 4PM on Tuesday, the other six have not even shipped, and Amazon is showing them here on Wednesday at best.

I would not have bought these from Amazon had they given me accurate delivery estimates.  I am wondering if they are using fake, overly optimistic delivery estimates to try to woo business from bricks and mortar stores, whose one advantage is immediate fulfillment.


  1. Seekingfactsforsanity:

    I am wondering if they are using fake, overly optimistic delivery estimates to try to woo business from bricks and mortar stores, whose one advantage is immediate fulfillment. Well, I can say my deliveries come on time or early. But hey, that is just for us backward folk in Houston.

  2. Mike:

    Same here, we have hundreds of Amazon orders a year and 99% are on time, even early. The only big issue I've had was Christmas deliveries a few years ago, but that was more on FedEx.

    It sounds like the distribution center for your area is having some issues. At least you can return for a full refund. Not that it gets you what you need.

  3. Kevin:

    I've found most to be on time or early in 95+% of cases... Some have been late, but they always refund any shipping charges.

  4. NormD:

    We also get perhaps a hundred deliveries a year also mostly on-time or early. I have never tried same-day delivery though. That seems like it would go through a completely different channel.

    I assume that Amazon get's its dates from its carrier's systems. Are they being overly optimistic or are their carriers?

  5. pbft:

    Sounds like a local problem. I've had results similar to others - virtually 100% on-time. The one late shipment that I've had (out of hundreds) was a tent that I needed for a vacation. They refunded the entire item price and let me keep the tent.

  6. ErikTheRed:

    I'm glad somebody else has noticed this. It seems to be only affecting a minority of people, but I am definitely part of that minority as well. It's gotten better in the last month or so, but for about six months prior to that we had lots of problems - especially with next-day items. As far as I can tell Amazon gives exactly zero fucks, but if you spend $50 worth of your time bitching at them you can get a $5 credit.

  7. ErikTheRed:

    I use Amazon Same Day at least two or three times a month (placed an order this morning, ever). I've had fewer issues with that than I have with overnight and two-day delivery.

  8. ErikTheRed:

    An interesting question is whether or not new payment systems like Apple Pay (just announced for web sites) will put a dent in Amazon's marketshare. A big part of why we buy from Amazon is the convenience of having our payment, shipping info, etc. already loaded in and a reasonable degree of certainty that Amazon won't get hacked. With Apple Pay (or Google's offering or whatever) the payment portion of the process gets streamlined to the point of being almost nonexistent, and the shipping info is easy to auto-enter with browser-based form filling systems.

    Other Amazon-like order fulfillment services (with local / regional warehousing, etc.) are starting to pop-up, and can start making it easier for smaller companies to handle shipping, returns, etc.

  9. wintercow20:

    No problems here in Western, NY.

    But maybe the folks in Paris got involved out your way.

  10. steamboatlion:

    I've noticed in the past 18 months a subset of my deliveries are always late, namely those sent USPS and also where UPS deliver to my local post office, and USPS is responsible for the last mile. Those parcels delivered end to end by UPS or Fedex are never late, and almost always early. But hey, the post office does a great job delivering junk mail, so clearly they're an essential service!

  11. Chris:

    I've had this problem, but only when Amazon uses their own courier instead of UPS.

  12. John Moore:

    I use Amazon Prime a whole lot, and only once out of perhaps 50 recent deliveries has it missed the scheduled date and time. I live one mile from Coyote's office.

  13. Robert Rounthwaite:

    Hanlon's razor.

  14. slocum:

    Yep -- same for me. The ones that get routed through the USPS are the ones that are at risk of being late. But overall, my on-time delivery experience here is still very good (and I order with Amazon Prime a lot).

  15. Artemis:

    Check very carefully that the item is actually "fulfilled by Amazon". For me this is the distinction. Items fulfilled by amazon are on time or early 100% of the time. Other items are late almost 100% of the time, due to exactly the thing you note... they are actually shipped late. Those items are sold on amazon, but not handled by Amazon. I've become extremely careful to never by items fulfilled by amazon retailers who do not participate in the amazon fulfillment.

  16. markm:

    If it hasn't even left the warehouse on the promised date, the problem is not with the carrier.

    And seriously, days to even get the shipment to the carrier? WTF? For electronic parts, I can remember when Digikey got a huge boost by being the first distributor that could take an order at 4 PM and put it on a UPS airplane that night. When the production line was down for fuses that weren't in the local hardware stores, getting them at 9 am the next day was worth tens of thousands. That was 25 years ago.

    I wouldn't expect Amazon to be quite that fast, but it should be able to get the order shipped within 24 hours. Promising same day delivery on Monday and not even shipping until Tuesday night or Wednesday should be cause for firing the management.

  17. markm:

    The USPS does a great job delivering junk mail because no one cares if the junk mail for 210 Elmore Street is delivered to 210 Elm Street. For Amazon deliveries, it certainly does matter that the Post Office is incapable of firing that incompetent mailman.

  18. Christopher Udy:

    I don't have same day delivery available in my area, but I've never had a problem with 2 day delivery on Prime items fulfilled by anyone. I've even had items delivered USPS on Sunday...

  19. Jay Solo:

    I absolutely never have a problem with Prime 2-day deliveries in southeastern Massachusetts. The caveat is that sometimes the item is not going to ship immediately, and the two days is from when it ships. Most stuff comes USPS, and it still boggles me that we get Sunday deliveries here in Mayberry. UPS gets almost all the rest of Amazon's business. Once in a while, they'll use FedEx Express, depending where it ships from or if there is going to be a delay getting it out but they are holding to the original delivery target. At any rate, I'm surprised you're having that much trouble.

  20. Orion Henderson:

    The postal solutions options-where UPS and FedEx deliver to your local PO and then your PO delivers to you are a cost saving option and are for deliveries that are not time sensitive. Spring for UPS or FedEx if you need it on or by a certain date. The free shipping options are going to be slow.

    I personally think the USPS deliberately slows down those UPS and FedEx packages to encourage people to use Priority Mail.

  21. GoneWithTheWind:

    I've noticed that a simple thing like a first class letter to a town 200 miles away takes seven days to deliver. AND, related to your comment I noticed that some of those letters are actually postmarked days after they were mailed.

  22. John:

    A fine idea, except that I have automatic two day delivery via Amazon Prime, and all of my late packages to date have USPS as the last touch. Also, tracking updates stop one a package is in USPS' hand.

  23. marque2:

    I am not having problems with Amazon, with most orders coming early in San Diego and Los Angeles (where I live and work) but why wouldn't you just directly ship to your kids apartment? Even if it is a dorm, I used to get mail and packages all the time at the dorm. I had a stereo system shipped to me mail order circa 1989 to the dorm, no problem. Back then we used buyers clubs instead of the internet to get a deal.

  24. Craig Howard:

    USPS never holds packages back. I'm confident in making that assertion.
    Typically, UPS last-mile shipments arrive late in the day after carriers have already left for the street. They are scanned "Arrived" and slated for delivery the following morning. This is easy enough to track.

  25. PalouseDave:

    Coyote, perhaps you should consider contracting with Amazon to deliver packages in your area. It is a business opportunity that is opening because there is not enough lift -- trucks, airplanes, helicopters -- to move Amazon packages along with everything else that is going from here to there.

  26. Bruce Oksol:

    In the DFW area: no problems noted. By the way, Amazon has another advantage that brick-and-mortar don't have: almost 100% availability of almost anything. Even with books, Barnes and Noble (brick-and-mortar), their specialty, they don't come close. Most books I order from Barnes and Noble are not stocked at the store; they would have to be ordered, and generally a one-week window is given.

  27. Baelzar:

    Well that's disheartening; my mother lives in Phoenix and I was going to turn her onto the Prime Now option. Nothing like having groceries delivered to your door 2 hours after you order them! Unless it's bullshit, which your post suggests.

  28. johncunningham:

    I live in Cincinnati,right across the river from a huge Amazon distribution center. If it is fulfilled by Amazon, it is almost always on time or even early. I wonder if Phoenix lacks a distro center?

  29. Jaedo Drax:

    I've only had one issue with an amazon delivery where the items I was getting came via 3 different shippers from the same distribution centre, and the one from the post office was 2 days late.

  30. DaveK:

    If you are getting lots of late Prime deliveries, I hope you know that you can get a 30-day Prime "extension" for each late order?

  31. marque2:

    How do you do that?

  32. DaveK:

    If you received your package later than was stated in the "guaranteed delivery date," you just contact Amazon customer service and they'll usually take care of it right then. You go in through the Amazon "help" menu selection near the top of the page, then click on the "Need More Help?" selection at the bottom of the page, then finally, choose "contact us" and the rest is usually pretty straightforward.

  33. jeremy:

    This is my experience precisely. I have written Amazon several times to give them feedback on this... In my area the USPS provides Sunday delivery for Amazon, which would be a great benefit—but around 50% of the time packages scheduled for Sunday delivery with the USPS arrive Tuesday or later (not to mention they also end up four houses down on my neighbor's porch more often than not, which the local post office has been exceedingly unhelpful in correcting). So it is better for me to adjust my ordering habits to wait an extra day if I want to buy something on Friday, so that they are shipped from one of the other carriers. When it isn't USPS, I have had packages arrive late perhaps three times over the last five years.

  34. NormD:

    Speaking as one who managed systems that shipped semiconductors around the world I think you are overly simplifying the situation.

    The first problem is having inventory to ship. No inventory, no shipment. Warehouses are not infinitely large and smart people try to minimize inventory.

    The second problem is inbound shipments. We can commit to that shipment because we have a shipment arriving at 3pm. Oppps truck broke down and it's a day late.

    The third problem is over commitment. We have 5 in inventory but orders for 7. No problem, on average 2 cancel. Opppss. None cancelled.

    The fourth problem is surges. Not planned surges like Xmas, but Doc Phil mentions something and a sudden surge appears.

    The fifth problem is getting an accurate estimate from your shipper. All the problems that effect you affect them, only instead of inventory they have trucks and drivers. And traffic and street closures and...

    And everyone deals with priorities. You get order from small guy then an hour later you get order from key customer. Small guy gets bumped. Small guy hates it, but it't the only thing that makes business sense.

    All I am saying is that the warehouse may have performed flawlessly (of course, they also may have screwed up) and jumping to the conclusion that management should be fired. Did I mention the sixth problem when the manager of one of these links is fired, throwing the whole operation into chaos.

  35. BGThree:

    I'm a heavy user (heh) and it is extremely rare for Amazon to miss a "Guaranteed" delivery date (San Diego). I can actually only remember two times since Prime was started, and one of those was due to a blizzard shutting down the airport my item used.

    However, Amazon's postmodern definition of "day" is getting insane. Back in ye olde internet, 10+ years ago, two day shipping meant it would be put in the mail stream the same day you ordered (if early enough) or at the very latest on the next business day. It would then arrive the 2nd day after it entered the mail stream.

    Now, that is almost the exception. At some point they decided a "day" only counts when the shipper is in possession. 2 day shipping? No problem! We'll ship that right out to you - guaranteed arrival 2 days after we mail it in 5-6 business days. Or my favorite: Free Prime Overnight Shipping - est. arrival 4-6 weeks. But once that shipping container hits the Port of Long Beach, and barring any longshoremen labor unrest, your package will arrive the very next day!

    Careful Amazon, I might actually go to Fry's if you keep this up. Oh who am I kidding. I can't QUIT YOU!

  36. ThirtyCal:

    First world problems, much?

  37. John the River:

    First, full disclosure, I don't buy anything from Amazon except when I need to burn up the 'points' I get on my credit card. (long story and long road to get here)
    Second, I dropped Prime when it came up to renewal. But prior to that I found that Amazon had build a local distribution center and I'd order at night and it would be there in the morning. Of course (having an in-state facility) they were now adding sales tax.
    After I dropped Prime and ordered and the 'free' 5-8 day delivery option kicked in I discovered that even though the item was coming from the same local warehouse the package wasn't arriving for a week. Amazon couldn't have me getting quick delivery if I'm not paying for Prime could they? So the item was not shipped until over five days had passed and THEN I got it the next day.

    When I ordered from the Amazon Marketplace and paid with points, Amazon put a 'hold' on my points until the transaction was done and then paid the vendor. Unless the vendor didn't ship (as the last time) and didn't respond to emails, but Amazon kept the hold on for almost a full month preventing me from buying from anyone else with the same points and refusing to allow canceling the order until the vendor responded. Which they never did.

    This is when I found that Amazon doesn't want to talk to or even allow open email communication with customers anymore. And that marketplace vendor that never shipped or responded (dead for all I know), once the order was finally canceled and my point credit released I found that I couldn't rate or write a bad review on the vendor unless it was referenced to a completed order. Seems that handling an order that poorly deserves mention, but not to Amazon.

  38. Bryan Townsend:

    I'm in Mexico, but I have had very accurate delivery times for most items. A few exotic purchases arrived very late. Often packages arrive early.

  39. ErikTheRed:

    Huh. I've done that a few times and only gotten a $5 credit for my trouble. Wasn't worth it.

  40. DaveK:

    Was it Amazon Prime, with a "guaranteed" delivery date? If it was, perhaps they've changed their policies, but the last two times I got one-month extensions of my Prime membership.

  41. DaveK:

    Yes, I'll agree that communicating with Amazon Customer Service is anything but straightforward. You'd think that a simple "contact us" button would be in order, but you need to wade through multiple layers of non-obvious choices in order to complain about a problem.

  42. js4strings:

    I too am a heavy user of Amazon, but I haven't had the issues that some have had with the on-time prime deliveries.

  43. SamWah:

    Mine seem to be coming on time, but I'm close-ish.

  44. Kurt:

    Most recent order (shopping with free points), order held for five days and then arrived that day from local facility.

    cause if I don't pay for Prime two day I don't get Prime two day.

  45. John O.:

    Its likely a problem with the local distribution centers as Arizona has two in the Phoenix market, either they're not stocking the item listed on the website or they're improperly labeling orders causing delivery problems. The latter being a problem that Amazon might find themselves sued over, the former is just lousy customer service.

    The current trend in Amazon is to build local distribution centers so they can begin implementing their 4-hour delivery system that has rolled out in select major cities. The purposes is they want to continue to eat into Wal-Mart's market share which they've been extremely good at in the last few years much to Wal-Mart's attempts to hold their ground.

  46. Megan:

    It has to be an issue with the Phoenix distribution center. I just moved to Sierra Vista, AZ. Shipments were never late in Texas as of three months ago, but here in Arizona nothing arrives by its "guaranteed" date.

  47. Bianca:

    Good one!! Time Sensitivity is the crucial base for shipping. Amazon cannot be blamed for those service failures as they outsource the shipping to third party like FedEx UPS,USPS etc. Unfortunately, any shipping carrier cannot ensure that every package will be delivered without any service failure. The important thing is that the businesses lose customers due to the inability of the shipping carrier that they have. How many people know that if the package arrives more than a minute after the guaranteed time, you are entitled to a refund? Lateshipment does this effectively! Lateshipment helps you in getting your refunds by automatically auditing shipments making your claim process effortless by tracking and automatically requesting refunds for all eligible shipments. Check it out if you are interested!!

  48. John P Dolden:

    My Amazon Prime item was left in our front flower bed in full view of the many passers-by, on a Saturday. This was a Binwo Cree LED torch and it was in its own sturdy plastic case, which was lucky as the Amazon packing was sodden when we returned from a weekend away on Monday. Also, fortunately, it wasn't stolen by any passers-by. Most couriers that deliver around here usually request a neighbour accept the parcel, but this guy updated the Amazon system to say it had been delivered to me, John? Not likely, we were in Cardiff, about 70 miles away. Most blame must be laid at feet of Amazon. They place unreasonable responsibility on their drivers that operate from the Avonmouth depot. They are expected to deliver around 200 parcels a day, and if they don't, according to the local news channels, they lose income. This usually means they are paid less than the minimum wage. I have never had issues like this with Ebay, so guess who I will be buying with from now on, Ebay?

  49. Maxime Bolduc:

    Yeah. Amazon estimated time is based on a cheap algorithm which calculate the distance between the shipping address and the customer and then put X days or X hours (based on what kind of shipping options you selected) for processing and handling through customs.

    It doesn't take into account:
    • Customs analysis of the package as it varies between each country. Amazon uses a static (fixed) amount of estimated time based on a chart that cover different kind of shipping companies. For premium "1-2 days" shipment, they estimate a 1-2 hours, for fast delivery, they estimate 1 day and for standard shipment (local Post), they estimate 3 days for foreign customs, 3 days for local customs (not counting the actual international expedition time which is calculated in distances). If, for some reason, the shipping is delayed (from the 3rd party seller), or if the item customs check-up gets slowed down for X or Y reason (even if it's a legal/law related one), their algorithm doesn't detect those.
    • Number of actual transitions of the package. Their estimate goes with an estimated amount of steps that doesn't cover stationing. (For example, if the package has to be transferred between multiple different post or expedition facilities to reach your city, Amazon doesn't detect that.)

    For example, 1 month ago, I ordered 2 model kits from Japan (I'm in East of Canada) through the "Free" expedition. I knew it would take time and it estimated it to 32 days. The package was shipped and all was going according to play... until Japan Post freaking used the Ship-based expedition instead of the Plane-based expedition like usual. Guess how much time the estimated date was pushed back? (Amazon has a deal with most of its major countries mailing services so that they can update the estimated delivery day when a package pass custom even if there's no available tracking numbers.) It got pushed back from 32 to 52 days until delivery.

    They dare write a green "On Time" about the shipping time. I wouldn't bother for 2-7 additional days... but guess what? This 52 days push it right around Christmas where Post services are almost none-existant and when I might be at a family party outside the city.

  50. Brett_Bellmore:

    I ordered some drapes for my son's room. In stock, fulfilled by Amazon, free two day shipping. The projected delivery date was FIFTEEN DAYS after the order was placed! It's just sitting there listed as "preparing for shipping". The only reason we went with Amazon was that they offered the free two day shipping, as we're Prime members.
    I've complained to them, but no reply. And to rub salt in the wound, the item says right on the page, "Want it the next day? Chose overnight shipping!" So it's not like there's any obstacle to shipping it, they're just sitting on the order.