What happened to Amazon Prime two-day shipping?

Amazon customer complaints are similar and appear in the US. From western New York to central Missouri to rural Washington State, some Amazon Prime members are asking the same question: What happened to Amazon Prime’s two-day shipping?

How Amazon brings the next day and the same day First-class shipping to other parts of the US, complaints from some Amazon customers about long delivery times Prime are still common in other regions. And one of those customers, a longtime ex-Amazon employee, recently conducted an unofficial study that shows Prime customers have to wait four or five business days for delivery in various parts of Amazon’s home state of Washington.

Earlier this year, Amazon raised the annual price of Prime to $139, and the signup page says, “Look for the Prime checkbox when shopping. This means fast and free shipping!” But Prime members in some parts of the country were surprised by the slower delivery speed than they were once used to. And it raises key questions: Are cracks appearing in the membership program at the heart of Amazon’s e-commerce dominance? Or is Amazon deliberately slowing down shipping rates for some Prime customers?

This discrepancy has particularly puzzled a former Amazon employee named Peter Freese. Freese has worked in Amazon’s corporate roles for more than a decade, including three years as a data analytics lead for the company’s transportation and fulfillment divisions. He knows better than anyone how everything works behind the scenes after a customer places an order.

But in July, he was surprised to find that free two-day Prime shipping, the hallmark of Amazon’s membership program, no longer appeared to be available for any items in his hometown of Omak, Washington, about 200 miles northeast of Seattle. Instead, Prime’s two-day delivery has been replaced with a delivery speed reminiscent of the 1990s: five business days.

He speculated that he had either witnessed the results of a technical error that could potentially cost the company’s sales, or a cost-cutting move that essentially meant that Amazon, according to Freese, was “redefining the word Prime” for some customers, but with zero costs. disclosure.

After reading similar complaints on social media and suspecting A potential wider issue, Freese ran an experiment in August to test Prime delivery promises in all 39 counties in Washington state. He found that in a third of the counties, out of 13 in total, Prime orders take four or five business days to ship. (He picked a random address of residence in the largest city or town in each county.) These orders still had the Prime badge on the checkout page, but were simply labeled “FREE Shipping” rather than any mention of “two-day delivery.” “. or next day delivery. Freese’s experiment involved five separate best-selling products sold and shipped by Amazon, including an Amazon Fire TV Stick, a pack of Amazon’s own-brand diapers, and a 64-ounce pack of Tide detergent. While not exhaustive, the Freese experiment seems to confirm some customers’ complaints about bizarrely slow delivery times.

Amazon spokeswoman Lauren Samaha said the company has not identified any widespread problems with Prime’s shipping speed and that Amazon is not slowing delivery to some members in an attempt to cut costs. Instead, she said, Prime’s delivery promises fluctuate based on many factors, including throughput in a given region and customer location. She also denied the possibility that Amazon stopped offering two-day Prime shipping to parts of the US where it was previously available, despite some customers complaining about the same complaint. Amazon’s website says that “almost all addresses in the continental United States” are eligible for two-day Prime shipping.

In his Washington D.C.-focused primary delivery experiment, Freese was particularly surprised that one of the slow delivery counties was Spokane, because since 2020, Amazon has opened two new fulfillment centers there. So, to dig a little deeper into the potential issues, Freese tested three more addresses in different parts of Spokane County and five additional Prime-qualified products, for a total of 10. He found that only one of the four Spokane shipping addresses had a faster delivery rate than five business days. And for that faster address, four out of 10 products still didn’t qualify for Prime’s two-day delivery.

“If this is all a mistake, then it is very gross and will be difficult to decipher,” Freese told Recode, citing inconsistencies between addresses in Spokane. “If it’s not a bug, are they really targeting certain areas to be excluded?”

A Prime order placed on Sunday, August 28th and shipped to Spokane, Washington, has a delivery date of Saturday, September 3rd.

On social media, Amazon customer service reps often counter these complaints or questions by pointing out that Prime’s two-day shipping promise starts the moment the item leaves the warehouse, not the moment the customer places an order. They also often make it clear that the phrase “two days” actually means two business days, not two calendar days. This has long been a hallmark of Prime membership. But any longtime Prime member knows that over the years, Prime packages have typically arrived two days after a customer has placed an order. This is what Prime members expect from Amazon. And that anticipation is fueling the explosive growth of Amazon Prime, which today has over 200 million paid subscribers worldwide.

However, Freese’s analysis goes beyond that semantics: he found that some customers who once had two-day Prime delivery no longer do so, even for frequently purchased items. However, they still pay the full cost of their Prime membership just like everyone else.

Of course, Prime’s shipping speed cannot be fully discussed without acknowledging Amazon’s million U.S. employees who work under tight supervision and strict quotas to pick, pack, and ship customer orders at a pace that Prime usually makes fast. delivery speed is possible first. These conditions have at times resulted in above-average injury rates and sky-high employee turnover, which, according to Amazon’s own research, threatened to exhaust the pool of people willing to work in Amazon warehouses in some regions.

There’s a reason Amazon warehouse workers voted to unionize for the first time in the US earlier this year, albeit at the same Amazon facility. Attempts to vote for unionization already underway in other Amazon properties across the USA.

Amazon also said this year that need to abandon expansion plans as consumer demand weakened two years after the start of the pandemic, and as the company admitted it had overestimated the amount of warehouse space and staff it would need. Logistics consultancy firm MWPVL International Inc., which monitors Amazon’s warehouse network, “estimates that the company has either closed or canceled plans to reopen 42 properties totaling nearly 25 million square feet. [and] delayed the opening of 21 more locations totaling nearly 28 million square feet,” according to Bloomberg.

Now, the discrepancy in Prime delivery expectations in some regions is another reminder that cracks may be appearing in Amazon’s well-oiled retail machine, which for so many years seemed to run without much trouble.

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