Blind faith

06Mar08

I placed an order at Amazon.com last weekend and they shipped it the following business day. When I got the shipping confirmation, it said the package was sent UPS ground to arrive in… 21 days. Sounds a bit sluggish to me. I knew the order was being fulfilled by a different merchant (rather than Amazon itself), so I just ignored the estimate. Sure enough, the package arrived in a few days, just like I expected.

I’m going to guess that my ridiculous arrival estimate was generated by the merchant who fulfilled the order, since Amazon’s own estimates are usually pretty accurate. In this case, I bet Amazon just reprinted what the merchant gave them, without performing a reality check on it. Even though any sensible person could tell that the estimate was off by several weeks, Amazon made no attempt to let me know that I had received bogus data.

This brings me to my point: if you rely on third-parties to provide data that your customers will be seeing, it pays to do whatever you can to validate that info. With something like a delivery date, it’s especially easy to compare the data you receive against a set of rules to see if it makes sense. Otherwise, you could be giving your customers some very confusing messages, and hurting your brand in the process.



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