The case of the missing birthday gift

Like many web sites, this one is a member of Amazon’s associates program, meaning that when you buy something from Amazon after following a link from this site I get a small commission. Because I don’t get a whole lot of traffic, this is not really a significant amount of money — I can go a couple of years before getting to even the $10 minimum threshhold for them to direct deposit your commissions into your bank account. In other words, this isn’t a big deal, and I’ve thought about dropping it. But since I’m about to praise Amazon for something, I wanted, out of an overabundance of caution to disclose the relationship and say it has nothing to do with the content of this post.

I always like online tracking of my mail-order or Internet purchases, and the other day I got an SMS text on my smartphone saying that my brother Michael’s birthday gift, which I’d ordered from Amazon, was on the truck for delivery. I was curious to see what Michael thought of the gift, and so I called him up later in the day. But the mail had already come, and he hadn’t gotten the present. Not long after we spoke, I got a second SMS text confirming that the package had been delivered.

It didn’t take long for me to figure out what had happened. I had used an address on file with Amazon from a previous occasion when I sent a gift to Michael, and it was the wrong address — the rental house Mike and Kelly in which had lived when they first moved to their current city. I called Michael back. He had no idea who lived there now.

I e-mailed Amazon, not asking for relief so much as for help tracking down what had happened to the package. But they quickly responded — the card I’d used to make the purchase would be credited with a full refund, and I could then re-order the gift and send it to the right location. In fact, if I wanted to, I could choose the next-faster shipping method and later ask Amazon to rebate me for the difference.

I opted against the fast shipping — the mistake had been my fault, after all, and (because the newly-published book wasn’t released until a week after Michael’s birthday) the original shipment was already late. Also, the original shipping had been relatively quick; the item was apparently in a warehouse not too far from my brother.

Anyway, I appreciated Amazon’s prompt, no-questions-asked approach, which went over and above what they were required to do.