Reduce Waste

One of my go-to sayings (among many) is: Reduce risk, reduce waste, increase confidence. It's what I set out to do with every Studio VO project. When I see examples where there's too much risk or waste, and certainly not enough confidence in a given system, it's kind of fun to find because I know I can do something about it ... On a project. As a consultant.

As a consumer on the other hand ... it's not fun to find. Tonight, I found some silly waste being put forth by one of the biggest companies on the planet.

Hi, Amazon!

Here's the transcript from my chat. Chat's start from a product/order page, so Amazon's rep knows which product I am referring to.

Me: Hi. This product dropped $130 since I bought it yesterday. Can I get a refund or do I have to return this order and get the one that's less expensive?

Jared(Amazon): [Standard Into] Hello, This is Jared from Amazon Product Support. I'll be happy to help you. Can I have your phone number just in case our chat would be disconnected. Nice meeting you and also Thank you for being a Prime member.

Jared: Thanks for bringing this to our attention and I'm really sorry to know that you're having issues with your item. I will definitely help you. Can you please send me the link for the new price drop?

Me: one sec ... ...

Jared: Thanks! Checking here.

Jared: Upon checking here you to need to transfer to the Pricing Team for further assistance. Please stay connected.

At this point, I should note I don't think anything is wrong with transferring me. That's not the waste part.

Saurabh(Amazon): Hello, my name is Saurabh. Please give me a moment to review the previous correspondence.

Me: okay

Saurabh: I completely understand your concern regarding the price adjustment. I know how it feels when the item you purchased is available now for a lower price. We work hard to find the best prices out there and make sure our prices are as low or lower – changing our prices instantly if we find a lower offer somewhere else. *Therefore, we don’t offer purchase adjustments*.

Saurabh: The price of the item goes up and down depending on the availability and demand of the item. However, we won't be able to offer price difference refund regarding this

Me: Okay. But I can return what I got and get this new-priced one.

Me: ^^ that was meant as a question.

Saurabh: [Anticipating the question] If you wish you can process the return request for this item from our Online returns center

Saurabh: [Answering the question directly] Yes

Me: okay, thank you [because there's no need to be rude]

Saurabh: My pleasure !!!! I appreciate your patience and understanding in this matter. Is there anything else, I can help you with?

Me: That seems like more cost and waste for everyone.

Saurabh: [This popped into the chat very quickly, so I suspect it's a script] If there would be any other option, I'd have done that within a second. Since, it is Amazon's policy, we are not able to offer a Price match or refund or credit regarding that. I hope you understand our limitations. I would like to thank you for taking time out of your day to contact us at Amazon, and I hope you enjoy your day further. When you're ready, please do not forget to click on the END CHAT tab on the top right hand corner of the chat window. Bye..!!! Take care..!!!

The Waste

So. Here's what will happen. I will buy the lower-priced product (done-did) and when it arrives, I will return the product I already unboxed and set up. Except, I won't do that. As my lovely wife pointed out, “Why not just send back the same one that arrives? It's the same product.”


Amazon will rush someone (and a few robots) around a warehouse to get the product I just ordered a few minutes ago. It will be put on a truck. The truck will use fuel. The driver will use energy. The box will be loaded on a plane. The plane will use fuel. It will be unloaded and put on another truck. Then it will go to a sorting facility to be put on another truck. Eventually, sometime Friday, it will arrive on my doorstep. I will then use the computer (a small bit of energy) to start the return process. I will drive the unopened Amazon box that just arrived to the UPS store and drop it off, then I will drive home. Using fuel. Adding wear-and-tear to my car.

Or! Amazon could have just given me $130 back on my card.

Reducing Risk

Amazon likely does this for 2 reasons. First, and foremost, because they think, on average, it's unlikely the customer will return the first product and replace it with the lower-priced second product. They keep more money this way. Very business, much good. Second, it reduces their risk of people gaming the system. All those people sitting around gaming. Yeah, I typed it and feel like it's a reach, too.

Do I have a solution? Sort of: If I'm in the return window, have been an Amazon customer since 2002, pay for Prime membership, and don't have a history of “gaming the system,” just give me the bloody refund already.

I suppose I'll have to play Amazon's Waste Game. A game which Amazon likely thinks they can afford to play. Well, likely they don't think about it at all.

I live for the day companies want to assess and address they system within which their products and service function. Wouldn't it be nice for a company, even if they are making decent revenue and profit, to want to see how much better they could be?

TL;DR: yes.

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