My box from Amazon: Not amazin’

[Alyson Kuhn] I am not a big Amazon shopper, but I am definitely one of the company’s 100 million-ish customers. And I was perfectly neutral (is it oxymoronic to be perfectly neutral?) about Amazon’s packaging … until I received my order from MOO.com one day and my order from Amazon.com a couple of days later. And now I must ask, “Why can’t an Amazon … be more like a MOO?” I went online to find an answer to that question.

The perforated line and little scissor icon (far left) seem happy and helpful; the upside-down tape seems sloppy and drab.

On Amazon’s Innovations for our Planet page, I discover the company’s multiyear Frustration-Free Packaging Certification initiative. The idea is impressive as well as multisyllabic: Manufacturers can send their packaged products to Amazon’s labs for a free critique. The goal is “to make it easier for customers to liberate products from their packages.” That’s great, but what about Amazon’s own presentation, environmentally admirable though it may be? Does free of frustration have to be devoid of delight? Could it be pretty, or witty or gay? How about tidy?

The air-filled pillow lost a bit of air in transit, failing to wedge my books in position. Before I opened the box, I tipped it on end, which caused the books to slide and hit the side.

I do not know how many packages Amazon ships in a day. But one of them was mine. I think it was picked and packed by a robot, and maybe my robot was having a bad tape day. Or maybe it was the label-affixing robot who put my address label on upside down. Or perhaps my package rotated itself between robots in an ambitious 180º flip. One wonders, and one amuses oneself with the word “robotched.”

On the other hand: Hand-packed tissue fills the space between the Luxe liner and the box of MOO business cards.

I read about the Packaging Feedback Program. Since launching it in 2009, Amazon has received 11 million (as of Dec. 31, 2011) comments, ratings and photos, which help the company improve “product and Amazon packaging.” But we do not know whether some of these are positive feedback on packaging … or whether 11 million packages failed to meet their recipients’ expectations. I log in. I can give 0 to 5 stars. (I give 2.) I can say whether my order was shipped in the “about right” size box, or in a box that was a little too small, a little too big or way too big. I can type up to 800 characters. I can attach photos, but I must indicate whether the photo pertains (a) to the size of the box or (b) to the protection of the contents. “Other” or “neither” is not an option; no write-ins allowed. I attach two, the exterior shot of the box and this one (directly below) of the contents.

Little ding near the spine of Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. (Purchase prompted by glowing review by Liz Colville in the San Francisco Chronicle, July 15, 2012.)

I will not receive a direct response, but my feedback will go in the pool. I cannot tell whether my comments will really be read. I toy with writing in the style of the Cat in the Hat: “My box looked bad. It was not nice. Could it have been packed by mice? The tape was sad. It was not straight. It’s upside down, it was not great.” Instead, I describe my disappointment and suggest that Amazon order something from MOO for purposes of comparison.

Photos: © 2012 StudioAlex

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Comments (4)

  1. Posted by notely on 08.28.12 at 10:53 am

    @amazon Her box looked bad. It was not nice. Could it have been packed by mice? The tape was sad. It was not straight. It’s upside down, it was not great. http://bit.ly/Qs21lI.

  2. Posted by Liz on 08.28.12 at 10:56 am

    Maybe you should read this before you complain about the quality of your packaging.

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/12/slave-elves-online-shipping

  3. Posted by shasta on 08.31.12 at 2:31 am

    Amazon packaging used to be AMAZING, when they were a brand new company/concept (and mostly sold books). Now all my packages come in oversized boxes with half inflated air puffs. And the amount of air puffs is never enough to keep your purchase from thumping around on whatever truck is delivering it.

  4. Posted by Anonymous on 10.20.12 at 10:26 pm

    I buy from Amazon for the best prices, quickest shipping, and number one customer service. Not for pretty shipping packaging. I’ve never had an item lost or damaged out of over 100 that I have ordered.

    I am glad they package the items the way they do, because I don’t have to pay extra for something that’s going to be ripped off and recycled/thrown away. It’s what’s on the inside of the packaging that matters.

    And if for some reason the item does become damaged in shipping, I will not care. I will not care because I know I will get a replacement quicker and easier then anywhere else on the web.

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