November 21st, 2006


Good customer service: Amazon

I do much of my shopping online these days, unless I'm buying something I really need to check out physically first. I worry sometimes about "the Wal-mart effect", but I can usually come up with complicated enviro-economic models that support this choice. It does mean more shipping containers, though -- I once read that the cardboard industry has skyrocketed in the past decade with the rise of online sales -- so I try to batch my purchases when I can.

I recently placed a large order with Amazon, with one pre-order item included. I didn't mind waiting two weeks for the order to ship. I therefore (as usual) selected to batch the shipping, and I selected the slowest (but free!) shipping option.

The order should have shipped near November 14, the release date of the one item, but whenever I checked, the order wasn't even being prepped. The estimated delivery window was from November 22 to the end of December, which is unusually wide. Then, when I checked on Monday, the order was marked to warn me that it wouldn't arrive until after December 25.

I don't need it "for Christmas", of course, but the severe delay startled me. I couldn't find any way to tell what was holding the order up, though. So I e-mailed their customer service to ask how to find the delayed item, so that I could cancel and reorder that one item to allow the rest of the order to ship.

Within about twelve hours, a representative sent me a very long answer. She (?) provided a lot of information I already knew about my shipping choices and their typical meanings, including how to have orders shipped as they become available for a potential extra charge. She also indicated the delayed item ... and switched the order to "ship as available" for no extra charge, so that I didn't have to deal with cancelling and reordering the item myself.

It's small, and the size of the order probably had a lot to do with it, but it was still a nice gesture, so I wanted to reward them by sharing my pleasure.
  • Current Mood
    pleased pleased

Play with your food!

Problem 1: After a long day at work, I have to get home rapidly so that I can feed five cats in two very different parts of the house.

Problem 2: The five cats are on four different diets. All cats, of course, prefer the diet they are not on, and they will swap as soon as they think I'm not looking.

Problem 3: Two of the cats, Butler and Daisy, very much need to lose weight. (Chess could stand to lose some as well, but she's a picky eater, and she at least goes crazy. Butler is the laziest cat in the house.)

Tentative solution: Playing with food.

Butler will dive into his food, eat half, and leave. He's a gentleman, you see, and he knows that Chess is just picking at her prescription food until he leaves, so that she can swipe some of his prescription food. Then, once she's finished his, he'll plague me for more.

They tried that routine tonight, and I caught them fairly early on. Chess was quite put out at being made to go back to her own food. Butler acted as if he had been deprived of half his meal. He can be a pest, so I decided to give him ten more pieces -- but he had to work for it. Rather than putting the food in his dish and leaving, risking Chess taking that part too, I kept hold of the food and called Butler over. Then I rolled one piece away across the kitchen floor. Butler caught on swiftly, and by the fifth piece he was having a high old time. He was having so much fun, in fact, that Chess came over to join in the fun ... but when I tried rolling a piece of her food, she got insulted.

It's not a perfect solution; it takes time and attention, it encourages him to toy with his food, and it risks food getting trapped in various corners. But it gets him to exercise and it keeps his food going to him rather than Chess, so I'm willing to give it a try.

I just need a way to try this out with Daisy. I don't think rolling a food pellet across a carpet is really going to work very well.
  • Current Mood
    amused amused