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Amazon reliability cutoff point

nancylebov posts about a bad experience with an Amazon vendor who had a 95% reliability rating and says she will never again buy from anyone with less than a 98% rating. I suspect she is in the right ballpark for what the safe cutoff should be. I also placed a fairly large order with an Amazon vendor with a 95% rating before Christmas, and not only did it never arrive but there was no response to my polite email enquiries asking if the order had ever been dispatched. Needless to say I've applied for a full refund from Amazon, and expect to get it. Looking through the Amazon feedback pages for Wessex Books Ltd / The Book Cupboard of Bristol, I find that their failure to reply to emails about disappearing orders is a recurrent theme (and in one or two cases the shop has actually posted grumpy responses to complaints from thwarted buyers, which would be amusing if they weren't so unprofessional).

So I reckon nancylebov's cutoff point of 98% rather than 95% is about right. If they can't deliver a satisfactory service forty-nine times out of fifty, just don't risk your money with them.



Jan. 10th, 2008 04:58 pm (UTC)
Percentages are a lousy way of describing reliability in the context of customer satisfaction.

90% means one customer in ten had a bad enough experience to complain.

98% means one customer in fifty had a bad enough experience to complain.

99.8% means one customer in five hundred had a bad enough experience to complain.

If you're running a high-street shop even the 99.8% figure is way too high for comfort! A small side-street pharmacy I once managed used to do about 300-500 customer visits per day -- and it was small and sleepy. Complaints coming in at a rate of one per day would have gotten management's attention really fast!

I'm willing -- on ebay -- to go with 97.5% or better, although if it's anything less than 99% I will check the merchant's positive feedback looking for bombshells buried in the comments (which often are much less positive than a positive tag would suggest). But 95% is bad in general retail, for Arthur Daley vales of bad.
Jan. 10th, 2008 06:02 pm (UTC)
It's very clear on eBay that low margins lead to a lack of attention to customer detail. People like me who are doing this purely as a hobby can afford to attend to the little details that leave customers feeling delighted by the process, and can handle the risks to prevent transactions from going wrong. But if you're undercutting on price and hoping to make it up in volume, you just don't have the room to provide personal service, and as soon as something goes even a bit wrong, the system fails.

Amazon is different; unlike eBay, their pricing structure hugely benefits large sellers at the expense of small ones (which is an INSANE thing for a company like Amazon to do), and many of the most prominent sellers are just somewhat dodgy. But like others in this thread, I've had many very good experiences with buying books from Amazon sellers.

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