I’m a little late in posting this article today because my back is killing me, my wallet is weeping, and I hurt my leg yesterday trying self-deliver a 187-pound Stott Pilates Reformer I purchased from Amazon.com. If wishes were made my way, I’d never have the made purchase and I’ll tell you why. First, look at my Amazon.com invoice below. I’m posting it here to verify I bought the godforsakenthing and to show the ZERO charge for shipping. That’s important to remember for later.
Okay, so spending $2,600.00USD on a Stott Pilates Reformer might seem insane in these hard economic times — but Janna and I were tired of doing or Pilates work on a mat. After six years of study, we decided to Go Big and buy a reformer for our home.
The Stott Pilates Reformer is the best you can buy — the problem is actually getting the 187-pound delivery inside your home for un-boxing and setup.
When we decided to buy our Reformer from Amazon — mainly because we like giving them our money and getting stuff delivered from them is easy-peasy and cheap — especially if you are part of their Amazon Prime gang, as we are, where you get a per-item flat-fee overnight delivery.
When our Stott Pilates Reformer arrived at ABF — the trucking company — last Friday, I called to have the 187-pound monstrosity delivered on Monday. Don, the Big Boss, set me up for delivery between 10am-3pm.
Monday came and went and no Stott Pilates Reformer. I called ABF and talked to Dispatcher Chris — who told me that eight union guys didn’t show up for work and that he’d have to reschedule delivery. When I asked Chris why nobody called to tell me there would be no delivery, he didn’t have an answer. When I asked which day I could get for re-delivery, Chris warned me away from a Monday or a Friday because the union guys didn’t like working those days.
I was seeing the eye doctor the next day, so I set up re-delivery for Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Al — an ABF union trucker — called my cellphone and told me he’d be there with my delivery at 2pm. I didn’t get that message until 4pm because I was standing in line at the Fifth Avenue Apple Store disconnecting my old iPhone and re-connecting my new iPhone 3G.
After 4pm on Tuesday, I called ABF and talked to Dispatcher Mike — who repudiated everything Chris had told me about the union guys and delivery scheduling — and he apologized for Chris messing up the re-delivery date and that he’d have the shipment to me by noon on Wednesday.
Sure enough, on Wednesday morning, Danny — another ABF union driver — called to make sure I was home to accept delivery. I was. Ten minutes later he rang my bell and told me to “come out into the street.” Huh?
Out in the street, Danny told me he was going to “drop” the 187-pound box in the street and that I was to take care of it from there. I laughed. He told me he was serious.
I asked Danny how I was supposed to drag a giant, 187-pound wood-crated-cardboard box from the street up a curb and over the sidewalk and up the stairs and into my apartment alone.
Danny told me it would be an extra $100.00USD for a “two-man-delivery” and that they’d have to come back the next day with another guy if I didn’t accept the dropped-in-the-street delivery.
I got on the phone and called ABF and spoke to Dispatcher Mike again — who confirmed everything Danny told me — and Mike blamed Amazon for not making it clear what “curbside delivery” means and I told Mike that Amazon never told me anything!
I went back to Danny in the street and he was hot and tired — but he took pity on me and helped deliver the box into my first floor apartment by standing the 187-pound monolith on its end and “walking” it up the curb and up the steps. Together, we dragged it inside — straining my back and puncturing my leg — and pushed it in the front door. Danny told me if I lived on a higher floor he would not have helped me.
I thanked Danny for his grace and kindness as he disappeared back into his ABF truck.
I returned inside to call Dispatcher Mike at ABF to tell him Danny helped me out — but Big Boss Don answered the phone instead and I told him the sorry story. Don checked his computer and told me it was Amazon’s fault for not clearly explaining that curbside delivery “does not mean we actually bring it over the curb. Over the curb is ‘sidewalk delivery’ and we definitely don’t do that unless you pay us.”
Here’s the official Amazon delivery information. I love the “external factors” delay — that’s when I was standing in line for my 3G iPhone — and I think the final delivery status should say “dragged from the gutter by Danny and David” instead of just “Delivered.”
Amazon charges $100.00USD more than other shops for the same reformer — that’s obviously the delivery charge — in order to give “free” shipping to Amazon Prime customers.
The Amazon person I spoke to was friendly and kind a suggested I would get a bit of a refund for my aching. He told me he’d move this up to “Hardlines” at Amazon — whatever that means — and I’d hear from them within a day or two.
That was yesterday.
This morning, I heard from Adele at Amazon Hardlines, and I learned through her response that “Hardlines” must mean “blame the customer” because that’s precisely what she did. She told me it was my fault for not understanding the delivery terms or what “curbside” delivery really means:
In researching your order for the Stott Pilates At Home SPX Reformer, I found it was shipped by ABF and was to be delivered by curbside.
Please note, our oversized tools are delivered by a specialty shipper, and these shipments are subject to certain restrictions. The shipper will bring the package to your address, and take it off the truck, but it will be your responsibility to bring the item inside. It is also your responsibility to unpack the item, completing any necessary assembly.
Here is my response to Adele:
Thank you for the refund — but I feel you’re missing the larger point:
1. Nobody told us a 187-pound box and crate would be “dropped” in the street upon delivery. That goes against your PRIME shipping mandate and the “dropped” status was not made clear upon purchasing or setting the delivery date with the shipping company.
2. To try to charge a customer an extra $100 to bring the crate into the home is ridiculous and you need to make that Shipper shakedown clear in your online purchasing guide. Put it in BIG RED LETTERS so we can make sure we never actually buy the thing and get burned in the end.
3. I am disappointed in your reply, because “curbside service” is a misnomer used by hotels and car services to define their excellence. In the delivery-by-truck world it obviously means something entirely different and trying split that difference and shade that truth is disingenuous in the extreme and cruel in the intent.
4. This drama is all shaping up to be an excellent blog article on the misnomer of “Customer Service” in a dying economy.
Now you know why my back aches and why my wallet is weeping.
When you make an expensive purchase in economic hard times — especially something massively large and 187-pounds that cannot be manhandled by one person — the base assumption is it will be delivered unto you as every other delivery you have had: A knock on the door and a smile in the proof-of-delivery signing and the handing over of the merchandise.
When there is a twist in that schema — like Amazon selling the Stott Pilates Reformer — the seller must make it clear BEFORE THE PURCHASE that delivery of the product is an exception and that it will likely break your back and clear out your wallet.
The Stott Pilates Reformer — now un-crated and de-boxed and weighing in at a lithe 100-pounds — is beautiful and hardy and I hope to write a full review of it sometime in the future.
Until then, I’m licking my wounds and thanking the energy of the world for people like Danny who will go beyond the ordinary and do the right thing in the right time to help someone else — even if ends up breaking your back and putting you behind schedule.
I decided to take some images — using my new and beloved iPhone 3G camera — of the 87-pound Stott Pilates Reformer box-and-wooden-crate I put in the back of the building yesterday. Wrangling that mass of stinky wood and cardboard down a narrow hallway and two flights of stairs by myself was tough.
The building Super must have tipped the monstrosity on its end. I thought it was safer to leave it flat. In this “on end” stance, you can see that’s how Danny “walked” the box off the street and up the curb and across the sidewalk as the whole mess teetered above him.
Here’s a better shot of the stanky wood-that-loves-to-splinter-your-fingers that made the box sturdy:
Another good chit for Danny was his insistence that we not remove the
wood frame from the box as I suggested in the street to save us 87-pounds and to make
the whole thing slimmer and easier to slide into the apartment.
Danny said it was likely the wood was “part of the box” and that stuff
was tied to it inside the box.
We did it Danny’s way, and I’m so glad
we did because he was right.
All the stuff in the Stott Pilates Reformer box was re-tethered
to the wood frame for security and safety.