When A Company Can’t Think Outside Of The Box: Amazon
For an audio version of this post, please click on the speaker icon (top left).
“Thinking outside of the box keeps you suffocating from inside one.”- Matshona Dhliwayo
History has shown countless examples of companies that do not adapt to changing times and then fall by the wayside:
- Kodak resting on its laurels with film photography and not embracing the digital revolution.
- The eventual demise of Blockbuster when it did not capitalize on/recognize the opportunity for acquiring Netflix.
- Numerous “big box” retailers that succumbed to the “Amazonification” of our commerce as they could not react quickly enough, with the traditional brick and mortar model weighing them down.
These fallen giants have one thing in common: They got surpassed by leaders of disruptive companies that thought outside of the box and were not governed by rigid policy.
By choosing to be confined inside of the box, rather than thinking outside of it, the writing was on the wall.
The offending company.
It is ironic that the inspiration for this post came from Amazon, a company that is famous for that outside of the box thinking.
But even innovative companies such as Amazon can still have confining policies that force its employees to make illogical financial moves.
The item of contention.
I had previously written about a splurge I spent on myself for Christmas, the Toto robotic toilet lid/bidet system (I still highly recommend this product and I continue to be thoroughly spoiled by it).
I bought this item through Amazon and, since I have an Amazon Prime membership, received free 2-day shipping on it.
An additional important point is that when I purchased the item, there was a “no questions asked free return” option in case the item was not to my liking.
[I checked the current listing and it seems that this is no longer a provided benefit.]
On the day I had my robotic toilet lid professionally installed, I just so happened to go back to the Amazon listing page and noticed that it had dropped in price by $37 from the time I had purchased it.
Given that it was less than 1 week since time of purchase, I thought this was a simple fix and all I needed to do was call customer service and see if they would go ahead and just refund the difference by doing a “price match.”
So I picked up the phone, inputted the numbers, and subsequently initiated a chain of events that I call….
The comedy of errors.
The first customer service agent was a cheerful female who listened to my explanation of why I was making this call.
After apologizing, she said that “per Amazon policy, there is no longer a price match guarantee.”
She could sense that I was not quite happy with that response and then said she would escalate the issue to an upper tier agent who might be able to assist me with my inquiry.
After a minute hold or so I was quickly greeted by another customer service agent with a nice accent (couldn’t quite place it but likely British) whom I presumed was higher up on the totem pole.
This agent was likewise very pleasant as he heard me repeat my reason for the call.
After I ended my plea for a price match, he replied that unfortunately the first agent was indeed correct and that Amazon does not offer a price match.
Therefore a refund of the price difference could not be issued and that his “hands were tied” by company policy and the higher ups.
I could have ended the whole ordeal there, lick my wounds, and carry on, as $37 was not going to make or break me.
But, being not one to back down from a challenge, I pressed on.
The only one thinking outside of the box.
I then decided to reveal the “ace up my sleeve” in this negotiation process and reminded him that the item I had purchased came with a no questions asked free return shipping policy.
I then gave him a hypothetical situation where I would get the price match I desired just by returning the installed item at no cost to me and buy the replacement item at the lower price which would also be shipped to me at no cost.
He agreed that my outside of the box thinking was logical and would indeed result in my desired outcome.
He asked if I would like to initiate the return/refund process.
I explained that I just had the item professionally installed and really did not want to uninstall it, ship it back, get the new item, and then have it installed again.
I again implored him to see if there was any way that a price match policy could be honored for this transaction.
I said this would be the logical move for Amazon because in the long run it would actually save the company money (Amazon would otherwise have to eat the cost of shipping my original item back to the warehouse as well as the shipping cost to send the new item back to my home).
He said he would talk to his higher ups and give it another try.
He then placed me on hold.
[My daughter just so happened to come into the room at the tail end of this conversation with Amazon.
I thought this fiasco would be a teachable moment so I told her what was happening.
After I got her up to speed, my daughter replied (with all the wordsmithery of a teenager), “That’s so stupid!”]
After being on hold for about 10 minutes or so, he came back and said that he was truly sorry but they would not budge on the policy despite my logic.
Stepping outside of Amazon’s closed box thinking.
I told the agent fine, I am going to implement my workaround that I had previously discussed.
I said rather than going through the hassle of uninstalling the robotic toilet seat and re-installing a new one, I would go ahead and place another order for the same item at the lower price.
I discussed with the agent that I had no intention of opening the 2nd item but would do an immediate turnaround and ship the item back to Amazon in the unopened box.
I offered a last out for Amazon but it was not taken.
The agent said that if it was up to him, he would have jumped at my offer in a heartbeat but he could not go against Amazon’s policy.
He also said that because of the amount of time I had spent for this entire process (around 40 minutes or so) he would also throw in a courtesy credit of $20 for my troubles.
The final tally.
So not only was I able to get the lower price I originally sought, but I was also able to get an additional $20 on top of that.
Add in the additional savings from the difference in tax for the lower item amount, and I came out ahead $62.56.
Because of Amazon’s stubbornness in following rigid policy and not being able to think outside of the box, the extra financial hit they incurred was $20 plus the cost of shipping two times.
[I asked the UPS store how much would it cost me to ship the item and he mentioned it would cost $26 each way (he did say that Amazon does get a discount however)).]
If you are in search of financial help, please consider enlisting the service of any of the sponsors of this blog who I feel are part of the “good guys and gals of finance.”
Even a steadfast DIY’er can sometimes gain benefit from the occasional professional input.
NOTE: The website XRAYVSN contains affiliate links and thus receives compensation whenever a purchase through these links is made (at no further cost to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Although these proceeds help keep this site going they do not have any bearing on the reviews of any products I endorse which are from my own honest experiences. Thank you- XRAYVSN