Amazon's Same-Day Delivery Service Taking Hits From Unreliable Third Party Couriers and Other, Faster Options

05/21/2015 03:12 pm ET | Updated May 20, 2016

Most of us want what we want when we want it, if not sooner. Especially in the era of instant gratification.

Given how quickly we expect things to come to us, even something as simple as an extra click on a web page could mean the difference between a successful site and an unsuccessful one. Whether it's at the check-out counter, the speed at which a browser loads, or a smart phone app, companies of all shapes and sizes spend billions each year making sure each transaction is virtually instantaneous. Having to wait for something is a thing of the past.

The same is true in the highly competitive world of overnight delivery. Getting it tomorrow simply isn't good enough anymore. You have to have it Today!

The problem with getting something to someone literally within hours of them ordering it, is no easy task. There's simply no way for any company to be in every city. But, that's what third-party couriers are for.

However, as everyone in the corporate world knows, anytime you outsource your business to a "third-party" - no matter the industry -, you're staking your company's reputation on the fact that this "middle-man" has your best interests at heart, has the same work ethic, and will come through with flying colors. When it works, you're a genius and they name streets after you. When it doesn't, you're unemployed.

For any sized company, when something goes wrong, the confidence factor between company and consumer can easily go down the tubes. In the case of a smaller one, it could mean the difference between a customer using your website again or going out of their way to make sure they never do, even if it means paying a few dollars more for the same item.

In the case of Amazon, the largest online retailer in the U.S., packages that don't arrive on time are simply a part of the game.

Amazon's made a name for itself in the area of customer service, routinely ranking as tops in the field. However, if you live in the New York area, and have clicked on Amazon's "Get it Today by 9pm!" button, you may disagree.

Sure, if your package doesn't arrive on time, you can call them up and they'll immediately waive shipping charges, no questions asked. But, what happens if your package doesn't arrive at all?

This was the case with a bike helmet I ordered a few weeks ago.

Placing the order on a Sunday morning, and seeing I could get it by Sunday night for just a few bucks more, I opted in. A few hours later, the tracking fairy told me my package had been successfully delivered and signed for by the mailroom. Unfortunately, the mailroom is closed on Sundays. Thus, that was impossible.

Figuring they must have left it "somewhere with someone," I assumed I would get notification the following morning. I was also silently wondering why the driver didn't simply buzz our apartment and deliver it in person, as would be expected, but whatever.

When Monday came and the package was nowhere to be found, I phoned Amazon and, as expected, the shipping charges were refunded without hesitation. The rep informed me that there was an error in delivery status and that, despite prior notifications, my package was still "en route."

24 hours later, when the still en route package still hadn't shown up, I phoned Amazon again. This time, they had no excuse and they refunded me the purchase price, while the rep suggested I try the entire transaction again. Which I happily did. Shit happens, right?

That evening, around 8pm, after placing 'Same-Day' order number two, the tracking fairy, once again, told me my package had been delivered to, and signed for by, the mailroom. Problem is, during the week, the mailroom closes at 7pm.

This time, when the package ended up in The Twilight Zone, again without ever buzzing my door or a courtesy call, I checked the shipping statement and noticed Amazon used the same courier for both. Upon speaking to an Amazon rep, I was advised there was nothing they could do except cancel the order, refund the charges, and try, yet again -- with the same courier. Wha?!

I spoke w/ Amazon's media relations and was told, due to this product's location, Amazon's shipping arrangements allow only the use of this one particular company. (For the record, Amazon states they have a great track record with this company and this situation was an anomaly.)

Still, the largest online delivery site having a system in place so archaic it makes it impossible for its human representatives to choose a different third-party vendor if something goes wrong, is a bit mystifying. I was now less concerned with my bike helmet and more so with Amazon's shipping policies and procedures.

When the third delivery attempt also failed to arrive, I phoned the courier company, myself, and I was told they would speak to the driver and get back to me in half an hour. That was a week ago.

I went online and a quick Google search shows dozens of bad reviews. In fairness, most folks will only rate a delivery company when something goes wrong, but it didn't help to see 90% of the stuff written was all about their failure with same-day on Amazon, not to mention, their poor customer service after the fact.

What baffles me is why a company like Amazon, with a reputation for impeccable customer service, would stake it on a company that appears to have such a questionable one? And, beyond that, make them the only option in New York for certain items. An area with literally hundreds of delivery services available.

The kicker to all this, aside from proving Einstein's definition of insanity, is, when speaking to an Amazon supervisor about this mess, if I still wanted it same day, according to him, my only option was to get a P.O. Box to make it "easier for the courier." WTF?!

After telling my girlfriend about my experience, she went back and checked her records and discovered that a book she ordered, twice, from Amazon just a few weeks prior, that also never showed up, was, surprise, due to Amazon's using the same courier company. She didn't have the patience to try a third time and simply bought - and received - the book in 2 days from Barnes and Noble's website.

Amazon's going to have to do a much better job if they want to stay competitive in the 'Get it Yesterday' delivery climate. Companies such as have already been proven to be faster, and now there's 'Same Hour' shipping, as well.

Needless to say, I can't wait for Amazon to begin using drones. That is, provided the drones are not from a third-party vendor.