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Amazon's "one-day delivery" not quite what it seems


By Barry Collins

Posted on 23 May 2012 at 09:36

Amazon has been rebuked by the advertising watchdog for offering "one-day delivery" that doesn't actually mean items will be delivered the next day.

The offer, made to subscribers to Amazon's Prime service, promised customers "unlimited free one-day delivery on millions of eligible items sold by".

However, three customers complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that goods were not being delivered within the promised 24 hours.

Amazon argued that its terms and conditions stated that the item would be delivered one business day after dispatch, not the day after the item was ordered. The web retailer also insisted that it was a "guaranteed" delivery service, and that it would compensate Prime customers who didn't receive their goods by the stated date - although Amazon admitted that this policy of compensation wasn't published on its website, and that compensation claims were dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Despite Amazon's protestations, the complaints were upheld by the ASA, which ruled that the retailer "had not made it sufficiently clear or prominent that 'one-day delivery' referred to one day after dispatch".

The ads watchdog also cast aspersions on Amazon's claim of "guaranteed" next-day delivery, noting that some items were dispatched using the Royal Mail's First Class delivery service, which "according to the Royal Mail website" can "take between one and two days".

Amazon was ordered to provide "clear qualification on pages which stated 'one-day delivery' that this referred to one day after dispatch", and to withdraw the claim of guaranteed delivery until it could be substantiated.

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User comments

Be fair

"some items were dispatched using the Royal Mail's First Class" Only if the Prime customer selects first class. The other option is "guaranteed" as it comes by courier.

By KevPartner on 23 May 2012

@KevPartner: Not so. Many items are sent by Royal Mail regardless of the option you choose. Earlier this year I kept a record of the items sent to me by Amazon using the 'guaranteed' Prime service. Nine were sent by Royal Mail First Class. Four of them took took two days or more to arrive (after dispatch). I still use the Prime service, but in no way is it a 'next-day' service.

By john_dk on 23 May 2012


john_dk is correct, the guaranteed Prime delivery might well be despatched via Royal Mail. I have also had Prime deliveries sent by Home Delivery Network and DHL.

I have been a Prime member for a few months now, and two of my orders have already been late. On each occasion a telephone to Amazon has resulting in them extending my Prime membership for an extra month, but you have to prompt them for any kind of compensation, otherwise they simply apologise and nothing more comes of it.

By TheHonestTruth on 23 May 2012

In reality ...

The 'prime' service is pointless.

Not only does it not guarantee immediate dispatch but, in my experience, items ordered from Amazon on 'super-saver' almost always arrive two days after they are ordered. (At Christmas it may be three or four.)

The other thing I wonder about is why on earth people need to get hold of things in such a rush. I can imagine the very odd occasion when this might be necessary (although, as this article points out, Prime is no special guarantee), but, in general, surely it doesn't hurt to wait a couple of days?

By qpw3141 on 23 May 2012

Weird ...

that they should be prepared to guarantee the service of a third party (dispatch to delivery) but not their own performance (order reception to dispatch)! In any case the guarantee is worthless to the customer unless it's end to end.

By JohnAHind on 23 May 2012

they're not infallible but...

I've been a Prime customer for more than a year and it's been worth it just for the times I've ordered stuff on Saturday night, had it despatched on Sunday and received it on Monday. The last two items I ordered were delivered at 8pm the next evening, which made me feel sorry for the courier, but it's still impressive.

Yeah, once or twice items have taken two days instead of one but as I recall nobody died.

How many times have you gone to a supermarket and found the shelves empty of the one item you really needed? Amazon's stock control is impressive - I can't remember one instance of being told something was out of stock after I had bought it.

98% of the time Amazon service is spot-on - they make John Lewis look like Talk Talk. There seem to be some right whinging nit-pickers about.

By Noghar on 23 May 2012


Call me a whinging nitpicker then. I cancelled my Prime membership as 1 in 3 times they would send by City Link and the courier wouldn't bother to deliver and then say that there was nobody at home even though I had been there all day.

The worst one was last Christmas when a Prime package ordered 2 weeks before Christmas ended up arriving mid January.

Made multiple complaints to Amazon to get compensation but they always refused saying the delivery dates weren't guaranteed.

Also tried to get them to never use City Link for me again as both Royal Mail and DPD were excellent couriers but that was also refused.

By CSprout on 23 May 2012


No, it doesn't hurt to wait a couple of days... but tomorrow is better
I thought I’d try out Prime membership in the run-up to Christmas after a debacle last year, and generally it’s been decent. I'll not be rolling my subscription over because, as you say, it actually is a bit pointless and expensive here, compared to the US where you get additional perks on top of the next-day delivery for no extra cost. Furthermore, you end up just hunting for things that are "Prime eligible" so you rather limit your options and may be paying more for your product.

Amazon do actually guarantee their performance as long as you purchase the product before a specified time. On any given Prime-eligible product there’s a timer that guarantees next day delivery if you order it before that cut-off point. If you order it before that time and it doesn’t arrive the next day then you can ring up and demand compo :)

By TheHonestTruth on 23 May 2012

ITs worth it

Ive been a prime customer for over a year and I have to say its worth every penny.
As long as you order within working hours 9-5 the item is likely to be dispatched the same day. In my experience If I have ordered before the end of business day I usually get the devliery the next day.

There should be some common sense used also, if the business day ends at lets say 5pm then how would a courier get the info for the delivery after that point?

If you order anything above 8 Items a year then prime is worth every penny, as every item is delivered via tracked courier.

Ive used it for a while and I think its worth it.

By r1sh12 on 23 May 2012

It's not 100% perfect but....

I've been a prime customer for over 2 years now and at least 9/10 purchases arrive on time. I really like ordering at 6pm, and still getting the item next day.
I have had Amazon give me automatic credit for a late item, but on the very odd occasion I have had to report a late item they blame it on the courier. So, while I accept that once it has left their depot there is little they can do, I would like to see it much easier to be able to report and claim for late items in you are a Prime customer.
The major down side of a Prime subscription is that it is just too easy to buy stuff from there!! It is so convenient! :-)

By Jules75 on 24 May 2012

It's not 100% perfect but....

I've been a prime customer for over 2 years now and at least 9/10 purchases arrive on time. I really like ordering at 6pm, and still getting the item next day.
I have had Amazon give me automatic credit for a late item, but on the very odd occasion I have had to report a late item they blame it on the courier. So, while I accept that once it has left their depot there is little they can do, I would like to see it much easier to be able to report and claim for late items in you are a Prime customer.
The major down side of a Prime subscription is that it is just too easy to buy stuff from there!! It is so convenient! :-)

By Jules75 on 24 May 2012

Satisfied Customer

I have been a prime customer for several years now and probably order once a week or more. Prime saves me a great deal of money and usually delivers on time, only a couple out of a hundred or more shipments have been delayed. One urgent but delayed item was replaced before arrival and arrived as promised the second time round. I like the concept of timed delivery as I can try to control when I order, need to be available and get items.
Amazon are far better than the up to 28 days from some 'suppliers', I am now on day 7 of a wait for some goods from a different supplier.

By Jonesr18 on 24 May 2012

I Tried Prime - Never Again

I recently tried Amazon Prime and have to say that whenever they sent parcels by City Link it didn't turn up on time and the tracker showed "Delivery attempted but no one in" although I waited around all day for the delivery.
This has happened multiple times and the last time the parcel turned up three days late I refused delivery and asked Amazon for a refund.

Bad courier companies like City Link and their lazy drivers who can't be bothered are giving Amazon a bad reputation. I, along with some of my friends, now make a conscious effort NOT to buy from suppliers that use City Link.

By shrek59 on 24 May 2012

City Link

If you don't like the fact that Amazon sometimes use City Link, then comment on that on the Amazon forums - There's a thread dedicated to the subject. If enough people complain, they will have to act. They have already responded to this, saying they have CL's performance under review.

Whether you use Amazon Prime or not, you'll still be at the mercy of CL if you happen to live in their catchment areas, so all this angst about CL is irrelevant to the article, really.

As to Amazon Prime itself, shock, horror; occasionally items take 2 days instead of one to arrive by Royal Mail... so what? The real advantage for most is that it pays for itself so quickly. After only a few deliveries, all subsequent deliveries, for the rest of the year, are free, in effect. If you order from Amazon more than a few times per year, it's much quicker and cheaper than the standard 3-5 working days, cheapest delivery option if you don't susbscribe to Prime.

Lastly, how much clearer would the ASA like things to be? There is a statement on every page you visit, in a clear, bold, bright green font, "Order this item by such-and-such time for delivery by xyz date" and has been for as long as I can remember. No-one but an idiot could mis-read this. Similarly, on the run-up to Christmas, there is always a disclaimer about increased delivery times.

Storm in a tea-cup.

By mikejdcastle on 24 May 2012

I've had compensation three times now

I've noticed this. To be fair Amazon have credited an extra month of the service each time I've complained. If you see it as a "all you can eat postage" service then it's great but it IS frustrating when things don't turn up when they should. Good for the ASA.

By robinhow on 25 May 2012

Truth in advertising

I'm torn two ways over this.

Firstly, I've always used Amazon's free supersaver delivery and am often amazed at how quickly it comes. e.g. my last order was placed on last Monday and delivered yesterday (Thursday) morning despite the Royal Mail being closed Monday & Tuesday. So my sympathy lies with them.

Secondly, I strongly believe advertisers should be held to account for any inaccuracies in their statements - particularly in their headline statements. It mostly comes down to how up-front they are about their T&Cs. Virgin used to be criminal but are pretty reasonable now.

There is still a requirement for the customer to use their commonsense and satisfy themselves that they know what they are buying.

Now if I am committing myself to a spend of £50/year, I'll take 5 or 10 minutes out to check exactly what I'm buying. In this case, Amazon believe that the definition of "One-Day Delivery" a piece of fluff that tells you that it will be your default delivery option. But the meat of it is:
If I request One-Day delivery, when will I receive my order?
One business day after dispatch (please note that there are no deliveries on Sundays or Public holidays). After placing your order you can check the guaranteed delivery date of your order within Your Account.

Please note: Cancelling items, combining orders, or changing your delivery address or delivery options after you place the order might affect your eligibility for One-Day delivery.

I can see why someone who doesn't bother to look past the "One-Day Delivery" headline would be disappointed but in an on-line world that allows ISPs to use "Unlimited downloads" as a headline when downloads are restricted for 10 hours a day, I don't have a lot of sympathy for them.

By bobellsmore on 8 Jun 2012

unbelievable bad next day delivery

order`d monday afternoon paid extra £8 for this didnt turn up its now 4 days late. this is the worst service ive ever received compared to it`s rival suppliers ie scan, novatech, ebuyer next day means next day
ive been shopping at amazon for many years this has to be the worst service ever when i compare my experience

By witty on 10 Jul 2014

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