Almost everything on Amazon is becoming an adwashingtonpost.com
notamy 9 days ago [-]
https://archive.ph/YMyrH

https://web.archive.org/web/20221124034213/https://www.washi...

Note: Some parts of the archive don't render correctly? Unsure why. You will get better results clearing cookies + localstorage for washingtonpost.com.

fmajid 8 days ago [-]
Amazon is the third largest advertising company after Google and Meta. Its ad revenue is $32B (and growing fast, the run rate is $40B). That is half the revenue of AWS, which is worth 70% of Amazon's market cap. The inescapable conclusion is that Amazon's advertising is worth the remaining 30% of Amazon's market cap and Amazon's e-commerce arm is deemed worthless by Wall Street, its only purpose being to support the advertising business, just what Google Search is to Alphabet.

Think on that for a moment. The other inescapable conclusion is that whenever the quality of the shopping experience on Amazon and the needs of Amazon's advertising business clash, advertising will win (just as it has on Google). That's an even more foregone conclusion since Andy Jassy took on the top job, he's from AWS and owes no special allegiance to the historical e-commerce business.

s17n 8 days ago [-]
> The other inescapable conclusion is that whenever the quality of the shopping experience on Amazon and the needs of Amazon's advertising business clash, advertising will win (just as it has on Google).

Saying that the e-commerce arm is worthless isn't really the right way to think about it - the ads business only exists to due the e-commerce product. Both Amazon and Google are well aware that their ad revenues depend on their having users, who will ultimately leave if the product (ecommerce and search, respectively) isn't compelling. Both of them know that long-term success requires them to prioritize user experience.

Do they make bad decisions, either due to misaligned incentives internally or due to simply making mistakes? Undoubtedly. But it's also worth considering that they probably get the tradeoff right a lot of the time and most people simply aren't bothered by ads nearly as much as you'd like them to be.

fmajid 8 days ago [-]
Obviously Amazon's e-commerce division is not worthless, but it often happens that conglomerates are worth less than the sum of their parts. Many activist investors have been calling to split AWS from Amazon.com, but the ad business can't be split from the store that brings it eyeballs.
repsilat 8 days ago [-]
> less than the sum of their parts

At least with e-commerce and advertising it's clear they're worth more together. Without advertising the profits would be thin, and without e-commerce the advertising couldn't exist.

ClumsyPilot 8 days ago [-]
> it's also worth considering that they probably get the tradeoff right a lot of the time

How did we arrive at this conclusion? No argument or evidence was put forward!

My persobal experience on both Google and Amazon has declined to the point where I now prefer aliexpress - most of the time its the exact same item but cheaper

Terretta 8 days ago [-]
> Both of them know that long-term success requires them to prioritize user experience.

Of course user experience is prioritized: below advertiser experience.

Prioritization doesn't just mean things are on top, for everything but the top item it means things are below other things.

csa 8 days ago [-]
> Of course user experience is prioritized: below advertiser experience.

I’m not sure how much you’re into the Google ads world, but they have screwed the pooch on that recently as well (e.g., by gimping “exact match” keywords).

8 days ago [-]
robocat 8 days ago [-]
Hard to know what fmajid means - although mentioning revenue is a serious black flag. Google’s search is a cost-centre and their advertising is a profit-centre. You could say Amazon is similar because in 2021 AWS made all the income and e-commerce made zero income[1].

I would be interested to see an analysis of income per business sector*, including their advertising sector, for Amazon. fmajid would need that information to be able to make the conclusions they drew.

From article: “After selling $31 billion in ads last year, Amazon became the third-largest online ad company in the United States”

Hard to know what this means, since we can’t know how much it “cost” Amazon for those ads (especially the cost of consumer dissatisfaction as the article mentions, and what is opportunity-cost?)

* and ideally assets per sector as well, plus a metric for internal capital reinvestment (VC style).

[1] https://www.investopedia.com/how-amazon-makes-money-4587523 Amazon unfortunately seems to only report on their segments: North America, International, and AWS.

Thursday24 8 days ago [-]
Excellent perspective. Organisations are similar to individual human minds in structure, but scaled. They will make mistakes, just like people do, but also correct themselves over the long haul so that they can survive.
Archipelagia 8 days ago [-]
Sorry, but can you share some source for that?

Like, on first page I've found in Google (https://www.insiderintelligence.com/insights/amazon-revenue/) it says: AWS – ~17B Ads – ~9B Online stores – ~66B

I actually wouldn't be surprised if I'm misunderstanding something and you're right, but can I ask where you got these numbers?

Edit: On second read I realized the source I sent was misleading – the title talks about annual revenue, but hidden in the text there's a note saying that sub-headings actually show quarterly revenue. I'm still not sure about AWS-to-sales ratio, but my apologies for earlier confusion.

arcturus17 8 days ago [-]
Yea no I'm also left scratching my head. I've never heard of a methodology to attribute market cap portions to business units; eager to hear some clarification too.
throwaway5752 8 days ago [-]
It is a well-established concept called https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/sumofpartsvaluation.asp. A company's value is estimated on net present value (npv) of its projected, discounted future cash flows. If a company has a large, stable subsidiary that is growing slowly but is cash flow positive and a very fast growing but money losing subsidiary, it makes more sense to value parent company as if both subsidiaries were separate companies than the average of the two. A famous example was AWS within Amazon before it became noticeable in the bottom and top lines.
texasbigdata 8 days ago [-]
Further, it’s often applied backwards. Some financial engineering self proclaimed wizard will claim “x+y+z=a and the stock is trading at b, and a>>b, therefore the conglomerate discount is too large so we can earn risk free profit (aka arbitrage) by breaking this company up and publicly listing x,y, and z as independent units”. See: Xerox, for example.

Typically in mergers, you see accretion due to the removal of duplicate functions on the cost side (you don’t need two HR departments for example), but sometimes you get negative credit if you’re a too big / too opaque / too confusing.

arcturus17 8 days ago [-]
Yes I understand NPV and DCF but not OPs point. The eCommerce arm makes a lot of money so I don’t understand how you could come to the conclusion that its present value is zero.
throwaway5752 8 days ago [-]
I see what you're saying. The logic to the OP's point is "If AWS were to be spun out, on its own it should be worth 12x revenue, or $750B. If the Amazon web business were to be spun out on its own, it should be worth 6x revenue or $250B. Since those add up to $1T and the market cap of AMZN is $950B, the market assigns a -50B valuation to the rest of the company." I agree it's flawed logic. The market may just disagree with someone's sum-of-parts. It maybe conglomerate discount. It may be that the market is undervaluing AMZN, too. I don't think that many people would disagree AMZN's ecommerce division is valuable.
diogofranco 8 days ago [-]
It made less than no money recently. You might be thinking of revenue.
arcturus17 8 days ago [-]
Where are you getting this from? I cannot for the life of me find profits by business unit. I have glanced over the 2021 Annual Report but don't have to analyze it. If you have a source I would appreciate it.
spoonjim 8 days ago [-]
This is done all the time when pieces of businesses are bought and sold. It gets a little complex when the businesses are related (like Amazon Advertising and e-commerce, as opposed to Amazon e-commerce and AWS which are more fully independent of each other).
arcturus17 8 days ago [-]
I understand approximating present value by discounting cash flows but not how you would come to the conclusion that the eCommerce business is valued at zero because the sum of AWS and ads make the total of the market cap.
spoonjim 8 days ago [-]
You don’t, that is an inaccurate conclusion because the ads business would not exist without the e-commerce business.
fmajid 8 days ago [-]
When Amazon had a market cap of $1.7T, $1T of that was from AWS. I don't remember what the source was for the estimate.
a123b456c 8 days ago [-]
LMGTFY: https://www.google.com/amp/s/247wallst.com/technology-3/2022...

Not an authoritative source. No rationale given.

fmajid 8 days ago [-]
For AWS, 3rd quarter revenues alone were $20B, so $80B annual. I don't know where that other source of yours finds $17B, unless they are talking profit.

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/10/27/aws-earnings-q3-2022.html

For the ads business, from The Information, but it's paywalled.

https://www.theinformation.com/articles/google-s-pain-is-ama...

the info is in the second paragraph. The conlusions are entirely mine.

The WaPo article does mention $31B for last year.

greatpostman 8 days ago [-]
It’s an accounting trick. Retail is profitable via ads and more. Retail also pays huge infrastructure sums to aws. It’s all a trick to make amazon stock pump
subradios 8 days ago [-]
Not merely accounting.

Cultural as well, it forces the e-commerce coders to take infra cost seriously and alleviates cost center toxicity from infra teams.

zwkrt 8 days ago [-]
This reminds me that as far as wall street is concerned, it is actually an afterthought that airlines operate airplanes, all the money is in the credit cards.
fmajid 8 days ago [-]
I think it was the CEO of American Airlines, which owned the Sabre computer reservation system at the time, that if he had to choose between keeping the airline or the CRS, he'd go for the latter. In any event. Sabre was spun out in 2000.
blamazon 8 days ago [-]
Making and selling TVs is similarly an afterthought for TV manufacturers now that smart TVs have been commodified, the money is in the analytics platforms.
m463 8 days ago [-]
Similar to how vizio makes more money spying through their tvs than selling them in the first place.
oliwary 8 days ago [-]
The same can be said for airlines, which are often worth less in total than their loyalty programs: https://thehustle.co/10052020-airline-loyalty-programs/

Of course, these loyalty programs would be worthless without the airline itself as rewards.

manmal 8 days ago [-]
What rationale is behind comparing revenue with market cap? I thought price is rather judged against earnings, eg by looking at the P/E ratio.
s1artibartfast 8 days ago [-]
Market cap is based on p2e. Profit can be subdivided into different revenue streams for a company
SergeAx 8 days ago [-]
> AWS [...] worth 70% of Amazon's market cap

I am curious, how did you figure out this 70% number? Why not 60%, not 80%?

8 days ago [-]
sanitycheck 8 days ago [-]
My process for getting usable results on Amazon (.co.uk, presumably the others too):

1. Search for thing

2. Filter by department (necessary for 3)

3. Filter by Seller: only Amazon

4: Filter by reviews: 4 stars+

5: Sort by price, Low > High

6: (Further filters as appropriate)

7: Look at only products with a high number of reviews

8: For every product, "See all reviews" and filter on "Verified purchase only" and "Show only reviews for {the product variant you're actually looking at}". Closely scrutinise 1 and 2 star reviews.

But sometimes even this _still_ doesn't get me quite what I want, because when an item is sold both by Amazon and a 3rd-party it can be sorted based on the non-Amazon price.

It does feel just a little like Amazon's goals might not be perfectly aligned with those of the customer.

ljm 8 days ago [-]
I had to buy a replacement USB cable in a pinch the other week. Probably the first time since pre-COVID where I could justify next day delivery (where I would normally be happy to just wait however long it takes from a more local retailer).

I knew exactly the kind to look for but I couldn't just search for that and pick the first item on the list. I could have easily bought the wrong thing in one click and not known it.

Instead I had to spend about 30 minutes tweaking my search query, scrolling through SEO-spam listings ("NEW iPhone 14 Galaxy S21 MacBook Pro Windows 95 SE USB 2.1A cable 6cm!") and other listings which were all just the same listing but with a different no-name logo laser printed on the casing. Was on Google cross-referencing some of them to see if they'd actually be legit, since I'd trust a post in a niche forum over a review on a marketplace.

It took me longer to verify what I was buying than it did to go through checkout. Reminded me why Amazon stopped being my go-to.

cryptoegorophy 8 days ago [-]
Pro Tip: never get chargers or cables from Amazon or eBay or AliExpress. It is better to get the one from official store or if there is absolutely no option get Anker or other reputable brand and even those could be sold as a fake with all the craziness that is going on in Amazon.
skunkworker 8 days ago [-]
If I'm buying USB cables now I pretty much only go with anker unless it's something that doesn't need to be a necessarily good (like a printer usb cable).
tornato7 8 days ago [-]
Monoprice is excellent as well
YeBanKo 7 days ago [-]
For small things like that monoprice has been my go to.
hgsgm 8 days ago [-]
what's wrong with getting the Amazon Basics version of whatever commodity?
adrr 8 days ago [-]
Because Amazon Basics is the bottom of the barrel. Their cables do not last. You can buy Anker cables for around the same price. Their batteries are also terrible. It’s not like Costco’s Kirkland signature.
primax 7 days ago [-]
I find cable failures to be extremely rare. Are you pulling them out by the cable or the plug? Everyone I see who destroys cables pulls by the cable.
JohnFen 8 days ago [-]
Outside of a couple of specific products, I've found Amazon Basics products to be pretty awful. I avoid them now.
chronogram 8 days ago [-]
I got a bunch of AmazonBasics cables last Christmas, but this year they don't seem to be available anymore. Don't know what the point of Amazon is in my local economy if they don't have those products anymore, since there's at least some market economics alive here.
prmoustache 8 days ago [-]
My process for getting usable results on Amazon is to simply not use it. For any item you can think of there is an online shop dedicated to the specialty that is:

- cheaper

- easiest to search

- do not sell knockoffs, counterfeits and fake products

I know some people will raise the "you need to create another account for it annoyance" but it is not that annoying when you are using a password manager and the additionnal time spent could even be considered a feature to avoid compulsive buying.

hombre_fatal 8 days ago [-]
I thought thus was the way to go into I ran into bad shipping schedule and bad return policies, esp the latter. Now I never order anywhere except Amazon. I learn this lesson every time I try to follow your pitch.
TedDoesntTalk 8 days ago [-]
It depends. LL Bean for instance has amazing return policies.
za3faran 8 days ago [-]
Where do you find cheap, good quality printers? I found Amazon pricing to beat my local Microcenter website.
wardedVibe 8 days ago [-]
The printer in staples/fedex/local print shop down the road. Unless you print a lot (like business/university department amounts), or have some high levels of paranoia about your documents, you're way better off letting someone else deal with the capital costs of the printers.
TexanFeller 8 days ago [-]
The whole point of having a printer is not having to waste time driving somewhere to print something.

Not to mention the extortionate fees such places charge because they prey on the elderly and technically illiterate. One of the majors(can't recall if Staples, Kinkos etc.) recently tried to charge my parents $2/page to fax some records to a new doctor which would have been >$100.

singron 8 days ago [-]
Check your library too. Mine has cheaper printing than Staples and a free allowance.
candiddevmike 8 days ago [-]
I applaud anyone who leaves a non 5 star review, gets contacted by the company with bribes to make it 5 stars, and updates their review to report the company doing that.
low_key 8 days ago [-]
I've left negative reviews and they tend to get removed.

I was once even warned by Amazon that my account could be deactivated for violation of the ToS after posting a review that pointed out all of the other fake reviews on a particular product. Apparently the ToS allow fake reviews and disallow shining a light on it.

bombela 8 days ago [-]
Yep, same experience here. Everytime I reported, my updated review was deleted.
FeistySkink 8 days ago [-]
Amazon Vine is a thing, so of course they encourage fake reviews of free products.
hgsgm 8 days ago [-]
webignition 8 days ago [-]
I left a non 5 star review of an inexpensive Pixel 4 case. The case was too close around the flash resulting in the flash reflecting off the case resulting in absolutely awful pictures.

I was offered a refund and replacement of a newer version of the case in return for a better review.

The phone case was simply not fit for purpose as it was and the review fairly (I hope) highlighted this.

I accepted the replacement newer version and agreed to a more flattering review once the improved case was seen to indeed be improved. If the flaw had been fixed then it would be fair to reflect this in my review.

The improved case was no different and my review remained unchanged, except for an update reflecting the bribe.

mancerayder 8 days ago [-]
They don't need to bribe anymore. Negative reviews get removed pretty easily. It's happened to me.

It's the new normal. Airbnb is even worse, they used to (and still might) actually have customer service edit reviews. Your review will get removed with no notice, Amazon will let you know.

If you remove some or most negative reviews but leave positive ones, what do you get.

bombela 8 days ago [-]
I have noticed this for negative review on products from big and well known companies. About technical flaws. Like a gaming computer mouse where pressing left and right click together wouldn't work. Until you update the firmware of the mouse (yep... yep you wouldn't think a mouse should be buggy nor firmware updateable).
MichaelCollins 8 days ago [-]
Apparently Airbnb will delete any review that criticizes a property for something the property owner can't fix. Loud traintracks with trains blasting by at 3am every morning? That's not the property owner's fault, so that's a bad review.

As if reviews exist only to give constructive feedback to property owners, rather than to warn other renters away from a bad experience!

syrrim 8 days ago [-]
"Property owner has not done enough to soundproof the unit against nearby train noise"
hombre_fatal 8 days ago [-]
“Apartment is great for early risers!” = it’s on a city bus route that rattles the windows

“Interesting locals in the area!” = homeless people on your doorstep

skinnymuch 7 days ago [-]
No need to disparage homeless people but point made hah.
sanitycheck 8 days ago [-]
I'm sure people do it, the bribes are probably not very good. Sadly the company can probably get Amazon to take down the review in that case.

Reviews for sellers themselves are a joke too, I was looking at some earlier today, via black friday deals. The number of reviews with a line through them and "Amazon takes responsibility for this fulfillment-related experience" was hilarious, when those reviews were things like "the motor doesn't work". I guess those then aren't included in the "90% positive" statistic.

robryan 8 days ago [-]
The seller could argue that it was damaged in transit. The whole thing would probably be luck of the draw in how their first level support in India chooses to apply guidelines.
skinnymuch 7 days ago [-]
Amazon would know that’s bullshit from the density of reviews and feedback on the product’s problems.
bradleyjg 8 days ago [-]
2. Filter by department (necessary for 3)

3. Filter by Seller: only Amazon

This is harder and harder to do, especially on the app. I’ve started to use walmart instead. They also have this third party seller garbage but at least they make easier to filter out.

Heyso 8 days ago [-]
I've bought and seen crap with good reviews. On Amazon.

You have a good chance to end with some chinese crap if you rely only on Amazon.

On some product, I prefer finding a specialized seller (that isn't dropshipping). Or find a real blog (tends to be hard with all those fakes websites listing top 100 products, but they nmask hemselves when all products are chinese crap on Amazon). Reddit also work to get advice from peoples.

What's more. I make research on the compagny producing the thing. LinkedIn helps with that. Only commercials on a tech product ? Get out.

hattmall 8 days ago [-]
eBay is actually legit a good source for quality items. You can see actual seller ratings, how much the seller sells and specific item feedback. The returns / refund process is dead simple and flawless as well. The only issue is that none of the processes are as quick as Amazon. Shipping is slower and if you need to do a return it can take like 3 days to get the label.
entropie 8 days ago [-]
> I've bought and seen crap with good reviews. On Amazon.

Have you heard of https://reviewmeta.com/ ?, If not, give it a try, I use it regularly and it does as advertised.

jamiek88 8 days ago [-]
I do similar but actually prefer the product with the lower amount of reviews as IMO a product with 200 reviews is more likely to have real reviews than one with 20k reviews, they just look fake to me.
InCityDreams 8 days ago [-]
Fair and balanced. My last several purchases with amazon have been a breeze, and i will continue (especially as local shops are taking full advantage to up their prices for seemingly no good reason except 'there'sa crisis') I regularly kill cookies. Perhaps it's a .com thing as I'll take the healthcare route and search through .nl, .it, .de, .co.uk for the same item. And then pay from where i have my account.
odysseus 6 days ago [-]
You can skip steps 2 and 3 by using https://www.shipsfromandsoldby.com to search or by appending a certain string to the URL which I forget now. I'm not affiliated with that site (and it DOES use affiliate links) but I've found it useful.
sanitycheck 6 days ago [-]
Just tried it, doesn't appear to work. It does redirect me to search results on amazon.co.uk, but some of the results are items from third party sellers.
odysseus 6 days ago [-]
Hmm, I just tried it again and both the first and last page of search results were all shipped and sold by Amazon. My search term was "geiger counter" and results were from amazon.com.
FeistySkink 8 days ago [-]
I'm skeptical of #8. I sometimes leave detailed reviews for items that I purchased or used elsewhere and have a deep understanding of to dissuade other people from buying. Especially for new products that are being overhyped on YT or through Amazon Vine (how is that even a thing), even though they are of dubious quality. I have quite a few non-verified reviews that are voted most helpful, but Amazon obviously prioritized Vine reviews, even when they don't have any votes.
sanitycheck 6 days ago [-]
Unfortunately there isn't an obvious way to surface good reviews (it's not clear what "top reviews" means, but they don't generally seem that good), yours may get more eyes as Reddit posts or on a blog.

Verified purchase only & 1-2 stars lets me quickly scan through for those people who come back months after purchase to write reviews because the thing broke in some way. I don't care about good/middling reviews except in aggregate, but the bad ones are worth delving into.

cycomanic 8 days ago [-]
Are other sites so bad in the US? I can count the number of times I've been tempted to buy with Amazon in Europe on one hand. I mean pretty much every other webshop has a search experience that is orders of magnitude better then add Geizhals to the mix and you're almost guaranteed to find the cheapest offer, in much less clicks than even trying to find something that is legit and matches the search criteria on amazon. Why do people still use it?
midoridensha 8 days ago [-]
>Are other sites so bad in the US? I can count the number of times I've been tempted to buy with Amazon in Europe on one hand.

Here in Japan, Amazon is really popular, especially with expats. Other online sites are Japanese-only, so if you don't read Japanese well, Amazon is just much easier to use because it can be set for English, and will auto-translate everything that's in Japanese. The checkout process is also really simple. Japanese websites tend to have really poor UI too, and Amazon doesn't. Also, Amazon has relatively easy returns, unlike most Japanese retailers.

However, according to the grapevine things are getting worse. Instead of using reliable local shipping companies like Yamato or Sagawa, supposedly they're doing more delivery with freelance contractors and the results aren't good.

manmal 8 days ago [-]
The only reason I still buy at Amazon (even though I live in Geizhals territory) is the knowledge that returns and moneyback is a nonissue, even for consumables or when things break after a year. Most retailers are ok-ish at that (some do have a really bad Geizhals rating), but Amazon is pretty much zero risk there.

For example: I recently ordered a €600 printer at a local retailer. The printer shipped in an unusable state (it refused to print and one of the paper feeds spit out a metal spring at me, not a good sign), so I sent it back. It took 6 weeks and an angry email from me for them to ship the replacement unit. With Amazon this just doesn’t happen, or at least, has never happened to me.

JamesianP 8 days ago [-]
The return policy was the reason I started buying stuff (besides books) from Amazon in the first place. Initially it was just computer components where alternatives commonly had restocking fees and shipping costs for returns.

I think Amazon is going back to being a place where you only get certain things when you know exactly what you're looking for.

robryan 8 days ago [-]
In Australia a lot of their delivery is Uber style drivers and is usually faster than other options.
Drew_ 8 days ago [-]
The search experience on Amazon is not actually that bad. It's only bad if you're paranoid or picky. I don't use Amazon to discover anything that I'm actually passionate/picky about so I personally never have this problem.
fmajid 8 days ago [-]
Amazon used to emply Udi Manber, who literally wrote the book on search. Yet it still doesn't offer basic search features every search engine has had for years, like using quotes for phrases, the plus sign to require a phrase to be present in the search result, or the minus sign to exclude keywords or phrases from search results. That's by design.

Amazon search is so useless that about half the time I use DuckDuckGo to search Amazon itself.

fleddr 8 days ago [-]
Yep, and then when you finally have your sights on a product, there will always be that one review:

"Cable didn't work, instead it shortcircuited my TV".

sylvainkalache 8 days ago [-]
I would suggest adding Fakespot to your process. They analyze reviews and will spot the ones that are most likely fake, and then adjust the rating of the product accordingly.
sanitycheck 7 days ago [-]
I've looked at a couple of services which look for patterns in reviews to flag fakes, but I think this only helps me if I'm prepared to buy from third-party sellers - which I'm not.

Fake reviews are paid for by sellers shifting tat that Amazon themselves will not sell (because someone in that bit of Amazon still cares about quality). If Amazon themselves wanted to add fake reviews they could easily do it in a way undetectable by Fakespot etc.

Fakespot in particular is a business with a business model, and that is (I think) all about ads and affiliate links. Just a guess, but probably VC-funded with a pressure to actually make a profit somehow. I am thus not their customer, and their incentives may not always align with mine so it's hard to trust them.

ikt 8 days ago [-]
> It does feel just a little like Amazon's goals might not be perfectly aligned with those of the customer.

Why do you still use it? Is it just because it's cheap?

sanitycheck 7 days ago [-]
This is a good question. I use it a lot less than I used to, and I don't have Prime.

Sometimes it's because of price, if something's significantly cheaper on Amazon I'll buy it from Amazon. Free delivery tips it in Amazon's favour sometimes.

Sometimes it's availability. It can be quite painful to order things from outside the UK, most sellers aren't equipped to deal with VAT/duty their end so I end up with the delivery company holding packages hostage until I pay those (which is fine) plus a £20-30 "admin fee" for their package-hostage service. Pre-Brexit I could avoid this by ordering from elsewhere in the EU, but now I'm even more limited. Looking through my Amazon purchase history 3 of the last 5 things I've ordered are only available from Amazon in the UK (and at twice the price from a couple of dodgy looking online stores I've never heard of).

The other reason is their returns policy, if the thing I order doesn't work they'll take it back with no fuss and refund the money. Other major retailers in the UK make this difficult, frustrating and/or time-consuming.

I think they succeeded in retail because of a relentless focus on making the experience for customers better than their competitors. That's all still there, in the background - but it's being eclipsed by some other part of the org that wants to trick those customers into buying a load of shit.

8 days ago [-]
cryptoegorophy 8 days ago [-]
You are not their customer. You are a small percentage that they just don’t care about. 99.99% people don’t do what you do to search. They successfully click on ads.
dtgriscom 8 days ago [-]
I tend to check 3-star reviews; you (hopefully) find out what's wrong with a product, but not from someone who hates it and may focus on trivialities just to trash it.
russdill 8 days ago [-]
It's very frustrating the number of clicks that are necessary to get a list of reviews most recent first, and not just the first few.
tomrod 8 days ago [-]
Ads are infective. This is why folks are worried about Apple jumping into that revenue stream.
Mistletoe 9 days ago [-]
It’s refreshing to see this in the Washington Post, owned by Bezos. Tiny beacon of hope going out into the darkness.

Search ads on shopping websites are just capitalism taken to the natural end. Hopefully degradation of user experience will curb it somewhat. Our only other option is some sort of new Internet Bill of Rights being passed and I’m not optimistic lobbyists would ever allow it. We need some sort of fund for humanity that hires lobbyists with greater funds. We need voters that vote for candidates that would support the human right to freedom from manipulation from corporations.

ethbr0 8 days ago [-]
> We need voters that vote for candidates that would support the human right to freedom from manipulation from corporations.

Donate $3 to the Presidential Election Fund every year on your US taxes. It costs you nothing, is a single checkbox, and redirects $3 of your taxes into the fund.

Candidates that take money from the fund have additional (mostly good) limits placed on their spending.

It's not perfect, but it's free to do and creates an alternative to lobbyist funding.

https://www.thoughtco.com/presidential-election-campaign-fun...

judge2020 8 days ago [-]
> Candidates that take money from the fund have additional (mostly good) limits placed on their spending.

From the "Public funds received 1976-present" on this page[0], usage of these funds has steadily declined, likely because "To be eligible to receive public funds, the presidential nominee of a major party must agree to limit spending to the amount of the grant and may not accept private contributions for the campaign".

0: https://www.fec.gov/introduction-campaign-finance/understand...

ethbr0 8 days ago [-]
Yes. The last campaign that took them was apparently McCain.

But better to be a part of a solution, if the opportunity cost is $0.

Mistletoe 6 days ago [-]
I will do this, thank you!
moolcool 8 days ago [-]
> Hopefully degradation of user experience will curb it somewhat.

Sometimes the ads even betray themselves. Like I, as a rule, hate ads. I block them where I can, and where I can't, I do my best to ignore them. But then you get instances where the ad _is_ what you're actually looking for. Like if you search Amazon for "iPhone", you get official first party iPhone stuff from Apple, but they're sponsored listings. My proclivity to skip ads would make me scroll right past the only quality products on the whole page, into a slew of AliExpress level garbage.

z3c0 8 days ago [-]
I generally look at aggressive ads as a detractor to the product. Money spent trying to bait me into making the purchase is money not spent on improving the product. I'll always pick the non-sponsored product with the highest (written) reviews. I agree that we'll need to be even more aggressive than advertisers, as their boundaries are pretty much nonexistent.

For example, I'm an avid Sonic fan, but no amount of fan service could get me to sit through the constant advertising woven into the script. I'm going to just skip this franchise entirely. Whatever happened to just slipping a sign in the background?

monetus 8 days ago [-]
They have to buy their own keywords so that others aren't first in the listings right? They don't want Samsung to be the first thing you see. Hilarious and sad at the same time.
moolcool 8 days ago [-]
Yeah, it's one of the things I hate most about the ad ecosystem. The pro-ad argument is "they give the little guy a kick at the can", but that's tremendous bullshit. Try an example: Turn off adblock and search "Lejiled Wallet" (a very small French company which makes nice leather wallets). You'll get ads for much bigger companies (Fossil and Belroy) in the sidebar, and those ads will follow you all around the internet for months. https://i.imgur.com/lAaAdGM.png
kyleplum 8 days ago [-]
IMO the only thing that separates this from racketeering is that it's technically legal.
pohuing 8 days ago [-]
The future is booking ads for other brands so they catch the ire of the customer.
sgustard 8 days ago [-]
If you walk into a store and say "I need a cat bed," and the store directs you to the most profitable cat bed ... is that a violation of your proposed law? How do you legislate around that? There are a thousand cat beds! They are all the same! The store that doesn't take bribes to hype certain brands goes out of business! And all we have left is Amazon! I mean, I guess that's already happened, so ... what more do they want? Does Amazon have no shame? What if they used their monopoly to sell stuff honestly? Would their whole business collapse?
id 8 days ago [-]
We don't see what they are not reporting.
macintux 8 days ago [-]
Thankfully there are many other news organizations who aren’t owned by Bezos.
imiric 8 days ago [-]
Those are noble goals, but have close to zero chance of happening, and they won't address the root of the problem.

> Search ads on shopping websites are just capitalism taken to the natural end.

The issue is not just with search ads or shopping websites, but advertising in general. It's the primary business model of the modern web, and the main revenue stream for most Big Tech corporations. Considering their symbiotic relationship with governments, neither side has much incentive to change the status quo. Some change is slowly happening, but I suspect it will become much worse until it gets better.

We're lucky that ads are still somewhat blockable. Wait until browsers become WebAssembly interpreters, so that this isn't possible anymore, or for XR to become mainstream, allowing adtech to do much more invasive tracking and advertisers to buy a chance to deliver ads straight to your eyeballs. Label me a pessimist, but I don't see how any of this will be unavoidable in the near future, other than by becoming a luddite.

mclightning 8 days ago [-]
I opened the page and immediately got paywalled... Maybe that's the intention, create such a terrible enemy that the thought piece becomes mute.
jabo 9 days ago [-]
I recently had to buy something mundane - a light bulb, with a specific lumen and color temperature spec. Weeding out all the junk listings, ads and clearly fake reviews, I ended up spending an hour trying to get to the one I wanted to buy.

Had a very similar experience for another product as well.

At this point, I hesitate to look up stuff on Amazon just considering the time it takes to find stuff. I much rather prefer a curated list of products so someone else has done the weeding out.

It seems like Amazon’s philosophy of having the widest set of options for every product is actually not that useful in practice, at least for me.

The only reason I still keep going back is that they deliver many products on the same day to the neighborhood I live in.

VLM 8 days ago [-]
> a light bulb, with a specific lumen and color temperature spec

Sponsored links are always useless and should only be scrolled past on Amazon.

Typical disappointing Amazon experience:

Search for LED 8W. First result, sponsored link to an 11W bulb. Then a sponsored link to a fake marketing 21 watt bulb with fake lumen marketing. Then a sponsored link to six pack of 14W bulbs. The 4th link returned is a sponsored link to a 8W designer clear glass thing which is at least not off topic.

Not all searches are as toxic as LEDs. If you search for "oil 5w-30" only 10% or so of search results are totally wrong (like 10w-30, or 5w-40)

Another hilarious search term "chocolate almond milk" most of the results are bulk almonds, some milk-product made of bananas, several oat milk results, chocolate almondmilk pudding (OK, close enough, but weird), protein bars made of almonds, some soy shake drink, starbucks frappuccino vanilla, pea-protein fake milk, admittedly at least 1/3 of results are on topic.

I just searched for "4-40 SHCS" (a SHCS is a socket head cap screw, like to fix a car part). About 2/3 of the results are on topic, but then Amazon throws in "D'Moksha Small Short Thanksgiving Holiday Navy Table Runner Or Dresser Scarf (14 x 36 Inch)", what? Some of it is just bizarre. I specified 4-40 size so I get a search result for 5/8-11 machine bolts. OK then.

Its getting hard to buy stuff on Amazon, like they're actively trying not to sell what you ask for.

I do EE type stuff at work and home and I am spoiled by professional sites like Digikey, if you search for a 1K resistor they present you with a parametric search result of 1K resistors, not random assortments of 74HCT logic chips or teddy bears or rolls of solder like Amazon would.

hw 8 days ago [-]
Shopping on Amazon has been painful. Just takes so long when a few years ago it seemed as if I can trust what is sold on Amazon and search is a lot more relevant that I don't have to scroll a few pages to find what I want.

Yet I still buy almost everything on Amazon, and I still go through the pains of navigating around the sponsored products. The checkout, shipping, and returns experience is why I still use Amazon - not sure how long that lasts

racnid 8 days ago [-]
Ugh, McMaster, Grainger, Digikey and Mouser are such a treat compared to Amazon.
kennend3 9 days ago [-]
> I ended up spending an hour trying to get to the one I wanted to buy.

As someone who has been in the same situation I just go to my local Lowes/Home Depot now. The lighting section actually shows you what they look like turned on which is nice.

After doing some competitive price shopping it is rare that amazon's prices are competitive. I guess not having to go to the store is convenient?

> I much rather prefer a curated list of products so someone else has done the weeding out.

With amazon's commingling of inventory this isn't a workable solution.

ajmurmann 8 days ago [-]
The dreaded comingling of inventory is just the cherry on top. A curated list is there opposite of Amazon Marketplace. For years I wished that it was easier to just keep all the marketplace offerings hidden permanently since I want to buy from Amazon and not someone I've never heard of. At this point it's all such a blurred mess.
cunidev 8 days ago [-]
For most products, at least in Europe you can get the same cheap junk of Amazon listings from eBay at 20-40% lower prices, and usually (slightly) higher quality one from brick and mortar stores at the Amazon price.

I avoid Amazon in principle since many years (unless I _really_ need a product there), but that has never been hard, considering that most smaller stores always offered me more convenient prices, less hassle in searching, and the relief of not giving money to such a controversial giant.

walthamstow 8 days ago [-]
This + the eBay sellers in the UK use Royal Mail so goods are delivered by my postman, who already walks past my house every morning anyway
mrweasel 8 days ago [-]
As someone who dislikes eBay and prefer to deal with companies, rather then individuals, the UKs preference for eBay is interesting. Working for an eCommerce site we noticed that customers would prefer to deal with a lady in Scotland over us, for certain types of products. She just posted our product on eBay, added a few £ to the price, ordered them from us, typed in her customers address in the shipping fields.

Worked out for everyone, given that her customers would rather order on eBay and pay a little extra, compared to dealing with us. We got the price we wanted, plus we didn't have to deal with customer service.

shellfishgene 8 days ago [-]
It's weird, one would expect eBay to be more of a wild west than Amazon marketplace, but in my experience the eBay sellers are fast and mostly trustworthy.
midoridensha 8 days ago [-]
That's because on Ebay, there's seller feedback, and it's actually useful. People leave negative feedback if there's a problem, and the feedback is specific to that seller. If a seller has been on there for 20 years with a perfect 100% feedback score, you know they're trustworthy, and if they've been on there for 1 week with 0 feedback, you know they're not.

Amazon comingles listings from Amazon themselves, FBA, and independent sellers shipping things themselves, so there's not really a good way of telling if you'll have a good experience or not.

Guest9081239812 8 days ago [-]
It's the same thing in Canada. It's easy to identify the mass produced Chinese products. You search for an item on Amazon and find 30 different "companies" with random names selling the identical product with different logos. The prices will range from $10-30. I know if I go to eBay I can buy the same product for $2 with free shipping from China. I only have to decide if I want the product delivered tomorrow through Amazon or in 1-2 months from China.
shellfishgene 8 days ago [-]
I ordered something from Amazon a few weeks ago, and didn't check the shipping time. I turned out that the thing was sent directly from China and took 2 weeks. The tracking that Amazon provides did not even work properly. There is really almost no reason anymore not to order the stuff on Aliexpress for 20% lower prices.
BenjiWiebe 9 days ago [-]
What I do sometimes is search the websites of the manufacturers of the product. Like for SD cards I'll search samsung.com, for hard drives westerndigital.com, for light bulbs maybe creelighting.com, etc.
noveltyaccount 9 days ago [-]
More is less. Decision fatigue, terrible comparison shopping experience, nearly indistinguishable products. I think about this at the grocery store every time I look at yogurt or toothpaste, by the way.
YeBanKo 7 days ago [-]
For household stuff i started using Grainger and large hardware store more often, than amazon. It might be more expensive, buy i endup spending less time on a purchase.
tomohawk 9 days ago [-]
Try bulbs.com

Even when I have to resort to amazon, I usually end up using that info to find non amazon sites to purchase from. Why support a fake goods laundry service?

pibechorro 8 days ago [-]
amazon choice and most popular tend to do a lot of the sifting you want.
ceejayoz 8 days ago [-]
Amazon's Choice is bullshit.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/12/23/amazon-choice-badge-recommen...

> The company applies the “Amazon’s Choice” badge to some products that are unsafe, mislabeled and violate its own policies, a Wall Street Journal investigation has found. The label appeared on dozens of products that were banned, didn’t meet safety standards and featured fake safety certifications. It was also applied to controlled substances, like steroids and marijuana products, the Journal reported.

> In other cases, “Amazon’s Choice” listings were manipulated with specific keywords that would ensure they’d be included in the recommendation engine. The Journal discovered some third-party merchants have developed ways to game the algorithms that help determine which products are featured, by pushing consumers to buy an item, which artificially juiced sales and made it appear more popular.

jabo 8 days ago [-]
I’ve seen questionable reviews on Amazon Choice products as well. I vaguely remember reading that the labels are gameable since they are automated.
astura 8 days ago [-]
Plenty of complete shit get labeled as "Amazon Choice."

For example, "Amazon Choice" for "high security padlocks" is a poorly made Chinese knockoff that can be raked.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=Gflpf0DrCgw

ajmurmann 8 days ago [-]
Is most popular actually legit or does that get gamed as well?
andrewyates2020 8 days ago [-]
I worked on ad load optimization and founded a company that specializes in ad load optimization, here's an explainer video: https://www.promoted.ai/videos/unified-ads-search-and-feed-o...).

The cynical comments here align with my experience: when leadership demands now revenue, there is an iterative game where the only correct answer is "increase revenue now." If you run enough A/B tests and ask this question enough times over a large enough organization, more ads and 3p always result.

Most companies are trying hard to produce a great user experience. However, it's hard to measure subtle degradations to buyer experiences, especially when those degradations happen after the purchase or quality metrics corrupted by motivated sellers or advertisers. This is one reason obsession with A/B testing drives this poor user experience: it's hard to measure. Revenue now is easy to measure.

Another aspect you may not see as a buyer is that when the market is down, sellers are SCREAMING at their platforms to fix the problem. Same iterated game: give boost (discount, ad credits etc.), less screaming (for that team right now). What you see as bad as a buyer may be trying to appease sellers.

lastpingstandin 8 days ago [-]
I worked for Amazon on a team that touched this, and I can confirm this is basically true.

For recommended products, Amazon's algorithm prefers widgets that generate more revenue (which sponsored products has a huge advantage with), and thus those products typically get ranked higher.

BetterGeiger 8 days ago [-]
I manufacture and sell one unique product. I started with direct sales, doing okay, but it was clear that Amazon is where the real action is, so I tried to sell there. Getting the listing up was a slow and painful experience due to horrible seller service (this is typical). Finally it's listed. Around 15% of revenue is fees. That's with me doing my own fulfillment! Hardly any sales at first, so I had no choice but to advertise. It looks like another 15% of revenue will end up going to amazon ads. Amazon will probably end up making more money than me, just for being the middle man. That's if I'm lucky, because sales are still just a trickle, and I'll probably have to up my ad spend to get any real traction. It seems like the system is designed to put comparable products competing against each other and the one that rises to the top is he one that Amazon can squeeze the most blood out of, unrelated to what the user might benefit from. It's www.bettergeiger.com if you're curious.
fmajid 8 days ago [-]
Amazon will promote sellers who use their fulfilment service over those who DIY.

https://www.marketplacepulse.com/articles/fulfillment-by-ama...

dymk 8 days ago [-]
How is that not a violation of antitrust laws?
fmajid 8 days ago [-]
They've been fined for it in Italy. But yes, the law struggles to catch up with Big Tech's brazen violations of antitrust. The reason why is because you'd be surprised how short-staffed antitrust departments are worldwide, even in the US and EU. Big Tech, on the other hand, can afford armies of lawyers to stall, deflect and obfuscate, and when the fines eventually come due, just pay as a cost of doing business.
plandis 8 days ago [-]
What law do you think this specifically violates?
enraged_camel 8 days ago [-]
Laws are just words unless they are enforced.
tbran 8 days ago [-]
Frankly, you're probably better off learning some SEO, writing some articles in your niche, and waiting for a while (6-12 months) for your website to show up in Google results for as many keywords as you can.

Use a tool like Ahrefs (you can get 7 days free iirc, or just use it for a month and then cancel) to find keywords people search for in your niche and start writing. When you're selling stuff on the internet, keyword data is illuminating!

Use keyword data to think about why people want a Geiger counter (I see you have a survey!) and the kinds of problems they have, then show them how yours fixes their problem.

aslilac 9 days ago [-]
Amazon is unusable at this point, and I don’t get how they have so many customers. Free and fast shipping is no longer exclusive to them, and there are others out there with far nicer websites and no shitty ad listings.
savanaly 9 days ago [-]
I only need to buy something online every couple months, maybe once a month at most. I hate shopping so I'll be damned if I will spend 1 more second thinking about the process than I have to. Amazon always has the thing, ships it in 2 days, I can be relatively sure I'm not getting ripped off by more than +/- 25% and that's good enough for me. I've never had any issues with fakes that HN complains about all the time.

I think Amazon lives off the backs of folks like me, or maybe people that shop slightly more than me but not much. If I was the type of person shopping for things everyday I'd imagine I would branch out. But for the vast majority of folks consistency is king.

d23 9 days ago [-]
> I can be relatively sure I'm not getting ripped off by more than +/- 25%

I think this is the only thing keeping them afloat. How are you so sure you’re not getting ripped off? Did you know counterfeits can be sold under the “sold by anazon.com” branding because of co-mingling?

I used to have the same view as you until I started getting shoddy products consistently from brands that were otherwise high quality if I purchased in store. Then I realized I had no way to tell if what I was purchasing was real, and I started questioning why the lack of toothpaste I bought tasted different than normal and had off-color printing.

I’m just increasingly finding it not worth the worry, especially for things I put I my body.

nequo 9 days ago [-]
> Did you know counterfeits can be sold under the “sold by anazon.com” branding because of co-mingling?

I have also had a bad experience with "Sold by Amazon.com" so I'm not questioning the veracity of what you are saying. But how does this work? How can someone get a counterfeit product under this umbrella?

aidenn0 9 days ago [-]
My understanding is, if I sell an item with a SKU[1] 123456, and use "fulfillment by Amazon" it goes in an Amazon warehouse in a bucket with all the other items of the same SKU using Amazon's shipping. Then my inventory becomes just a number in a database.

People selling DVDs on Amazon were complaining about bad reviews because someone bought from them, but got a counterfeit sold by someone else.

1: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stock_keeping_unit

i_am_jl 9 days ago [-]
"Sold by Amazon" comingles identical SKUs from different sellers in their warehouses.

Seller A sells real Product Z on Amazon. Seller B sells fake Product Z on Amazon. When you order Product Z that is "Sold on Amazon" you might get a real one provided by Seller A, or you might get a fake one sold by Seller B

maineldc 8 days ago [-]
I believe what you are saying is possible for “Shipped by Amazon” not “sold by Amazon”.
0xcde4c3db 8 days ago [-]
I believe your description was accurate before ca. 2015, but at some point they reportedly started making commingling the default even for "Sold by Amazon" items. Commingling isn't the only issue, either; there's still the problem of products for which Amazon was never an authorized retailer and so their listing/SKU may have been created to sell counterfeits in the first place. In any case, there have been multiple lawsuits specifically alleging that counterfeit items were "Sold by Amazon" [1] [2] [3].

[1] https://web.archive.org/web/20201125141347/https://www.forbe...

[2] https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4495986/1/apple-inc-v-m...

[3] https://www.geekwire.com/2016/daimler-ag-sues-amazon-knockof...

mynameisvlad 9 days ago [-]
I mean literally the next sentence after your quote says "I've never had any issues with fakes that HN complains about all the time" so I'm pretty positive they do know about it.
groestl 9 days ago [-]
> How are you so sure you’re not getting ripped off?

If you do not _feel_ you've been ripped off, does it matter?

ncallaway 8 days ago [-]
Yes. I bought a ladle from Amazon. I noticed from some of the comments that a lot of people were getting a knock off ladle.

When I arrived, I checked to see if it was legitimate, and… it was not. It was a knock-off.

It was fine as a ladle. It ladled things. I never would’ve noticed or complained if I hadn’t seen the rules. No harm, no foul, right?

Absolutely not. That day I made a rule that I do not buy anything that goes on your skin, in your body, or health and safety kit from Amazon. If I can’t trust their ladles are authentic, I can’t trust their sunscreen or thermometers are authentic.

So, while the ladle didn’t harm me directly, it did pretty significant change my purchase habits.

YurgenJurgensen 8 days ago [-]
Well, you don't know that the ladle didn't harm you directly. If it's made of substandard materials that leech carcinogens into your food, the effects might take years to appear.
fmajid 8 days ago [-]
Or anything that involves electricity.
Retric 9 days ago [-]
Just because you don’t realize something gave you cancer doesn’t mean you can safely ignore the cancer.

Feeling like you got ripped off is one thing, having your house burn down from faulty electronics is much worse etc etc.

naijaboiler 8 days ago [-]
bought an apple charger, nearly set my house on fire. I opened up the one I bought from amazon, and the old one I had at home. weight, number of components, etc clearly told me it was a differnt product. Yeah I was done buying anything electronic from amazon.
ilyt 9 days ago [-]
Yes, as it is preying on the clueless
bogomipz 8 days ago [-]
>" I hate shopping so I'll be damned if I will spend 1 more second thinking about the process than I have to. Amazon always has the thing, ships it in 2 days, I can be relatively sure I'm not getting ripped off by more than +/- 25% and that's good enough for me."

My experience before I got rid of Amazon years ago started out similar but then I found that the process of shopping took longer and longer - trying to compare 50+ versions of the same thing, filtering out dubious looking sellers and brands etc. I actually started to feel like the experience was worse than just going to a store and carrying the the thing home. I also started to think the prices weren't really all that great because they became the same or or often slightly more expensive that what I could find in a brick and mortar store. Couple this with a general decline in Amazon's last mile delivery which seemed to be a whole other shit show where the contracting parcel service would mark them as delivered even though they hadn't actually been deliver yet and it just became a really miserable experience. Should you need to contact customer service and speak to someone you can pretty much dispense with another half hour of your time.

>"But for the vast majority of folks consistency is king."

For me there was very little consistency in the Amazon experience. It was hit and miss. From reading this article though it sounds like the thing that is consistent is an increasingly worse experience.

antisthenes 8 days ago [-]
For me it's the fact that they have literally _everything_ on their store.

I'm not going to go out and make 3 different accounts on sites that aren't Amazon, when I could save time and buy anything ranging from auto parts to PC parts to groceries on the same website.

Yes, a lot of it is rebadged Ali junk, but guess what, sometimes that junk actually does the work it's supposed to. If I'm buying a plastic towel hook for the bathroom, I really don't care where it comes from or if it's 50c cheaper on another website.

angelbar 8 days ago [-]
>I can be relatively sure I'm not getting ripped off by more than +/- 25% and that's good enough for me.

Look at Keepa for historic prices

wpietri 9 days ago [-]
Yeah, I've been weaning myself off Amazon for a while. Now if I'm shopping for something my general approach is to a) look for neutral reviews (e.g. Wirecutter and Consumer Reports), b) see if I can buy it from whoever makes it, and c) search on shopping.google.com to look for reasonable prices from some other vendor.

This is undeniably a little more work that just searching on Amazon and buying the first option. But it's about the same amount of work as using Amazon properly (skipping the sponsored listings, filtering out the dubious non-Amazon sellers, figuring out which reviews are fake, trying to tell whether the nominal maker is a real company versus some weird algorithm cloner or re-reseller, worrying over whether Amazon's inventory-mixing means I'll get a fake, etc).

I still end up buying some things from Amazon, but it's fewer and fewer, and I'm usually happier with the total outcome now.

fhd2 9 days ago [-]
I started doing the same 1-2 years ago! Felt bad about giving Jeff Bezos so much money.

At first I thought it was gonna be an impossible effort, but since I'd take Google over Amazon any day (although also not super happily), I do a lot of the last mile (finding a good/non-shady offer for a specific product I've already decided to buy through reviews) there. And usually I find it cheaper with equally fast shipping. For stuff I commonly buy, there are really strong competitors (at least in Germany) that I buy from by going directly to their website.

Had to first realise that a lot of the stuff Amazon was at first unique for, is now pretty much a commodity. And their offering certainly hasn't improved in the last years in my eyes.

wpietri 8 days ago [-]
For sure. Other places have gotten better, and Amazon has gotten worse for me. The way I interpret it is that Amazon started out with a really strong customer focus, but they've shifted more and more toward revenue maximization at my expense.
bumby 9 days ago [-]
My shipping has deteriorated massively in the last couple of years. What used to be 2 day shipping as a prime member is now often as much as 10 days. That, plus all the knock-offs and bad product quality, has made me stop using Amazon for much.
chrsig 9 days ago [-]
anecdotally, it seems really bimodal for me. Either I can get something same day/overnight, or it'll take a week or more
ceejayoz 8 days ago [-]
They've built out small, local distribution centers that stock the more commonly ordered items. When you're in an area with one and pick the right item, it comes same or next day.
justapassenger 9 days ago [-]
Main reason I still use them is 100% hassle free return policy. I don’t stress about buying something crappy, as I know I can return it, in very convenient ways.
account42 9 days ago [-]
Similarly, if the parcel service marks it as "attempted delivery not home" (even though I or someone else was home all day) and drops it of at a pickup on the other side of town (even though they have a branch around the corner) I can just order it again and count on amazon to refund the first order (and perhaps demand the delivery service be less shit). For a smaller seller a) I probably need to contact them to get a refund at all, b) more than likely they want me to eat the delivery fee for sending it again and c) even if they cover it they don't have any leverage with the delivery service to be less shit.
d23 9 days ago [-]
For some reason that changed for me lately and they no longer do free UPS pickup for returns. I have to go mail them myself, which tips the balance of the return convenience scale for me.
markbnj 9 days ago [-]
I rarely have to return things, but when I do have to return something purchased on Amazon it's basically: couple of clicks, get a QR in email, walk into the local UPS store with the item and hand it over, quick scan of the QR and done. Yeah it would be nice if they just sent someone to the house to get the item, but it doesn't surprise me that the economics of that don't work out.
bombcar 8 days ago [-]
It’s annoying because they used to give you a UPS label you could use, now they make me drive 30 miles to a UPS store.

I was able to get a label for one item and shove all the others in the same box and it worked. For now.

justapassenger 8 days ago [-]
I have Whole Foods, UPS drop off points, Amazon locker and Kohls all on the routes I frequent. And TBH, I prefer those over UPS pickup as making sure I’m home and running to the door when they arrive is not convenient for me. YMMV.
YurgenJurgensen 8 days ago [-]
Will their return policy rebuild your house when a faulty power adapter burns it down?
justapassenger 8 days ago [-]
And that’s relevant how?

I don’t buy unknown Chinese brands for stuff like that. And that’s getting harder. But that’s a separate issue.

YurgenJurgensen 8 days ago [-]
"Stuff like that" being what, anything mains-powered, anything with a lithium-ion battery, anything that touches your skin, anything that might get very hot as part of its operation, anything whose continued functionality manages the safe temperature or pressure of anything else, anything that connects to the Internet, anything that stores data, anything that touches food, anything you might ingest or inhale, anything load-bearing, anything that is costly or difficult to remove once installed, any components that fail in a way that damage other components in the same device, anything whose failure would block an ongoing project, anything that seals containers or conduits for liquids or gases, et cetera, et cetera? It turns out that the category of products who can fail in a way that wouldn't be covered by a full refund is actually "most products".

EDIT: Also collectables and randomised products such as trading cards.

Tempest1981 9 days ago [-]
I heard that if you return too many items, they threaten to prevent future purchases. Has anyone hit this? What is the return/purchase ratio?
GingerMidas 8 days ago [-]
I suspect it's more about value of returned items than the quantity. I have returned ~half of the items I purchased in the last year
verdverm 9 days ago [-]
tbh, just used Newegg this week...

2 day shipping costs more, they didn't even get it here in 2 days, they split my order into 8 orders, each tracked and emailed separately. I've been boycotting Amazon almost 5 years, but their competition really sucks to the point I'm thinking of going back. At least I've been able to avoid a lot of frivolous purchases for a while...

treis 8 days ago [-]
NewEgg rather infamously scammed Linus Tech tips and thousands of stories of them doing similar came out (myself included). I don't know why anyone buys from them. They will commit outright fraud and steal money from you.

Amazon at least maintains the fig leaf of plausible deniability and part of that is no questions asked returns.

thewebcount 8 days ago [-]
Likewise. I ordered 2 sets of batteries for our cordless landline phone from NewEgg. They sent me one set. I emailed customer service and they charged me for 2 more sets and sent nothing. Never doing business with them again.
CPLX 9 days ago [-]
Newegg has cloned the Amazon strategy. They also do marketplace stuff. It’s really just another example of the same thing.
dehrmann 8 days ago [-]
I look down on Newegg more for its marketplace strategy because it distracted from a niche it served well. By the time Amazon was doing its marketplace, it was already selling everything, so I didn't notice.
anon7725 8 days ago [-]
Try B&H next time. AFAIK they still ship everything themselves and don’t have marketplace sellers like Newegg or Amazon.
rqtwteye 8 days ago [-]
And they have the Payboo credit card that gives you back the sales tax.That's significant especially for higher priced items like laptops or cameras,
shagie 8 days ago [-]
I've always been impressed with B&H since they had customer support actively monitoring photo.net in days of old.
epage 9 days ago [-]
Not like I always get two day shipping anyways. They now shuffle things between warehouses so they can say it shipped in two days (from the closest warehouse) but the effective shipping time can be longer.
up2isomorphism 9 days ago [-]
Are you sure? I tried at least 4 other online shopping recently, the experience is horrible compared to amazon. There are bunch issues about return that eventually easily cost me more than what prime cost me for one year.
DoingIsLearning 8 days ago [-]
Are you sure? I tried at least 7 other online shops recently, the experience is amazing compared to amazon.

Returns are as easy as scanning a barcode at the post office. Product reviews are meaningful and don't have bi-modal distributions. Spam and knocks offs are non-existing.

The only downside is that I pay slightly more for shipping but arguably I am biased to believe that logistics couriers should have a living wage.

JohnFen 8 days ago [-]
Amazon is the worst of the places I've tried. They were even terrible when I had to return an item that arrived broken. I ended up without the item and without a refund.

I can't think of a single reason to recommend Amazon to anybody.

secondcoming 9 days ago [-]
Yes, the proliferation of stuff being sold by six letter Chinese sellers is incredible. It’s basically Ali Express but with faster shipping.
shellfishgene 8 days ago [-]
As I mentioned above, Amazon now also lists products that are shipped directly from China and take weeks. They have the tracking info from Yanwen shipping on the site, so this must be officially supported.
mynameisvlad 9 days ago [-]
Why is that a problem if the items work for their intended purpose?
smolder 9 days ago [-]
They often don't, like the extension cord I bought that flips my breaker when I plug it in. I don't want garbage products that were sourced from the dumpster next to a Chinese factory after they make a defective batch.
mynameisvlad 8 days ago [-]
"Six letter Chinese sellers" does not automatically mean cheap shitty defective rejects. If anything, that's just stereotyping and xenophobia.

For every one of you, I'm sure there's a dozen who have had no issues with the product. And I'm sure there's been plenty of people who have had the same issue with a name brand product that was made in the same factory by the same process and people.

smolder 8 days ago [-]
I'm not bagging on Chinese manufacturing in general, they build the worlds stuff, including super high quality+value items. Yet throwaway brands peddling junk that wouldn't have realistically made it onto the shelves of a big box store is a real problem on Amazon's marketplace, and other similar ones.
mynameisvlad 8 days ago [-]
> I don't want garbage products that were sourced from the dumpster next to a Chinese factory after they make a defective batch.

> Yet throwaway brands peddling junk that wouldn't have realistically made it onto the shelves of a big box store is a real problem on Amazon's marketplace, and other similar ones.

Either it's a defective batch of products that would have been sold under a brand name or its junk that would have never been sold at all. Both of these can't be true of the same product.

I'd also argue that being sold at a big box store is not really indicative of much in the 21st century.

kyleplum 8 days ago [-]
> I'd also argue that being sold at a big box store is not really indicative of much in the 21st century.

If you haven't already, I'd recommend spending some time reading about what it takes to get a product on the shelf at Wal-Mart/Target/Costco. When a companies reputation relies on what it is selling, the bar becomes a lot higher.

YurgenJurgensen 8 days ago [-]
Admitting that there's around a 1/13 chance of these products being garbage isn't really a defence. Those are really bad odds.
thaumasiotes 8 days ago [-]
> "Six letter Chinese sellers" does not automatically mean cheap shitty defective rejects. If anything, that's just stereotyping and xenophobia.

I've seen people complain that the vendor contact info is obfuscated and untraceable when it's obviously the business owner's personal home address. People will say anything about Chinese vendors.

astura 9 days ago [-]
Poor quality and potentially unsafe.
TacticalCoder 9 days ago [-]
> Amazon is unusable at this point, and I don’t get how they have so many customers. Free and fast shipping is no longer exclusive to them, and there are others out there with far nicer websites and no shitty ad listings.

I only started using them in 2017 and I still do use them sparingly. But typically only for stuff I buy directly from the brand's store on Amazon.

There are a few brands I still trust. They may all be going downhill at some point and the "official store" may actually be some front for cheap copies that stole the brand name, I don't know... But so far it looks okay to me.

Anker, Osram, Makita, S.T. Dupont (for refills), etc.

Last thing I bought from Amazon from some random brand was a box of 200 firelighters, supposedly ecological. I don't know if the brand is "true" or not, I don't know if they're actually ecological or not (they look like but it may all be a scam) but... They were cheap and they do actually help greatly lighting the fireplace.

So far Anker stuff looks like it's actually Anker stuff. Makita tools do look and feels like Makita tools, etc.

That's why I keep using them.

Now I do find the experience painful and I'm 100% sure that all these identical products but branded different when I search on Amazon for, say, 316L stainless steel are stuff that are going to rust in six months.

So I'd say that people using it because even if Amazon broken, it's still convenient to find all your usual brands in one place.

thewebcount 8 days ago [-]
> I only started using them in 2017 and I still do use them sparingly. But typically only for stuff I buy directly from the brand's store on Amazon.

Does this work? My spouse recently purchased some 3M N-95 masks directly from 3M’s Amazon store. They’re supposed to arrive in a box that has a code on it which you can enter into 3M’s website to verify it’s real and not a counterfeit. Instead they arrived in a clear plastic bag with no printing on it. There’s no code so I can only assume they’re either fakes or were pull from a larger box (which means potentially handled inappropriately). Given my spouse’s immune condition, that’s not a chance we really want to take so we’re going to throw them out.

pm215 8 days ago [-]
If you have the time/effort (which I appreciate you may well not -- there's a limit to how much it feels worth trying to tilt against megacorp windmills) it would be better to return them to Amazon, because otherwise it looks to Amazon like a successful purchase. Amazon do at least make returns less hassle than some other e-commerce places I've used.
dpkirchner 8 days ago [-]
And contact your country's customs agency as they monitor ports and try to watch for counterfeits. Assuming they came from outside the country.

Here's where you can report this fraud in the US: https://www.cbp.gov/trade/e-allegations/violations

socialismisok 9 days ago [-]
It's easy. It's easier to buy there than elsewhere because it's habit.

I stopped prime a couple years ago, I buy from other stores when I can, but sometimes you just need protein powder, spray bottles, stove gaskets, a 300 piece puzzle, and a cello stand. Amazon makes it possible to just buy one spot.

lotsofpulp 9 days ago [-]
Anything I ingest would not come from Amazon, or rather one of its numerous anonymous, unvetted sellers.
bloopernova 8 days ago [-]
Agreed. Anything health or pet related is a dangerous gamble with amazon.
10729287 9 days ago [-]
I quit Amazon one year ago and this also made my buying habits healthier. No more impulse buying. Eveything's connected.
r0fl 9 days ago [-]
Nothing comes close to matching the ease of using amazon. In Canada if I need Kleenex I search kleenex, click buy now and it arrives to my house the same day! Sometimes I have to wait until the next day. The total time spent on the purchase is way under 1 minute.

To use costco I have to buy at least $75 or shipping is not free. Walmart I have to fill out all my personal info and credit card info, and it's never same day shipping and sometimes there is a minimum amount I need to spend.

Driving to a store to pick up an item like this is just a giant waste of my time, gas, increases the chance of someone denting my side door in a parking lot from 0% to more than 0%.

There is no alternative that even comes close for simple items.

Symbiote 8 days ago [-]
Don't you consider how wasteful this is? Packaging and transport for a box of tissues, then the packaging to dispose of.

Write yourself a note if necessary (post-it, phone app, whatever) and buy Kleenex the next time you're at the supermarket.

r0fl 7 days ago [-]
I have the complete opposite logic. I have to drive my gas guzzling suv to get Kleenex and a few other items OR the person delivering Amazon packages can drive a few minutes from the house down the street that is getting an Amazon package.

Amazon is not driving the Kleenex from the warehouse to my house in an empty car!

My delivery is an incremental carbon footprint. Going to the supermarket is significantly worse.

skinnymuch 7 days ago [-]
The person said to buy it the next time you happened to be at the supermarket. Not to order a few items at a time. I believe they were specifically talking about going out of your way to be environmentally conscious.
lr4444lr 9 days ago [-]
Still worth it to me to avoid the spam of a hundred small companies giving my personal data to SEO and marketing experts to spam me, and despite the improvement in time and cost for individual merchant shipping, I have not seen the reliability of that speed approach anywhere near Amazon or Walmart level. Returns and fraud resolution are also extremely streamlined.
xadhominemx 9 days ago [-]
What are your preferred alternatives?
imglorp 9 days ago [-]
Yes.

The alternative is track down the original, individual vendor and deal with their custom sign up, shopping cart, shipping, and support on their site. Repeat with each different vendor for next purchase.

As much as Amazon hates its customers and vendors, it's got a consistent experience.

thaumasiotes 8 days ago [-]
> The alternative is track down the original, individual vendor and deal with their custom sign up

Where are these vendors that require you to sign up before you can buy their stuff? If you don't want to sign up... don't.

thewebcount 8 days ago [-]
While actually doing the signup is a pain, I just use a “hide-my-email” address and cut it off after I receive the item. And I’d personally prefer to enter my credit card info every time. I once accidentally clicked on the “Yes, sign me up for Amazon Prime today, even though I’ve turned it down literally hundreds of times,” button and they immediately charged my credit card without even an “Are you sure?” Alert. Luckily I was able to cancel and get it refunded relatively easily (after 5 screens of “are you sure?” And “do you want to just pause it for a few months?”).
YurgenJurgensen 8 days ago [-]
Almost everyone, in the UK at least, has a largely seamless experience with PayPal, Google Pay or Apple Pay these days. The shipping address gets auto-completed by interfacing with the payment processor and there's no account sign-up.

And since most of them actually outsource their websites to shopify or whoever, the user experience is basically as consistent as Amazon.

astura 9 days ago [-]
What's wrong with target.com?
imglorp 8 days ago [-]
I try to patronize the original vendors. The large markets like Walmart and Target squeeze their suppliers hard to widen their margins. So if everything's about equal, I'd rather go to the source, especially if it's a mom and pop so they get a larger cut of the same money.
bombcar 9 days ago [-]
Target

Home Depot

Best Buy

Walmart (this is getting polluted with "vendors")

carlivar 8 days ago [-]
Best Buy uses Ontrac shipping in my area and they are awful.
anon7725 8 days ago [-]
Cannot say enough bad things about OnTrac. They routinely throw packages at the end of our driveway instead of leaving at the porch like everyone else does.

The end of the (long) driveway is treed so sometimes we are literally hunting in the woods for our package after an OnTrac delivery.

bombcar 8 days ago [-]
Yeah I’m lucky in that everyone uses UPS or FedEx to reach me.
mancerayder 8 days ago [-]
Walmart doesn't seem to ship almost anything in my area, it seems to show In Store Pickup only for just about all the items.
chrsig 9 days ago [-]
one account to buy anything, quickly. having to sign up at a million independent stores sucks
ceejayoz 9 days ago [-]
Shopify and Apple Pay make it a lot easier than it used to be.
rednerrus 9 days ago [-]
How do you find the products that you need?
poooogles 9 days ago [-]
I tend to find `site:reddit.com $product` is often worth a shot.
edgyquant 8 days ago [-]
This is no longer reliable as companies know people are searching Reddit so account for it in marketting
q-big 8 days ago [-]
> Amazon is unusable at this point, and I don’t get how they have so many customers.

At least in Germany, using Amazon is often the easiest way to buy copies of foreign-language (often, but not always English) textbooks about scientific topics.

albert180 8 days ago [-]
Literally every other Bookstore has them listed too, with overnight delivery
q-big 8 days ago [-]
My experience differs.

Perhaps the reason is that the scientific textbooks that I love to buy are often "long-tail business", i.e. textbooks about very specialized topics.

The situation is even more biased towards Amazon if we are talking about used obscure textbooks in good condition for a fair price.

marcinzm 9 days ago [-]
- I get items in 1-2 days including fairly niche items. Some items take longer but it's clear which ones and those are just as slow elsewhere.

- I see reviews for the items and some of them aren't fake. The negative reviews with specific issues are particularly important (weak hinge, plastic parts, noisy, difficult warranty support, etc.). I know some other marketplaces either don't have reviews (ebay) or can trivially remove negative reviews (shopify sites).

- I can return items without too much hassle.

Finnucane 8 days ago [-]
I haven’t ordered anything from Amazon in several years and don’t miss it. Have stopped going to Whole Foods too. Fortunately I live in an area where I don’t need to buy everything online, I can still get most of the things I need locally, and if I don’t there’s a reputable specialty dealer, or ordering directly from the maker may be possible.
thaumasiotes 9 days ago [-]
> Free and fast shipping is no longer exclusive to them

It's much worse than that. They no longer offer fast shipping; you're not allowed to pay for it even if you want it.

dvngnt_ 9 days ago [-]
what sites?
rzimmerman 8 days ago [-]
Watching my parents get duped by Amazon results is maddening. They’re used to being able to trust a retailer or at least some consequences for scams and poor quality. People less scam-savvy than myself get understandably confused by “Amazon recommend” or a slightly lower price. But the minute I search for something on Amazon a dread comes over me of “here we go”. My danger center kicks in and I have to keep your wits about me. It’s a symptom of our (American at least) obsession with getting “the best deal” no matter what and it’s just awful.
Guest9081239812 8 days ago [-]
I visited my family the other month and my mother was searching for a product. I told her it's likely available on Amazon and opened the website. When I started scrolling she started commenting on the prices and how she can buy some of the products for 10x less in the store. I then explained to her that unlike a store, Amazon prices are mostly meaningless, and the site will have the identical product selling at 10 different price points.

People don't have to worry about that problem when they walk into a Walmart. They know the pricing has been carefully reviewed before the product touches the shelves. They know they're not going to see two identical products at Walmart with different stamped logos selling for $5 and $30. There's a level of trust you can buy any item and it's a fair value.

yalogin 8 days ago [-]
Over the last few years Amazon has been overwhelmed by Chinese goods and over time the search results has become similar to aliexpress. I would have never heard the manufacturer’s name and will never remember them either. All of them have close to 5 star rating and there is no way to even judge if they are any good. You buy if you accept that. Feels like it’s time for this to be disrupted.
noncoml 8 days ago [-]
When it came to shopping I used to blindly trust Amazon. Wouldn’t even check prices anywhere else.

Now, it’s always the choice of last resort. I really don’t like it when I have to shop on Amazon.

It feels like a combination of AliExpress and eBay. Delivery times are getting worse by the day too.

avitous 8 days ago [-]
I used to trust them a whole lot more, too. But of late it seems Amazon is leaning toward a cesspool of price gouging, and I've noticed a lot more of the presented results are "Sponsored".

Along with that, I stream movies on my TV, running clients, usually Netflix or Prime Video, on my xbox. Increasingly the Amazon prime video client wants to present me with options to "Rent or Buy" instead of free offerings (I am a Prime subscriber after all, and seek to take advantage of the free streaming offerings), sometimes a page of results will contain nothing but pay-to-play offers.

fmajid 8 days ago [-]
The iPad or browser version offer a "free to me" option. Unfortunately they also count their ad-infested service as "free to me".

In my experience Amazon has the best streaming service now. There's nothing on Netflix I want to see and I'd have cancelled the service a long time ago if it were not for my wife and 10 year old daughter.

silisili 8 days ago [-]
Came to say this. Some locations must still have it good, but where I live in the US, delivery dates are 7 to 8 days. Almost every retailer is way faster than Amazon.
Beaver117 8 days ago [-]
Aliexpress products aren't bad. And although they're very cheap at the source, I'm willing to pay a gigantic markup to get it in 2 days with free refunds rather than 2 months.
fmajid 8 days ago [-]
I've had recourse to AliExpress customer service in cases where what was sent didn't match the product description or was lost in transit. It was also slow because they have this weirdly procedural arbitration process that feels like the judiciary, but they reimbursed me.
shellfishgene 8 days ago [-]
At least to Europe shipping times from Aliexpress continue to get better, I often get stuff after a week now, mostly within 3.
fmajid 8 days ago [-]
I buy my electronics from B&H Photo, or cut out the Amazon middleman and get the Chinese stuff from AliExpress if it's not time-critical. AliExpress customer service is also slow, but fair in my experience.
russdill 8 days ago [-]
And 8 other identical looking products listed under a different manufacturer.
UltraViolence 9 days ago [-]
The article speaks of a tipping point and has aided in pulling it forward.

Unlimited greed is what eventually sinks a company. We saw it with AltaVista in the '90's (when the search results were all ads) and Google is slowly repeating this opening a space for a competitor to jump into.

marginalia_nu 9 days ago [-]
> Unlimited greed is what eventually sinks a company. We saw it with AltaVista in the '90's (when the search results were all ads) and Google is slowly repeating this opening a space for a competitor to jump into.

I'm not sure this is a helpful characterization. Greed is also what helped the same companies get where they were before they went to shit.

The problem is that you can only grow so far in a market before the only way to keep the appearance of growth is to make your product worse, either by producing it cheaper (like Toblerone) or by monetizing it harder (e.g. ads in paid video subscriptions).

navane 9 days ago [-]
There are always people working in these companies that are trying to get a good product to a customer. These are slowly replaced or overruled by A/B testers who want to maximize profit. I think that process shifts the company from actually doing a service, to greed.
s1artibartfast 9 days ago [-]
I dont think this is the whole picture. It is generally true that selling products and making a profit is the goal for both.

Optimizing the best result for each query can result in a terrible result for the minority of shoppers for that query. More importantly, it can lead to a terrible result for the majority of shoppers across many queries.

The problem is other considerations that A/B testing metrics often leave out (Satisfaction in the long term, in searches that dont lead to sale, and across multiple changes)

That is to say, on average most shoppers might want cheap shit for a given search. but sometimes, they might want a different/better product and get frustrated.

If you over optimize for the typical use case, you might still lose the typically user because they not typical in every way and every day.

treis 8 days ago [-]
At some point it crosses the line into fraud. Like look at this listing:

https://www.amazon.com/SAMSUNG-49-inch-Odyssey-FreeSync-LC49...

There's a little box that says:

>Protect your purchase

>Coverage for drops, spills and breakdowns (plans vary)

If you click through you'll see that the plan specifically excludes drops and spills. Two of the three things they advertise for.

Like that's just fraud and someone at Amazon green-lit this knowing that it's just fraud. It's not optimization gone haywire. It's discovering that you can make money scamming people and not having any qualms about scamming your customers.

Rury 8 days ago [-]
Not sure about A/B testers, but that is essentially the issue. Steve Jobs even talked about it back in the 1990s, about tech companies and markets of the 70s and 80s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4VBqTViEx4
s1artibartfast 8 days ago [-]
Yeah, it's like if you sell a multi-tool and realize that 90% of the time people just use the screwdriver. AB testing would tell you that you should make all the tools a screwdriver, but then you would have a shit multi-tool and no one would buy it except people that need a screwdriver.

This is what Amazon has done. They took their Marketplace and turned it into a search engine for the cheapest drop shipped product

numpad0 8 days ago [-]
And the problem is that the the snake has now reached its tail.

Maybe there are specific conditions, like it might help laundering or help deter competitors from entering their website, whatever that this scheme has a net positive gain for them, but this is insanity.

t0suj4 8 days ago [-]
I would describe it as the company has changed its priority from customer acquisition to customer monetization. When the company starts tuning by touching only its monetization knob, it slowly starts descending into death spiral. Depending on the competition it can take weeks or decades.
danaris 8 days ago [-]
There's been a shift in our culture over the past century or so (though mainly, I think, since the 1980s) in how we look at the purpose of a company.

It used to be that a fairly normal, mainstream company's purpose and goals were along the lines of "We make a product or provide a service, and doing that well enough/better than our competition makes us decent money."

Nowadays, it seems to be almost expected that the way a company operates is closer to "We are here to make as much money as we possibly can. If that means we have to make a product or provide a service, OK, but that's a necessary evil to the process of making absolutely ungodly amounts of money."

Google didn't get where it was before it went to shit because of greed. They got there because of genuine technical prowess, and a willingness to sacrifice possible revenue to provide an improved experience, with things like the bare-bones main Google page (as compared to things like Yahoo!, Altavista, and Infoseek when Google first appeared, which were laden down with all kinds of crap).

When greed took over, they shifted from the former mindset to the latter, and that's when things really started to go downhill.

ilyt 9 days ago [-]
Well, the difference would be "we find a niche and make a bank on it by being best at it" vs "we make a ton of money on the niche, how we can make even more?". I.e. being happy that you "made it" and continue to make the as good product vs trying to squeeze everything out of it to deliver investor returns.

Theoretically being too greedy like that should open niche for competition with better product that's less exploitative but that is really hard if the near-monopolist on market is big enough or the product is hard enough.

UltraViolence 8 days ago [-]
Sure, greed is good. But unlimited greed will eventually drive away customers as Amazon is illustrating very conveniently (and AltaVista before it).

Google too needs to be vigilant that it's decreasing utility isn't driving away users to a competitor.

edgyquant 8 days ago [-]
No innovation got them where they were
technovader 8 days ago [-]
Greed = Capitalism
eljimmy 9 days ago [-]
My spending on Amazon has diminished significantly due to the flood of Chinese copycat brands and products on there.

Wish there was a way to filter out products by their country of origin. Is there any alternative out there?

fmajid 8 days ago [-]
Amazon has actually been requiring vendors to supply this info for a few years now. They have it in their database, but refuse to expose it. The Indian government forced them to, mostly because they are in a cold war with China and want to wean themselves off from Chinese goods.
layer8 9 days ago [-]
This skit represents the experience quite well: https://youtu.be/nQpxAvjD_30?t=4s
Terretta 8 days ago [-]
I got this for my husband and he loves it.
chrisbaker98 8 days ago [-]
Haha this was amazing.
thefourthchime 8 days ago [-]
I was thinking the same!
Oras 8 days ago [-]
5 stars video haha
SoftAnnaLee 8 days ago [-]
> Here’s a modest proposal: No more than half of any screen we see at any given time — be it on desktop web or a smartphone — should contain ads.

I have to say, we have gotten extremely complacent if “half” your page being filled with ads is considered acceptable. I can understand the unfortunate reality that online services need ads to survive, but surely half of a screen is still far from acceptable.

charcircuit 8 days ago [-]
What's wrong with full screen ads? I honestly don't mind tiktok and reels ads at all despite them taking a full screen.
nottorp 9 days ago [-]
That's funny. I was scrolling down and after a while the article got covered by a popup ad with something about black friday! subscribe now!

And back to Amazon, i just don't search for generic products name on there. I just go to check if they have a specific product.

Same for the iOS app store etc. You just can't trust them.

akkartik 8 days ago [-]
I saw the popup and literally kept scrolling. Because it appeared perfectly centered on the amazon screenshot and I thought it was part of the screenshot. And as I scrolled more stuff got added to the screenshot.

It's a Poe's law world we live in.

mk89 9 days ago [-]
Search engines have overall become terrible due to ads. Amazon is finally a search engine with the extra step of selling a material good.

I have to admit that it has become difficult also for me to find a simple item without too much bias on Amazon. Last search I did a few days ago was for some beard balms and things like that. Finally, for some items I bought a known "safe" brand, while for other things I couldn't decide on I chose a local shop nearby. Yes, this exclusively because of the issue described in the article.

So it seems: if you don't know ahead what to buy, Amazon is not a good place to search for things. On the other hand, it's convenient for subscriptions to items you know you want and need (pampers, toilet paper, etc.)

...and don't get me started on "let's search for products made in XYZ" to narrow down the search. It's just impossible.

strenholme 8 days ago [-]
That’s why I use uBlock origin: It hides all of those Amazon ads. Also hides Twitter ads, even YouTube video ads, pretty much everything except Facebook ads (Facebook plays cat and mouse games with ad blockers).

While I don’t mind YouTube ads -- I have disabled ad blockers on that domain because I’m an electronic musician myself so strongly feel it’s important to support artists and musicians -- these Amazon ads are in my book unethical, since they look like legitimate results with only a light grey “sponsored” in small text underneath them.

Don’t get me started with how Amazon pesters me to join Prime every time I order with them.

nicbou 8 days ago [-]
This is the internet as I know it since a few years. Going without it is unbearable after just one or two pages. The cookie notices alone are unbelievable. It's wild to think that some people live with the unfiltered Internet.
LadyCailin 8 days ago [-]
FBPurity does a pretty good job on blocking FB ads. Not perfect, still cat and mouse, but that’s the only site it works on, so the devs spend more effort on only that.
odysseus 6 days ago [-]
Are there any reputable Safari extensions that hide Amazon ads? uBlock doesn’t work in Safari
AlexandrB 8 days ago [-]
Is it just me or does it feel like the major tech companies have completely lost the war against bots/spam? Search results are regressing across multiple online services[1] - Google, Amazon, and app stores are all filled with junk and scams. Reviews for products are generally filled to the brim with bots or paid reviews.

[1] I've noticed the re-emergence of Experts Exchange style sites on Google recently. For technical questions Stack Overflow or official docs are often near the bottom of the first page, while sites like w3schools or geeksforgeeks are at the top with much less useful content.

thomassmith65 8 days ago [-]

  Is it just me or does it feel like the major tech companies 
  have completely lost the war against bots/spam? 
It's just you; the major tech companies are winning the war. You yourself point out how useless and spammy search has become.
Terretta 8 days ago [-]
Try https://kagi.com and the Programming Lens

(Kagi is worth the subscription even w/o that: user is paying for search, not advertisers paying for eyeballs.)

Zufriedenheit 9 days ago [-]
I do my online shopping almost exclusively through comparison sites (idealo and geizhals). They have much better filter options. This also overcomes the problem with dynamic pricing where in some cases shops show me >25% higher price if I navigate to them directly as they show me when coming through a price comparison site.
dehrmann 8 days ago [-]
> idealo

That's a name I haven't heard for a long time. I decade ago, I worked for a company in that space. It was dying back then, getting killed by Google product ads and Amazon.

Vanit 8 days ago [-]
Amazon search results are nigh useless for me; it absolutely refuses to constrain the results based on my terms and just fills the results with vaguely related ads that aren't even what I want.

For example, I've been trying to find what 5k2k/WUHD monitors they have, but it completely ignores that and returns WQHD/etc, so I'm no better off than just scrolling through the entire monitor category myself.

wrycoder 8 days ago [-]
Try searching for “battery siding nailer”. You get everything but. All pneumatic.
jefftk 8 days ago [-]
Are electric siding nailers a thing? I've only ever seen pneumatic ones.
wrycoder 8 days ago [-]
You may be right about that. I haven’t discovered one, either.

All my other (amateur) residential construction tools are battery at this point, and I’d rather not buy a compressor and drag it around just for siding.

Why do you think the manufactures have avoided battery siding nailers? Too heavy?

agentcoops 8 days ago [-]
I’m part of the I’m sure infinitesimal and ever-shrinking portion of Amazon’s userbase who actually try to use the site to buy rare and used books. Most annoying for my experience is that they recently replaced what was in fact a best-in-class recommendation engine, which lead to a lot of my purchases, with a totally useless ad bar that displays universally terrible “related” books. There’s a world where after effectively cornering the world book market they subsequently destroy it (and they of course own and have effectively feature frozen competitors such as abebooks and bookdespository).
protastus 8 days ago [-]
I stopped ordering books from Amazon after twice receiving books shipped loose in oversized boxes, with obviously inadequate padding, leading to corners damaged in transit.

This would've been unthinkable in the old days (Amazon customer since 1995).

I'm assuming you order from Amazon marketplace retailers who you trust, and do their own shipping.

llanowarelves 7 days ago [-]
It's funny

Alexa is named after the Library of Alexandria. Their other products are named Kindle and Fire.

iamacyborg 8 days ago [-]
It seems buying rare and used books has mostly migrated to Facebook groups and ebay, at least for the sorts of stuff I collect.
KyleBrandt 8 days ago [-]
"Amazon has turned shill results into its next big thing. After selling $31 billion in ads last year, Amazon became the third-largest online ad company in the United States, trailing only Google and Facebook".

Got my attention more than than anything else. Seems to really be pushing antitrust to new heights?

PaulKeeble 9 days ago [-]
Its apparently not enough for a business this size to just sell products with good customer service any more. The customer service is long gone replaced by the computer saying no. The product listings are just ads and the reviews are all fake.
lightbendover 8 days ago [-]
One Day Shipping and aggressive FC expansion led to a completely inordinate logistics cost. Pretty good reason Wilke is gone and Jassy had the chance to step up to me, but I can’t speak to that with authority.
hermannj314 9 days ago [-]
This article was full of ads, many of which had no relationship to the article I was reading.

In the early 2000s, I dont remember this being a problem.

It is not your imagination, reading on WaPo has gotten worse.

HDThoreaun 9 days ago [-]
I think the point of the article is that the ads are incredibly deceptive, not that they just exist. Wapo ads aren’t really trying to trick you, the Amazon ones absolutely are.
xdavidliu 9 days ago [-]
Firefox with ublock origin solves this problem easily.
PaulHoule 8 days ago [-]
I have contacted AMZN support about obviously bogus and word salad product listings but they say they won’t do anything unless you bought the product.

I don’t think they understand that when more than 50% of listings are obviously bogus you don’t have much confidence in the ones that remain. For me AMZN went from the first place I looked to the last.

syntaxing 9 days ago [-]
It has absolutely gotten out of hand lately. 2 sponsored product, 3 regular listed, 2 sponsored product, continued perpetually. Walmart has been pulling the same stuff lately and it’s infuriating.
YurgenJurgensen 8 days ago [-]
At a certain 'sponsored product' density, the 'sponsoring' effectively just becomes an additional mandatory listing fee.
proee 9 days ago [-]
Would it be possible to create an Amazon "Ad blocker" of sorts that hides all the sponsored products and store promotions?
cookiengineer 8 days ago [-]
I write it again: I am so glad that the geizhals.eu (.de/.at and skinflint.co.uk) website exists in Europe.

It's probably the best price comparison website that I've seen, and it has soooo many dedicated filters for each category.

I don't know how to buy hardware when geizhals is gone, because both amazon and ebay are the most ignorant searches that I've used. No matter what you type in there, no matter how often, no matter what you "quote".

Everything gets pushed aside for the sake of useless ads that have nothing to do with the things you are searching there.

With geizhals, you see the price history, a lot of similar products, and a lot of feature based comparions that you can do when you're undecided on what to get. And a lot of private/ company online shops that are included in their dataset, so you can support them.

For example, take a look at the filter options in the CPU categories. It's insane what kind of development went into it. [1]

[1] https://skinflint.co.uk/?cat=cpuamdam4

[2] https://geizhals.eu

CosmicShadow 8 days ago [-]
Scamazon just sucks now. It was once good, but every time I go to use it I waste time and get frustrated. I now only seem to buy stuff where the trade off on research vs going to store is not worth it and buy their probably crappy prime brand batteries.

I've been floating like $100+ of amazon credits for months because I keep getting damn gift cards and more credit from returns. Sure there is things I kind of want, but I end up saving it for things I need, and then when I waste time researching what to buy on Amazon, I end up not buying it on Amazon because of their awful fake reviews and cloned YGGFSS named brand items.

It's a real shame that brick-and-mortar stores don't realize their advantage is that I'd rather pay more and drive to pick something up TODAY than waste time waiting and risking garbage on prime, yet they flood their own stores with "online seller marketplace items" or nothing is ever in stock.

PaulHoule 8 days ago [-]
I used to like Best Buy but increasingly I am frustrated with their wide but shallow product line. They stock grills and washing machines and even stock one entry level mirrorless camera but no lenses or quality accessories. Out of 10 parts I need to build a PC they stock maybe 2. I think they kid themselves into thinking I will drive there just to buy the 2 parts and then buy the rest online with somebody else but it doesn’t work that way. I was happy to be able to spend a credit I had on a DVD of The World of Susie Wong because I can’t count on them having particular movies.

AMZN is killing them based on the strength of their product line but killing themselves because the product listings are flooded with bogus results that you just don’t get with reputable but failing retailers.

chrisbaker98 8 days ago [-]
> YGGFSS

What does this mean?

chihuahua 8 days ago [-]
It was probably meant to be an example of the millions of machine-generated nonsensical names that a certain kind of 3rd party seller uses. Typically these names are a bit more pronounceable - the algorithms that generate them usually include some vowels.

Examples from a search for bike fenders: TAGVO, XINBOUS, MEGHNA, NICEDACK, RBRL BRL, ENLEE, FETESNICE, JIVMEE

banana_giraffe 8 days ago [-]
And sometimes the machine generated product descriptions seem to have gone live seemingly without someone that speaks English giving them a once-over:

https://imgur.com/a/kvvO7dM

CosmicShadow 8 days ago [-]
Yes, it was a nonsense example brand name meant to look like how they are all 6 capital letters.
nicwolff 8 days ago [-]
Wow this thread is the only Google result for "YGGFSS" that isn't a catalog site.
aendruk 8 days ago [-]
Nonsense all-caps throwaway brand name?
chrisan 8 days ago [-]
I don't mind the ads, they are clearly labeled "sponsored".

What I hate is all the fake reviews influencing my choice. You buy something highly reviewed then receive some giftcard/offer or something in the packaging saying to leave a review and get something in return.

Now I have to "reddit productX" and read there before making a choice.

hubraumhugo 8 days ago [-]
We're building a product research engine with Reddit's favorite products in one place: https://looria.com/reddit/overview
Terretta 8 days ago [-]
Welp, there goes reddit product discussions. This is why we can't have nice things! (J/K)

Love the idea, and I actually used your site when shopping for espresso machines recently.

I just worry about social media agencies turning their tactics onto ranking in your algo. There are SEO kings reading this thread right now...

aenis 8 days ago [-]
Interesting in how it resembles the situation in traditional retail.

FMCG companies typically pay a lot of money in so called trade funds to the likes of Walmart, Tesco, and others. One company I worked for spent Approx 20pct of its topline a year on that - double digit billions. Ostensibly, this is to place the product on the right shelves, run promos and have the products featured in the chains' newsletters.

The real reason is, however, efficient taxation. The "trade funds" make all the profit for legacy retailers. Branded products are sold at near zero, or sometimes - if allowed - negative margins. The operating companies make near-zero taxable profits. The marketing spend is typically channeled to different legal entities than actual sales and taxed "efficiently". I think it might be the same with Amazon.

alangibson 8 days ago [-]
It's the same problem on German Amazon too.

Results are loaded up with so much junk that I've started to wonder if there is a good arbitrage opportunity here. Basically filter out the garbage and fake reviews in your own curated search and recommendation site. Get paid via Amazon affiliate program.

Arubis 8 days ago [-]
Amazon-the-store is mostly near-shored AliExpress + 7-Eleven at this point. That's got its uses--it's awfully convenient!--but it leaves them open to niched-down competitors that I would love to give my money.

AWS, on the other hand, feels pretty sustainable.

Scoundreller 8 days ago [-]
Iunno, Amazon has last-mile delivery down to a science relatively inaccessible to small sellers.

Maybe with enough time, non-Amazon services will pop up more and more with the same kind of reach.

I think postal shipping is still within reach in USA, but in Canada, the post sees parcels as a profit-centre and are shouting themselves in the foot as their volumes drop.

cratermoon 8 days ago [-]
What Shopping On Amazon Feels Like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQpxAvjD_30
Hackbraten 8 days ago [-]
Not only hilarious but also extremely relevant. It’s essentially TFA in comedy form.
GekkePrutser 8 days ago [-]
I agree with the article except for the criticism about Amazon promoting their own products. I don't mind that part. After all I go to Amazon to buy stuff from Amazon. In fact I wish I could just select a box and filter out all the third-party sellers. There is too much completely unvalidated scammy stuff on there, even in the "shipped by Amazon" category.

However they don't have this option probably because then none of these ads would be relevant.

By the way, another thing I've noticed is that Amazon sometimes doesn't even come up with the right products if you type the actual product name. It just comes up with suggested crap that's not what you're looking for. The actual thing I want does not come up, even on the further pages.

Often I think Amazon doesn't have the thing I want, and then I google (or duckduckgo more often) it to find it somewhere else, and the first result is... A link to Amazon with the thing I wanted! In stock, first-party and for a good price.

It's really ridiculous that I have to use a third-party search engine to find what I need when I specify exactly what I want!

pigbearpig 8 days ago [-]
I thought there was a seller filter. I know I’ve used it before to only show Seller: Amazon.com.
GekkePrutser 8 days ago [-]
It doesn't come up for me on the left-hand side where all the filters are :( Just double-checked.
8 days ago [-]
zug_zug 9 days ago [-]
Time for somebody to make an alternative interface, like teddit.com. I imagine this could be done with front-end code only.
verdverm 9 days ago [-]
CORS, unless it is run locally, plus you'll have to reverse engineer the APIs. Might be easier to write a browser plugin that improves the current UI
pupppet 9 days ago [-]
Gutsy article by WaPo considering its owner.
ceejayoz 9 days ago [-]
I worked IT at a Gannett-owned newspaper. Reporting negative news about Gannett was one of the reporters’ joys.
lelandfe 8 days ago [-]
And they even provided a spokesperson to speak on record for it. Awfulness of the ads notwithstanding, I'm definitely impressed that Bezos let this run.
mannschott 8 days ago [-]
I was shocked by how spammy Amazon.com's search results seemed compared to what I'm accustomed to from Amazon.de. I'm not a regular user of Amazon.com but have had occasion to do so since I'm visiting family in the US. Amazon.de is the "local" Amazon where I live.

Is this an affect of differing laws in the EU versus the USA? Differences in leadership of Amazon.com versus Amazon.de? Differences in perceived market expectations? Perhaps the average American consumer is expected to be more tolerant of this kind of thing? (I wonder because I compare the robo-call-infested hellscape that we've made of our telephone system compared to the rarity of such abuse where I live in Europe and wonder if we, in the US, are just more prone to behave in a way that produces tragedies of the commons.)

chaostheory 8 days ago [-]
As shown by this and countless of other articles, including comments here and places like Reddit; Amazon has gotten to Day 2 years ago on Jeff’s watch

Just to ensure that you don’t buy a fake product, it’s now normal to check if there are any 3rd parties using Amazon warehouses in the Other Sellers section

gumby 8 days ago [-]
For the mixer example, it seems the way to do it is to go to the brand's "store".

Perhaps there is a way to get there directly but the only way I know is to search for the brand name, scroll down until one of the brand's products appears (even if the offered example isn't what you want), click on that, and then on the product page you'll see "visit the <brand> store", if there is one. I assume it's something the company has to pay for as well.

Actually I just tried searching for "kitchenaid store" and mirable dictu the first page of results was all kitchenaid products.

I would give up on Amazon but some smaller brands (e.g. Anker) sell only through Amazon.

seydor 8 days ago [-]
When you attract a lot of attention, inevitably ads will make more money for you than your initial product. You become a middleman, a hub, a celebrity, a politician, a higher up. This leaves the space below open to competitors and puts you in a more lucrative position.
strathmeyer 9 days ago [-]
Amazon will also do something where certain drugs will be the top of searches for other drugs or sometimes for example drugs for cats will show up even if you search "for dogs" so if you aren't paying complete attention you might not realize your mistake.
8 days ago [-]
stef25 8 days ago [-]
Bad:

- Fake products, including outrageously a Delonghi coffee machine (paint came off the buttons after a few days and then the machine just broke). - Chinese crap with brand names that sound computer generated - Here in EU you'll get some product descriptions in the wrong languages (Polish, Italian ... on the .fr domain), or images that have Chinese text on them.

Good

- The refurbished / Amazon warehouse stuff is great. Just bought 2x 27" computer screens at a price far, far lower than what any other shop was offering. Same for a PS4 a couple years back. Looking at doing the same for a television. Who cares it the remote doesn't have batteries or some cable is missing. No other store here in EU comes close to the prices Amazon has.

jbuzbee 8 days ago [-]
I just got done searching for an accessory for a specific model of car on Amazon. My results prominently included items (ads) for accessories for a different model of car that would not fit my car. How does that help anyone? Wasted money for the company buying ads. Wasted time for me trying to figure out what is really applicable. And if I wasn't careful, I'd have ordered the wrong thing and would have to return it wasting everyone's time and effort. I guess Amazon got their money for showing me the ad. Worth it? I wouldn't think so, but I'm not one of the richest person in the world like Bezos - My lack of vision?
nblgbg 8 days ago [-]
I really miss "customers who also brought" features. I used to discover a ton of good books with that. Now it's all advertising. The whole search results are advertising and recently they are not relevant also any more.
8 days ago [-]
thefourthchime 8 days ago [-]
I have uBlock and fakespoter installed on my browser. I had to open another browser where I wasn’t logged in and had no extensions to reproduce the results.

I don’t know if the filtered results are that much better. But it is free from blatant ads.

ozzythecat 8 days ago [-]
Ads = revenue = promotions.

I was at Amazon for over a decade. Show YoY growth in terms of revenue, you’ll get a bigger empire. Sr. Managers become Directors. Directors become VPs. The senior engineers who worked on the low latency performance optimization becomes principals. The tech program managers become principals as well.

All the other cogs in the chain either get burned out, managed out, or they bounce to AWS, maybe Alexa.

All the analysis and commentary in this thread is interesting, but there’s nothing complex here. It’s basic incentive structures incentivizing undesirable outcomes.

tomxor 8 days ago [-]
How are they identifying these as ads?

I really can't see any differences (which I suppose is the point the article is making)... but if so, how are they confident what the highlighted listings are ads?

2pEXgD0fZ5cF 8 days ago [-]
It has become impossible to find certain products on Amazon unless I know the exact name of it already, instead it will show me multiple pages of garbage that does not even belong to the same category. Often times Amazon will refuse to show me the product I am looking for, going as far as not even list it in the 3-4 pages of results, as if it did not exist. Then I go and enter the exact name and suddenly it shows up, but even then it is often not even among the first results...
opdahl 8 days ago [-]
First thing that popped up when I scrolled down on this article was a big modal telling me there is a Black Friday deal on a Washington Post subscription[1]. I first thought that it was some fun ironic joke made by the journalist/editor, but nope it's just ironic.

1: https://shottr.cc/s/CzrR/SCR-20221125-gtp.png

citizenpaul 8 days ago [-]
>But now that I’m aware Amazon is playing games, I start my shopping on Google and trusted reviews sites, and then head over to Amazon only once I’ve identified what I want.

So the author has stockholm syndrome. What I do is go to the company website and see where I can order besides amazon. Though some sellers only do sell on amazon.

This is basically an echo of the Ticketmaster post a week or two ago. I hate them and they abuse me as a customer but I still keep giving them money.

geuis 8 days ago [-]
I ran into a similar issue a couple days ago. I was searching for 3D printing supplies and literally everything had the price as "from (some amount of money)". Then when I go into a product, literally nothing was marked at that price. Most of them had multiple versions of the same product all at slightly different prices, all of which were much higher than whatever the original "from" price was set as.
defanor 8 days ago [-]
I had to allow JavaScript execution in order to read this rant about ads, and the website used that to present the "Black Friday starts now" modal popup/ad (which managed to get past uBlock Origin). Briefly wondered whether it's a part of the rant/article, but apparently it wasn't. Not exactly the same thing as it rants about, but still an odd combination.
taoufix 8 days ago [-]
It's hard to trust Amazon products even when shopping for brands. Every time I search for a brand name, after filtering the recommended non-brand stuff, on the brand product page itself, a lot of reviews say the product is a knock off.

Nowadays I just go to brand.com and shop from there, it cost 5-25% extra, but at least I have some guarantee that I will not end up with a fake.

Marsymars 8 days ago [-]
> “We are dedicated to providing customers with a world-class shopping experience, including working hard every day to ensure the ads they see are useful, informative, and help make shopping a little bit easier,” said spokesman Patrick Graham.

If they were actually confident in this, they could give every user the option to toggle ads on or off. Maybe even limit that option to Amazon Prime subscribers.

syliconadder 8 days ago [-]
I think most comments here are America centric where Amazon might've peaked. Even without Prime, Amazon has been the best e-commerce site I've used in Europe or India. The customer support itself warrants the price they ask for and it's usually the cheapest in the market. It is possible that it will head the same direction with market saturation but for now the promise still lives up.
Justsignedup 8 days ago [-]
I just tried using it with/without uBlock Origin. Holy shit is the experience different. Every single person on earth needs uBlock Origin.
donaldbough 8 days ago [-]
After starting up at Amazon ( biased opinion), it really is impressive to see the relentless customer focus. Even at the cost of short term profit or wall street gains, they have historical proof of putting the customer first.

Lots of Amazon ads? Sure. But they're generally useful, and the teams building the "not as profitable e-commerce" will be making something people love.

Tepix 9 days ago [-]
Amazon is awful to shop at. I accidentally bought the wrong article twice already because i was searching for something and it showed me something else and i wasn't paying super close attention. It must be contributing to a lot of returns.

These days when i buy something at Amazon it's because i found out elsewhere that one particular product is being offered at a good price there.

unnouinceput 8 days ago [-]
I can die peacefully now. I lived to see a negative article in Washington Post about Amazon. Did I missed something? Is WP no longer Jeff's vomit (like the flurry of articles about how bad Amazon's worker doing a union would be for them, that flooded WP not even a year ago)?
Razengan 8 days ago [-]
Everything everywhere is become a f'ing ad. Even the damn posts and comments on social networks like Reddit and sometimes even HN masked as genuine opinion.

Ads are pollution, cancer, and pandemic.

When will the masses buckle under this incessant accursed FATIGUE and demand enough be enough?

butMebbe 8 days ago [-]
The path to success now is still the Walmart model but you have to take longer to get there subtlety. The other Walmarts are out there monitoring for threats and will litigate!

So you have to appear novel to early adopters, and grow into being a landfills cash cow in a politically correct way.

toofy 8 days ago [-]
about 6 months ago i just stopped ordering physical products online entirely.

i noticed that i was needing to return way too much of the stuff i ordered.

clothes sizes were completely wrong or the material was just cheap.

cords and other accessories were cheap or just plain the wrong item.

household items _really_ didn’t match the pictures. scale was all wrong, etc…

it’s just so much easier to walk into a store, actually touch the product and literally walk away with it immediately knowing that it’s what i wanted.

it’s also just nice to be out and about.

i suppose im lucky that i live in a populated area and have physical stores i can go to tho. a lot of people don’t have that option.

it really is frustrating how low online shopping has sunk. but the amount of deception shops have turned to online is just an awful experience.

tempestn 8 days ago [-]
Anybody else remember the days when you'd be looking at a product in a physical store, and check the Amazon reviews on your phone before buying it, because that was the easiest way to get reliable feedback? How things have changed since then!
mark_l_watson 9 days ago [-]
The article is not wrong.

I find myself “shopping” by looking at my previous orders and selecting things that I liked before.

Amazon Prime is now more of a $10/month source of streaming entertainment content.

It does feel good to buy direct from manufacturers but I do a price comparison with Amazon first.

8 days ago [-]
roflyear 8 days ago [-]
You would think that a third party could curate Amazon listings and make a lot of money on affiliate links.

But part of me thinks the problem is not just digging it is that many vendors moved off Amazon in general.

AlexandrB 8 days ago [-]
Even if you curate listings you can't fix Amazon's inventory commingling. And, as with other review services, curation would hit conflicts of interest if it got popular as less scrupulous operators would be happy to pay more to have their product listed than consumers would pay for reliable curation.
nytesky 9 days ago [-]
Have to say this is impressive commentary coming from Bezos owned WP.
8 days ago [-]
rsaxvc 9 days ago [-]
Alexa is powered by the forges of mount doom, which burn only cash.
etothet 8 days ago [-]
And it’s not just Amazon. This is now the way the web works. In fact, on mobile most of the linked article becomes hidden beneath a WaPo Black Friday ad and a Google ad.
z9znz 8 days ago [-]
This comedy skit illustrates the same in humor: https://youtu.be/nQpxAvjD_30
stewx 8 days ago [-]
Kudos to the Bezos-owned Post for openly criticizing Amazon.
heisenbit 8 days ago [-]
Emperors have a great need for honest feedback on their lack of clothing. The biggest risk to them is being surrounded by all yes people as Putin is learning painfully.
notpushkin 8 days ago [-]
This is probably how most of us imagine Amazon still works. But today advertisers are driving the experience.

Story continues below advertisement

Ozzie_osman 8 days ago [-]
This statement generalizes to: Almost everything on (ads-monetized tech product) is becoming an ad. The ads business model is just too powerful.
swayvil 9 days ago [-]
>Let me be clear: Advertising isn’t necessarily bad...

Sure it is. It's legalized production of mass-insanity.

When communication isn't intended to fuck your mind we call it "news" or "conversation" or something like that.

Advertising is most definitely 100% evil. The only reason anybody says otherwise is because that implies all kinds of scary stuff about our society and nobody wants to go there. Also, because such statements offend our sponsors. And also, if you are in the advertising business, talk like that makes you look like a real Morlock.

I think that's crystal clear.

kypro 8 days ago [-]
Off-topic, but does anyone know how these dynamic articles are created? I assume it's a manual process, but always been curious.
aeharding 8 days ago [-]
Amazon prime isn’t even two days anymore in Madison. It’s more like four or five days. I don’t understand what people value in prime anymore.
akomtu 8 days ago [-]
Amazon is certainly getting more scummy. Last time I made an order, it sneakily turned one item into a subscription (in a tiny font it said "the next arrival scheduled on...") and stopped showing cost of the faster delivery option it selected without asking me, i.e. it selected the 2nd option which is 3 days earlier, and that option had no price tag on it, only when I chose the slower option, it showed that the faster ootion is 10 bucks (on a 30 bucks item).

We are seeing how capitalism is advancing to its next phase: false advertising. Shorty after will follow another phase: extortion (uncancellable subscriptions, automatically signed legal agreements, etc.)

wkdneidbwf 8 days ago [-]
i’m not sure exactly when it happened, but i slowly lost confidence shipping on amazon. too much crap and too many fake reviews. at some point it began to make sense to just go to a store again—as it turns out also means i make a decision about how much i actually need something.

amazon fucked up bad by chasing growth at all costs. sounds like a lot of tech companies these days.

maxnevermind 8 days ago [-]
I find a general web and pictures Google search for shopping on Amazon more effective, native Amazon one is a dumpster fire.
pkrotich 9 days ago [-]
Ad and junk… I recently ordered speakers and I got broken ones that looked like it was rescued from a bin / dumpster.
coding123 8 days ago [-]
These aren't the same thing as ads. It's paid placement, same thing happens in your local grocery store.
Cipater 7 days ago [-]
Paid placement is quite literally advertising.
JohnFen 8 days ago [-]
Paid placements are a kind of ad.
anticristi 8 days ago [-]
We look this awesome technology called the Internet and turned it into an ad pipeline.
fatneckbeardz 8 days ago [-]
I agree this is horrible.

(this comment is sponsored by Honey, the best way to save money online)

weba11y 8 days ago [-]
over the years Amazon is getting harder and harder to find products on. I'm sure 10 years ago the quality of products was much better (even if it was a smaller amount of different products available).
pliuchkin 8 days ago [-]
Is it time for a browser extension to ad block Amazon internals?
Exendroinient00 7 days ago [-]
Most of reviews are also entirely false and botted.
Ruq 8 days ago [-]
I find it ironic the Washington Post has this article.
BaudouinVH 8 days ago [-]
WaPo going after its owner ? Interesting.
pftburger 8 days ago [-]
Doesn’t Bezos own the Washington Post?
stankbear 9 days ago [-]
Always interesting when WaPo writes about Amazon.
pydry 9 days ago [-]
It's a bit like that scene in Citizen Kane where he pens a scathing review of his wife's singing because he realizes that everybody knows and any further pretense will only humiliate him further.
fefe23 8 days ago [-]
That was my first reaction as well but then I realized I can't actually read the article as Wapo gave me a paywall nagscreen that had no X button.

Might as well not have written the article in the first place.

Media is eating itself. And then they are all STUNNED to find out that Fox News has more readers then them. You know who else doesn't bombard you with paywall nagscreen shit? Infowars! Breitbart.

moolcool 9 days ago [-]
It runs deeper than just everything being an ad. It's also completely flooded with rebadged junk from dropshippers. A few weeks ago, I was looking for a new whetstone, and this is what I got when I searched Amazon

https://i.imgur.com/1Utp2dF.png

The results keep going like that. You see constant repetition of the exact same units with slightly different branding, often with the same stock photography, repeated for page after page. It used to be that you could count on Amazon to give you pretty solid results when you wanted something. It was great, it really took the fuss out of shopping when you didn't have to do 10 google searches when you needed to buy a USB cable or something. Now Amazon is nothing more than AliExpress with faster shipping. Shame.

kennend3 9 days ago [-]
> Now Amazon is nothing more than AliExpress with faster shipping. Shame.

This.

Once i realized what was taking place on amazon I simply moved to AliExpress. I mean if i am going to get something from there anyhow i might as well save the middleman fees and take the hit on shipping.

I canceled my prime membership a while ago as well. I don't see how amazon can continue to simply be a front end for AliExpress for long. Wont most simply avoid the added fees and go to Ali directly?

Animats 8 days ago [-]
> Now Amazon is nothing more than AliExpress with faster shipping. Shame.

On Alibaba, you get business background info, whether it's a manufacturer or a reseller, a picture of the factory, info about whether someone checked out the factory, what certifications the product has, and how long it takes them to respond to inquiries. Amazon doesn't have any of that.

On Alibaba, search for "outlet strip". You can check "Verified supplier", "trade assurance" and "UL certified" to filter out the junk. Some good low-priced outlet strips show up. Amazon doesn't have any of that.

Alibaba is supposed to be B2B, but many items have a minimum order size of 1 or 2. If Alibaba had a "who retails this" link for products sold only in large quantities, they'd be more useful than Amazon. Often you can look on Aliexpress for the matching item.

burntwater 8 days ago [-]
I’m curious, do you actually trust those certifications? I’m wary of the validity of them, but don’t know how to verify if they’re authentic. Thinking mostly of UL certification.
Animats 8 days ago [-]
You can check the UL number on a product and get the certification info and company info. This is harder than it used to be on the UL site. You have to register for a free account.
marcosdumay 8 days ago [-]
And you can get a long-term relationship with a seller, because you know that the product you got was actually delivered by them.
otikik 8 days ago [-]
Unless there’s some kind of third-party checking process, that only means that their seller forms have those extra fields.
jrs235 9 days ago [-]
But even their shipping (with Prime too!) is getting slower and slower. Prime's selling point used to be free 2 day shipping. Shipping is still "free" but many items take 4 days (or more now).
DebtDeflation 8 days ago [-]
>even their shipping (with Prime too!) is getting slower

Not only that. Try searching while in Incognito Mode and you'll see the same products, sold by Amazon.com, without Prime, for a few bucks cheaper than when you're logged in and seeing them with "free" Prime shipping.

piva00 8 days ago [-]
Thanks for validating my assumption, I encountered this twice and thought I was taking crazy pills. I don't even shop on Amazon much, like once or twice a year...
takoid 8 days ago [-]
Does this only happen with an active Prime membership? I tested a few search queries and didn’t see the inconsistencies you’re describing.
DebtDeflation 8 days ago [-]
I assume so, since I have a Prime membership and it knows this when I'm logged in.
chrisbaker98 8 days ago [-]
Anecdotal, but I haven't noticed this in the UK. Pretty much everything I order from Amazon still arrives within 24 hours, and I live in the countryside (albeit in the southeast so still not far from London.)

OTOH I still notice the problem that other people have mentioned - that practically everything on Amazon these days is the same repackaged Chinese dropshipped garbage. Which is one reason I shop on Amazon far less than I used to.

iso1631 8 days ago [-]
I've never managed to connect with America tales of the length of shipping. Almost (99%) everything I order from amazon arrives when it says, most of which is next day. I live in the country, but like most UK citizens fairly close to a major trunk road (10 miles or so).

Of course I'm sure things are different if you live on Mull or Fair Isle, but for the vast majority of us it seems reliable

The quality of what you get from amazon is of course somewhat different.

kennend3 8 days ago [-]
I think what many people outside North America fail to grasp is the size of north America.

To give you an idea:

I live just outside Toronto (Ontario, Canada) and if i want to drive east to the next province (Quebec) it will take me 4 hours to cover the 450 KM. If i want to go to the next province to the west (Manitoba) It will take me 20 hours to cover the 2,000 KM. So to cut across Ontario you are looking at something like 2,450 KM

This is just my province of Ontario. The other provinces are not as large, but the country is vast when looking at Europe.

Using google maps, i can drive from the south (footbridge) to the north (ChargePlace,Scotland) and this ~ 1,200 KM?

In the case of my very simple order, one item is being shipped from 120KM away?

How often do you order something simple and one of the distribution hubs is 120KM away from you? There is a massive 1 million square foot hub a few blocks away but i guess it isnt big enough to hold what i wanted?

I hope this provides some context for you.

NikolaNovak 8 days ago [-]
HaH, exactly.

25 years ago, I lived in a city of Rijeka. You could start from Croatia; enter & drive through entire country of Slovenia; enter into Italy and go shopping into Trieste, two countries over - in 75km.

Now I'm in the Greater Toronto Area, and my best friend lives about the same distance, officially in the same city or metro.

There's just over two thousand kilometers between the capitals of two neighbouring provinces in Canada (Winnipeg & Toronto). Or you could go through dozen countries, with all of their states and provinces in Europe for same distance (e.g. Geneva to Istanbul or similar).

Distances are vastly different and people's attitude toward them as well - what is daily commute in GTA used to be a yearly vacation pilgrimage in my childhood :)

kennend3 8 days ago [-]
> what is daily commute in GTA used to be a yearly vacation pilgrimage in my childhood :)

This is something Europeans also overlook.

I use to commute to Toronto every day. 100KM return trip daily, 500KM a week...

I think Most Europeans would be surprised to know we have a train system which basically travels back and forth from Hamilton to Oshawa all day long.. 127KM one way. Basically the Width of England at the more narrow part and yet we consider this a "greater Toronto area" train system.

People in Toronto dont think about how there are countries which would fit in this distance, Europeans dont think about how a daily passenger train service would cross the country dozens and dozens of times each day.

iso1631 8 days ago [-]
100km return, or 30 miles each way, that's not far at all. I used to drive 50 miles/80km each way into London 4 days a week when I worked in an office. My wife still does a 100km return trip to work. I have colleagues that commute 7 days in 14 on a 250km round trip into West London.

Your 127km one way train is about the same as the new Reading-Shenfield Cross London service which runs 6 times an hour 18 hours a day (well will do from next year), and less than the 160km Bedford-Brighton Thameslink service. It's pretty much the "Greater London Area", although that term is of course steeped in politics. The Paris RER D line is 190km and runs 466 trains a day, and is a "greater Paris area" train system

The Greater Toronto Area has broadly the same population as the Frankfurt Rhine-Main area, but is only half the area.

The "Slovenia is only 75km wide" claim is meaningless. Greenwich, CT to Oakland NJ is 75km and crosses the entire state of New York, a state with 10 times the population of Slovenia.

Indeed talking about New Jersey and Slovenia, they're a similar size, but NJ has about 5 times the population of Slovenia.

If something works for Slovenia, why doesn't it work for New Jersey?

So why is Toronto so small compared with Europe?

It's not a Geography problem, the challenges of serving the tiny number of people that like in rural North Dakota are a cruch to hide America's other infrastructure failings.

chrisbaker98 8 days ago [-]
> "Greater London Area", although that term is of course steeped in politics.

Is it? What's politicised about this term? "Greater London" and "Greater London area" have pretty clear definitions; I'm not aware of anything that's controversial about it.

iso1631 6 days ago [-]
Greater London has a clear area defined [0], but the boundaries themselves were politically set. Look at say Surbiton, you contiguous sets of houses, some in Greater London, some not in Greater London (Say Beechwood Close). In fact I think this [1] house the Greater London boundary runs down the party wall between the two sides of the same semi. Jay Forman has a 9 minute video on the subject [2]

The contiguous Greater London Built Up Area [3] extends well beyond the boundary of Greater London (Bracknell, Gravesend, Harlow), yet doesn't include parts of Greater London (New Addington for example)

The London Commuter Belt is somewhat woolly [4], but certainly includes places like Slough and Maidenhead, Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells, Harlow and Southend.

Significant numbers of people additionally commute on high frequency (4tph or more) trains from places like Oxford, Milton Keynes, Basingstoke, Ashford into Zone 1 45 minutes or less.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_London

[1] https://goo.gl/maps/2Zh9tuQnQoPyrnjC7

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAusbJmRB0c

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_London_Built-up_Area

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_metropolitan_area

13of40 8 days ago [-]
I live in the Seattle area, so Amazon shipping is pretty fast and accurate, but there have been a few times when things were shipped but they apparently just disappeared in transit. One time it was a car part and it got close enough that it was on a truck from the city 20 miles north of here, then it just dropped off the radar and they refunded my money.

Then every once in a while you get something that takes a month to deliver, comes in a package covered with customs stamps, and is roughly the size and shape of what was ordered but wrong. I ordered a titanium tube one time - think the dimensions of a reusable drinking straw - and after a month got a solid titanium rod. "Mail it back and we'll give you a refund." There's a bit of unfair asymmetry there, friend, since you're mailing stuff to the US all day and I wouldn't have the faintest clue how to send something to China, and I'm guessing it's going to cost far more than the thing I'm returning.

But I'm an addict and I don't see myself cancelling Prime any time soon.

cratermoon 8 days ago [-]
The difference between the US and the UK is size and the sheer remoteness of some places, even small cities. Unless you've been there, it's hard to grasp.

I've driven around large parts of the western US and there's a LOT of empty space. I don't know how many shipping centers Amazon has in the UK, but I am about 99.999% sure that there's areas of the US larger than all of the British Isle that are served by a single warehouse and shipping center.

So the variability in the US is going to be very high. Some places that happen to be near a shipping center, or two, will have consistent on-time delivery. Other places that are distant from one, and may have a high mountain pass that's dicey in winter or closed because of wildfires in the summer between them and that single center, are going to have problems.

arcticfox 8 days ago [-]
I took a week off work once and walked from one side of England to the other, it was awesome. That would get me almost to the neighboring city where I’m from in the western US.
jsmith99 8 days ago [-]
Hadrian's wall?
vidarh 8 days ago [-]
There's a high degree of bias in who we hear from too, I think. Most European countries have a grand total of zero Amazon depots, so there are plenty of European countries where the delivery is not fast either, but I rarely see people from those countries talking about it for whatever reason. I'm guessing in large part because those countries also does not have a local Amazon site, so it feels less surprising because if you order from Amazon you're unambiguously ordering from abroad, with different expectations.
iso1631 8 days ago [-]
Sure, but given that the majority of people in America, especially the ones I see complaining about amazon, are going to be living within an hour or so of a major city -- San Francisco, Seatle, Austin, New York, LA, I'm not sure how the difficulties of delivering to Hyder, AK or Las Vegas, NM factor in.
martinald 8 days ago [-]
martinald 8 days ago [-]
It's just the distances involved. Amazon UK can get everything from any warehouse in the UK to your local depot for last mile delivery overnight, if not faster.

In the US unless you air freight ($$$) it you cannot rely on getting stock from warehouse A (say in NY) to warehouse K (say near LA) overnight. This then means you have to keep a lot more "duplicate" inventory sitting around various places as you cannot just in time move it, which is also extremely expensive.

I imagine the reports of shipping delays in the US are caused by Amazon intentionally trying to reduce the amount of inventory on hand and/or using less air freight.

GekkePrutser 8 days ago [-]
This is also happening in Europe now on an EU scale. Often something takes a couple days because it goes from Germany to Spain or something. They don't say that's the reason but you can tell from the stickers on the products. I guess they don't do this anymore for the UK though because of all the customs hassles since Brexit.
vidarh 8 days ago [-]
I've not noticed a major difference in the UK from before Brexit. Some products would come from elsewhere in Europe but most would be local then too. London alone has several Amazon depots, so lots of things are same day delivery here.

Maybe it's down to competition - for lots of products I'd go elsewhere if they didn't offer at least next day delivery.

ThunderSizzle 8 days ago [-]
Delivery has never been faster for me. Most things arrive in less than a day now.

But some things do take longer. I guess it depends on stock levels.

kennend3 8 days ago [-]
The issue isnt just stock levels, it is stock levels at a specific distribution hub.

As i posted i ordered a few items on tuesday and delivery will be friday.

One of the items tracking details shows me that it is being shipped from a city ~ 120KM away yet there is a massive 1,000,000 square foot hub within waking distance from me??

Tracking hasn't updated to show me where the rest of the stuff is being shipped from so i can speak to the entire order.

This gets to the CORE issue with amazon. Because i no longer have prime my stuff is almost intentionally held back to encourage me to get prime?

It will not surprise me at all to see that when shipping is finally updated the other items on my list come from the local hub.

Not all hubs hold all items and because of this your shipping times can fluctuate.

sweezyjeezy 8 days ago [-]
Agreed - live in London, and often receive things within 12 hours of purchase.
anifru 8 days ago [-]
> Shipping is still "free" but many items take 4 days (or more now).

I've had the opposite experience. Everything comes within 1 day. Some items even come within 12 hours (overnight shipping delivering at 7am)

MikePlacid 8 days ago [-]
Where I live (a summerhouse in a small county seat in mountains) - Walmart, Bestbuy, Homedepot and others ship faster and usually for free even for small orders.

Walmart also provides all-paper packaging (they seem to have worked hard on developing it) - so you can burn / recycle packaging without say peeling off stuck plastic tape first.

8 days ago [-]
manicennui 8 days ago [-]
This is heavily dependent on location. I receive almost everything in two days or less. It is extremely common to get things the next day or even the same day. I'm in the Chicago suburbs.
thefourthchime 8 days ago [-]
That might depend on where you live. I nearly always get next-day or 2-day shipping. There are exceptions, but for central Austin, it's pretty good.
zip1234 9 days ago [-]
Do you live in a city?
kennend3 9 days ago [-]
There are times i still use amazon and i actually bought a few items on Tuesday.

Amazon's delivery date is friday? Want to guess where amazon's distribution warehouse is? A few blocks away from me.

The point you are attempting to make is unclear. If the distribution hub is within walking distance from me, why does it take days to ship?

mbreese 8 days ago [-]
You’re assuming that the product you ordered is at that warehouse. It probably isn’t. They can’t store all products at all locations. Even if that distribution center ends up being the shipment origination site, the product still probably had to move within the Amazon network. Some of those things will move within the Amazon network, some with external (trackable) carriers (UPS/FedEx). And some things has restrictions on the method of transport. If there is a lithium battery anywhere in the device, it travels by ground.

Also — if you’re in the US, today is a holiday and nothing will move. So today and yesterday had/has limited movement between distribution centers. And as we get closer to Christmas, the entire network will start to approach saturation.

There are many reasons why things don’t always ship as fast as you’d like them to.

kennend3 8 days ago [-]
Speaking of assumptions lets review yours for a moment.

1) I am not assuming the products are from different warehouses. I know this for a fact. Look at my other post and i stated one item is being shipped from a warehouse ~120 KM away. I will guess the rest is from the local warehouse? Once amazon updates the shipping details (probably friday AM) it will show me where it came from..

2) I'm in Canada and it is not a holiday here so it is unclear why "today and yesterday had/has limited movement between distribution centers."

3) Amazon Canada rarely uses other carriers anymore. I cant tell you when the last time anyone i know received something that didnt use their own in-house shipping service so you cant really blame "UPS/Fedex"

13of40 8 days ago [-]
A few months ago I ordered a dongle from Amazon to attach a floppy drive to a modern computer via USB. For some reason this weird, niche little thing was eligible for Amazon Essentials same day delivery. Apparently every Amazon warehouse has a dusty box of these things in the corner that they're still trying to unload?
8 days ago [-]
PaulHoule 8 days ago [-]
I am sure your congressman gets same day or next day shipping in DC, though.
bombcar 8 days ago [-]
Amazon quotes delivery times up to two weeks for me for prime now.

And it doesn’t even ship (UPS) until a few days before the delivery date. And they still don’t do a good job combining orders.

agumonkey 8 days ago [-]
And even that is not guaranteed. Lost of secondary sellers on their 'marketplace'. I order lipton tea a week ago and it's still not shipped.

I don't remember how this is called, something like a honeymoon period. Most of the web love bombed us with unsustainable (loss leaders like) offers until they got everybody hooked and now they rely on habit, laziness and reduced competition. It's somehow quite a shame.

marcosdumay 8 days ago [-]
> I don't remember how this is called, something like a honeymoon period.

I think you mean "blatant worldwide market manipulation"?

Dumping products until the competition is bankrupt and then using your monopoly to crush the consumers is a practice as old as commerce.

aceazzameen 8 days ago [-]
AliExpress hasn't fully replaced Amazon for me yet. But I definitely shop at AliExpress more often now. I don't care if shipping takes longer. It's pennies compared to Amazon, which makes a difference when the quality of the items are a mystery. And for name brand items, I just use Costco, Target, and Best Buy unless Amazon has a better sale.
lm28469 9 days ago [-]
The only pro of amazon is that you can contact them months after the purchase and still get a free replacement/refund. With aliexpress I doubt they'd refund you even if you received a bag of dirt instead of your product
fvold 8 days ago [-]
In my experience, Ali Express is absolutely 100% a buyers market, in every single way. I've bought random junk with a somewhat long fulfillment time, and contacted the seller just to politely ask about a time frame without in any way indicating dissatisfaction, and received groveling responses begging me to not open a dispute with Ali.
russelg 8 days ago [-]
AliExpress also has strong buyer protections, which you would have seen had you ever ordered from there. You have to confirm delivery for every order else the seller doesn't get the money.
Firmwarrior 8 days ago [-]
Half the time I order something from AliExpress, it's worthless junk that isn't what I wanted or way out of spec, and the confirmation thing you're talking about was a lot more limited than you're implying

To be fair, though, said worthless junk was like 1/5th the price it'd be in the USA, so it was still worth the gamble

the only major issue I have with AliExpress is how hard they make it to log in

boppo1 8 days ago [-]
If you shop at Whole Foods Prime pays for itself.
daveguy 8 days ago [-]
The ones that bother me the most are the re-purposed catalog entries. They will have 2,000 reviews, solid 4.7 score, but when you look at the reviews, half of the reviews are for a different item. If there are any out of place reviews I avoid it. Practically, it means sorting by highest reviews gives junk first. I don't know if it's a matter of not monitoring, not caring, or not being able to keep up. The fact that there isn't an easy and obvious way to report a listing and review / listing shift is apparently permitted means they aren't trying to keep up.
simonsarris 9 days ago [-]
Highly recommend Shapton stones and buying them from Lee Valley

https://www.leevalley.com/en-us/tools/shapton-sharpening-sto...

kolbe 8 days ago [-]
I have the shapton 12,000, and I'm actually pretty disappointed, but thise lee valley prices are better than what i paid at woodcraft.
moolcool 9 days ago [-]
I had a look at those, but I ended up going with the KDS 1000/6000. I'm still new to using it, but it works great!
morsch 8 days ago [-]
For the record, so does the "KUNQUN" (ie. gibberish) brand whetstone I bought on Amazon a few years ago.
techas 9 days ago [-]
LoganDark 9 days ago [-]
There's a button for this.
jonsen 9 days ago [-]
But we wouldn't know then.
delijati 8 days ago [-]
+1 ;)
ryandrake 8 days ago [-]
The other thing I noticed is that these thousands of identical products have seemingly randomly generated all-caps brand names like BHHSRE, VHYXZY, XIOU, DAUGHE, JXMOX, LANMU, IBERLS, GMJYC… (yes, these are all actual brands I’ve seen on Amazon). It’s like someone is randomly generating millions of brand/product combinations to deliberately flood Amazon.
EForEndeavour 8 days ago [-]
It may already exist, but I want to create a simple regex-based browser plugin that suppresses Amazon search results if the product name or seller contains 4-7 consecutive capitalized letters. Call it LESSAMZNSPAM or something.
xvello 8 days ago [-]
It exists already, as a uBlockOrigin rules generator: https://letsblock.it/filters/amazon-products

You just need to write the regexp.

treis 9 days ago [-]
Interestingly enough that's cheaper on Amazon than AliExpress:

https://www.aliexpress.us/item/3256802919678760.html

^ You have to click on the 1000/6000 grit to see the price of $26.53.

Pretty much everything people buy is cheap Chinese crap anyhow.

arein3 8 days ago [-]
treis 8 days ago [-]
You're not looking at the full kit ones.

Interestingly enough though it shows me $16.70 for just the stone. Maybe they're doing some price discrimination or you're shipping to a cheaper place.

dspillett 8 days ago [-]
You used to be able to filter for just things sold by Amazon, but that vanished some time ago. Not that a “fulfilled by amazon” filter would do much these days because of how much of other sellers stock there is commingled in their warehouses. Same for the “prime” filter that is present if you subscribe to that, it filters out a lot of junk but far from all of it.
losteric 8 days ago [-]
Filter by seller is still available
dspillett 8 days ago [-]
I see options to filter by brand including a separate “out brands” option, but that isn't the same unless I'm looking for a specific brand rather than “just not cheap & grotty drop-shipped crap thankyouverymuch”.

The usefulness of the brand filter seems to vary greatly by product. For instance when searching for SATA SSDs it only offers “Seagate, Crucial, Western Digital, Samsung”.

morsch 8 days ago [-]
I "just" had to select a few random other filters like "New" and the product category and suddenly the seller filter magically appeared.

The search function was always capricious like that, from the get-go. Presumably there's method to that madness.

rescbr 8 days ago [-]
It's usually hidden, so much that I've captured the query string parameter that represents its filter for my country's Amazon.

Fortunately there are few marketplace sellers, so it doesn't annoy me so much compared to Amazon US.

GekkePrutser 8 days ago [-]
Here in Spain it definitely isn't.
Cloudef 9 days ago [-]
There's lots of these scams where they sell some non-branded goods with lots of reviews (with videos) from paid SNS influencers. Sometimes they may sell something completely else but change the listing completely (becomes obvious from the reviews again). When you see a lot of similar listing for the same product or from same store, it's giant red flag to not buy it.

Sometimes these goods may be good, but often or not they are low quality, have obvious defects or break down after few weeks / months of use.

TrueGeek 9 days ago [-]
And they don’t care about the paid reviews either. I contacted them saying a seller mailed me offering $50 cash via PayPal for a 5 star review. The chat agent replied with the “contact seller” link since I was unhappy. They had no interest in the photo of the bribe sent to me. I don’t even know why the seller has my contact info since the item was shipped by Amazon.
JKCalhoun 8 days ago [-]
Did you know you can get an 11 Terabyte hard drive for $90 on Amazon? Wow:

https://www.amazon.com/External-Portable-11000GB-Compatible-...

(Um, yeah. And look at the reviews.)

Cloudef 8 days ago [-]
Some more examples, I recently needed new hair dryer as my old one started throwing spars This "SALONIA" hair dryer is being pushed by paid influencers in japan, however based on the few critical reviews and their pictures, it does not look like the quality is good https://www.amazon.co.jp/-/en/SALONIA-Speedy-Negative-Lightw...

Then there is this shady one with multiple amazon listings, similarly bait and switch, reviews are odd https://www.amazon.co.jp/-/en/dp/B0BJPWNZQQ https://www.amazon.co.jp/-/en/dp/B0BJDVZLYC https://www.amazon.co.jp/-/en/dp/B0BBB77M9C https://www.amazon.co.jp/-/en/dp/B0BJQ8MBMB

The products may actually be somewhat decent, but based on the tactics involved and the shady reviews, I wouldn't put my money on something that can shock you or burn your house down, so I eventually just went with reputable panasonic one.

wirthjason 8 days ago [-]
Niche items are pretty much a miss on Amazon. I buy a lot of things on Amazon but as a hobbyist cook and knife collector something like whetstones are much better purchased at a specialty retailer. I trust a shop like japaneseknifeimports.com a lot more than Amazon. These shops cater to the community and the mutual success of the community and the businesses are important.
Scoundreller 8 days ago [-]
And random components… you’ll have better luck on eBay. Need a P key for you random laptop keyboard, 1000 5mm LEDs or usb-a cable, male on both ends, straight and right-angle? Gonna have better luck on eBay.

And then the actually unique stuff. I’m buying odd lots of used postage stamps. I’m sure as a seller doing one-offs, even if it’s a common item, eBay is the way to go.

Amazon has improved a lot, but eBay still king on that.

moolcool 8 days ago [-]
That's true, but the problem I mention persists with a lot of normal searches too. Like search for a 3.5mm cable, a USB C dock, or a power bank. You'll get a whole lot of cheap garbage from oddball brands.
gauddasa 8 days ago [-]
I was looking for earphones and same products were repeated on 900 pages, with 20 to 25 entries listed per page. The odds of finding a useful product in this ocean of repetition is then about 0.1%. I must have clicked for 30 minutes to see the extent of invasion. It was so exhausting and dispiriting that since then (8 months ago), I have not visited Amazon anymore.
PaulHoule 8 days ago [-]
Not sure about the faster shipping.

Maybe if you live in a town with a Cheesecake Factory (tracer for retail competition) you get two day shipping with Prime but if you live a little further out, two day shipping probably went out during the pandemic. This is not about the feasibility of AMZN offering it to you because it is frequently unavailable in the same zip code as their warehouse.

Every other retailer seems to get me things in two days or less but I get packages from Japan faster than from the AMZN warehouse that is a 3 hour drive away. They must be spending the money they saving on shipping on Alexa or something.

lightedman 9 days ago [-]
I had roughly the same experience looking for diamond pads for my block on amazon.

I ended up giving up and went and built my own two-wheel wet diamond grinding machine.

Bonus: I can cut rocks as well as sharpen my knives down to 1/8 micron.

stavros 9 days ago [-]
I was about to say when I saw the end of your comment, that looks very much like the AliExpress experience. You get cheap stuff, but you gamble on them being a fake.
moonchrome 9 days ago [-]
AliExpress isn't even cheap for what you're actually getting, but it is cheaper than Amazon if you're dumpster diving.

The reason I say it isn't cheap is because when I ignore the fake labels and look at actual goods delivered equivalents can be bought locally for similar price (sometimes cheaper, sometimes more expensive) without insane wait time and with warrenty.

Cloudef 9 days ago [-]
For spare / repair parts aliexpress unfortunately is still the heaven. Sure you have to be really careful who you order from, but sadly the modern world hates selling spare parts and loves e-waste (especially for smartphones, it used to be different before ...).
Scoundreller 8 days ago [-]
Or eBay. I’m offloading a bunch of random bike parts, and yeah, somebody out there needs a Shimano XYZ-123 that was last built in 1994 (and doesn’t care to figure out the modern replacement).
akvadrako 8 days ago [-]
Depends what you are buying. You can often find things which are perfectly fine quality but too niche for westerners to sell near cost, like electrical and plastic components, basic tools, cables, etc.
moolcool 8 days ago [-]
This case isn't even fake-- it's stuff that's either unbranded, or with a new brand made up from whole cloth.
paulcole 8 days ago [-]
I don’t see why you wouldn’t just spend the $21.99 and get the Amazon’s Choice one and be done with it? It’s like you’re looking to be annoyed in a situation that you could be done with in 5 minutes.
moolcool 8 days ago [-]
That’s actually one of the worst parts of this. Amazon’s choice is one of the bad ones.
jason-phillips 8 days ago [-]
> I was looking for a new whetstone

The King whetstone on the bottom right is legit if you want to freehand. However, I recommend something like an Edge Pro if you have quality chefs knives, etc.

moolcool 8 days ago [-]
I actually had a Lansky kit, but I found it really fiddly and awkward to use. I practiced for a while on a crappy old knife, but after getting the hang of it, I'm much happier using a proper whetstone.
dimitrios1 9 days ago [-]
That King whetstone is good, I have it and use it.
dna_polymerase 9 days ago [-]
I trust this comment more than 100% of Amazon reviews. Go figure.
Edd314159 8 days ago [-]
This comment is why I still use Amazon, even though it has indeed become a catalogue where 90% of the listed products are junk. Because that other 10% are legit brands, and when you want the legit brand, it's still very convenient and often* cheaper than other retailers. You just have to wade through the crap to find the real stuff.

(*I said _often_, meaning I concede that it is sometimes actually not cheaper: please resist the urge to provide counter-examples, I know of their pricing trickery!)

lotsofpulp 8 days ago [-]
But Amazon commingles inventory, so how do you know you are receiving the branded item you want and not a counterfeit item that another seller sent to Amazon?
8 days ago [-]
katbyte 8 days ago [-]
That’s why I stopped buying things that matter from them, but Walmart Best Buy and home depot are chasing the same profits allowing “market place sellers” - we need to hold these stores liable and accountable for everything sold on the site.

I usually check things when they arrive pretty throughly no matter who I buy from and I hate how I have to waste my time doing it

Edd314159 8 days ago [-]
I dunno, I’ve never had a problem with counterfeit products on Amazon. I avoid third party sellers though (even if “fulfilled by Amazon”) so that’s probably why. Buying direct from Amazon hasn’t resulted in anything fishy for me yet.
Kubuxu 9 days ago [-]
Yeah, King for entry level is great, Suehiro Cerax is a mid level upgrade to it.

IMO 6000 is too fine for majority of Western kitchen knifes and most non-expensive Japanese knifes. I would go with 1000 and 3000-4000.

YZF 8 days ago [-]
I was just going to say the same thing. IIRC it's Japanese.
moolcool 8 days ago [-]
I ended up getting the KDS 1000/6000. I don't know enough about sharpening to have an informed opinion, but I can say that it works fantastic for me.
vannevar 8 days ago [-]
Amazon's business model has shifted from selling goods to consumers to selling consumers to anonymous Chinese manufacturers.
namdnay 8 days ago [-]
When did you do the query for that screenshot? If it was today the delivery dates seem a bit short for dropshipping
moolcool 8 days ago [-]
Dropshipping is probably the wrong word, since I think the actual fulfillment is happening in North America
8 days ago [-]
imwillofficial 8 days ago [-]
Hilariously paywalled
wayeq 8 days ago [-]
behind a paywall.. oh, the ironing
samhickmann 8 days ago [-]
fijiaarone 9 days ago [-]
Wait just a minute! Are you telling me that Amazon is showing products that they are selling on their e-commerce website?