Black Friday Shopping on Amazon — In Real Life

As shoppers decide whether to do their Black Friday shopping in a store or online, they’ll no doubt weigh the less-than-pleasant aspects of each experience. Some of the frustrations of paying for products online were parodied in Google Analytics in Real Life – Online Checkout, which has more than 650,000 views on YouTube. That video got me thinking about the Amazon customer experience, and what it might be like in Real Life. Just imagine:

A customer enters a big-box retail store and is confronted by a pushy clerk.

Clerk (speaking rapidly): “Good morning, and welcome to Amazon. Please shop by department. We have books, movies, music, games, electronics, computers, home, garden, tools, grocery, health and beauty, toys, kids, baby, clothing, shoes, jewelry …”

Customer: “I want to take a look at the new phone.”

They walk together toward the phone department.

Clerk: “Did you want an unlocked phone, a no-contract phone, a phone with a plan? Did you need a sim card? Mobile broadband service? How about a tablet? The new Kindle HD 4G LTE is just $499.”

Customer (beleaguered): “No, just the new phone.”

Arriving at the phone department.

Clerk: “I can show you 1-24 of 147,341 results. How do you want me to sort these results: by relevance, popularity, price low to high, price high to low, or average customer review.”

Customer: “Just the phone.”

Clerk (holding up a photo of a phone): “Here it is. Roll over the image to zoom in.”

When Customer puts his finger on the photo, Clerk moves it closer to his face.

Customer: “You can’t show me the phone?”

Clerk (holding up photo): This is the phone. Roll over the image to zoom in.”

Customer: “Is this phone as good as people say?”

Clerk: “We have 79 customer reviews. Ronny G says it’s the best he’s ever had, but Andrew B says it locks up a lot. CubsFan says she isn’t impressed by the battery life.”

Customer: “How many of those reviews are real?”

Clerk: “Customers who bought this item also bought the anti-glare, anti-scratch, anti-fingerprint matte-finish screen, and the slim-fit polycarbonate slider case and the one-touch windshield car-mount holder.”

Customer (frustrated): “Just give me the phone.”

Clerk (handing over phone): “There are more items to consider. The 40-inch 1080p 120-hertz LED HDTV is just $299.  An Incredible Hulk action figure is $15.99. And Fifty Shades of Grey is just $9.57!

Customer: “How I can get out of here?”

Clerk (stone-faced): “Proceed to checkout.”

At the cash register, there’s a line of people all with the same phone. They all stare as a man with a T-shirt that says “PRIME” happily waltzes past everyone in line.

Cashier (to the first person in line): “That’ll be $299, please.”

Quick transaction and that customer exits.

Cashier (to the next person in line): “That’ll be $329, please.”

Quick transaction and that customer exits.

Cashier (to Customer): “That’ll be $349, please.”

Customer: “Wait a minute. You charged him $299, her $329, and me $349 and we all bought the same thing! That’s not right!”

Cashier: “Sir, this is Amazon. We made $631 million in profits last year. Do you think we did it just selling products? We did it by driving up prices to consumers and holding down prices for retailers. Sweet, huh?”

Cashier: “And there’s sales tax of $28.79. I guess you heard we finally lost that battle. … And how quickly did you want that to arrive? Shipping charges will be $7.95 for standard delivery in three to five business days or $10.95 for two-day and $13.95 for next-day.”

Customer: “But, I have the item right here!”

Clerk: “Not exactly, sir. It’s just in your cart. I’ll take that as standard delivery.”

Customer pays and starts to walk dejectedly toward the exit.

Cashier (shouting): “Your order number is 872-785542-489314139…”

Customer gets outside and is surprised when a burly man in a brown jumpsuit snatches the purchase out of his hands and throws it to another guy standing next to a dark brown truck full of packages. That man flings the package on the top of the mound, rolls down the door, bangs it twice. The truck speeds off.

Burly Man (menacingly): “Three to five days.”

Customer joins other shoppers slogging slowly toward their cars, heads down and hands empty.

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