I chose to give up my car a while ago. Losing my transportation, together with the advent of the pandemic, has forced me to experiment with grocery deliveries. I’m a slow learner. Sometimes, one avocado arrives, or two, but never the third that is necessary for my guacamole. I end up strolling to a nearby market where the range of options is smaller, but they do carry avocados.
Usually, I assume such mistakes are mine. But some are indisputably those of the company. For example, I make a habit of arranging for my delivery to arrive between 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Routine, I imagine, reduces error. I have no evidence to support this assumption and the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, it proved wrong. Because of a high volume of shoppers, the company rescheduled my order to arrive at 7 p.m. To my surprise, however, it arrived, at 4 in the afternoon. I’m retired and generally a home, so the change didn’t affect my plans.
Nonetheless, as I emptied a packet of frozen blueberries into my freezer, my heart went out to working mothers everywhere. How many of them would arrive home that evening, expecting a 7 p.m. grocery delivery, only to find their holiday turkeys on their doorstep and half thawed by the afternoon sun?
Amazon, the Godzilla of computer shopping, prides itself on their efficient door to door service. The company has legions of satisfied customers, so it seems to have earned bragging rights. Yet, as any Jack in the Beanstalk knows, even a giant has moments of vulnerability. I might sympathize, except Amazon’s previous behavior toward writers and small entrepreneurs prevents me, and I smiled when I learned scammers had devised a way to game Amazon’s system.
Having infiltrated the company and “borrowed codes,” these Jacks in the Beanstalks tweaked some of Amazon’s services. If a client was willing to pay a fee, the miscreants could divert shoppers from one site and deliver them to a competitor. Or, for a few hundred dollars, they could post negative comments about a product on the page. Or, for five thousand dollars, they’d send bots to take down the site. (“Amazon’s Secrets Are Up for Sale,” by Spencer Soper and Isabelle Lee, Bloomberg Businessweek, Sept. 28, 2020, pg. 19.)
Nothing lasts forever, of course. Amazon’s system for tracking knaves is as efficient as its capacity to make timely frozen turkey deliveries. Some of these hucksters have been put out of business. But not all. Rumor has it a few absconded to India where they are running successful consulting firms. (Ibid pg. 19.) Maybe they could help me find my avocados.