Amazon Logistics

Those people who use AmazonUK regularly are most likely familiar with their new courier service “Amazon Logistics”. They have been around since 2013 but due to my lack of spending, I only really became aware of them over the Easter holidays.

Amazon Logistics, as you might guess, are Amazon’s own delivery service who offer next day delivery 7 days a week (including some holidays.) What they actually seem to offer is mediocrity, failure and annoyance.

Amazon’s website states the following:

If you place your order with One-Day Delivery, depending on the time of day that you place your order, if in stock it’ll be dispatched that same day and delivered the next day.

and

If you’re not an Amazon Prime member you’ll be charged GBP 5.99 per delivery for Media items, GBP 3.95 for Clothing, Shoes and Bags items and GBP 7.99 per delivery for all other eligible items. In the case of mixed orders the higher per delivery rate will apply.

Although I have previously been a Trial Prime member, I have never paid for the service because it simply isn’t worth the cost for me. I don’t often buy from Amazon within a year to make it worthwhile any more. So it was a surprise me to me to find Amazon Logistics was delivering my Easter parcel, I was even more surprised to find it would be next day delivery. At this point I was completely unaware of who Amazon Logistics were, but was pleasantly surprised to find they were willing to deliver Easter weekend, particularly since my parcel was just a few DVDs and using the free Super Saver Delivery.

The first thing I did the morning of the the expected delivery was to search Amazon Logistics via Google. What I found was a topic on AmazonUK’s very own forum (a place most people don’t realise even exists.) The posts I read there were worrying to say the least.

Although originally started a year earlier, the topic was still going strong with around 64 pages of replies (76 at the time of writing) filled with mostly complaints.

The complaints ranged from the delivery window (8am-9pm) to fake attempted deliveries, deliveries on completely different streets/or to neighbours, deliveries made and handed to/signed for by the resident (even though no one was home) to being left in random places.

For me personally, I don’t care about delivery windows, I know that if something is coming via Royal Mail I will receive it between 10-11am, though sometimes as late as 2pm if it’s a large item the foot post won’t bring. I also know that if it comes with Yodel, that it will come sometime between 9am-noon 2 days after dispatch. Yodel is generally a 48hr courier, I know this and I’m fine with that. When I order online it is because it is a: cheaper and b: more convenient. I really don’t mind waiting 48hrs for a delivery, so a delivery window of 13hrs doesn’t bother me.

I understand that for some people having to order online sometimes means they have to take time off work so a 13hr window is a big deal, though lets be honest, taking time off work for a parcel delivery is fucking idiotic, just use the click & collect/Amazon locker options that allow you to pick it up once you finished work. Seems the smarter option if you ask me.

But then we come to the fake attempted deliveries. One of the most annoying things I could imagine is waiting in all day for a parcel, only to check your status in the evening to find it says “Delivery attempted at x-time, no one home.” This seems to be quite the popular one, many of the posts were about this type of fake delivery attempt. Some were able to quash this due to being in their front garden or having some type of home CCTV set-up.

Another popular one for Amazon Logistics seem to be “Parcel handed to resident” when no attempt had been made to deliver to the house. This ranged from drivers delivering to the wrong address, or ditching it behind random walls on the street and signing for it themselves. One person rang customer services who told them they would contact the driver. The next day he saw an unmarked white van pull up outside a neighbours house and route through the bushes, while he can’t say for sure, he believes the delivery driver returned to look for the parcel he had apparently ‘handed to resident’.

So there are was, reading these horror stories wondering whether my parcel would show up and if so whether it would show up at MY house.

By 3pm I had started to refresh the tracking page regularly expecting the delivery status to have changed. Now I generally stay in the bedroom upstairs, it takes less than 5 seconds to get to the stairs and I can see right down to the front door and thanks to the top half being frosted glass, can clearly see any one outside.  It was around 5:12pm that the doorbell finally rung. By the time I reached the top of the stairs he was gone, fearing this was going to be one of those bad deliveries I ran down the stairs and out of the door. In this case, it was my delivery, the driver was stood at the top of the driveway.

I have no way to know why he ran from the door, only to stand at the top of the drive. Maybe his van was still running, maybe he was in a rush and just wanted to be closer to the van in case no one was home. I guess I will never know. What I did do was check the motion activated camera footage, although he clearly ran from the door after ringing the bell he the camera showed he just stood at the top of the drive, he was not making any attempt to actually leave. Maybe he’s just really, really shy. The issue there is that, although our driveway is fairly short and the front door is frosted glass, you can’t tell if someone is there on the driveway because the garage wall blocks the view somewhat, so you’d have to step out just to know. Had I not read the Amazon forums, I would likely have assumed someone had got the wrong address and left, or some brat was playing games. The only reason I went down the stairs was because of the horror stories on the Amazon forum topic. I could very easily have missed a parcel delivery because the driver legged it away from the door.

When I came back up stairs I checked the tracking which now said 5:07 – handed to resident. This just raises more questions, was his time wrong on his hand set or had he actually singed for it in the van himself before even ringing the door bell? If it was the latter, what would he have done with my parcel had I not checked outside?

All in all I would rate that specific experience a 6/10. It came the day I expected and to the right house. But there were too many questions in my mind to give it higher than that.

Our second meeting with Amazon Logistics was an order for my father, in this case it was correct day around 3pm. I can’t really rate them beyond that as my father actually met the delivery drive on the drive as he was leaving as they arrived. So I will just give them the benefit of doubt for this one and say it was a good delivery.

Our third and last dealing with Amazon Logistics came two weeks later, again this was a parcel for my father and this one wasn’t up to expected standards.

The parcel came very late in the day (after 7pm) but the driver made no attempt to hand it to us. Instead he ditched it in our bin, wrote out a note and put it through the letter box. The funny part is; we could see him. Stood in the back room between the dining table and kitchen area, we can see straight through the hallway and through the door. So we saw him arrive, make no attempt to ring the bell or knock and put the missed you card through the letter box. The bin he chose to put it in is the glass/tin recycling box which is opposite our front door and can’t be seen from the road as it is obscured by a raised wall. I can only assume that he was in a rush to finish due to the time of day, but in this case it would have been quicker for him to knock.

This specific dealing would have to be rated 4/10. Although it came the correct day, making no attempt to see if we were home before leaving it on the property does not please me. If no one was home I really wouldn’t mind it being left where it was, it was a smallish item and no one passing by would have seen it, so it is relatively safe there. You’d only see it if you came to our door, but I simply can’t forgive not knocking/ringing first.

I suppose I should be glad that my experiences with them were at least acceptable to a point and no items went missing. But even so, we have had pretty much every major delivery services come to our house at some time in the past 15yrs and right now, Amazon Logistics are at the bottom of the pile for us.

What worries me more is that Amazon are looking to use this service more and more in the future, possibly to the point of making it their only UK option. Combined with my experiences with them, and the stories on the Amazon forum (which you can read here) this makes me question whether Amazon as a shop will have much of a future with me. My local Amazon Logistics crew are Leeds based (as are most of the other delivery services around here bar Royal Mail which is closer) I have a few orders I would like to make in the near future, whether I continue using Amazon for my shopping needs will come down to how these next couple of deliveries play out if they are delivered by Amazon Logistics.

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Games requiring always on Internet…

Oh boy. Where do you start with this one?

To say that this annoys me would be one hell of an understatement. While in some cases it is a necessity, games like WoW and other MMOs do of course need it. I am specifically referring to games that have single player modes. A good example would be the upcoming EA Maxis game SimCity. Now this is a game I am personally looking forward to, I’ve played the beta and thoroughly enjoyed it but what bugs me is that I know full well, my gaming experience is entirely dependant on Origin/Internet working and being stable otherwise I cannot play my game at all.

Then you have to consider; what happens if EA decide to pull the plug on the SimCity servers? Will they make a patch for offline mode? Will they allow me to back up my city saves or will I lose those too? Frankly it is games like this that make people want to pirate them. It is entirely possible for this game to be cracked into offline mode and force game-saves to the local machine and in cases like this I am on the pirates side. Sure that is an awkward thing to admit, but the reality is if EA servers go down, they are stealing from ME. I paid for this game, I should not lose the ability to play it because greedy corporations decide the game has run its course. Many people still play SimCity 4, but we all know if that was subject to the same online fiasco that game would have died years ago.

Then you also have to consider people who don’t have reliable internet, or can’t afford monthly contracts and have to rely on dongles. Keeping an always on internet for some people is just not possible, this means they simply cannot play the game and there are always people who buy games, particularly parents for their kids, who may not realise this restriction exists.

To me any game that has the option of being played in single player mode, must legally have the ability to run in an offline mode.

As far as EA go, this will be the first and only title I buy that has this always on requirement.

While I will not pirate this game, I fully support anyone who does and those who make it possible. EA’s actions to me are far worse than piracy and if they continue down this path I hope they go out of business, they’ll deserve it. It’s quite simply a disgusting practice. Either make the game MMO or allow offline single player.

Slobs

Why, why, why do I have to put up with slobs? I don’t care if you’re sick, there is really little excuse for leaving shit all over the place. I mean it’s not like leaving shit in the sink for a later time because you’d rather rest, we have a fucking dishwasher!

Is it really that hard to simply open the door and put it in? Why must they leave it NEXT to the dishwasher? Then there’s the empty tins next to the sink, why? It’s one thing to leave them temporarily. I fully get some people would rather eat their meal then come back and clear up. The problem is, after coming back into the kitchen with the dirty plate you’re no doubt going to leave next to the empty dishwasher, when you go back to the front room where 99% of the time you will be headed, take the empty food tins, the front room door is right next to the fucking front door which has the recycling tub right outside it!

Leaving it for days next to the sink is just pathetically lazy.

You complain when other people leave a pan in the sink SOAKING for more than a few hours, yet you don’t bother cleaning them for DAYS, hell you don’t even put them in the sink you leave them, and all the dirt, on the fucking cooker.

I won’t even go into the state of the rest of the house. If your autistic son can put rubbish in the recycling, why the fuck can’t you?

VirginMedia Superdud

So… As a VirginMedia customer getting a free upgrade from 50mb to 100mb and sometime after 120mb, I had a choice to make. Do I get the superhub or stick with my current VMNG300 modem and separate router? I had of course heard all the rumours that the superhub was a very poor piece of equipment as far as it’s router goes. But seeing how my old router was a G router as opposed to the free N router Virgin was supposed to supply, I knew I needed something new and the modem it’s self isn’t capable of the channel bonding and speed of the hub.

Technically speaking, the old modem IS capable of faster speed, but Virgin can’t be bothered to update the firmware. But let’s ignore that. I got my first upgrade to 100mb at the end of June and for the past month of so I was happy using the old modem, even though its maximum capable speed is only around 97mb. Who is going to moan about 3mb? However as the area had recently finished the upgrades for 120mb, I decided it was time to take up the offer of the free Superhub with self installation.

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Image butchering…

Recently I have begun to notice some of the horrendous copyright notices that are applied to images on the internet. Sure this is something that has been going on for a long time, but as someone who collects photos of celebs it has recently really started to piss me off.

Now before I go on to give some examples, I want to say; I fully understand that a photographer wants to protect their content. You took it, you own the copyright/image, I get it really I do.  But there is a difference between marking your image and ruining it and it seems many photographers just don’t know where the line is.

Take this picture of Chloe Moretz.  

(all rights for ownership and deformation of this image probably belong to iPhoto Inc. That’s just a guess though)

This is a perfect example of how to butcher an image. The tag has been placed all over the subject, while this is a clear attempt to stop people stealing the image and claiming it as their own. It also makes iPhoto look unprofessional and disrespectful. After all, if I was Chloe, I’d be rather pissed that some horrible so-and-so had stuck graffiti all over me. Not only does it make the image looks unprofessional, it makes me want to avoid anything to do with iPhoto Inc. While I am sure if you purchase this image it wouldn’t have the watermark, it certainly doesn’t make me think that. What it makes me think is this company has no respect for the subject of photography or the subjects with in the image it’s self.

As I said, I do understand they don’t want people stealing images, then why not offer thumbnails only? Leave out the butchering of an image altogether. If we are completely honest, there are people out there that can remove all that  crap with photoshop anyway. So why bother? It’s like turning on the sprinklers overnight just in case there is a fire. You might stop a potential fire with your actions, but you still ruin all the things you were trying to protect in the first place.

  

Here’s  another example of bad water marking. A similar approach to iPhoto, but this one is even worse. Not only does it obscure Chloe, it covers here face and frankly is one of the more disgraceful acts of vandalistic watermarking I have ever had the displeasure of seeing. Admittedly, they don’t use ones quite this bad any more. But they still take no car to avoid the face of the people in the photo, which to me is nothing more than disrespectful and also why I would never do business with them.

 

So how do you watermark an image? Well, there’s the obvious option of putting your watermark in one of the corners, making sure it is not intruding on the subject’s face or head. This allows you to keep your image watermarked, while showing respect for both the content and photography in general. Of course, you still don’t want to over size the corner watermark. It needs to be visible, but not overpowering of the image its self.
There is of course the option of using a black boarder under the image and tagging that. But of course that is way too easy, even for noobs, to simply crop it off. Photographers/Agencies take note. Find a way to protect your images without ruining them and making YOU look bad, it only turns people away from you when you do.

Fifa 13 – The things I’d like

As someone who got back into Fifa when they launched on the then “next gen” consoles, I have bought, played and for the most part enjoyed every release each year. However, there are things that bug me and I would like to see either fixed, changed or simply removed.

Penalties

I would like to start off with something that has bothered me since they first changed it. The horrible, unrealistic and frankly, poorly thought through penalty system.  Specifically I am referring to the aiming part of it. I really don’t mind the little bar at the bottom, I understand why that is there and it makes perfect sense. But first the aiming system, currently you have to aim after starting your run and it builds up the longer you hold a direction. This to me is the most unrealistic penalty system in any football game I have ever played, for a game that wants to simulate football, I can’t see why they would ever think this was a good thing.  Continue reading

Oh Three…..

So after some careful thought I finally decided that upgrading my phone (Sim-Free HTC Desire) to a HTC One X is what I wanted to do. I work out the best deal for me, go through all the particulars and and confirm my order.

The info given to me is that if you buy online weekdays between 8am-4pm it should be sent out same day for next day delivery. Now I am more than old enough to know things, don’t always turn out that way for whatever reason. But when you get an e-mail stating your delivery date will be on the 12th you expect it on the fucking 12th. After waiting in all day, it gets to 4:30pm. Finally had enough and decide to call the three team. The number via the website tells me that “I don’t have any credit left, do I want to pay now.” Well that’s bullshit, for a start my phone is a may monthly contract NOT Pay as you go, so I ALWAYS have credit. Decide to call via the landline, that’s not really much better none of the automated options really covered what I was ringing up for.

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