Hacker News

Amazon Isn’t the Only Shop Online(wsj.com)

405 pointsprostoalex posted 2 months ago494 Comments
ebg13 said 2 months ago:

I tried ordering some things from Home Depot the other day, and they silently cancelled half of my order while still charging me the same amount for delivery from the store and while saying that some things can only be delivered from a warehouse and that some things can only be delivered from a specific store and that delivery from each store has a $45 minimum purchase before they'll even consider delivery despite the fact that they're charging the same amount for delivery from the store no matter how much you order. That of course makes it difficult to then order the remaining items even if you call them and demand a refund for the first delivery fee, because the remaining items now don't meet the minimum. Then the delivery from the warehouse is some weird arbitrary calculation involving a nominal+ amount that then gets divided up across the items you're ordering (3.77 here, 2.83 there, and so on) such that if you remove any item the delivery fees for the other items all go up, and then there are some items that deliver for free if you order more than $45 worth from the warehouse which of course doesn't help you if some items can only be purchased from the individual stores. And then there are still things like cans of spraypaint that you can't get delivered at all and you're only allowed to pick up in person.

I know that right now is an exceptional time, but this kind of shopping experience is part of why people choose Amazon first.

tmaly said 2 months ago:

I ordered a chest freezer from Home Depot. When I ordered it, I double checked that it was not listed as out of stock. I got a notice they were delivering on April 4. It was never delivered. The delivery company told me they were never shipped the freezer to deliver. When I called Home Depot, they said freezers are on back order to June. They told me I could call the manufacturer. This is a bit crazy. I have never had a place tell me to call the manufacturer.

OJFord said 2 months ago:

> This is a bit crazy. I have never had a place tell me to call the manufacturer.

I bought a stand mixer from John Lewis, a British department store with a (arguably fading) reputation for better service, its own 5y plus guarantees, etc.

When I needed to call ok that guarantee for a replacement part, I had two months of email run around before getting a reference number and phone number for the manufacturer's UK distributor.

It was a further 3.5 months of calling the distributor, being promised it was on its way, and on occasion receiving the wrong part (once) or no part (twice).

When I complained to JLP about the experience, that I didn't feel I should have to contact some third-party distributor/wholesaler for assistance in a claim under the guarantee agreement with itself, I just got fobbed off with an email telling me to phone the number their colleague had already sent me, as if I hadn't read the email - comically ironic since it was clear from my own complaint that I had; so it was my email that hadn't been read.

Anyway, rant over. Moral: if you're in the UK, JLP not what it was, think twice for purchases where guarantee relevant; relevance: I only very thinly veiled my description of how much better its 'online competitor' is in handling returns/replacements.

John Lewis: 5.5 months emails, calls, waiting for a £20 replacement part.

Amazon: 2 minute chat and until next day wait for a whole product (~£150) replacement due to defective (~£10) part. Original to be returned ~at leisure.

Honestly even if Amazon's a few quid more expensive (at that price point), which it typically isn't, I'm at the point where I choose it just because it isn't painful when it doesn't go completely smoothly.

cja said 2 months ago:

I had a very similar issue with trying to get a replacement part for a JL nursing chair. The JL customer support staff seemed to see their job as being to find reasons to justify not helping me, presumably to save their company a few pounds.

I am happy even to pay extra to buy from Amazon because I know that if there is a problem they will delight me with their response.

Exmoor said 2 months ago:

As someone who just got off the phone with Lowes not an hour ago with a very similar appliance delivery issue, I took a little solace in your comment since I at least feel like I didn't just choose the wrong hardware store.

With that said, the problems with my order are somewhat mind boggling. I received an email notifying me that my appliance would be delivered on 4/7 and to be home in a 12hr window. When I, by luck, contacted the store to talk about another problem I'm having with this order they informed me it will likely be another 5-8 days until its actually delivered and that this is a known issue with their system. How does a known issue where you're telling your customers to be home for a delivery on a day a week+ removed from the actual delivery survive for long enough for it to be common knowledge?

patagurbon said 2 months ago:

This should be obvious to you now, but all Home Depots are out of chest freezers. Same with masks and many gloves.

For the issues with ordering, Home Depot ordering systems are truly a mess. There is very little automation after your order is sent to the store. The order system (ESVS) is also just a UX nightmare, making it difficult to do anything beyond a very specific workflow.

My personal favorite bit of insanity is we list certain prices online that aren't available in store. If you go to check out and want that price in store you have to order it online and wait for it to show up in our system. Then you can pick it up at the service desk. Even if it's in your hand.

subpixel said 2 months ago:

I had the same experience with Lowe’s. My takeaway was that nobody really cares about online orders bc they are a tiny fraction of Lowe’s business. When you call them, they direct online orders to a different extension - that told me right away the left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing.

light_hue_1 said 2 months ago:

Exactly the same thing happened to me with Office Max. I told them to cancel.

tln said 2 months ago:

I had to place orders with three companies for me to actually get a freezer. Walmart was the only one that came through. Freezers are a hot commodity!

yspeak said 2 months ago:

No one owns the logistics and transportation chain like Amazon. it provides a level of integration and service that no big box can match or afford.

jakearmitage said 2 months ago:

HomeDepot's ecommerce is a joke. Not only the shopping experience is poor, they treat logistics as if they were doing you a favor. And, on top of all that, you get damaged items. I made 7 purchases and all 7, in different periods of time, had to be returned or replaced.

Same for Lowe's. There's a reason people shop on Amazon. Other than BestBuy, no other retailer "gets" ecommerce.

mauvehaus said 2 months ago:

I beg to differ. Rock Auto is where it's at for auto parts. The website is ugly as hammered shit, but it's fast, shows you the options grouped by rough quality level (economy/you cheapskate, daily driver, performance, etc), shows you what part to select so it ships from the same warehouse as the parts already in your cart and saves you shipping, and returns are painless (disclaimer: I've only ever done returns for core exchanges). I have never had a better online purchasing experience.

And the prices are a fraction of what you pay at a brick and mortar place. Especially for e.g. wiper blades.

Companies that "get" e-commerce are out there, but a lot of them are quietly and competently doing their thing in unsexy domains and aren't trying to eat the whole pie.

Rock Auto, for instance, isn't trying to serve every idiot on the planet with a car. If you can't keep your lefts/rights and fronts/backs straight when ordering e.g. brake hoses, you're going to find it a frustrating experience. Putting up a (small) barrier to entry to keep out the least clueful people probably helps keep their costs down.

Not affiliated, just a very happy repeat customer.

dan_quixote said 2 months ago:

My nomination is McMaster-Carr (mcmaster.com) - They have a huge catalog of parts/tools yet somehow it's so intuitive to browse. I was a mechanical engineer in a previous life and McMaster's website was my bible. Step one for any new prototype design was to browse this site. Best case scenario, you could cobble together your prototype from various COTS (commercial off the shelf) McMaster parts. And if that wasn't an option, scan the catalog for necessary parts and raw materials. If they don't exist at McMaster, your design idea just got at least 10X expensive and lead time doubled.

sambroner said 2 months ago:

I was always shocked by McMaster-Carr's delivery speed. I felt like the parts would arrive as quickly as I could have conceivably picked them up.

This was 10 years ago now, so sort of like Amazon Prime before it became ubiquitous, but for materials and tools. However McMaster was and remains much better organized and much better spec-ed.

frandroid said 2 months ago:

That's because they already have to delivery that fast for car repair shops. Fast delivery has never been an extra for them, it's always been the core product.

What's interesting is that considering the existing logistics, none of these guys though of expanding into other ecommerce earlier. One of them could have been Amazon...

dan_quixote said 2 months ago:

I'm glad they didn't to be honest. It would have diluted their existing product.

jgust said 2 months ago:

I have a sneaking suspicion that Amazon is re-solving problems that traditional supply chain companies like McMaster-Carr solved 1-2 decades ago. It would be fascinating to read a case study comparing the two.

lotsofpulp said 2 months ago:

Amazon is trying to shed all possible liability as a merchant and collect their 15% or whatever rent, since that’s where the margins are. That’s at odds with what I’m looking for as a buyer, which is a seller that will vet and stand behind their products.

jgust said 2 months ago:

As any reasonable, educated consumer would be.

I would like to know if a McMaster-Carr, Grainger, et al had fallen into the same traps Amazon has when it comes to supply chain and if eventually Amazon will be shaped into a similar company & business model.

lotsofpulp said 2 months ago:

Amazon's actions make it clear that the company's goal is not to provide the customer with products of a minimum and consistent quality, nor is it to make it easy for customers to even purchase products from Amazon.com. Note how they hide the option to filter for only products shipped and sold by Amazon.com

Amazon knows that retail margins are tiny, a few percent at best, and that is not what they are interested in. It takes a lot of labor to provide high quality vetting and constant vigilance over suppliers. What they are interested in is high margins, which comes from being a platform.

I don't think McMaster Carr or Grainger ever had any intention of becoming platforms for resellers so they could take a top line cut of sales and outsource quality control.

If anything, I think Amazon is probably trying to reduce their shipped and sold by Amazon.com retail operations and focus on the high margin web services. Why compete with Walmart/Target/Best Buy/Home Depot/Lowes for <5% profit margin with huge liabilities when you can make 20%+ easy on super scalable web services?

btrettel said 2 months ago:

Once, circa 2006, I ordered some rubber tubing from McMaster-Carr in the morning. It was shipped it from New Jersey to western Maryland, where I lived, by that afternoon.

Guest42 said 2 months ago:

Same, gets there practically as soon as the call is hung up, their catalog has everything, and their websites search function is intuitive and efficient

jbay808 said 2 months ago:

I like McMaster-Carr, but I often hear them being held up as a positive UX example when, in my experience, their website is endlessly frustrating. They often force you into choosing arbitrary categories too early, break tabbed browsing expectations, and have a frustrating mix of metric and imperial measurements that can't be escaped. Their pricing is also generally at quite a premium.

For example, let's say I want a piece of hollow metal cylinder (any metal, to be determined later based on cost and availability), with an ID of around 12 mm and a wall thickness of at least 5 mm, at least 150 mm long. It ends up being a needlessly frustrating experience even for such a simple item.

smolder said 2 months ago:

I know what you mean, and I can say that most of the categorization, which may seem arbitrary, reasonably comes from how those items are manufactured and used historically. An example is pipe versus tube; they are measured differently and have differences in ranges of wall thickness, precision and so on, because different needs and processes developed between pipes that carry fluids vs structural tubing. Most but not all people are going to want one category or another based on intended use, and probably have a highly-available size/thickness in mind already, too.

Getting things custom made is expensive, so customers are pressured to use what's widely available. Stocking lots of things not widely purchased is also expensive. These forces have been working for a long time to give us a pretty wide selection that covers most uses.

jbay808 said 2 months ago:

I know that pipe and tube have different specifications and applications -- that's specifically why I picked this example. But those differences don't always apply to me. I'd prefer a UI with a check box for pipe, tube, or both, because sometimes I want my search to cover both things. Maybe I want to use a pipe as a paperweight or an art piece or whatever. If McMaster could accurately guess what I was going to use something for, my employer wouldn't need me.

smolder said 2 months ago:

Intelligent search of physical parts is something I've thought a bit about before, in a different context. Often times people with a lot of car knowledge can point out interchangeable items that manufacturers don't come out and acknowledge as being interchangeable.

Examples: Oil filters are often differently sized but still interchangeable between models. You can use an Aisin-built airflow meter from a 90s Mazda to replace one in a Toyota, even though they're different housings, and it would work (if not perfectly) because it's essentially the same part with the same electronics. Brakes and suspension parts often interchange across many models, with the possibility of 'upgrading' to heavier duty parts from more expensive models.

Anyway, it'd be great if you could combine a lot of data and NLP to search off-the-shelf parts based on parameters of varying specificity. Anything from "made of metal and roughly x/y/z dimensions" to "shares the same bolt pattern as part # on a joining surface" could be made searchable in theory.

btrettel said 2 months ago:

Having used McMaster-Carr for over a decade, I strongly agree about the filtering being non-ideal and also the prices being high. There's an interaction between the two as well: You can't sort by price. Often there are many items meeting the specs I want but I just want to see which ones are the cheapest. At the moment I skim everything, making notes about candidates, and them manually compare them on price.

jbay808 said 2 months ago:

Yes, this exactly. This causes searches to take hours for simple things. Sometimes if I look in "steel" expecting to find something cheap, the only part matching my dimensions is military-grade superalloy tool steel that costs a fortune, so I have to go back and look again in "stainless steel" where there's perhaps a reasonable price.

SpikedCola said 2 months ago:

Unfortunately McMaster-Carr won't deal with Canadian companies they believe could be associated with the cannabis industry "due to US Federal Laws". I've been at two companies where we've placed an order with them, then had it immediately cancelled. Only after following up did I learn the reason.

When I tried to re-order through my personal company (not in any way cannabis-related) I was told I'm not a big enough company for them to deal with (and they cancelled the order).

From a CAD/dimensional standpoint, their website is a goldmine. I just wish they would take my money.

fireattack said 2 months ago:

If we started to include McMaster-Carr I would also say I have very good experience with Digi-key and Mouser.

mkl said 2 months ago:

My main experience with their site is the incredibly aggressive and trigger-happy bot filter. If you reload a page a few times due to a bad connection, they block you. Not "solve this captcha to continue", just "go away, we're not letting you in".

benboughton1 said 2 months ago:

Can anyone nominate an Australian equivalent to mcmaster.com ? I am prototyping something and would love to have a lost of available parts to troll through with prices.

Rebelgecko said 2 months ago:

I only ordered from the once but IIRC they don't tell you what shipping costs until AFTER you place your order. That seemed a bit crazy to me

senderista said 2 months ago:

The McMaster-Carr website is one of the finest examples of UX on the internet. Also they did next-day delivery literally decades before Amazon.

aschatten said 2 months ago:

Can you use it as an i dividual or bussinesses only?

quasse said 2 months ago:

RockAuto's easily navigable catalog is what has gotten them $5000+ in sales from me over the years.

Autozone / NAPA try, but the catalogs are clunky and require many page loads to navigate to a given item. Once you find an item, it's a crapshoot whether the listing will be items that are actually for sale at a store near me. Half the time the first 5 items will be "generic" parts that don't actually fit my car anyway.

RockAuto lets you drill down to the exact part you need, compare 5+ different brands on the spot and add it to the cart without ever changing pages. It's a real triumph of slim web design.

drewzero1 said 2 months ago:

I hope Rock Auto never replaces their website. Sure I have to scroll down the whole page to find my manufacturer in the alphabetical sidebar listing, and then open the nested categories like I'm looking for a folder in Windows 3.1, but once I get there I find a list of parts that I know will fit my car arranged so I can tell the quality vs. price trade-offs.

I used to look for parts on Advance and O'Reilly's sites, half of the time it seemed the search results would have parts that wouldn't fit my car. So I really like the way that RA's nested folder structure ensures the most important constraint (compatibility) is met during the search.

grosswait said 2 months ago:

Overall I agree, but I've found it wise to cross-reference their part numbers as they are sometimes wrong for lower volume models. Eg: offering standard Ford Focus brake pads when the model searched is a Focus ST

basch said 2 months ago:

Try the search. Its phenomenal. And then when you click enter, the next search box that appears. And then the filter box. I dont ever have to scroll on the rock auto page.

intrepidhero said 2 months ago:

I'll second Rock Auto. A dated looking website that Just Works (TM).

Parts-tree another great one, focused on yard maintenance equipment.

Ace hardware is kind of neat. I ordered some stuff as Christmas presents and the local store called me on the phone to ask if I was going to be home and where would I like them to put the items. I asked if they could stick them in the garage and maybe in some generic looking boxes to preserve the surprise (of being presents) and the boxes all showed up neatly hand wrapped in brown paper! Only one data point but definitely made me feel like ordering again.

basch said 2 months ago:

I'll go a step further on the interface. It's one of the best shopping experiences online. Ive noticed this about auto part stores POS systems, but rock auto especially, is something special.

You can use the search to REFINE as you search. Start by typing Toyota Camry YEAR and 2.4L if you want. It will keep making suggestions but you can click enter. Then you have a tree to select from OR you can use the new search box that appears to keep searching just in that tree. Then when you get to a category, a third search box appears you can use to filter the results. It's honestly amazing how fast you can search for things. There was another comment about having to scroll a lot, but that's the slow way to use the site.

Rock Auto is one of those sites that will never work as well if it became "mobile first." Like craigslist and photoshop, and the old facebook, its beauty is in its density and how quick you can navigate and drill.

keanebean86 said 2 months ago:

I've also had great experiences with Rock Auto. I've been ordering the occasional part from them for about 10 years. Shipping can be expensive but everything comes pretty quick.

Some parts are cheap but they're also inexpensive.

mauvehaus said 2 months ago:

Yeah, I try to bundle things up to save on shipping. On the other hand, by the time I need anything, I probably also need wiper blades, and the price difference on just one wiper blade usually covers the cost of shipping.

alharith said 2 months ago:

Also, one that many here should be familiar here with: Newegg.

Walmart shipping is pretty on point as well, and you don't need to pay 120$ a year for 2 day shipping.

Exmoor said 2 months ago:

Newegg has a good website, but their customer service and return policy is not up to par with other retailers and I have started buying from other vendors if the price is remotely close for this reason.

rdtwo said 2 months ago:

Yeah I pay more for an amazon monitor or anything that could be defective. Newegg return policies are so bad I pay extra to go elsewhere

racnid said 2 months ago:

Their website is one of the clearest and easiest to navigate parts website I've ever come across. I just wish there was an equivalent for motorcycles.

kube-system said 2 months ago:

Bikebandit's website isn't too bad after you figure out how to select your bike.

hathawsh said 2 months ago:

This is why I read HN. Thank you for recommending a good retailer.

Fjolsvith said 2 months ago:

My favorite parts site is PartsGeek. Pretty easy to find what I want and every product has a picture so I can make sure it matches what I need. Never had a bad experience with them.

solotronics said 2 months ago:

I like NAPA/Oreilly where you can see whats in a store and have them set the parts aside for you so they are there when you get there.

mauvehaus said 2 months ago:

Advance and I believe Autozone also let you place orders for in-store pickup. At one point, Advance was putting a coupon code right at the top of the homepage that would save you 20% off your order if you did that.

Shivetya said 2 months ago:

Best Buy is great, especially for delivery.

Apple, CostCo, Ashley Home Funiture, Wayfair, Wal-Mart, and some minor players, have all performed well in my usage and those who I know also use them. Now with two I had a damaged item they did not want any part of returned, apparently this is common with free shipping deals as the return shipping for larger items can be ridiculous.

Home Depot I have to agree with assessments others have made, lost an item off their own dock and when recreating the order after two weeks of back and forth; UPS was getting annoyed too, they wanted to remake the order and charge full shipping again. Just really bad customer service. They really do act like all screw ups are yours.

cpascal said 2 months ago:

> Other than BestBuy, no other retailer "gets" ecommerce

Target.com is a pretty solid experience.

Walmart.com is also surprisingly good.

Although I'm sure people can provide horror stories for both retailers.

dawnerd said 2 months ago:

Walmart still suffers the same problem Amazon has with 3rd party sellers. Quality can vary greatly depending on who you're buying from on their platform.

Target and Best Buy definitely nailed it.

wozniacki said 2 months ago:

Walmart has been spot on with both their delivery as well pickup-in-store items. I wish they installed FREEZER SILOS at all of their locations for their pickup-in-store FROZEN foods that can be ordered online. Right now only select places have them. You cant order frozen foods online at the rest of the locations. But otherwise they have been great with all of my orders.

HomeDepot and Lowes are a joke. HomeDepot.com even tried to sneak in a 'handling fee' at the checkout ( paraphrasing I forget what they called it ) for a small kitchen appliance though it said 'free shipping' at first glance next to the item description.

gowld said 2 months ago:

If you have an ad blocker.

Target sells ad space to random 3rd parties.

kube-system said 2 months ago:

I've personally had a lot of issues with Walmart.com.

Their inventory data seems to be a bit messy, I've seen a lot of product names/images/descriptions that are clearly messed up, and on more than a few occasions, I've received a single item when the listing said it was a multi-pack. Also, some of the inventory counts are a bit weird -- sometimes an item will show in-stock on the product page, but not in the cart, at the same time.

In the past I had a lot of issues with their shipping, but they seem to have mostly fixed those. Stuff like those huge stickers over important parts of the product, or improper packing.

bluGill said 2 months ago:

We have been trying to use Walmart for groceries, it is okay, but too often they substitute what we don't want. There is a reason we ordered mild not spicy: the kids won't eat spicy hot foods.

cglace said 2 months ago:

We have had great experiences with Krogers substitutions. Usually, the substitute with a greater quantity for the same price or better quality.

whymauri said 2 months ago:

I'll toss Staples on to there. I ordered a chair two years ago. Relatively modern website, free delivery, and it arrived earlier than anticipated with no damage. Just make sure you unsubscribe from their newsletter.

I also think they'll price-match.

notatoad said 2 months ago:

I've had nothing but excellent experiences ordering online from staples, although their email notifications leave something to be desired. I've learned to just trust that my package is actually on the way now, but usually I get the "your package has shipped" email some time after I actually get the package, if I get a notification at all.

mortenjorck said 2 months ago:

I was surprised when I ordered from Staples.com a week or two ago. They have a top-tier e-commerce experience, fast shipping (I think my free one-day shipping was a temporary quarantine thing), and they seem to be better at packing than Amazon.

caymanjim said 2 months ago:

newegg.com is great. They primarily sell computers and office equipment, but if I'm buying that stuff, it's my go-to. Fast delivery, fantastic customer service. If something is defective, they'll send you a replacement with a return shipping label, no questions asked. Been using them for nearly 20 years without a single complaint.

rkagerer said 2 months ago:

10 years ago I used Newegg a ton, but with third party items now mixed into their store, I find shopping there a bit more of a dice roll.

raegis said 2 months ago:

I always press the "Seller: Newegg" button. This way I never get counterfeit stuff. On the other hand, specifying the seller to be Amazon on Amazon.com sometimes yields third party products in disguise.

caymanjim said 2 months ago:

Amazon suffers from that as well. I'm loath to buy anything from Amazon, Newegg, or any other retailer when it comes from a third party seller. As far as I know, that's always indicated on the product page. They don't hide it, but they don't aggressively inform you either.

lotsofpulp said 2 months ago:

Since Amazon commingles inventory, it doesn’t matter if it says shipped and sold by Amazon since the item you get could still be supplied by a third party.

rfeather said 2 months ago:

I have decent luck with Microcenter as a Newegg substitution. + if you live in some cities, they have brick and mortar

gowld said 2 months ago:

Hmm? Newegg is a Microcenter alternative if you live too far away.

beamatronic said 2 months ago:

100 percent this. I dropped NewEgg when they added third party sellers.

atlasunshrugged said 2 months ago:

I was just comparison shopping for an HDMI adapter across Amazon, NewEgg and Bestbuy. Out of the 3 I found NewEgg still to be the best even with the 3rd party sellers mixed in. Amazon the quality looked super sketchy for some of this stuff and for Bestbuy the website had loading problems, an unintuitive UI for store selection (and put me into a store in CA for some reason even though I'm nowhere near there and had no VPN).

mypalmike said 2 months ago:

Monoprice is a good place to go for adapters and cables and such.

atlasunshrugged said 2 months ago:

Thanks, I'll check them out

parshimers said 2 months ago:

Their return policies are not good. Amazon will take things back, without fuss. Newegg will charge a very hefty restocking fee, or might not even take it back at all. It is very unfortunate to see this have happen, because I remember in the early 00's they built their business on providing the exact opposite kind of experience to that kind of nickle-and-dime technique that was commonplace at the time.

shams93 said 2 months ago:

Yeah I got a pair of raspberry pie to play with running Kubernetes on bare metal while I’m stuck at home. No delay no extra shipping cost.

sjg007 said 2 months ago:

Walmart has been quite reliable for grocery pickup. I’ve tried Hy-Vee and the experience wasn’t very good. Lots of stuff sold out or not picked. Target has given up on grocery curbside as well. But for household goods it works well. I’m trying our local supermarket curbside next so hopefully that will work out. I know we are in crazy times but I’d be really cool to get a dedicated grocery curbside / delivery operation with only warehouses and no stores. I think the UK has something like that.

Spooky23 said 2 months ago:

That’s crazy. Target smokes Amazon for most things these days, especially with pickup. Ditto for NewEgg and Walmart.

Amazon is increasingly overrated, they peaked a decade ago and have declined to a warehouse club/flea market.

cschneid said 2 months ago:

Newegg and Walmart have fallen to the same thing Amazon has: allowing 3rd party sellers.

They're not as far along, but going down that path is what causes so many issues with counterfeits and generally poor experiences. I accidentally bought some thermal paste from a newegg seller who shipped it via slow-boat-from-china, and it took weeks to get to me. It was technically listed, but I hate any shopping experience that forces me to be on high alert not to get screwed (as minor as super-slow shipping is).

senderista said 2 months ago:

AFAIK Amazon is the only online retailer that commingles their own inventory with 3rd-party sellers, making it impossible to avoid counterfeits.

reilly3000 said 2 months ago:

Target is getting into the 3rd party seller game through Target+. It appears they have a pretty tight process for what gets approved to sell and who gets to sell it. Target by culture is extremely intentional about what they allow on their shelves, and it appears they are following suit with their 'curated' 3rd party sellers.

gregmac said 2 months ago:

I honestly don't understand the 3rd party seller thing.

I went from buying almost all PC parts from NewEgg (without even bothering to price shop), to pretty much avoiding the site entirely.

If you look at almost any of the 3rd party sellers' pages and sort by rating, you'll pretty much see the same pattern on all: a tiny handful of 4-5 star reviews, 1 star reviews by the bottom of page 1, and the remaining 80 pages of products have no reviews at all.

Is this really helping Walmart/NewEgg/Amazon/etc vs them just selling the same products directly themselves? Why do this -- are they just trying to avoid these sellers starting competing no-name e-commerce sites?

SifJar said 2 months ago:

> Is this really helping Walmart/NewEgg/Amazon/etc vs them just selling the same products directly themselves? Why do this -- are they just trying to avoid these sellers starting competing no-name e-commerce sites?

My thought would be this allows them to pivot from being a "logistics" company to being a "tech" company, providing a "platform" for others.

rdtwo said 2 months ago:

Walmart website is still stuck in 08. I have to search for things 3 different ways and even then I can’t seem to get one search page to list products of the same type

jasonjayr said 2 months ago:

I assist a small drop ship supplier listing their product in Home Depot. Their item management system is absolutely the pits, and requires the use of awful protected excel worksheets in order to get mass data in and out of the system. All the product syndication systems that they recommend are obnoxiously expensive for the amount of SKUs we need to maintain due to product variants.

Overstock & Wayfair are way easier to work with by comparison.

powvans said 2 months ago:

I thought the same thing about Home Depot until this hit. I've had the opposite experience with them the last few weeks. Things come quickly, my cart is consistent wherever I am logged in, and I can just add pretty much as much stuff as I want and get it all delivered the next day for $9. I'm loving the express delivery. In general it would always be worth it for me to spend $9 to get stuff delivered from Home Depot. Pre-pandemic it's a solid hour or more in the car to cover the 4.3 miles there and back from my house.

Maybe I'm getting a better experience because I'm in Atlanta and there's a bit of a headquarters halo effect.

Their search and general catalog organization isn't great. I just use Google as my entrance to their site and that makes life easier.

AmVess said 2 months ago:

Nordstrom does it well. I buy shirts and things and they arrive reasonably packaged, and include a return print out ready to go. Returning an item is as simple as putting the print out on the outside of a box and leaving it for the mail collector.

FridgeSeal said 2 months ago:

Chain Reaction Cycles for bike gear is unmatched, and outdoes Amazon by a mile.

Search, sorting and faceting features are unmatched: Looking for a pair of handlebars: you can filter by material, colour, width, diameter, rise, sweep, brand, stock level, price. Need some wheels, specifically a wheel set that has a 25mm internal rim diameter, for road biking, disc brake compatible, with 6 bolt disc mounts, 28 spokes, made of carbon fibre, in stock, and then arranged by discount level? Then want to buy it for an actual reasonable price, and receive it within a calendar week (pretty great considering I'm on the opposite side of the world), then CRC is literally unmatched.

Components etc are sensibly, correctly and consistently arranged by type and feature in a way that makes me wish every other online retailer would take several pages out of their book.

I've hunted for bike components on Amazon, it was a painful experience that resulted in a lot of manual searching, going between several pages trying to compare between half a dozen differently formatted and arranged spec sheets just to figure out which components were compatible, and even then the prices were not worth it.

neosat said 2 months ago:

was looking for tires -the site looks great. Thanks!

fisherjeff said 2 months ago:

Personally, I applaud Home Depot and Lowes for so meticulously recreating the utter dysfunction of their brick and mortar stores online

munificent said 2 months ago:

> Other than BestBuy, no other retailer "gets" ecommerce.

Sweetwater for music gear. They are the only online company I've ever dealt with that I consider better than Amazon.

Someone1234 said 2 months ago:

I had a Home Depot order delivered recently, zero padding. It was just a cardboard box surrounding the product, and the product itself had little internal packaging (inc. Lithium Ion batteries). I'm surprised Home Depot hasn't started fires before.

Luckily the product I ordered worked fine, but I wasn't best pleased when I opened it. It was pretty obvious the manufacturer designed the product packaging for retail shelves only, and Home Depot just assumed it was shipping-grade protection.

passthejoe said 2 months ago:

My favorite from Target was eight Contigo travel mugs (bought for holiday gifts) that came in a very large box with no padding. Even though they could have clanked around and gotten very scratched, they were all OK. Sort of a miracle, but it didn't give me much confidence in Target.com.

And you can't state quantities on the Target.com site when you select an item. You have to go into the cart and change the quantity. That's something most sites do better.

Also, I understand it's a difficult time inventory-wise, but don't let me put stuff in my cart if you can't deliver it and won't let me order anything until I remove them. Give me a "save for later" feature ... like Amazon does.

Spooky23 said 2 months ago:

One thing that’s weird about target is that they fulfill from stores. Usually when we get a shady packaging experience it’s shipping from a Target store from some unusual place.

said 2 months ago:
kbash9 said 2 months ago:

Never had an issue with costco.com where I've made some of my big purchases.

Someone1234 said 2 months ago:

Just this week I had an issue with Costco.com.

Ordered an item, their delivery estimate was 3-5 days. 7 days passed and the item hasn't shipped. No updated ETA or any information/communication on how long it might take.

Decided to cancel and order from an alternative vendor (who would communicate better, frankly). Was unable to even cancel it online (cancel button was missing, in contradiction to their help docs).

Tried to use Online Chat to cancel, which was seemingly offline/broken for multiple days. Finally called their customer service number, and it was cancelled within the hour (which credit where credit is due was one of the best telephone customer service experiences I've had).

Took all of 10 days to NOT receive a 3-5 day item from Costco.com, the replacement item ordered elsewhere arrived in 48 hours. Still don't know how long the Costco.com item would have taken because they never communicated that.

ethbro said 2 months ago:

From experience internally (not at Costco, but other t20 retail), here's what happened, from most to least likely.

1. Your order type fell into an edge cast that an incomplete batch system -> system transfer job choked on. Naturally, it silently failed.

2. Inventory count mismatch.

3. Incomplete transportation handshake.

Logistics looks simple from a customer perspective: (1) order, (2) ship, (3) receive. From a vendor perspective it's (1+) bulk source, (2+) distribute, (3) maintain consistent inventory counts, (4) receive order, (5) source order items from stock most efficiently, (6) orchestrate multi-sourced items, (7+) provision & batch transportation, receiving and reshipping at multiple legs, (8+) fulfill last mile.

All while stitching together 30+ year old systems for each of those. And the +'d items are all semi-outside of the company's control. (Ever wonder why there are so many transportation-abstraction companies?)

Which is to say, no excuse for bad service. But it's a bear of a problem.

Incidentally, why most retail has excellent customer support phone centers (usually onshore): they know their systems break a non-zero amount of time, and want the best touch when you need to have things fixed.

coding123 said 2 months ago:

This is a key point. Especially for prime items, but largely to other items they sell that are not fulfilled by them. It just feels like there is more responsibility through the amazon platform than other websites.

I ordered a case of water through Amazon through a reseller. The shipment literally got lost. Amazon dispute, 20 minutes later, refund is done.

I am waiting for a resolution through Paypal from another website - off amazon - since Friday for toilet paper that will definitely not be sent. After looking at policies, etc.. they generally don't do refunds.

Though, I did have luck on one other site.

croshan said 2 months ago:

Sure, but they handle it well.

I placed an order for a pair of 35lb dumbbells, and only one came, and the cardboard box around it was falling apart.

I called customer support, probably for the first time in my life, to ask wtf happened. And they explained the logistics issue (the dumbbells were shipped separately for some reason), and ended up crediting me half the cost of the dumbbells, even though the first wasn't really damaged.

Also their dumbbells were better and cheaper than Amazon's, so there's that too.

lkbm said 2 months ago:

> (the dumbbells were shipped separately for some reason)

USPS limits packages to 70 LBs. There's probably some special option to get around this, but for the "normal" shipping, that's the limit.

TylerE said 2 months ago:

If there is, it will cost 5x as much. They really don’t like special handling.

sseagull said 2 months ago:

I imagine this is one of those things where everyone has different experiences. Or maybe it depends on location.

We recently moved into a new house (from an apartment) and needed lots of little things renters never worry about. I have ordered quite a bit of stuff from Home Depot, from a washer & dryer to a lawn mower to random small tools and paint. Never had any issue whatsoever.

ravenstine said 2 months ago:

To be fair, the in-person shopping experience at Home Depot is exactly the same. They're staying true to their ethos. ;)

Buttons840 said 2 months ago:

Even BestBuy has problems. I have an order waiting to ship I want to cancel/return (unopened) but they won't let me. Guess they'll have to go through the full return process rather than just let me cancel.

Meanwhile, Amazon can cancel items even after they ship most of the time.

smichel17 said 2 months ago:

I've been pretty happy with newegg, and my recent electronics purchases have been split between it, Amazon, and direct from manufacturer (preferring direct unless there is a significant price difference, due to counterfeit-wariness).

unethical_ban said 2 months ago:

Lowe's shopping site is an abomination, a tome of anti-patterns to be researched in design classes on what not to implement in e-commerce. It is a shame, because I really would like to purchase more from non-Amazon sources.

Blackthorn said 2 months ago:

Zoro. Which is a division of Grainger, iirc.

Their website isn't the best for finding things, but I've never had any issues with an order from them, ever. And I've bought a lot of stuff.

beamatronic said 2 months ago:

Target is okay although I often get cosmetically damaged packaging.

arkades said 2 months ago:

Try mcmaster-carr. They beat the stuffing out of home depot, lowe's and amazon all when it comes to hardware.

jakearmitage said 2 months ago:

Holy crap, this is awesome. I could find the EXACT pipe fitting I needed. How did I not know about this?

gbrown said 2 months ago:

I’ve had good luck ordering lumber and landscaping supplies from Home Depot. No problems in half a dozen orders.

Fjolsvith said 2 months ago:

Another good one if you're in the midwest is Menards. They regularly have an 11% rebate which, for me, adds up quite a bit.

Pro tip for if you can physically go to one of their stores: If you make a purchase and they run their 11% rebate the next week, ask at the front desk for the pre-rebate adjustment, which lets you get it for your previous purchase.

battery_cowboy said 2 months ago:

Target is pretty great, I replaced Amazon with Target for most things.

markkanof said 2 months ago:

I'm really surprised to hear so many horrible experiences with Home Depot ordering online. Over the past 2-3 months I have placed multiple orders for things that are shipped to my house, and that has gone off without a hitch.

I've also placed an order for "express delivery" which seems to be a HD delivery driver coming from either a store or a local warehouse. I placed an order for a bunch of screws, insulating foam, joist hangers, etc. My ordered was placed around 1pm and I had the items on my porch by about 6pm the same day.

I also ordered a bunch of lumber, sheets or rigid insulation, etc. that needed to be delivered by truck. The driver arrived on time, used his all-terrain forklift to navigate around a bunch of parked cars (I live in a fairly dense residential neighborhood), and place the whole load right where I wanted it on my front lawn. Couldn't be happier with the whole process.

Just thought it was worth sharing some positive experiences, as a counter point to the negative ones here.

wmeredith said 2 months ago:

I have also placed maybe a dozen Home Depot orders over the years with no issue. Including a fridge that was delivered last month. I also like their app.

Apparently I’m an outlier.

monksy said 2 months ago:

Let's face it Home Depot is garbage. From my experience they fail completely when at the store (employees running away from you, ignoring you, trying to avoid being asked for help, etc). The store, the way it's setup, tries to agressively cut corners. (The default for checking out is self checkout)

I went to menards and I found the experience really rewarding. It's great. They're not a great company ecologically, labor rights, etc. However, 95% of the time I have a good experience when asking for help and with the prices.

monadic2 said 2 months ago:

FWIW I just ordered a bunch of shit from home depot, it arrived faster than amazon could deliver it and everything I was looking for was in stock. I've also never had any major complaints in person with unhelpful staff—just the opposite. My only gripe with them is the self checkout you mentioned (why am I doing the store's work for them?), which certainly is not going to improve if Amazon moves into the retail space.

I have no clue where this impression of competence on Amazon's behalf is coming from—I must simply have radically different luck with the service they provide.

ckosidows said 2 months ago:

Perhaps it's different with a store like Home Depot where products are much bigger and perhaps harder to scan, but do people actually dislike self checkouts?

"Doing the work for the store" seems like such a non-argument to me. I would much prefer to scan things myself as I feel I can often do it faster, and I don't have to wait in a line if the store only has two cashiers staffed at a certain time.

You pump your own gas. Why is checking yourself out so much more controversial?

blacksmith_tb said 2 months ago:

One possible reason is that eliminates a whole category of unskilled labor? (full disclosure, writing this from Oregon, where we can't pump our own gas to preserve another category of unskilled labor jobs - except right now, thanks COVID-19?) I personally would probably prefer to have a human checker for that reason, I don't notice much improvement in speed or ease of checking out when I do it myself, there's just a line for the self-checkouts instead...

FireBeyond said 2 months ago:

> writing this from Oregon, where we can't pump our own gas

I thought that got changed a couple of years ago?

RussianCow said 2 months ago:

Only in rural counties with a total population of less than 40,000 people: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2018/01/0...

dexterdog said 2 months ago:

Not that I know of. And NJ is still full serve only as well.

FireBeyond said 2 months ago:


This must have been what I was thinking of - I guess it didn't pass. I live in Washington but regularly journey down for Trail Blazers games.

monadic2 said 2 months ago:

Personally, I don’t mind driving through NJ for just this reason, traffic aside.

rainbowzootsuit said 2 months ago:

The "pro desk," garden center, and the returns desk are all places where I am able to have someone check me out. As you said, I don't work for Home Depot. However if you're getting penny clearance items the self checkout is the place to visit.

tomohawk said 2 months ago:

Home Depot was pretty good until 2 things.

They used to hire people with actual experience in the building trades as well as regular store clerk types. The store clerks launched a lawsuit saying they were being discriminated against, and won. This was basically the end of being able to attract talent from the building trades as the settlement required clerks to have the same opportunities as skilled people.

The other thing was the hiring of the guy who used to run Burger King, who put the final nail in the coffin.

malandrew said 2 months ago:

They used to be good, but now it's worse than useless. The staff has become less knowledgeable over time and the quality of the products sold have gone way downhill.

I usually now seek out specialty places that deal with just one part of the problems Home Depot and Lowes addresses like looking for a plumbing supply place that actual professional plumbers would use.

patagurbon said 2 months ago:

There should always be a register open, it's company policy for a cashier to be at a register at all times (at least with the most recent setup). Some people like self, others hate it. In the end, though, it's about which cashiers are on duty, and I'm sure you're aware quality can vary widely.

Fjolsvith said 2 months ago:

Menards has great rebates too. I tend to think of them as tax-free income.

rkho said 2 months ago:

I ordered some things from Home Depot the other day as well. They did not fulfill half the order, instead marking it as delivered. Attempting to resolve this issue, they refunded only 1/3rd of the missing items and then required me to go to a physical store to resolve the issue because their system literally could not fix the problem without them offering a physical cash refund.

This is likely to do with the store which fulfilled the order; I've found Home Depots to be very hit or miss in their service quality and the location which fulfilled this order has been consistently bad in-person.

Don't even get me started on how Home Depot uses location settings and keeps changing preferred stores when ordering. It's a nightmare.

kevin_thibedeau said 2 months ago:

DO NOT order from Home Depot online. I made that mistake once and found out that they reuse SKUs for different product models. They will pull the wrong product off the shelf because the SKU is all they go off of. Support refuses to do anything about items delivered from a local store. The store employee won't be able to readily exchange the item.

ebg13 said 2 months ago:

> Support refuses to do anything about items delivered from a local store.

Partially true. Support may actually contact the store and negotiate a refund for you. Allegedly I'll be refunded for the from-store delivery fee for my first order that had some of the items cancelled, and I didn't talk to the store directly.

x0x0 said 2 months ago:

My favorite is how home depot lists stuff in stock on the search results page, but then when you click the individual item it's out of stock.

It's a store. Why the fuck would a store ever show me an item -- at least by default -- that it isn't willing to sell me? Like who exactly wants that "feature"? It makes attempting to buy something from home depot's site an infuriating experience.

justforyou said 2 months ago:

Even better, you can reserve items to pickup at Home Depot online which are not actually in stock. Website quantities are not tied to point of sale, and are instead manually enteted by staff when they have the opportunity/bandwidth.

(Or at least that was the explanation given by Home Depot's customer support.)

markkanof said 2 months ago:

I feel like I'm using a different homedepot.com than everyone else on this thread. I'm not aware of an option to reserve things for pickup at the store, only to purchase them and pickup at the store. Every time I have done this they send an email when the order is ready to be picked up, and then I go there and pick up all the items. Not saying you didn't have the experience you did, just wondering if they actually do things differently in different parts of the country.

ebg13 said 2 months ago:

> I'm not aware of an option to reserve things for pickup at the store, only to purchase them and pickup at the store.

Those two things you just said are the same thing.

markkanof said 2 months ago:

I don't think they are. When the parent commenter said reserved for pickup, I assumed they meant some way to say "hold these at the counter for me to come purchase". What I am saying is that in my experience, you are making a purchase, someone at the store is pulling the items from the shelf and setting them in a special area, then you get an email/text that the order is ready, meaning that everything is ready to go, they had all the items, and no other customer will be able to purchase the items that you ordered.

ebg13 said 2 months ago:

"hold these for me until I get there" is exactly the same as "don't let someone else buy them before I get there". Whether you pay before you get there or after doesn't change the fact that the item is being held for you so that no other customer will be able to purchase the items that you ordered.

We can break down your two statements and put them piecemeal side by side:

I assumed they meant... "hold these..."

What I am saying is... "pulling the items from the shelf..."

I assumed they meant... "at the counter..."

What I am saying is... "in a special area..."

markkanof said 2 months ago:

You're completely correct. What I was trying to communicate, and what I should have emphasized, is that it's not just a send and forget kind of process. After the items have been set aside you get an email/text to confirm that things are ready to pickup and in my experience everything that I've ordered is there when I go to pick it up. So I'm saying that the things that were listed as in stock on the website are actually in stock at the store, and I get a confirmation once everything has been "secured" for me.

harrisonjackson said 2 months ago:

The first part sounds like a pretty terrible UI bug - it should be showing as out of stock everywhere :thinking: maybe the search results don't cross-check your selected store location but the detail page for an item does. (not excusing it just thinking where the issue could be)

A couple of reasons to show items they can't sell you right now in the search results...

1. The best reason I can think of is if you click into it and it isn't available then they could show "similar" items and cross-sell you on those - and maybe actually help you find a good alternative.

2. If you are searching for a specific item then the result should show you that item regardless of availability or you'd just keep looking for it and be confused about it never showing up in their results.

3. Maybe SEO? More listings - even out of stock listings -> more SEO juice

ebg13 said 2 months ago:

One of the items I tried ordering that was cancelled showed 34 in stock at that store while I was on the phone with them (immediately after the delivery person left) trying to find out why they cancelled my items and they were saying the items were probably out of stock in that store.

And if you have three stores within a couple of miles of you that all claim to have a bunch of stock of an item but you order from one that suddenly (allegedly) runs out, you get to go all the way back down the hill because they don't migrate stock between stores.

bradlys said 2 months ago:

This is one of the reasons I don't buy things from Home Depot if I can help it. I've gone to multiple stores thinking something was in stock to only find they were all out of stock. On top of that, the staff there are almost helpless when it comes to finding things that aren't on the shelf itself. If it's up top, be prepared to waste an hour trying to get someone to fetch the item. (If it's there!)

Their poor system can work in your favor though. Went to go pick up my order after it being cancelled at multiple places. Turns out, at this one, they only had 2 of the 4 items at pickup. I tell them it says there are more in stock, they confirm. We go hunting for the remaining 2. Takes 30 minutes for them to fetch the remaining two from the top with my help (without my help, they would have never found it!). We go back to the register, they punch in that they're giving me 2 more. I go home with all 4 of my items. I was never charged for the full order. Only the initial 2.

solotronics said 2 months ago:

I mean technically that is stealing but I guess its pretty low on the scale of "bad stuff".

bradlys said 2 months ago:

Is it? They rung me up with it - it's up to them to decide what to charge me. I'd put as "bank error in my favor." I only noticed later when I was making sure they didn't overcharge me when looking at my bank account. (They had to charge and refund about 3x)

boomboomsubban said 2 months ago:

It's still stealing, the correct move would be to go back and pay the correct amount as you likely would have done if they overcharged you.

That said, I doubt you could legally be held responsible and I see no problems with what you did morally either. If you noticed at the time I'd find it morally questionable, but you can't fix every mistake.

sneak said 2 months ago:

Stealing requires intent, generally.

filoleg said 2 months ago:

Not just that, but like, the parent commenter actually got his items rung up in the store. So the parent wouldnt have even noticed they didn’t get charged for those items unless they were constantly checking their bank account for actual dollar amounts charged for every purchase. I find it difficult to believe that anyone would be able to claim that the parent commenter is at fault here.

boomboomsubban said 2 months ago:

I said they weren't at fault legally or morally. That doesn't mean it wasn't stolen.

filoleg said 2 months ago:

I mean, imagine this.

I walk up to a cashier, and he by accident drops $10 in my shopping cart (without me noticing). Then he proceeds to inconspicuously take those $10, look at it, and silently put it back in the bag (again, without me noticing). I discover those $10 only when I get home. I had no idea it was even there, and the store employee definitely looked through every single item in my bag and saw those $10, but just decided to put it back there. Did I steal those $10?

I struggle to even call it something like "theft by accident", which would be if the cashier forgets to scan an item because they didn't notice it. In my hypothetical scenario, the cashier noticed and picked up the item.

boomboomsubban said 2 months ago:

>Did I steal those $10?

Yes. You have acquired it without the intentional consent of the owner, who presumably thought it was your $10. I don't think it's a crime nor would I find you personally responsible.

yibg said 2 months ago:

That’s a weird definition of theft. By this definition if I pick up a quarter off the sidewalk I’m stealing too.

boomboomsubban said 2 months ago:

If you picked up a hundred dollar bill in the same situation and didn't have any intention of returning it, would you consider that stealing?

My definition of theft doesn't presume it was legally or morally wrong, so many innocent actions would still be theft.

veggieburglar said 2 months ago:

Return it to who?

If you saw someone drop it, sure. If you know the owner of the hundred dollar bill, sure. But otherwise?

I think you just have an odd definition of theft.

From Merriam Webster:

1. a : the act of stealing

specifically : the felonious taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it

1. b : an unlawful taking (as by embezzlement or burglary) of property

2 : a stolen base in baseball

3 obsolete : something stolen

boomboomsubban said 2 months ago:

>If you saw someone drop it, sure. If you know the owner of the hundred dollar bill, sure. But otherwise?

Presumably the owner would retrace their steps and try to find what was lost. Most people would do this for a hundred dollars, but you can also imagine a child doing it for a quarter. Is it theft if you say you haven't seen it? How about if you never run into the person but intended to say you haven't seen it?

At what point it becomes "theft" is tenuous at best. I'd rather call many things "theft" and withhold judgment until I learn the details as it limits instantaneous judgments upon hearing of a thief.

As for your definition, at what point something becomes unlawful is never clear, and nobody's actual definitions for concepts ever mirror a dictionary definition.

yibg said 2 months ago:

I think you're just taking a word that already has a definition and redefining it. Or at least greatly stretching the definition.

And assuming theft unless otherwise proven? That's weird to me too, especially combined with your follow up of limiting instantaneous judgement. How on earth is assuming someone committed theft limiting judgement?

boomboomsubban said 2 months ago:

>think you're just taking a word that already has a definition and redefining it.

Everybody does that all of the time, your definition for words are based on your own experiences.

>And assuming theft unless otherwise proven?

No, assuming theft. More things are called theft.

>How on earth is assuming someone committed theft limiting judgement?

You still think that a thief is a bad person. I assume basically everyone has committed theft, so withhold judgment until I have more information.

yibg said 2 months ago:

There are common definitions of what words mean. If the meaning of words become arbitrary then we lose the ability to communicate effectively.

An action was taken, e.g. picking up a quarter off the side walk. There is no need to put another label on it randomly, just call it what it is, picking up a quarter. By using a word that already has a commonly accepted meaning, and a negative one at that, and associate it with an innocent action you're already labeling it in a negative way for everyone else. Everyone (or at least majority of other people) thinks a thief is a bad person. If only you don't think so and label someone else doing nothing bad a thief, then you're labeling someone a bad person.

It's like me calling you a rapist. But I don't mean rapist in the typical way, I just mean anyone that has sex. So to me a rapist is not a bad person and I'll withhold judgement until I have more information. So I can just go around calling you a rapist right?

boomboomsubban said 2 months ago:

>There are common definitions of what words mean.

What are they? People assume their definition is common, but everything is much less clear than that. This causes frequent disagreements, and it's best to get more information.

>There is no need to put another label on it randomly, just call it what it is, picking up a quarter.

There is no need for me to label the action at all unless I'm in a position to explain what I mean. My position on the action is primarily private. Changing the definition is more useful in the other direction, when you call someone a thief I don't assume I have any idea what they did or what kind of person that makes them.

>Everyone (or at least majority of other people) thinks a thief is a bad person.

Using such labels to judge an entire persons worth is ridiculous in a number of ways. There are too many ways that both of us would consider innocent that can get you labeled a thief. I was almost booked for stealing $40 of gas after realizing I lost my wallet after filling the tank. Am I a bad person because of that?

>So I can just go around calling you a rapist right?

This started as me labeling an action as theft. If I walked around blindly calling people thieves I would expect the misunderstanding to cause problems for me.

yibg said 2 months ago:

> This started as me labeling an action as theft.

That's what I mean with the rapist example too. If you have sex with someone, do I have the right to call you a rapist first and withhold judgement until I have more information? If for me a rapist isn't necessarily a bad act.

boomboomsubban said 2 months ago:

No, you are jumping straight into calling someone a rapist. If I described perfectly consensual sex and you replied "it's rape" with no explanation, you should also expect repercussions for the misunderstanding.

Labeling an act primarily privately and publicly labeling a person are vastly different.

This might answer your question though. If you pointed at someone and said "this person is a rapist," I would withhold judgment until learning more details. A label is not enough to evaluate someone's life. And I try to limit who i casually toss such labels onto, preferring to give some detail into their act.

boomboomsubban said 2 months ago:

Generally, but it can happen by accident. Have you never accidentally stolen a borrowed pen?

ebg13 said 2 months ago:

"bank error in your favor" is not a real thing and a bank will definitely hold you accountable for that. But I honestly read your description as HD just giving you the extras as a gift for your hassle.

said 2 months ago:
dvtrn said 2 months ago:

This has long been an issue I've had when trying to use online shopping/curbside pickup for grocery stores, and this comes even before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived and pushed more of us fortunate to live in cities where online grocery buying is a thing to....well start buying groceries online.

Found myself just as baffled/apoplectic as you are: why would this be on your online storefront if you don't have the inventory for me to actually buy?

Even Amazon Prime delivery via Whole Foods has this problem, to bring it back around to the thread topic.

Interestingly it's something that small e-commerce stores are much better about, it would seem (though I don't really have any data backing that up)

goatforce5 said 2 months ago:

Last year I tried setting up a subscription for some pet food from a mid-sized pet store chain.

The first order went through fine.

3.5 weeks later I get an email saying my next order is about to be processed, now is the last chance for cancellations, etc. I ignore it, as I want the order to be processed.

A few days later I get an email saying they're out of stock and they'll retry again later. I get these emails every day for 2 weeks, and then my order is automatically cancelled.

This happens for 2 or 3 months before I get fed up and cancel the subscription.

If I put in an order effectively a month in advance you'd think they could make sure they had enough stock for that upcoming order.

(And it wasn't a complicated order, just multiple boxes of a single SKU.)

justforyou said 2 months ago:

>> why would this be on your online storefront if you don't have the inventory for me to actually buy?


1) They're betting that you'll still buy something once you're surrounded by merchandise. 2) This allows them to play games with shrink, imventory, and insurance.

dvtrn said 2 months ago:

They're betting that you'll still buy something once you're surrounded by merchandise.

Hrm. Good point, that’s exactly what’s ended up happening. Just never actively considered it

zo1 said 2 months ago:

Personally, I think this is due to "Microservices". You have a separate "search" microservice whose data is out of date or misaligned with the "product listing" microservice. Same goes with Amazon and international delivery on some level. It's gotten better over the years, but there is still such a mismatch such that you can't "filter" only "international" delivery items.

bluGill said 2 months ago:

Depending on what you want you will probably have better luck calling (not online, a voice call) your local lumber yard. They deal with contractors all the time who call their orders in for delivery so this is business as usual. They wouldn't know how to help you if you walked in the door.

Make sure you setup an account with a salesman. They work on commission, but if you know what you want they know exactly how to enter your order so your small order is easy to handle. (contractors often give them a blueprint and tell them to deliver materials which is work for them although it is more money)

richjdsmith said 2 months ago:

Same story happened to me last Friday. I put in an order on their website, met their minimum delivery order amount, and yet when I got the confirmation email an hour later, I found out 3/4 of my items were being shipped to my nearest (35min, 60km) home depot.

I called customer service and was told it was impossible to change the order so all get delivered, and that it was impossible to cancel the order. My only recourse is to go to their wharehouse, pick it up, then ship it back.

I don't love amazon, but they don't pull this crap on me.

thewebcount said 2 months ago:

I'm pretty sure if you call the credit card company and do a chargeback they'll side with you on this.

rdtwo said 2 months ago:

I’ve had that happen too but I intentionally did it to get a discounted battery for my riobi drill. I got the batch discount for multiple items had the stuff I didn’t want sent to store and just had to show up to return it

quickthrower2 said 2 months ago:

I live in Australia, and there is Amazon but they don't have that much stuff compared to UK/US. So I order from other places, and it is super rare to have any kind of ordering or delivery problem. Things just arrive! In 2020 they are all using some order processing and tracking tech and it seems to go smoothly.

Also same experience in the UK with both Amazon and non-Amazon going back to the year 1998 when I was ordering motherboards online. Ordering stuff online is never a problem where I would scream "agh! only Amazon can do this!".

The only problems I have had is in the mid-late 2000's with second hand stuff from ahats on ebay, and paypal siding with the non-quickthrower2 person in most cases, I guess I got bad luck there.

omilu said 2 months ago:

I ordered a car port tent thing, showed as in stock, shipping in a few days. 8 weeks later never arrived, no notifications, only an order confirmation that said shipping in a few days. I called Home Depot and they said they don't have them in stock, they refunded me and gave me a $200 credit so I was happy. Couldn't believe how broke the ordering process was though.

patagurbon said 2 months ago:

It's because those notifications, at least from the store, are manual, associates have to manage each order in a horrendously ugly and complex system.

dexterdog said 2 months ago:

I never get why there is not a department in charge of checking orders that are obviously stuck before they become a support issue.

antsar said 2 months ago:

Because that costs money?

dexterdog said 2 months ago:

As does dealing with this as a customer service issue. I would argue that for most companies catching this internally costs far less than waiting to handle an annoyed customer.

sonicggg said 2 months ago:

It seems the kind of charge I would dispute with my credit card company.

sigzero said 2 months ago:

I ordered from Home Depot. We were finishing a bathroom a couple weeks into November last year. We ordered the beginning of October with a delivery date in October. Good deal. Good thing I like to check "status" often as the main item we ordered had its date changed to the end of November for delivery. So I make the trip in to talk to them. I go find the exact same item in-store and then I have to show them where it is because their system has it in the wrong place. Not a good experience with them.

said 2 months ago:
econcon said 2 months ago:

India doesn't even have any homedepot/McMaster Car equivalent.

There are some online shops which sell chemicals but they charge a lot for its delivery.

Meanwhile, you can't buy Welding rod, helmet or machines online.

mathattack said 2 months ago:

This is the difference between delivery being your primary focus versus secondary focus.

twblalock said 2 months ago:

I've ordered from other traditional retail places before, like Target and Walmart and Macy's, and I haven't had a problem. They care more about technology than most people think, even though their primary focus is in-store sales.

Home Depot just isn't as good at delivery as they are. Ikea is also pretty terrible. What they both seem to have in common is a coordination problem between their inventory systems and the third-party delivery services that actually get the stuff to the customer. Most of the time the stuff they sell is too big to send through the mail.

sfj said 2 months ago:

Over one hundred replies to this? How to get attention on hacker news, just gripe and whine about your interaction with a big corporation, I guess.

larrik said 2 months ago:

Right when this all was starting, I had finally chosen a bass guitar I wanted. I decided to try and support a non-Amazon business in GuitarCenter (the local music shops focus a lot more on school band instruments). So, I order online, and pick the "pick up at store" option, since it says they are in stock.

I show up, and an hour later they figure out that they don't have it in stock, they only have the floor model (which I can have for a whopping 5% off...). Apparently, the system (a green screen app, no less) can't tell the difference between "new in stock" and "floor model". I got the rundown of their logistics chain (which is basically just UPS), and I lost confidence that even ordering ship-to-home online again would even work. So, I bought it from Amazon for the same price and got it later that week...

selykg said 2 months ago:

Check out Sweetwater next time. They are significantly better. Their site actually shows you each guitar/bass they have in stock and they have an entire gallery Of photos for each. If you order one they’ll send a zip or the whole collection of photos.

If you call and talk to the sales rep for you (you’re assigned one) they can usually knock 5-15% off.

They also make sure each guitar/bass is setup to factory spec before sending it out.

hsitz said 2 months ago:

Sweetwater is good. BHPhotoVideo is also excellent for music stuff (as well as tech in general). Free shipping, great service, affiliated payboo credit card that covers sales tax, saves me 10% on every order.

sosborn said 2 months ago:

I second this recommendation. Sweetwater is great and their sales reps know what they are talking about.

ganoushoreilly said 2 months ago:

I third it! Every guitar I buy from them has come with personal images of the exact guitar, you can even view everything before you buy it!

Sweetwater reps are also really competitive on pricing. I like reverb for hard to find used gear, but I always end up shooting over prices from there to my Sweetwater rep, not once have they not beat it.

_benj said 2 months ago:

I fourth it! I came across sweetwater years ago and can't remember buying music gear anywhere else. I'd get amazing deals from my "sales engineer", from bundling guitar and case at the price of the guitar alone to just cutting 10% of the price just because I asked. Their shipping is next day and free if you are relatively close to IN, but never more than 2 days (even to Puerto Rico!)

larrik said 2 months ago:

Never really heard of them before. Looks like everything I bought is out of stock anyway, but it's good to know there are alternatives.

selykg said 2 months ago:

I imagine a lot of gear is tough to get unless it’s high end stuff right now. There has been a ton of people picking up instruments during the shelter in place orders.

Sweetwater is significantly better than GuitarCenter though. Better customer support, better site, better warranty, better everything.

dionian said 2 months ago:

ordered a single speaker once and they contacted me to make sure i didnt want two, which i actually did... really next level customer service

kube-system said 2 months ago:

All pro musicians know and love Sweetwater

abakker said 2 months ago:

My dad used to have a recording studio before he passed away. Our Sweetwater rep (the same one the whole time)called every couple months for 13 years just to see if I need any other equipment, and to tell me when older gear I had was going obsolete due to driver support etc. fantastic experience, and one of the best companies I’ve ever bought from.

72deluxe said 2 months ago:

Their YouTube channel has some good reviews of equipment and Mitch on there does some interesting informed interviews with musicians. I live in the UK so can't order from them but they look to be very good sellers.

drivers99 said 2 months ago:

Of all the guitars and basses I've bought at Guitar Center and other places, it was always the "floor model" I bought. That seems pretty normal. I don't think "floor model" is the right term. You're trying out the exact ones you're buying off the floor.

larrik said 2 months ago:

I've definitely bought floor models before, and for the guitar it was fine. I was worried about what abuse the floor model amp may have been through, though, and neither item would come with all of the extra stuff (manuals, tools, etc). The 5% off felt like an insult after the BS I went through, and I didn't want to stand around waiting while they wrestled with the system to apply it, either.

dehrmann said 2 months ago:

Good point. Unless it's a super generic entry-level guitar. I bet you can find a new Squier Strat in its original box.

JoeAltmaier said 2 months ago:

Yeah. I phoned an implement dealer, to buy a mower I saw advertised in their online store. Wanted to make sure he had set actually eyes on recently, because we've all had online listing be wrong. "Yeah we have that. I saw it … yesterday?"

So I rent a trailer and drive 4 hours, and guess what? Just a square of yellow grass on the lot where the mower used to sit.

mdesq said 2 months ago:

Home Depot and Lowes do this same thing with certain items like dishwashers. It's obnoxious. Their website will show that they have "1 left in stock" but it's the demo model that's installed in a rack of cabinets and not for sale.

said 2 months ago:
zerd said 2 months ago:

And I got a used managed switch from Amazon. It was neatly packaged, but no plastic, strips etc, and the IP was different, and default user/pass didn't work. Factory reset worked though, so I didn't want to send it back and wait for another one as I needed it now.

backtoyoujim said 2 months ago:

reverb.com is a great option for music related equipment.

Wistar said 2 months ago:

Although the focus is somewhat narrower than amazon, for my professional needs I have had nothing but an excellent online experience with bhphotovideo. I have ordered hundreds of items worth tens of thousands of dollars from them starting about 2007. Their site can be a little frustrating, mostly from not narrow-enough categorization, but their app for iOS is very good. Their prices are usually as good and often better than amazon. The users' product reviews are useful and well-written and the site/app shows which reviewers are verified purchasers of the product they are reviewing and offers comprehensive review filtering.

They also invest a lot of effort in producing their own product demo videos and articles done by obviously knowledgeable people which, given the breadth of their catalog, is particularly impressive and serves well more than just to shill their wares.

They have great packaging for shipping and I have not once had an order go missing or show up broken or damaged despite many of my orders being fragile items.

Well-oiled machine.

cactus2093 said 2 months ago:

I'm also a fan of B&H (even more before they charged sales tax outside of NY), but prices "often better than amazon" isn't true. For any brand name purchase of the type you'd get at B&H like a camera or computer, it's gonna be the same price on Amazon or Best Buy or Adorama or any other major online retailer. The prices are dictated by the brand along with rules on what kind of sales are allowed and when, so retailers can't undercut each other.

Amazon can be kind of hit or miss in niche products like camera gear though, so B&H might have better selection. And the listings on a site like B&H are more uniform compared to the wild west of Amazon's 3rd party sellers, so I do like it better for browsing.

Wistar said 2 months ago:

I can't write to your experience but I have on many occasions found the very specific thing I want on BH for less than it is available via amazon — if it is even available on amazon.

bosswipe said 2 months ago:

I avoid them because of their known racist and sexist employee segregation.

Wistar said 2 months ago:
loco5niner said 2 months ago:

Seems like only one side of the story from a very non-balanced source with an agenda. I would take this with a grain of salt.

bosswipe said 2 months ago:

It is a fact that they were sued by the Department of Labor over it.

alyx said 2 months ago:

Tried placing an order online Saturday afternoon, only to be informed that the website was not taking orders due to Shabbos.

I very nearly skipped over to Adorama.

The mind boggles trying to resolve why a server cannot accept an order while staff is respecting Shabbos.

schwartzworld said 2 months ago:

B&H is run and staffed by Hasidic Jews. They have strict definitions of work that are forbidden on the Sabbath and they may not always be intuitive to outsiders, for example, for many religious Jews, pressing the elevator button is forbidden, but riding in an elevator that is programmed to just stop on every floor is fine.

Your mind is free to boggle, but Jews are entitled to close their businesses on the Sabbath just the same as Christians. In the county I grew up in, everything but supermarkets is closed on Sunday, for example.

op00to said 2 months ago:

Adorama is run by observent Jewish people as well.

radicality said 2 months ago:

Also just started using them, great so far!

fyi they are about to close for a week because of passover

Wistar said 2 months ago:

True. And they also close their online orders and physical store for Shabbat every weekend.

noncoml said 2 months ago:

Another B&H Photo Video happy customer here.

Pity they were forced to start charging state taxes. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but can't help to think that Amazon was somehow involved in that.

kevindong said 2 months ago:

B&H Photo Video started collecting sales tax due to the Supreme Court case South Dakota v. Wayfair (2018) which held that retailers can be compelled to collect sales tax even if they don't have a presence in the state.


fmela said 2 months ago:

Right or wrong, you can get around the sales tax using B&H's Payboo credit card (for use on their site only): https://www.bhphotovideo.com/credit-cards

sjwright said 2 months ago:

It’s a discount offer, I don’t think it actually elides tax payment. According to the URL you cited:

“B&H will collect and remit state sales tax in accordance with state sales tax laws and regulations. So, customers do pay required sales tax and do not need to keep track or file anything separately.“

cactus2093 said 2 months ago:

Yes you just get credit card cash-back in the amount of your state sales tax. Which is not bad, living in CA for instance it gives you 7.25% cash back. Compare that to Amazon where you get 5% back with their card, or any general purpose credit card where you won't really find better than 2% rewards for online shopping.

Diederich said 2 months ago:

Help requested.

My wife, who is in her 50s, is immunocompromised, and she also has a history of fast escalating and difficult to treat respiratory problems. We are and have been (for the past 32 days) treating this bug very carefully. If she catches it, she has a very good chance of not surviving it.

Our son and I are at less risk, but we can easily bring this bug home.

We've been having more and more trouble getting food. We have a fair quantity of emergency supplies, but we'd rather not tap into those.

At first it was the various delivery options: instacart, various others, but they became less usable. Early last week we started doing Amazon Prime Now, which allowed us to place and pay for orders at Whole Foods, then wait in the parking lot for them to put the orders in our trunk.

Over the past few days, this has gotten less viable. We'd find ourselves driving 50 miles to pickup a $30 order.

So, we're open to suggestions. We live in Mountain View, the SF Bay Area.

We have been able to buy quite a bit of chicken and beef, and we have a 50 pound bag of flour coming in, so we're certainly not in any danger of starvation.

It's just kind of a low-grade anxiety that kind of sucks.


PS: We have a pretty rigorous decontamination process that everything goes through before it comes into the house, so we feel pretty good about that.

alleyshack said 2 months ago:

You don't specify why Instacart "became less usable", though if your experience is like mine I'd guess it's a combination of delivery windows being a full week out and the results being somewhat unreliable between replacements/out of stock. What's been working for my household is to make the Instacart order knowing it won't be delivered for at least a week, and use that time to fill out the order as needed. We're not to this point yet but I've also thought about doing a rolling window (i.e., make one order with a delivery window of next Saturday, then start another one in two days with a delivery for next Monday, etc) so there's always something coming in.

Another suggestion, which I have not tested yet personally, would be to look up small grocers in your area. If you're willing to drive to pick up your shopping, a small grocer may be willing to prepick your order and have it ready for you in the parking lot without an intermediary.

A third option would be to check for local milkman deliveries, since many of them deliver more than just milk. A quick search for the Bay Area brings up "Bay Area Milkman" and "Milkman SF". Again, haven't tried them so can't vouch for them, but I'm keeping similar options in my own back pocket if/when we need them.

vonmoltke said 2 months ago:

> You don't specify why Instacart "became less usable", though if your experience is like mine I'd guess it's a combination of delivery windows being a full week out

I can't get a delivery window at all in Instacart right now. I can't get pickup of delivery from any grocery store in northern New Jersey right now.

MBlume said 2 months ago:

Check out immediately after midnight, this is what's worked for us.

thewebcount said 2 months ago:

Likewise. Same with Shipt who are doing Target orders.

alleyshack said 2 months ago:

Oh yikes. Mine's been iffy, but looking a full week out I've usually been able to find something. I suppose I should consider my area fortunate for that.

I don't know if either of my other suggestions are of any use to you, but I genuinely wish you luck in your search.

andrewblossom said 2 months ago:

I've experienced the same in northern NJ. No available delivery/pick-up slots from any providers.

impendia said 2 months ago:

> a small grocer may be willing to prepick your order and have it ready for you in the parking lot without an intermediary.

This is what I did. A small, upscale grocery near me started offering curbside pickup: you send in an order in the morning, get called to arrange payment in the afternoon, drive there the same day, and they drop off your groceries at your car. Worked perfectly. Yum.

Indeed, prominently advertised on their website: https://www.rosewoodmarket.com/grocery-curbside-pickup/

Unfortunately this is in a different state. But maybe Mountain View/Palo Alto/Sunnyvale/etc. has something similar? Where do all the vegans and serious foodies shop? I'd try there.

pkaye said 2 months ago:

Some major stores (Target, Safeway, Raleys, etc) are doing it but the wait times are long. Might find some smaller stores with less of a wait.

Diederich said 2 months ago:

Ok, this is all very useful, thank you kindly.

graeme said 2 months ago:

> Over the past few days, this has gotten less viable. We'd find ourselves driving 50 miles to pickup a $30 order.

You might consider making tiers of food. And maybe get a standup freezer if you have the space/budget:

Tier 1: fast perishable fruits/vegetables, e.g. bananas. You buy these in quantity at the store, but accept you’ll run out between trips Tier 2: root vegetables and other long lasting produce. You buy in quantity and store in a cool, dark place. Should last a while Tier 3: frozen meat, frozen nuts, frozen vegetables. Frozen sliced bread Tier 4: canned fish, canned fruit, canned vegetables. Canned meat/jerky

I’m Canadian. My grandma had a root cellar in the basement. Tier 1 was basically out of the question every winter for a portion of her life

You more or less arrange things as a tradeoff between tier 1, and trips to the store, which are both costly and increase exposure odds.

You also then keep checking all delivery options and look for alternate qaya to keep tier up. But tiers 2 and 3 are fairly decent.

There’s also bulk meal cooking + freezing after a store run. This is where the freezer comes in handy again.

If you have a backyard, also a good time to experiment with gardening.

It sounds like you’re already doing a good job of having emergency stockpiles. Am hopeful this might give you some more ideas for how to make the long term stockpile more palatable in between orders.

tehlike said 2 months ago:

I live in MTV, and I have helped a neighbor who was going through chemo once last week (so roughly in similar situation from immunity pov, her family does not leave home for same reason), and would be happy to help you. Email in profile.

I stop by costco once every two weeks, and would not mind picking up some stuff for you.

Like another commenter mentioned, nextdoor is fairly decent for getting help, you can find highschoolers doing runs for their neighbors.

Small side note: it's kind of hard finding some staples - toilet paper, eggs, etc, so make sure you are aware of it.

Diederich said 2 months ago:

That's very kind of you, we'll keep it in mind! Many thanks.

Cerium said 2 months ago:

Instacart releases slots throughout the night. 2am to 5am are great for getting one. There are many currently lesser known delivery systems - search for ones targeting minorities. For example Yamimeal (despite having meal in the name - they do groceries). Also, buy bigger orders if you can. I have been getting at least a couple hundred dollars at once, good for 7-10 days. I would get more at once, but I want to eat some vegetables.

williamdclt said 2 months ago:

I don't know if they can be delivered, but frozen vegetable can be kept forever and are often better than "fresh" supermarket vegetable because they are frozen right after being picked, so they actually are fresher.

My only source is my mom though, you might want to double-check this claim

FreshFruitGuy said 2 months ago:
_n_b_ said 2 months ago:

Very on-topic username, FreshFruitGuy.

Here are a couple more citations that have more data behind them, if somebody wants to dig into it (and has the journal access):

* https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030881469... * https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4615-5975-7_... * https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jsfa.2825

Diederich said 2 months ago:

> throughout the night

We haven't tried at very odd hours as you suggest; we'll give it a try, thank you.

MrFoof said 2 months ago:

At least where I live (NE USA)...

* Whole Foods (for delivery) releases slots at midnight. This is pretty obvious, because you'll actually get what is basically a, "rate limiting" dialog page if you don't start checkout successfully. The site is getting slammed THAT hard. So for 2-3 minutes, hope you actually can get to the page to confirm placing the order. Those slots go FAST (< 5 minutes).

* Amazon Fresh seems to start releasing slots at 12:30AM. These seem fairly easy to get at release. No rate-limiting page for checkout.

* Instacart seems to have a "semi-hold" for orders in carts that aren't yet confirmed orders. I can watch delivery slots for the next 2 weeks disappear until none remain. But at midnight, they become wide open as soon as 3-4 days out. If you're on point, you can get one early in the day, where stock is likely good, or late in the day, where places like ALDI will have replenished the shelves since the rush is before noon.

Amazon (Whole Foods and Fresh) seem to only hold items in a cart so long if you've not purchased. I've not nailed it down yet, but it's measured in "hours" (not sure of the number), not days. My recommendation is to have a firm list and start filling your cart 60-90 minutes before the above times. That seems to get everything committed in the order 100% of the time.

If you're trying to stock up to not have to go out for a good while, consider a, "defense in depth" strategy. Place a Whole Foods order, place a Fresh order, place an Instacart order. Stagger them by a few days. If something comes in the first two orders, remove it from the Instacart order. You may be able to cancel the Instacart order several days in advance, and still have gotten basically everything.


I'm done buying groceries online for a long while, so rather someone who could use it have the knowledge I learned through far too much effort trying to figure out how the black boxes worked. Legitimately felt like I was routing a speedrun for a grocery video game to get a world record.

shadowoflight said 2 months ago:

My mother-in-law's strategy for getting a slot with Wal-Mart grocery pickup has been to pre-fill her in-app cart in the evening, and set an alarm to wake up a few minutes before the window to place the order and get a pickup slot opens up (I think somewhere in the 12:00-2:00am timeframe). This may be applicable for placing Instacart orders (and the like) as well, unless they require you to pick an available slot before populating your cart...

jefftk said 2 months ago:

Have you considered buying from stores that normally target commercial businesses? They generally have a lot more slack right now with restaurants not running. The minimum order size is kind of high, but if you buy non-perishables it might be good? https://www.webstaurantstore.com is what I've used.

Diederich said 2 months ago:

My wife has tried that but so far she's run into the 'must be a restaurant' wall. We'll try https://www.webstaurantstore.com , many thanks.

fennecfoxen said 2 months ago:

When I was in San Jose, there was a "Cash and Carry" foodservice store where one could just walk in and browse the food (I once randomly met the properietor of Psycho Donuts there, looking for new flavor ideas.) It appears to be operating under a slightly different brand now, but seems to be open the the public still?


Looks like there's a click-and-carry option, but no deliveries unless you Instacart.

Wistar said 2 months ago:

We have one near us in Bellevue, WA and it has been an absolute zoo and filled with people who just seem unable to adhere to physical distance rules.

JoshTriplett said 2 months ago:

Definitely try alternate services. We had much more luck with local stores than with Prime Now. In our area, Prime Now for Amazon has never had a delivery window, Prime Now for Whole Foods rarely does, but the local Fred Meyer has delivery windows open up regularly, often for same-day delivery. Also check Albertson's, Safeway, Target, Walmart, Shipt, and any other service. Talk to local non-chain or small-chain stores and see if they have any options; I've found that several places that don't normally delivery are happy to deliver in the current situation, especially for a tip. That goes for restaurants, pharmacies, and many other services. In some areas, TaskRabbit and similar are still operating, and "pick up XYZ for me" tasks are very common. And if all else fails, ask around for someone willing to pick things up and drop them off for you, and pay them well.

Also, this may depend on your financial situation, but if you can, don't make small orders; make large orders less often. (This is true all the time, but it's especially true right now.) Then, even if you have to drive a long distance for a pickup or pay a larger delivery fee, you don't have to do it as often.

said 2 months ago:
gwittel said 2 months ago:

I am in MV.

Unfortunately most online things are overwhelmed. They don't have enough shoppers. You can keep checking for a slot opening up, but its a challenge and hard to plan for. Are you specifically looking for fresh items, or are there particular things you need?

Staples are usually available, and you can sometimes get them from smaller vendors online. At least those you can plan ahead for a future delivery. For some staples I've had luck with Target and random online (usually specialty/gourmet) sellers.

For fresh items, its harder -- either get lucky with online or go =/. You can try the smaller chains as they are lower foot traffic or in some cases are better at rate limiting customers. I've had luck with Ava's downtown (they also have early hours for senior and/or immunocompromised). Nijiya is rate limiting, as is Trader Joes (expect 30+ min line though). Nob Hill has been OK, they also have special pre-packaged boxes for seniors and at risk customers. They are first come/first serve, and have mixes of staples/fresh foods. They say they're available via e-cart as well, but I haven't tried. I've had to book Nob Hill ~1 week ahead (and didn't get everything). Dittmer's is also rate limiting (but sounds like you're good on meats).

As a last resort -- the MV farmer's market opens an early for seniors and immunocompromised (so either 8 or 8:30, I can't remember and its not listed online). I've been ~9 and its busier than I'd like. They're trying to enforce line spacing and do limit number of people in booths. Some booths only sell pre-bagged items held behind the counter (e.g. apples from Rainbow).

As a last resort -- maybe a shared grocery need list with friends/neighbors? Someone can pick up an extra item or two when they're out. We've been doing that at times and following usual safety procedures afterward.

Take care!

dehrmann said 2 months ago:

> early hours for senior and/or immunocompromised

I get why stores would do this, but unless there are significantly fewer people in the store, could putting these people in one place actually be a bad idea? Is there any good data backing this up?

Diederich said 2 months ago:

I agree with your concerns; I haven't seen any data about this.

gwittel said 2 months ago:

Ace Hardware is doing curbside pickup. Cost Plus World Market is as well (they sell random pantry goods).

Ozzie_osman said 2 months ago:

Rose Market on El Camino across from Castro Street also has good groceries, just don't carry paper towels, toilet paper, etc. But if you just want food they're usually well-stocked.

Diederich said 2 months ago:

I'm working (at home!) at the moment, so I can't reply properly right now, but thank you for all of this!

ipsum2 said 2 months ago:

I'm happy to purchase groceries for you, I'm in the same area. Email is in the profile.

For other people who are also in a similar scenario: NextDoor and local FB groups are great for this.

ipsum2 said 2 months ago:

update: got groceries for Diederich.

Diederich said 2 months ago:

You did indeed, thank you very much, we truly appreciate it.

Diederich said 2 months ago:

Wow thanks! We might take you up on that, very much appreciated.

zapstar said 2 months ago:

I have been very impressed with ordering online at Target. Many items that my local grocery store did not have were able to be shipped to me in 2 days. I hope maybe this can help with your situation, at least as far as non-perishable food is concerned.

(They do have warnings on every product now about potentially being out of stock, but so far, they've been able to fulfill every order I've made.)

r0m4n0 said 2 months ago:

Personally I have been utilizing Costco same day delivery powered by Instacart. The next available delivery day is usually 5 or so days out but you can modify your order until they actually start physically shopping so I just add groceries all week once I have my delivery day. I start a new order the day my last order arrives so I have a constant flow of fresh groceries every 5 days. Totally affordable (free delivery and only slightly marked up over sticker prices) and I haven't left my house in 3 weeks. Just make sure you setup replacements as I'd say 15% of items I choose are out of stock. Instacart now leaves your groceries at your front door and sends you an SMS so you don't even have to interact with anyone.

peterwwillis said 2 months ago:

Driving 50 miles ? There's tons of places for groceries in Mountain View...

Here is a list of CSAs and farms near mountain view: https://www.localharvest.org/search.jsp?map=1&lat=37.412895&...

Try the Farmstead app: https://www.farmsteadapp.com/

Some stores are near you on Mercato: https://www.mercato.com/

Check grocery stores near you on Yelp; call them to see if they deliver, I'm sure some do (Safeway definitely used to): https://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=groceries&find_loc=mou...

Grocery On Wheels seems to prioritize deliveries to senior citizens, they may also make an exception for the immunocompromised: https://www.groceryonwheels.org/

You should also check the news, google and call any wholesale food distributors nearby you, the ones that deliver to restaurants. Near me they have been delivering boxes full of fresh food to residences for very low prices, something like $35 a box.

Basically, abandon the idea of national chains, look for local places. In rural areas this is nearly impossible; near and in big cities, there are tons of options. And don't forget to look for non-white-owned businesses - but you might have to actually ask someone nearby, as they don't always advertise on Google.

whymauri said 2 months ago:

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt wrote a really good COVID-19 Food Safety Guide [0]. You may find it useful when preparing food at home or dealing with food delivery. He's also really active on Twitter and Reddit, so you can probably ask him more specific questions or even this question and he'll reply with some good, professional advice.

[0] https://www.seriouseats.com/2020/03/food-safety-and-coronavi...

orchard_vkm said 2 months ago:

Great resource. Thanks very much for sharing!

Diederich said 2 months ago:

Beautiful, this is great. I really appreciate it.

kirykl said 2 months ago:

Contact local pet sitters, and see if they would do in-store shopping for you. Many have lost business with people cancelling vacations

repiret said 2 months ago:

My wife is also immunocompromised, and we live in the middle of nowhere, where instacart and uber eats and all the other gig economy services don't operate.

We were able to hire our housekeeper to do grocery shopping for us.

Housekeepers; Pet sitters; more generally, there's a lot of people out of work right now, connect with them and you'll find someone who will help with your shopping.

Diederich said 2 months ago:

That's a very interesting idea, thank you!

rainbowzootsuit said 2 months ago:

I found the following videos helpful in explaining how to apply sterile technique to processing groceries.

Many are just using gloves or masks as a talisman to ward off the corona but not appreciating how these PPE items, when used poorly, are likely worse than having no PPE, a few items for sanitizing, and awareness.



swsieber said 2 months ago:

> we have a fair quantity of emergency supplies.

If you won't use them now, when will you? Are we talking days, weeks or months?

Diederich said 2 months ago:

There are few universal truths, but one of them is this: Things can always get worse. (Even if that might be unlikely at any given time.) At this moment, we have enough normal food to not need to dip into the emergency stuff, though it's getting more challenging. Plus, we rather prefer normal food.

Basically, we don't consider our current situation an emergency yet.

smileysteve said 2 months ago:

When someone in the house gets sick and nobody is supposed to leave because they've been exposed.

swsieber said 2 months ago:

Well, that's I ask about duration the food supply will last. If you have a 1 week supply, then yeah, don't dip in. If you have a 3 month supply, then I'd be a little more open to it (personally).

I'm pretty much fine with it as long as I think it's reasonable that I won't deplete more than some fraction of it before I can top it off.

caymanjim said 2 months ago:

It sounds like you're shopping with alarming frequency, almost daily. Why so much? I stocked up over a month ago because it was clear this was coming, and while I've supplemented a little bit with one delivery and one shopping trip since then, I certainly didn't need to. I especially wouldn't be relying on InstaCart and other one-off prepared food deliveries with an immunocompromised person at home.

Diederich said 2 months ago:

> alarming frequency, almost daily

We've only been able to get pretty small orders for a few weeks.

We incorrectly focused too heavily on building up the (not so tasty/suitable for 'normal' consumption) emergency supplies as the crisis was unfolding.

iandanforth said 2 months ago:

https://www.goodeggs.com/sfbay/home - Can be busy but slots are opening up

https://zeroshop.co/ - Limited selection but good availability

Can't speak to if they deliver to you, but both do in Menlo Park.

RJIb8RBYxzAMX9u said 2 months ago:

Expensive options:

- Subscribe to meal kit services like HelloFresh or Blue Apron (or both).

- Buy from other mail order grocers like Imperfect Foods, Omaha Steaks, etc.

- Hire someone with TaskRabbit to do the shopping for you, particularly from grocers that don't deliver (i.e. Trader Joe's, smaller specialty grocers, etc.).

Diederich said 2 months ago:

We actually have bought a fair amount of meat from Omaha Steaks.

> TaskRabbit

I had not considered that, we'll take a look. Thanks!

azakai said 2 months ago:

Aside from Whole Foods, Amazon also has Amazon Prime Now (go to https://primenow.amazon.com/ and pick store: Amazon). They have a lot of staple foods there, and sometimes they have more availability than Whole Foods. (I'm guessing there might be different bottlenecks at Whole Foods stores and Amazon warehouses.)

Another option are restaurant deliveries. Those are easy to get (they're happy to get the orders!). Up to you how you feel about the risk, but all the experts I've read say you can reduce the danger there to something comparable to grocery delivery (mainly to discard the original packages and you can also reheat the food).

pkaye said 2 months ago:

Trader Joes seems to follow a bunch of procedures that makes me feel safer. They limit the number of people controlled by staff at entry. They space out those waiting in line and at the counter. They given you sanitizer for the cart and hands. If you are especially concerned, speak to the manager of the store. They are willing to bag things up for you to pay and pickup. Atleast our store manager was nice enough to offer but in the end I felt comfortable to shop by myself. Also wear a mask when you go and use sanitizer when you return to the car.

Lastly there are many people on nextdoor in your community that will help out with shopping as a good gesture. You just reimburse them the cost of what they bought for you.

said 2 months ago:
Animats said 2 months ago:

Costco is still shipping. I just ordered about $135 worth of stuff, including fruit, bread, milk, and hand cleaner, for delivery today.

djrogers said 2 months ago:

That depends entirely where you live - around me, this is aboslutely not true for all intents and purposes (no delivery windows available, or no products available, or both).

Animats said 2 months ago:

Redwood City, CA.

pottertheotter said 2 months ago:

My parents live in Sunnyvale and my mother is also immunocompromised, so they're going through the same thing. They have some people helping them get things from stores, and I'm absolutely certain they would be happy to help out your family. Feel free to reach out (email on profile) and I'll make sure you're taken care of.

sarah2079 said 2 months ago:

I am also in Mountain View and haven’t been in a store since February.

I have been able to place pick up orders with Nob Hill Foods for two weeks out (delivery has not been available lately).

One of my husband’s colleagues has had good luck with Draeger’s via Instacart (he said same day!).

If you make an Amazon Fresh cart and then refresh the page where you select your delivery window a lot between 9 pm and 12 am you can sometimes catch the new batch of delivery windows being released. For most Amazon Fresh warehouses they are released at midnight, but it is controlled by the local warehouse, and ours releases the new slots at random times in the evening. When I can get a slot Amazon fresh is my favorite—good selection and 90% of what I order actually arrives, which is great.

My husband also mentioned a friend successfully having toilet paper delivered from Home Depot.

adsljfl3 said 2 months ago:

I'm using a CSA which guarantees delivery: https://www.goldengateorganics.com/

There are some CSAs that target south bay that might work for you. These support farms and you get a strong assurance that you will have food every week.

We also have enough rice and beans in our house that we can probably go for about a month without groceries. Make sure you have rice and beans.

Tender greens is also delivering grocery boxes: https://www.tendergreens.com/blog/002020-grocery-boxes

I would also try smaller stores on Instacart.

Finally there are several groups doing shopping for people like you, my Nextdoor feed has them posting regularly.

gnicholas said 2 months ago:

I hear Sigonas Market has their own delivery service. I go to their store in Redwood City and at the Stanford Shopping Center, but dunno if they'd deliver to or have shops in MV. Prices are quite good on some items, but they're not full-service (no meat, I think).

julianramirez said 2 months ago:

We’ve been using a meal delivery service like Blue Apron for several years now and have increased our order from 3 nights to 7 nights. We still use grocery delivery for snacks and other meals, but it’s been a great having dinners taken care of.

Diederich said 2 months ago:

We have been avoiding prepared meals until there is clearer data about how safe they can be.

anthonypasq said 2 months ago:

Blue Apron isnt prepared. You cook it yourself...

temp167 said 2 months ago:

Happy to help, I live in SVL and can deliver groceries or pick up if you would like.

Diederich said 2 months ago:

Wow, thank you so much. We've gotten quite a few offers.

credit_guy said 2 months ago:

Some restaurant suppliers have opened their online store to individuals. I can't speak for California, but in New York City we just shopped yesterday on baldor[1]. For most items the minimum quantity is way to high for a single family (e.g. for potatoes you can only order 50 lbs or so). But you can still find some stuff. It's not a very pleasant online shopping experience, but it'll do for now.

[1] https://www.baldorfood.com/

arkades said 2 months ago:

Tried freshdirect?

It takes a bit to find an open slot for their Recurring Orders, but since we've gotten one they haven't let us down. It's the one-off order slots that don't exist.

rb2k_ said 2 months ago:

We've had no issues getting same Whole Foods deliveries via Amazon in Menlo Park. We just had to refresh a few times over the course of 15 minutes or so and always got a slot.

airstrike said 2 months ago:

Consider soylent or other meal replacement items and military rations for emergency.

Stock up on non-perishable grains, pasta, tomato sauce and canned fish. And I really mean stock up – at least 3-4 weeks worth of meals.

Not in the SF Bay Area, but WF through the Amazon app is still what's been working for us, though I have to log in repeatedly to find a delivery window available...

Diederich said 2 months ago:

Thanks for your response.

We do have a fair amount of such emergency supplies, primarily in the form of protein bars, but a lot of other things as well. We would rather leave those be until (and if) there's an actual legit emergency for us to face.

I think the Whole Foods via Amazon is still working, it's just extremely over-used in the bay area, so the orders we actually manage to get through are very small.

hamandcheese said 2 months ago:

I find the chocolate Soylent drink to be quite yummy now and then, especially for breakfast (far above what my standards would be in an emergency) and Amazon is showing delivery this Friday to my apartment in SF.

justforyou said 2 months ago:

This is an actual legit emergency.

Diederich said 2 months ago:

> This is an actual legit emergency.

No disagreement; remember, we consider every box that arrives as potentially life threatening. And we're quite aware of the local, national and global scope and impact.

everybodyknows said 2 months ago:

For produce, eggs and chicken, consider a "CSA" -- Community Supported Agriculture:


fernly said 2 months ago:

The Market at Edgewood (Embarcadero at 101 in Palo Alto) has an online order form and brings the order out to your car.


urxvtcd said 2 months ago:

You could try replacing some meals with Huel or whatever.

influx said 2 months ago:

Do you have Amazon Fresh available? You might have to check through the day to get a slot, but it's been a life saver for our family.

Diederich said 2 months ago:

We do have Amazon Fresh, it's just been hard to get slots.

When you 'check through the day', can you say roughly how many times you are checking? Thanks!

simmons said 2 months ago:

I think they must be adding slots fairly frequently. (But they might also be snatched up quickly.) My wife and I put in an Amazon Fresh order yesterday after doing a quick "dry run checkout" to confirm there was an available slot. While shopping, we got a notice that the slots were exhausted, but we continued in the interest of getting an order prepared. When we checked out, it again said there were no slots. I waited a minute and refreshed the browser, and a slot had opened up for tomorrow. I'm in Colorado, but I assume AF works the same everywhere.

So far, I've had a better experience with Amazon Fresh than with Instacart (King Soopers/Kroger) due to 1) the ability to "call dibs" on items instead of waiting for the shopper to see there's no stock and struggle to find a replacement, and 2) the quick 1-2 day delivery (but maybe I've just gotten lucky). On the other hand, lots of stuff is out of stock which makes shopping challenging.

We also put in an Amazon Pantry order yesterday. Expected delivery: April 26! :O

odysseus said 2 months ago:

My wife placed our first Amazon Fresh order last week and received it the next day, as expected. Worked great - on time, well-packed, and it was nice to be able to see when the driver was 6 stops away.

One other option you might try - if you don't have any relatives nearby that can help, community groups on Facebook and church groups in your area may be delivering groceries to residents in need. Get on a couple of neighborhood/church mailing lists and see what's available.

chaz said 2 months ago:

Dozens of times per day. It's on my bookmark bar, and I click it routinely: https://www.amazon.com/afx/slotselection/

tehjoker said 2 months ago:

I'm on the east coast, but I'm participating in a mutual aid network that does exactly this kind of thing. Try googling your local branch of the Democratic Socialists of America (I think you're in Silicon Valley DSA's territory). Each chapter is independent and not great at communication with each other, but I found a web page that said SV DSA is doing grocery delivery mutual aid for elevated risk people. I don't want to post it here because I don't want them to get trolled, but it's easily to google.

I only mentioned DSA because I'm member of the national org, but there are probably many other organizations doing similar work. Please be safe and stay healthy! Good luck!

Edit: Just want to emphasize to people in a similar situation, that the key words to search for are "Mutual Aid" on google, facebook, and twitter if you don't know someone already connected to an organization. Many of these orgs are also looking for volunteers.

wear_a_mask said 2 months ago:

I am not allowed to post because Dang is kind of a dick, but I can tell you that you should go out and shop with PPE at local Lunardi's markets. They are really doing a great job, have lots of inventory, and enforce social distancing.

Wear a mask and gloves, come in to your house, strip down and wash/throw everything away. Delivery is just not going to work.

Conversely, you could post on CL offering $100 cash (Venmo, square) to someone who can get groceries for you.

Hopefully a shadow-mod sees this and lets it appear.

jedberg said 2 months ago:

Yeah I’ve ordered a few things now directly from the manufacturer.

The problem is in a lot of cases I’ll see stuff that’s slightly cheaper on their site but then shipping is ridiculous.

I ordered a mono price stand up desk recently. The price on Amazon was $10 more, but Monoprice wanted $45 for domestic shipping! So I waited three extra days and saved $35.

It’s kind of a toss up now between speed and price depending on the item. I mean, it always was, but when prime is functioning normally, the speed is almost always worth the price (to me).

bluetidepro said 2 months ago:

I agree 100% with this. It's appalling how many other sites (esp. the direct manufacturer ones, like you mentioned) use dark patterns with their shipping/handling prices. It really does make you understand why everyone wants to use the big sites like Amazon, at least they are pretty straight fwd when it comes to the price, shipping, fees, etc. Nothing worse than getting down an e-commerce funnel only to find you wasted 10+ mins filling out stages of forms to then find the shipping/handling cost is absolutely ridiculous, and have to bail.

dangrossman said 2 months ago:

It's not a dark pattern that shipping actually costs everyone that isn't Amazon a lot. Go get a shipping quote from UPS or FedEx for sending a desk across the country. It's not going to be any cheaper than these stores are charging. They're not hiding extra profit in their shipping fees.

People are so used to Amazon Prime that they have no idea what things cost to ship any more. I run a small online store and every 1-pound package I mail out costs $8-12 in postage by the cheapest shipping method available to me, at commercial shipping rates. If the box is over a cubic foot in size and going to a state on the other side of the country, it can quickly double or triple in cost.

Amazon has $120/year in Prime subscription fees to subsidize the displayed shipping costs, puts some of the shipping fee into the item price (they're rarely the cheapest for most products, especially very cheap or very heavy ones), has a warehouse within 20 miles of every American so that nearly everything they ship is a same-zone local shipment, and has their own delivery network so they don't have to pay carriers. No other business has those things.

bluetidepro said 2 months ago:

It IS a dark pattern when they don't show you that cost until the final step after you have invested time getting there. You misunderstand, I'm not arguing that it costs money to ship things, I understand that to be true, I'm saying it's a shitty dark pattern when you aren't clear about that cost up front in the funnel. People can be honest, there is nothing stopping them from doing that.

dangrossman said 2 months ago:

They don't know the cost to ship you things until they know what's going to be in your cart and what address it's getting mailed to. Shipping costs are based on package dimensions, weight, and distance between the sender and recipient. This is the reason that in nearly every ecommerce platform, shipping costs get displayed at the second to last step of the checkout process, or in the shopping cart only if you provide your zip code there. They don't have the information needed to run a postage quote any earlier.

bluetidepro said 2 months ago:

Again, you still aren't following. I'm saying many sites don't do that. You are correct, I should be able to see estimated shipping from my cart on any e-commerce site by just putting in a zip code in, and them knowing what is in my cart (product wise). It's a dark pattern that MANY sites don't do this, they make you fill out a ton of info to get to that point. It's sketchy and a dark pattern to put that many walls behind a final price including shipping. I understand there has to be a few walls, but you wouldn't believe how many sites put extra walls in there to try to "trap" you in their funnel.

jeromegv said 2 months ago:

Where you see dark pattern is in fact a limitation of most ecommerce platforms. Shopify, which powers millions of retailers website, doesn't offer this out of the box. You need the advanced plan ($$) and on top of that you need a special app/theme that would allow you to do it before checkout.

zo1 said 2 months ago:

Yeah but to be fair, nothing stops them from providing the "shipping cost" or an estimate of it, next to the price of the product. They make no effort to kinda tell you how much this thing would cost to deliver.

Heck, they could show you "current shipping cost" estimate next to your cart total. They could also show you the delivery cost total if you were to add this item, next to the item you intend to buy.

It can be a solved problem if they attempted to do so, and as technical people we should be able to identify their BS when we see it. Even giant/big retailers don't do it because they know that greater than zero amount of people will just say "fuck it, I spent all this time filling the cart, I'm not going to bargain shop shipping prices, might as well buy it from here."

plorkyeran said 2 months ago:

Honest sites let you enter a zip code at the very start of the shopping process and display an estimated shipping cost as you're looking at items. Dishonest sites make no mention of shipping costs until you're at the very end of the checkout process.

odysseus said 2 months ago:

I think in many cases it's not a matter of dishonesty, but of laziness, lack of care, or not wanting to pay for a better checkout experience.

t-writescode said 2 months ago:

Also, there’s probably A/B testing that shows orders of magnitude less engagement if you put any blockers in the way of seeing the product.

plorkyeran said 2 months ago:

It doesn't have to block you from seeing the product. Some e-commerce sites let you enter a zip code on any page to get estimated shipping prices, but don't require you to. Some let you enter a zip code as soon as you've added something to your cart. Some don't do estimated shipping prices at all and don't give you any idea how much shipping will be until you're at that step of the checkout flow.

t-writescode said 2 months ago:

Fair enough. I suppose I'm just used to what I'm used to. Shipping prices only seem to be something surprising nowadays with Amazon. Before that, it was accepted and commonplace. I wonder if that makes it a dark pattern now.

unethical_ban said 2 months ago:

I'll disagree again.

The market price for shipping a table across the country is more than what Amazon charges. They have built shipping into their pricing through different methods.

plorkyeran said 2 months ago:

What does that have to do with what I said in any way? My complaint isn't that non-Amazon retailers charge too much for shipping.

unethical_ban said 2 months ago:

I see your point about shipping costs not available until it's in the checkout line. I guess I disagree that it is dishonest or malicious - they didn't take your money.

THE_PUN_STOPS said 2 months ago:

And if you pay attention you’ll notice Amazon already has their own freight logistics network and is setting up an air logistics network at exponential scale.

Just wait until prime members can overnight something from an Atlanta Whole Foods to an LA Whole Foods for 5 bucks. Then people will really forget how much it costs to ship things.

ghostpepper said 2 months ago:

I’m convinced they do this on purpose. The more time you’ve invested, the more likely you are to acquiesce and pay their exorbitant shipping fee.

hurricanetc said 2 months ago:

I guess I am in the minority because as soon as I see a shipping fee more than 7-10% of the cost of the item I immediately start looking elsewhere. Numerous times I've just decided to not buy an item because I didn't want to pay the shipping costs.

KaoruAoiShiho said 2 months ago:

Or.... small companies don't have economy of scale logistics operations?

bluetidepro said 2 months ago:

As commented to someone else's reply, you don't understand what I mean by a dark pattern. There is a difference in having a shipping cost, vs hiding the shipping cost in the funnel. They hide it in the funnel, that IS a dark pattern. There is nothing wrong with charging for shipping, but don't be shady about how you present that cost.

t-writescode said 2 months ago:

Tell the truth: if you went to a website, browsing for something you might buy; and, before you were shown their catalog, you were required to enter your postal information (can’t just be zip, since you might be in another country), and you couldn’t even see prices, would you stay on the website? Or close it?

I know what I would do. They’re putting too many annoying barriers on my idle browsing.

double0jimb0 said 2 months ago:

Amazon has massive network of 3rd Party Sellers who ship items directly from their own warehouses, not relying on Amazon’s currently-hobbled fulfillment centers

You can find these by selecting “other sellers” on the Amazon product page.

This has been the way to get stuff quickly on Amazon for the last 3 weeks.

Then on Friday, with no warning or explanation, Amazon extended all shipping times quoted out to April 20th, including the shipping times provided by 3rd party sellers.

This extension has no basis in reality, as 3rd party sellers have not experienced any shipping delays because they don’t use Amazon’s warehouses.

This was a hugely anti-competitive move by Amazon that has severely impacted 3rd party sellers and directly misleads consumers.

Numerous 3rd party sellers have reported this situation to the DOJ.

If any reporters want more info, please reach out. Email in profile.

CPLX said 2 months ago:

For what it's worth, the solution is just to order whatever you want anyways, and watch it ship to you 2-3 days later.

double0jimb0 said 2 months ago:

Well of course, but most people go by what they read on the screen in front of them at the time of purchase.

LatteLazy said 2 months ago:

>Amazon Isn’t the Only Shop Online

They sort of are at the moment, at least here in greater London...

My normal groceries company have cancelled online orders silently and will not deliver anything. They can't even update their websites with new opening times.

The local DIY (B&Q) store are taking order for essential items only (loft ladders and plants are essential, but not light bulbs or fuses wtf?)

Amazon randomly added a month to all their delivery estimates but everything is still coming in a few days and I can get whatever I want.

To be honest, it makes sense to manage infrastructure of supply centrally. That's the genius of amazon, not retail but supply. While other companies can barely ring up items, Amazon connects buyers to sellers before either know the trade will happen.

thewebcount said 2 months ago:

Instacart in Los Angeles did this to me. I ordered groceries and the local store uses Instacart to deliver them. When they didn't show up, I had to call Instacart to find out they had canceled my order. They were just not going to tell me, apparently.

LatteLazy said 2 months ago:

I can understand that places have problems with volume of orders or items not being in stock. But it should be really hard to cancel a client order and NOT tell them. How is it they don't have something that emails you when your order is killed already and automatically!?

nataz said 2 months ago:

Amazon shipping hack - order what you want to order, wait 48 hours to see if it ships, and if it doesn't cancel and order elsewhere.

This assumes you value ordering through Amazon (I do b/c prime shipping, easy return policy, and I have a large gift card balance)

One thing I've noticed is that amazon may list a delivery date far out in the future, but it's possible you still get the product quickly, depending on what I can only assume are local warehouse logistic issues.

Over the past two weeks I've ordered packing/shipping supplies, a high chair, some electronics, and a board game which all had expected delivery dates of +1 month, and they all arrived in 2 days.


secabeen said 2 months ago:

I've also noticed that if you order multiple items, and one of them has a short shipping time, they'll suddenly ship your other items that are waiting. Presumably if they're all at the same warehouse, and they're already shipping one thing, they put the other stuff in the box.

dawnerd said 2 months ago:

Flip side is sometimes something that could ship fast ends up being delayed so they can group it with something that comes from a further away warehouse.

fma said 2 months ago:

That makes no sense. If you order 2 items, and they're in 2 different warehouses, you'll get 2 packages. They aren't going to ship from 1 warehouse to a 2nd warehouse and then bundle them.

AnssiH said 2 months ago:

In my experience, they are (if more economical than sending 2 packages). That is often one reason when it takes long to ship.

If you are a FBA seller, you can see these warehouse transfers in the event reports often between a new order coming in ("pending") and the order being shipped.

This is obviously more common with slower shipping options - they won't have a lot of time to combine anything with 1-day shipping.

I've also clearly seen the difference myself as a buyer between the shipping options - if I select faster shipping, the items tend to ship quicker but they are split into more shipments more often.

Also, they may do the same when you order a single item as well - they first move the item to a nearer warehouse and only then ship, if cheaper than shipping directly and if they have the time.

serf said 2 months ago:

> Amazon shipping hack - order what you want to order, wait 48 hours to see if it ships, and if it doesn't cancel and order elsewhere.

Amazon used to have a history of banning 'bad customers' (lots of returns, cancelled orders, etc), is this no longer the case?

dawnerd said 2 months ago:

Anecdotal but I've cancelled a TON of orders and haven't been banned. Returns I can see, but definitely not cancelled orders.

mod said 2 months ago:

> I've cancelled a TON of orders

Out of curiosity, why?

asadhaider said 2 months ago:

Might depend on when you cancel, if you cancel after the order's been dispatched then they return it to the warehouse if possible. That may be treated the same as a 'customer return'. I've done this maybe twice.

mnm1 said 2 months ago:

It is still the case.

jshevek said 2 months ago:

I've done this. It doesn't work for some third party shippers who claim to ship immediately (cancel option removed) even if they don't.

ehsankia said 2 months ago:

I really wish they could provide more clarity. I haven't tried ordering things that list as May, but browsing items, I randomly see individual items that for some reason have much closer dates. I even saw one with 1-day shipping. It makes no sense to me. I wish they could give a slightly better window prediction than "this may take a month"...

dangrossman said 2 months ago:

The 10% of items that show as available for 1-day or 2-day shipping are likely the ones in your nearest Amazon warehouse. There's 119 other warehouses products can be in that they would have to ship by UPS/FedEx/USPS instead of a local delivery by their own contracted drivers.

larrik said 2 months ago:

I needed some surge protectors. The ones I really wanted were all May, but then the AmazonBasics one was this week. Hmm...

greenshackle2 said 2 months ago:

They are shipping "priority items" quickly. Who knows how they determine what are "priority items".

When I ordered hygiene items (shampoo, soap, etc.) they shipped the next day. But my order of kitchen equipment has expected delivery in May (which I'm totally fine with).

odysseus said 2 months ago:

This is going to be great, because the last time I ordered soap (in mid February, before most of the lockdowns started), it took Amazon 10 days to get it to me, even with Prime. Looking forward to seeing this improved on my next soap delivery ...

airstrike said 2 months ago:

> I really wish they could provide more clarity.

I'm not sure but I think this is because of some virus or something, from what I've heard

bluGill said 2 months ago:

I always search for alternative sellers. They are more likely to have someone who knows the product. A plumbing supplier will know something about pipes and I have some reason to trust them when they give advantages to their different price levels. I don't need 200 different brands of 1/2 inch pipe connections, I need the 3 different levels of pressure they are rated for, and the choice of material they are made from. They also tend to provide reasonable sorting so that I can find what I need without scrolling for ages.

sneak said 2 months ago:

A lot of the things I used to buy on Amazon I buy on eBay instead using “buy it now”. Even free shipping items are frequently less than Amazon.

I’ve already phased out AWS, I hope to stop using amazon.com by the end of the year. I don’t like doing business with military contractors.

bdcravens said 2 months ago:

I assume you use Linux for your operating system then? Both Apple and Microsoft do business with the military.

sneak said 2 months ago:

My personal morals find a difference between “we sell physical goods and anyone can buy them without restriction” and “we will build you a whole set of dedicated custom data centers with racist hiring policies”.


Also, Apple doesn’t sell OSes. One could buy secondhand Macs.

Linux is used by the military, too. The issue is not “not matching”, it is a question of providing financial support to those who deliberately assist in the undertaking of violence.

Selling (or giving away) your goods to all comers isn’t that. Custom services and consulting absolutely is.

There’s also that whole Apple tapping-iCloud-in-China-for-the-CCP thing. I don’t think I’ll be on iOS much longer, especially now that Signal is fully cross-platform and runs on iPad. I’ve already deprecated iMessage amongst everyone I talk to in anticipation of the switch. Hell, I’ve even been on broadcast radio talking about how iCloud will leak your private data.

I think it’s a mistake to view the attitude of Apple toward military contracting (not just sales) as the same as that of Microsoft or Amazon. If when Apple employs hundreds of people who are full-time embedded in the military to help them use their products, maybe that situation will change.

To your point, I have moved off of GitHub, and have encouraged others to do the same:


We can all take small steps to improve our choices each day. Over time and across people, these things add up.

The worst thing we could do is assume that every choice is the same and carries the same negative consequences and act uncritically. In that vein, I appreciate your pushback: critical thinking about our choices should be the one constant. There is always a place we can improve.

bdcravens said 2 months ago:

Apple has engaged in active development, not just passive sales


sneak said 2 months ago:

> MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter awarded $75 million on Friday to help a consortium of high-tech firms and researchers develop electronic systems packed with sensors flexible enough to be worn by soldiers or molded onto the skin of a plane.

> Carter said funding for the Obama administration’s newest manufacturing institute would go to the FlexTech Alliance, a consortium of 162 companies, universities and other groups, from Boeing (BA.N), Apple (AAPL.O) and Harvard, to Advantest Akron Polymer Systems and Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

> The group will work to advance the development and manufacture of so-called flexible hybrid electronics, which can be embedded with sensors and stretched, twisted and bent to fit aircraft or other platform where they will be used.

A $75 million research grant into a consortium of 162 companies (of which Apple is a member) to develop flexible wearable tech is not remotely what I am talking about in this thread.

EE84M3i said 2 months ago:

Microsoft has an equivalent to Amazon GovCloud, it's called "Azure Government" and they have similar US Citizenship requirement. https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/azure-government/docu...

Zenbit_UX said 2 months ago:

Well said, I have a similar stance. OOC do you agree with the need for militaries in general or are you strictly against?

373hbedudu said 2 months ago:

I've done similar for almost the exact opposite reasons ironically. I don't care about them being a military contractor but I don't order from a soulless Megacorp to deal with their PR campaigns like self imposed sale restrictions of mask or sanitization supplies. It's driven me to order more from Wish and Alibaba.

bradenb said 2 months ago:

While I respect your right to not give "military contractors" your business, I just don't see how you can use it as justification. The military is a resource and isn't inherently good or bad.

RuleOfBirds said 2 months ago:

The U.S. (and others') military may be, by definition, a resource that isn't inherently good or bad. But the military is most certainly good or bad in actuality (i.e. the real world) according to many peoples' definition. I can see how anyone could use that as justification.

373hbedudu said 2 months ago:

In the real world most people's definitions are based on arbitrarily limited frames of reference. I meet lots of Californians who identify as anti-war and who have little if any awareness of how the US military is wielded outside of the Middle East.

malandrew said 2 months ago:

FWIW it's the military that is now building all the field hospitals and sending hospital ships to help with COVID-19

said 2 months ago:
rsync said 2 months ago:

Mcmaster-carr is fantastic:


Very simple UI with access to technical diagrams. Good pricing. If I order before noon or 2pm or something, here in the bay area I receive the items next day.

I wish all web stores could be like this.

ncheek said 2 months ago:

McMaster has a powerfully simple website. You can get to any item with mcmaster.com/<part number>. They often provide 3D models of their parts. You can even paste in a list of items to quickly bulk-add to your cart. It just works.

Their customer service is also second to none. I've never had the phone ring more than once before being answered by a real person. And they'll respond 24/7 to phone calls or emails. Oh, and they've accepted returns a year after I bought something, no questions asked.

In the Atlanta area they usually deliver same-day via courier, or you can drive over to their warehouse for will call.

McMaster can often be more expensive than other distributors, especially for things like metal stock (I recommend price-comparing with onlinemetals.com or midweststeelsupply.com but be careful about Midwest Steel's processing times). But you're paying for the service and ease of use.

Probably the biggest problem I have with McMaster is their lack of insight into shipping cost. They don't give you even an estimate of the shipping before you check out, it just gets added once they ship. I will say their shipping prices have always been fair but it can be scary to buy something not knowing what it will cost.

spacemark said 2 months ago:

I've probably put in 100 McMaster orders over the last year via work, side gig, and home projects. My take on this is that their prime customers (businesses) do not put shipping costs in their top 5 or maybe even top 10 priorities. Businesses pushing out products or engaged in rapid prototyping or meeting a deadline are much more concerned with speed, and McMaster always beats Amazon in shipping time to my workplace (usually less than 24 hours from order to delivery, no joke). Their customer also values accurate technical data so they've put a lot of effort into CAD models and are very responsive to customer service calls.

In short, they know their customer persona. I wouldn't hold my breath that they'll add upfront shipping costs any time soon!

daniel_reetz said 2 months ago:

This exactly matches my experience. I run a prototyping shop in the LA area. I get items the very same day from McMaster. That kind of feedback loop is priceless. They ship with DGC for most deliveries, and DGC is usually cost-competitive with any other service.

xkjkls said 2 months ago:

It's actually very similar to the UI you get if you go through the business section of Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/b2b/info/amazon-business?layout=landi...

yeutterg said 2 months ago:

Amazon third-party seller here. If a Prime product is showing a long delivery time, try to look for non-Prime offers. You want to find offers that say "Ships from and sold by X," where X is NOT Amazon. The reason being, these sellers have their own fulfillment and may be able to beat Amazon's speed by a wide margin.

We now offer this for our product, and I know a lot of other sellers are doing the same. We used to only have a Prime (Fulfilled by Amazon) offer, but this crisis caused us to adapt as customers were getting 1-month delivery estimates.

We enabled "Fulfilled by Merchant" offers on our account, and I sent some inventory to my apartment (and ordered lots of shipping boxes). Within a couple days, the self-fulfilled option got the "buy box" on Amazon, so now most people viewing our listing will see a delivery estimate of about one week. It doesn't have the "Prime" badge, but we get a decent number of orders through this, enough to survive.

We send out all orders with First Class Mail, and I pack them up around 3PM each business day in order to get them to the post office by the 5PM cutoff. It appears most customers are receiving orders between 2 and 5 days after ordering (including the opposite coast). This is even faster than the time estimate customers see on Amazon, and way faster than Prime.

Disclaimer: your mileage may vary.

CodeSheikh said 2 months ago:

Amazon's (+Wholefood) supply-chain failure is an eye-opener for me during COVID-19 crisis. I hate to acknowledge my dependability on Amazon Prime while living in a big city. I am not sure how I will break my habit but I know for a fact that I won't be ordering everything from Amazon Prime in the future.

For a company that commands e-commerce space in year 2020, it is really frustrating to find this workflow while ordering from WF while using Amazon's app, it is a joke and UI/UX 101 blunder. You add items to your cart. They run out of inventory. Items disappear from your cart. Either you place your order assuming all items were in your cart or you don't get a delivery slot and you have to add those items again. Why can't they just borrow the same feature from Amazon.com where unavailable items move conveniently to "Save later" section?

alias_neo said 2 months ago:

This is an important thing to remember. Just last night, I was ordering an item on Amazon, and pointed out to my wife that it is gonna take a week to delivery on prime.

That's fine, there's more important things going on in the world. But she said; "Why does it have to be from Amazon? If you're not getting it Prime speed, why not buy it elsewhere?"

So I went to the manufacturers website and bought it directly, and it was 15% cheaper than Amazon, and will supposedly arrive a little faster.

I think I may try do this more. I already do this, where possible to support small businesses.

Animats said 2 months ago:

Amazon is holding up much better than other online retailers. Ordering works fine. My Amazon orders are showing up, although slowly. Safeway and Smart and Final can't even give me a delivery slot. Smart and Final's web site was failing over the weekend - Cloudflare timeouts, login timeouts, false credit card declines, HTTP error 461 (there is no standard 461 error.), and a "Site undergoing maintenance" message from their "DevOps Team". Back up now, though.

thebean11 said 2 months ago:

The estimates on Amazon right now seem way longer than the reality. I'm getting all my packages in 2-3 days despite Amazon estimating a week or more.

irrational said 2 months ago:

Not me. Amazon is estimating 2-3 weeks on most things now, and so far are sticking by their estimates.

eshyong said 2 months ago:

I'm guessing a lot of this is location dependent, and based on warehouse-proximity.

bradlys said 2 months ago:

It's also based on the items you're ordering. Some stuff we've ordered arrives within a few days or less. Other items that I've ordered (tools) has taken about 3 weeks to arrive. Some items keep getting pushed back. I would cancel and buy elsewhere but I'd pay a lot in shipping since these aren't all items I can buy from one place online.

I have shopped online for other items though. I bought some insoles for really cheap from a UK based bicycle store, the items got here in less than a week... all the way from the UK! It's not like all shipping is broken down - just Amazon.

xkjkls said 2 months ago:

Yeah, Amazon has stopped issuing purchase orders for a huge number of non-essentials, which probably contributes to really high delivery estimates. If anything is out of stock at their warehouse, they have no idea when they might have room to restock.

irrational said 2 months ago:

That's the interesting thing. I'm located in a major city with at least one enormous Amazon warehouse nearby. Before the pandemic started we would usually receive our orders the same day.

gnulinux said 2 months ago:

I live in Boston. I seem to be getting most things in around 5 days, even though Amazon estimates 2 weeks. Almost everything was delivered before their estimates. But everything is still slower than usual (normally, I'd get things delivered in 1 to 3 days)

ghaff said 2 months ago:

Probably depends on the item. I'm outside of Boston and I don't think any order has taken longer than 2 days--other than a couple I picked delayed shipping in exchange for a digital credit. (And even those arrived on the early side of their estimate.)

colmvp said 2 months ago:

In Canada at least, some Prime shipping estimates are ONE MONTH.

At the end of the day, I'm not complaining because prioritizing medical supplies is prudent but I have to imagine that a lot of people are choosing to use alternative sources like Order-and-Pickup instead.

mod said 2 months ago:

I'm in the south: shipping for my item was 29 days.

xkjkls said 2 months ago:

Delivery estimates are very much an underpromise, overdeliver thing, so that makes sense.

mritun said 2 months ago:

Same for me. 3 items earlier estimated for Apr 27 are already sitting in a box in my living room.

frank086 said 2 months ago:

Same. I put in a big order figuring if I have a three week turn around, better buy three weeks of stuff. Two days later I see the poor delivery guy unloading all my stuff.

Now I am an inadvertent horder.

jasonv said 2 months ago:

Latest order estimated delivery in 10 days but everything came in 2-3. In CA.

buzzert said 2 months ago:

If anyone is looking for computer parts, I gotta shoutout Newegg. Been using them for more than 15 years, and they’ve been extremely great at delivering during the pandemic.

ShamelessC said 2 months ago:

With all the social distancing going on and my general laziness towards staying active without being forced to, paired with the massive hype surrounding Half-Life: Alyx, I decided to build a VR ready computer.

Newegg was fine. I'd been using them since my first build 15 years ago. But this time I also had access to the amazing website pcpartpicker.com. Not only do they make it easy to find parts that are all compatible with each other, but you'll also be given multiple shopping options with discounts.

Most of it I got from Newegg but I was able to save about 75$ by getting the PSU and MoBo from bhphotovideo.com which was a surprisingly good experience.

BTW, HL Alyx is as amazing as they say and you really don't have to spend a fortune to play it. My entire build was only 650$ and my VR headset of choice (Samsung Odyssey) only 270$. I was worried I'd made a mistake by going with a cheap headset but it works very well.

benbristow said 2 months ago:

I usually prefer to use Amazon just because the experience is so simple and in the UK their logistics delivery service is pretty good with live tracking when the parcel gets near to your home.

Amazon can be annoying when using third party sellers though and might end up getting dispatched with an alternative delivery service, god forbid Royal Mail who don't have any live tracking feature.

I'm always happy to help out smaller/alternative businesses though if they offer competitive prices and use decent delivery firms like DPD.

daniel_reetz said 2 months ago:

I really felt this. Seeing things go out-of-stock or become unavailable for months was a strong reminder of how things used to be online - when I purchased different types of items from different independent web retailers. I went searching for many of them, most are gone.

Does anyone remember Pricewatch? Old school computer parts sellers like CompGeeks? Those were really interesting times.

jdlyga said 2 months ago:

Well then give us a list! Nearly everything else I've checked is either out of stock or doesn't deliver to my house.

gambler said 2 months ago:

Most chain stores and even some local stores have online storefront and still ship items. It's a good time to support them. You don't want to live in the world where Amazon is the only game left in town.

Also, Ebay.

markkanof said 2 months ago:

Maybe not the type of items you are shopping for, but I just ordered a sink and faucet from build.com and got free 2-day delivery.

loser777 said 2 months ago:

I’ve observed this with big and small business alike:

+ bought a baking steel direct from the seller (shipping time ~5 days vs. 1 month+, so I canceled the amazon order)

+ monitor out of stock for over a week on amazon (in stock at bnh, shipping time ~4 days)

+ monitor arm I didn’t even bother looking at on amazon (shipping time direct from seller ~2 days)

CaliforniaKarl said 2 months ago:

I never heard of "baking steel". Looking online, it seems to be like a pizza stone? If yes, that's cool!

Shebanator said 2 months ago:

it is a pizza stone, but metal. I have one and it is super heavy, which makes it inconvenient to use, but it does improve the crust quality of oven-baked pizzas.

odysseus said 2 months ago:

How much of an improvement is it? I was considering getting "the original baking steel" for crispier crusts but wasn't sure if it was worth ~$80 for a hunk of metal. Is it significantly crispier crust than a regular old oven rack (which really isn't very crispy at all)?

Shebanator said 2 months ago:

yes, it retains way more heat than your oven rack or a typical sheet pan. The real question is how much better is it than a ceramic pizza stone? Better, but probably not a huge amount better.

chrisweekly said 2 months ago:


Arcsech said 2 months ago:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/ presumably. I've ordered some things from there, and generally had a good experience, with a few notes:

- For large purchases at least, they are very scrupulous about sending tax documents to your home state to make sure the sales tax gets paid. This is probably a social good overall, but unusual for internet retailers and may take some folks by surprise.

- They follow a Jewish holiday schedule, including the Sabbath, and do not take orders on the Sabbath (in New York's time zone, at least). Again, not a negative, but unusual for modern businesses, especially online ones.

tzs said 2 months ago:

• They collect sales tax now.

In 2018 in the case South Dakota v. Wayfair the Supreme Court overturned the 1992 case (Quill v. North Dakota) that had ruled that states could not force merchants with no physical presence in the state to collect sales tax on mail order sales to state residents. If a company is doing enough online business with customers in a state, that state can now force the merchant to collect tax.

If you get a B&H store credit card [1] and use it for your B&H orders (which is all you can use it for since it only works at B&H) they give you an instant reward at checkout equal to whatever your sales tax was. In effect then, if you get and use that card there B&H pays your sales tax transparently for you.

• With two exception for the most part online shoppers can ignore the Jewish holiday closings. The website still works so you can still shop. I think you can even still place items in your cart and maybe submit the order. Orders just are not processed until the holiday ends.

Most of the holidays are just a day, so if you hit one of those its not really a big delay.

The two exceptions are Passover and Sukkot. Those are each one week long. Passover is in March or April, and Sukkot is in September or October. That's long enough to be irritating.

[1] https://www.bhphotovideo.com/credit-cards

ghaff said 2 months ago:

Last time I ordered from them, I think they collected the sales tax. I'm not sure when this started; I am a long-time customer but they're not a store I tend to purchase from frequently.

I like them overall and I tend to prefer using them to Amazon for AV type of purchases.

hsitz said 2 months ago:

Doesn't just about everywhere collect sales tax online now?

BHPhotoVideo is my go-to place for tech and music stuff. I got their affiliated payboo credit card that pays the sales tax for you, saves me that 10% on every order.

deadbunny said 2 months ago:

I assume it's B&H Photo https://www.bhphotovideo.com/

chrisweekly said 2 months ago:

thanks! (probably right)

vernie said 2 months ago:

I've been using eBay lately. Sellers have been consistently delivering in 2 days and it feels just as likely that I'll get fake shit as from Amazon these days.

dawnerd said 2 months ago:

I sell on eBay and it's pretty easy to beat Amazon. Most first class and priority packages arrive in under 3 days depending on your location to an airport. I'm right next to PDX and almost all of my packages go through there and end up on the other side of the US overnight. Those packages typically take two days. Also helps I ship same day so they're on a flight that night or the next morning.

As for the fakes, they certainly exist on eBay but it's a lot easier to spot. If an item doesn't have good pictures, that's a huge red flag. I personally stay away from sellers that just use stock images. I want to know exactly what I'm getting.

kube-system said 2 months ago:

I avoid shady listings when I really need the item, but if I'm looking for a deal, I've never had an issue leaning on eBay's buyer protection. I've gotten all of my best deals from poorly-listed items.

Waterluvian said 2 months ago:

My wife orders from walmart.ca often. It's generally good but still feels lower quality than Amazon (which has its own issues, yes). Last week they shipped an entirely wrong item. So my kids aren't getting their Duplo set for Easter.

salvagedcircuit said 2 months ago:

Ironically, I find that I am ordering more from Mcmastercarr and digikey more than ever.

StillBored said 2 months ago:

Yah, the only thing that's been arriving from Amazon lately are the things sold and shipped by 3rd party sellers. Frankly, i've been paying the extra to just order from the smaller shops lately because amazon's critical "prioritization" algorithm doesn't seem to know what is actually critical.

Part to fix my cloths washing machine? 3 weeks from Amazon, two days from Granger.

Problem solved, plus unlike a similar part I ordered a couple months ago from amazon, I'm pretty sure the granger parts aren't counterfeit. The box stamped "Made in U.S.A" is likely legitimate.

grimjack00 said 2 months ago:

>Part to fix my cloths washing machine?

Appliances are apparently "non-essential", according to several governmental orders. Local news here in Denver made a big deal about the city putting a padlock on the doors of an appliance retailer.

gniv said 2 months ago:

Did you mean grainger.com ?

StillBored said 2 months ago:

Yes, I managed to type it incorrectly twice, and noticed it after the edit button expired.

gtm1260 said 2 months ago:

Its so unfair to expect consumers to go through hell on these random websites with poor UI/UX, customer service, logistics, and inventory monitoring systems. I don't think amazon should be able to crush small businesses etc, but I don't think appealing to people's sense of personal responsibility is the answer.

There needs to be a viable way for other businesses to compete with amazon's level of service if they want consumers to change their habits.

Kalium said 2 months ago:

The logistics, inventory management, and customer service operations at the scale of Amazon are something that become possible with truly immense scale. They're crushingly expensive at small scale - call center, warehouses, pre-positioning goods, etc.

There are definitely ways to outsource any or all of these things, but at a cost in quality. I know I've often had unpleasant experiences with outsourced customer support call centers. Tools like Square or Shopify help, but only to a point.

So I think my conclusion might be different from yours - small, local businesses need a viable way to compete with Amazon in ways where Amazon doesn't have a vast advantage.

gtm1260 said 2 months ago:

Ah totally! I agree with your conclusion. I guess with the measures in place right now to fight COVID, the areas where Amazon might not have a vast advantage like niche selection, deep knowledge in a certain product area, being able to buy something in store immediatley etc. didn't occur to me.

wiredone said 2 months ago:

Amazon’s value isn’t in the fact it’s a store with great shipping. It’s the trust component. Returns are simple, shipping and stock management is a non event and they have basically everything. Every other online shopping experience I’ve had has been hit and miss. Get the simple things right And sure I’ll try it. But no one has just look at these comments.

complianceowl said 2 months ago:

The HN is a very intelligent community, so I'd like to hear your thoughts out loud here. Do you guys think supply chains will move closer to home because of this pandemic? I'm hearing every narrative under the sun right now: "This will establish globalism even more", "No! This marks the abrupt END of globalism." What are your thoughts?

stuff4ben said 2 months ago:

It's certainly going to shift manufacturing of some "essential items" for emergencies closer to home. But you can't do a knee-jerk reaction based on something like this. This is a very rare event and it would be foolish to annihilate your existing global supply chain over this. It will probably mean that countries (the smart ones anyways) will start to stockpile and ensure they have plans to follow in the event something like this happens again.

pjc50 said 2 months ago:


It's very hard to say right now. Money will be tight, so the pressure to buy the cheapest will remain. A lot of producers and consumer businesses will go bust. Shortage and oversupply will ping pong around for a while.

A lot depends what the effect of deaths is on politics - do any leaders get killed? Differential effect on older voters? Hopefully the number of those will be small enough not to matter.

Mountain_Skies said 2 months ago:

Only with government intervention. If company A switches to more expensive domestic manufacturing while company B stays on the other side of the planet, B can undercut A. Next time there is a supply disruption, A will be able to beat out B, but A might be out of business by then. Government intervention would be required to even the field, maybe through tariffs or importation prohibitions.

An alternative would be for company A to appeal to the public (or business customers) to buy from them at a higher price because it helps keep society from being disrupted by supply chain interruptions. That might work short term but cheap prices seem to win out over concerns of societal wide benefits in the long run.

jshevek said 2 months ago:

Certain products will be made and/or stock-piled closer to home. The effect this has on globalism overall depends on how various factions battle over narratives.

complianceowl said 2 months ago:

Guys, you freaking rock. Thank you for your informative and insightful responses. This is precisely why I referred to you guys before even receiving any responses as "intelligent".

twblalock said 2 months ago:

Supply chains need to be more resilient, and that probably means making them more global rather than less.

A pandemic could originate in any country. Making things "at home" would turn out to be a bad idea if the pandemic originates at home. If that happened we would like to be able to get help from other countries.

jshevek said 2 months ago:

De-globalization, in this case, brings redundancy. This is less efficient, but more fault tolerant.

Striving for domestic manufacturing does not prevent imports from occurring if deemed necessary. Tariffs are easy to wave, in an emergency.

awaythrower said 2 months ago:

Also beware of phony Magento sites that don't have actual products, but are just trying to get CCs, PayPal or crypto payments.

prox said 2 months ago:

How does that work? I’ve seen a lot of copy paste webshops of formerly retired domains. They obviously look quickly hacked together (allthough looking professional enough to the untrained eye)

awaythrower said 2 months ago:

I would bet scraping from Amazon, reducing prices randomly from 20-50%, and being sure search engines and aggregators see it, i.e., Google/Google Shopping.

A4ET8a8uTh0 said 2 months ago:

Last week experience. I tried gettin display port to hdmi for my docking station for work on Amazon. It was in Amazon basics category. Solid shopping experience, but it was not sent for 3 days so I cancelled. Annoying, but cancellation experience was great. I decided to do pick up from BestBuy. Great. Store near me has one in store. I purchase at 5PM. At 6PM ( when they close ), they send me an email saying they don't have it in store anymore. Great, but I can't cancel w/o creating account. Can't reach live person, because, ironically, Covid19. Screw it. I bought on CC. I can dispute it later. I go to Newegg. No issues. stuff gets here in 3 days.

Amazon isn't the only store and its convenience is waning during this outbreak. They are lucky they are doing so many things right compared to competition.

Personally, I am debating dropping Prime, which I had for one main reason:fast free shipping.

tanyatik said 2 months ago:

Is it even ethical to shop on Amazon for non-essentials these days? There are big concerns amid worker safety.


xkjkls said 2 months ago:

I'm not sure these concerns are unique to any other business with a warehouse, however.

nkkollaw said 2 months ago:

Sure, Amazon might not be the only one, but every time I tried to buy somewhere else, something happened.

They charged me twice, charged me to never sent me the product and forcing me to waste 2 weeks, sent to the wrong address, etc.

Amazon seems to be the only one that can actually do their job properly without hassles.

Someone1234 said 2 months ago:

One reason previously for using Amazon was recommendations for example their "Customers who viewed this item also viewed: [list of alternative items]." Unfortunately the recommendations boxes like the "Customers who viewed this item also viewed" have been completely removed, with no real replacement except "sponsored."

I don't consider sponsored ads a replacement for actual recommendations based on real people's buying behavior. Obviously Amazon wants us to though so they can double-dip. Personally I am buying less, not more, because I cannot find things.

But maybe it is more profitable to Amazon for us to spend longer looking, more sponsor spot revenue. Talk about perverse incentives, make more money from a slower shopping experience.

ehnto said 2 months ago:

As a developer with most of my experience in boutique and enterprise eCommerce, I am surprised this is a conversation piece! There are plenty of large and small online retailers who are doing just fine. If you think Amazon has everything you are definitely mistaken, but for many it's probably enough of everything.

I encourage everyone to buy directly from manufacturers and local businesses where possible, especially if you are not from the US. We feel like we want an Amazon dominant market, but the effects it has on what products exist and what businesses thrive is somewhat insidious and unseen.

bombledmonk said 2 months ago:

I just bought something from Best Buy online when Amazon said the same item was in stock, but would not arrive until April 27th. BB said it be here Thursday, though is usually a day early because of proximity to the warehouse.

arbuge said 2 months ago:

I'm having increasingly bad experiences on Amazon. The most obvious ones are common problems - the reviews can't be trusted, and they're no longer price leaders in many cases. But there are some new experiences I'm running into now.

Today, for the first time ever, I was double-charged for the same order. Customer support claims I was only charged once and there's no way to upload them a screenshot of my card statement so that they can see what I'm seeing. To be clear, these are two real charges (not pending charges or temporary authorizations) for the same order.

beamatronic said 2 months ago:

Reading this entire thread, something became very clear to me: there is STILL a lot of room for improvement to be made for online e-commerce. Someone should invent a local-first inventory-first Amazon

sneak said 2 months ago:

Like a local delivery-only costco, perhaps?

tmaly said 2 months ago:

Amazon was sold out of bakers yeast as were the local grocery stores. I was able to order from a specialty place. The order was delivered 2 days later. The price was very reasonable.

For certain things, I am seeing some serious prices. People are selling cotton masks 4 for $25. That seems a little steep given that a box of N95 masks went for $6 before this.

I just ordered parts for building a new computer. I had to order from 4 different places as Amazon did not have half of the items in stock. There are definitely some supply chain issues.

rchaud said 2 months ago:

Best Buy's ecommerce site is great; they don't have the absurd levels of info overload and upselling of a typical Amazon page.

In Canada, Amazon's electronics offerings are rife with awful Chinese brands sold by dropshippers. Amazon seemingly doesn't carry any of the inventory themselves unless it's a Fire tablet or Echo.

It's actually a big relief to shop online via at a proper outlet (even Walmart.ca is more reliable) than through the Bezos flea market.

ww520 said 2 months ago:

Is it possible to ask for price reduction or refund on the Prime membership due to the long delivery time? The point of Prime is mostly moot without the speedy delivery.

dawnerd said 2 months ago:

I cancelled my prime for the time being and it automatically refunded the 12.99

yCloser said 2 months ago:

EU here, things seem pretty good here.

* I ordered 20kg of oranges from sicily, no shipping costs, arrived in 2days

* Coffee, same thing

* a bass guitar, same

* groceries are delivered in a day from local shops

* for electronics i bought from many shops, usually takes ~1week. still OK for a washing machine or those big items

...seems that "the infrastructure" that amazon required for ups/dhl/* are being used by any other (even tiny) buisiness.

My only complain is Ikea. Ikea doesn't cooperate.

thirdsun said 2 months ago:

Not to mention that returns/refunds are a non-issue over here since the EU enforces sane minimum customer protection standards. I never had to worry whether I’ll be able to return an item, regardless of where I purchased it, which still seems to be an important consideration for many commenters in this thread.

_n_b_ said 2 months ago:

Totally OT but where did you order the oranges from? I am in need of a few kg for juicing and it's expensive from the local grocery delivery folks around me...

yCloser said 2 months ago:

from www.aranciadoc.com

badrabbit said 2 months ago:

Two things about amazon:

1) Their customer service is astonishing! Still have not seen better. Google might just take over the world if they came even 20% close to Amazon with this regard.

2) Their giftcards. I don't know what it is but theirs has the highest value. Even visa and mastercard will not be accepted at some places if you don't have a cash gift card, but amazon's have incredible purchasing power.

non-entity said 2 months ago:

The thing about Amazon though, was the luxury of being able to order stuff and have it by my door the next day. This was especially great for products where the traditional brick and mortar retail died out a long time ago for that industry (i.e. electronic components) or stuff that you want / need regularly but isnt carried in stores near you.

giancarlostoro said 2 months ago:

Amazon is the only shop selling the most convenience. At least Walmart and Target have online order and parking spots to pick up your orders from, but I can only imagine a lot of old brick and mortar type of stores are way behind the times. Just some stories on here are horror story level examples of the night and day kind of service you can get in regards to buyer convenience.

blensor said 2 months ago:

I have started to fall back to a shopping site run by our postal service [1] which has been trying for several months through TV ads to get people to use the more regional shopping site rather than Amazon. I guess they could not have hoped for a better scenario than a countrywide lockdown paired with shipping delays at Amazon

[1] shoepping.at

radium3d said 2 months ago:

Prices on amazon have been way higher than alternatives lately. Be sure to check other online outlets.

jupp0r said 2 months ago:

To any other non-amazon stores out there: have toilet paper in stock and I'll give it a try!

tanilama said 2 months ago:

If Amazon has shipping delay in US, then it is unlikely other smaller shops can fare it better.

owenwil said 2 months ago:

This isn't really accurate – independent retailers have quite the advantage right now because they aren't constrained by centralized fulfillment. The reason Amazon has shipping delays is because:

1) Amazon has observed a massive influx of orders and fulfilling centralized orders requires a large amount of workers in fulfillment centers – Amazon is hiring more than 100,000 workers for this reason[1] – and getting those orders in and out of those warehouses takes a good chunk of logistics planning and time. Independent retailers don't need to deal with this, particularly if they're shipping direct or use their own facilities.

2) They use their own delivery networks for a majority of deliveries in cities these days to bypass sending via the normal postage system. The platform, Amazon Flex[2], saves them money on postage but likely needs to ramp up scale–Flex usually actually means deliveries are faster, but as order volume scales up, it'll slow down deliveries.

Amazon is bottlenecked on both fronts: a massive influx of orders means needing to get those products into its warehouses, then actually having workers fulfill them, and it needs to manage the shipping side, due to its reliance on Amazon Flex in city areas. Independent retailers just aren't bottlenecked like this – they have their own set of inventory that isn't super broad, and they ship with normal delivery networks, which are generally delivering on time in North America right now.

[1] https://blog.aboutamazon.com/operations/amazon-opening-10000...

[2] https://flex.amazon.com/

jshevek said 2 months ago:

At the beginning of the pandemic, Amazon was overwhelmed by people panic buying or preparing for shelter in place. The problem was not primarily the shipping industry, it was within Amazon. They've since hired large numbers of people and deprioritized [items deemed] non-essential so that people can get their essential needs in a timely manner.

StillBored said 2 months ago:

How does amazon know what is essential?

jshevek said 2 months ago:

Edit: I thought you said "determine" rather than "know", answered accordingly below. Of course they don't "know", that's not a helpful question.

The same way everyone does when trying to solve this problem systemically (vs individually), by making imperfect decisions and leaning on categories.

My UVC lamp was delayed. I think that's more important than someone else's "third month" bunker food, but what are you going to do.

monkpit said 2 months ago:

A guess: it’s probably just heuristics based on things being panic-bought, high demand, suddenly high number of searches, etc. Obviously they don’t “know” some subset of essential items, that would be difficult, error-prone, and they would inevitably miss certain things which would lead to complaints and bad press.

grimjack00 said 2 months ago:

At a high level, at least, anything in categories like "Groceries", "Health Care", "Personal Hygiene".

dsfyu404ed said 2 months ago:

Ebay seems to be doing fine. I make about five orders a week through them (this week it's mostly hardware and electronics supplies). Having the platform truly just be a transaction facilitator means the hard, linearly scaling, work of actually shipping merchandise is distributed among tens of thousands of sellers instead of hundreds of warehouses.

behringer said 2 months ago:

Ebay is generally cheaper and arriving on time.

derrekl said 2 months ago:

I emailed a local comic shop that’s closed to the public, but I was able to order $100 worth of trade paperbacks. Got it 2 days later. No “online” shop, but still worked. As best you can, try to spend money with the local stores you used to go to.

Finnucane said 2 months ago:

Too bad they didn't mention bookshop.org for getting books.

binaryorganic said 2 months ago:

I recently learned about bookshop, and was super excited until I actually started making a wishlist of stuff I wanted and found half of it to either be back ordered or not exist in their system at all. Turns out all orders are processed through a single book supplier and if they don’t have it bookshop won’t either.

As someone who doesn’t use Amazon, I tend to use indiebound, which just pairs you with the closest independent bookstore who has the thing you want.

iedddkke said 2 months ago:

or alibris.com

olafure said 2 months ago:

I used to use Amazon a lot. The two big factor were pricing and reviews.

Today their review system is massively rigged and can't be trusted.

neonate said 2 months ago:
monkpit said 2 months ago:

Https cert error

chadash said 2 months ago:

pro tip: I find that when things sell out on Amazon, there is often a lag before it sells out on sites that cater to businesses. The first place to check is staples.com, but I've even started placing a few orders with restaurant supply stores and such.

homero said 2 months ago:

How are the shipping companies keeping up? That's the bottleneck.

LoSboccacc said 2 months ago:

yeah but the less shops you use the smaller the surface attack for your personal and payment information

renewiltord said 2 months ago:

I was going to say how Amazon might as well be the only guys online but this article is really good and offers real alternatives. Very cool.

jshevek said 2 months ago:

Edit: Article can be read here:


It seems like WSJ.com should not be the link used without a follow-up link giving access to the whole community.

>Are paywalls ok?

It's ok to post stories from sites with paywalls that have workarounds.

Kaibeezy said 2 months ago:

paywall, whatever :(

yep, amazon has been useless lately - ebay, on the other hand, all those independent sellers, very responsive!

Diederich said 2 months ago:
Kaibeezy said 2 months ago:

thank you

jshevek said 2 months ago:
Kaibeezy said 2 months ago:

thank you

justlexi93 said 2 months ago:

That's true, but a lot of people prefer using Amazon for online shopping. It is a one stop shop where you can get almost everything.

MisterTea said 2 months ago:

Can someone please explain to me like I'm 5 why adults have to be told that other retail outlets exist besides Amazon?

If you are one of these people, please kindly explain to me how you forgot there are other shops.

maerF0x0 said 2 months ago:

> please kindly explain to me how you forgot there are other shops.

I will provide one anecdata. Often times the first place I look for the existence of an item is Amazon. That is if I want a certain cable, I do not open and search 5-10 different places (overstock, target, bestbuy et al). I just go to amazon and choose from what they have. There may be better, there may be cheaper, but unlikely with a sufficient margin to compensate for the overhead of searching more places, learning more nuances (return policy, shipping) etc.

chillacy said 2 months ago:

Well... there's a thing called the "literal meaning" and sometimes there's another "figurative meaning"... and as you grow up you'll end up knowing the figurative meaning of a phrase quicker until it's second nature.

throwanem said 2 months ago:

For the same reason people who use Facebook tend to forget about people who don't. Convenience is sticky. Amazon, like Facebook, spends a lot to subsidize that convenience and thus that stickiness.

It's the online equivalent of the Wal-Mart effect.

kube-system said 2 months ago:

Many people who shop online have only become online shoppers after Amazon became the dominant online retailer. For some people, Amazon is online shopping.