And by that we mean Amazon.com. Or right now it’s British version, which, we’ve found, is practically as good.
We’ve been Amazon customers for many years. As everyone knows, what started as an online marketplace for books has become an e-commerce giant that sells practically everything. And we’re devoted customers.
The primary reason for this is convenience. We live in central London and don’t have a car. So shopping for bulky items can be a pain especially since we have to travel to find a supermarket large enough to sell certain things that we might need, like multipacks of paper towels or large containers of laundry detergent. Even when we had a car back in New York, we preferred to shop online than spend our Saturday morning stuck in traffic to get to one of the larger supermarkets.
We became Amazon Prime members soon after it launched in the US when we wanted to buy two pieces of furniture (yes, you heard right, furniture — a tv console and a shelving system for our turntable) and realized that a one-year Prime membership would cost less than the shipping costs for both items. We never looked back and have continued to purchase a Prime membership every year. And while in the US Prime entitles members to two-day delivery, here in the UK, it’s an overnight service. Perfect.
Aside from the convenience of shopping for bulky items and ones that we don’t find close by (by the way, the list of the latter is quite long in London since the nearby markets are quite small) and the expedited shipping included in the Prime membership, another reason that we love using Amazon is that many times you get a better price. Don’t get us wrong, we like to support brick-and-mortar stores, especially ones that have beaten the odds to remain in existence. And when the price is either the same or only slightly different, we tend to shop local. For example, the neighborhood liquor store, The Whiskey Exchange, has prices that compare very well with Amazon’s, so we shop there. But a few weeks ago we went to a book store and looked for a CD. It was 50% more expensive in the store than on Amazon, so we just opted for the online transaction.
Of course, the downside of online shopping compared with brick-and-mortar is that you have to forfeit immediate gratification. But next day delivery is close enough for us. And we have to add that the company has launched Amazon Prime Now in Manhattan and Brooklyn, promising one-hour delivery against a charge and free two-hour delivery. That is faster than getting to the store! We hope the service is extended to London.
One might argue that a drawback of online shopping is that you don’t get to see the item before you purchase it. Well, that’s very true, and this has given rise to the phenomenon of showrooming, which is when you check out an item at a nearby store and then buy it online. We did exactly that last week when we decided to add a pressure cooker to our kitchen equipment. This, by the way, was not a spontaneous purchase. In fact, we’d been discussing this new addition for several weeks, with one of us being a little skeptical about the use of this new gadget versus the space it would take. But we finally agreed to give it a shot and after reading numerous reviews online settled on a Kuhn Rikon. We knew that Selfridges stocked this brand so last Sunday we made our way to Oxford Street (shudder) to take a look. They didn’t have the size we wanted (7 liter) and the smaller version was more expensive than Amazon was selling the one we wanted. It was an obvious choice.
On Monday evening we were eagerly waiting for the cooker to arrive to try Kenji Lopez Alt’s chicken and chickpea masala. The cooker arrived just before 8pm and we quickly prepared the ingredients and threw everything in the pot. But we soon encountered a problem. The lid didn’t lock properly, leading to steam escaping from around the lid. It took forever, and several attempts to put the lid back on, to get the right pressure, and even then some steam was escaping. The result was a burnt stew, which we still ate since it was late by then and we didn’t have any more food in the apartment.
We were disappointed especially since this brand came highly recommended and is definitely not the cheapest pressure cooker on the market. So we decided to send it back. And this is where Amazon also excels. We requested a return late on Monday evening and Amazon set the wheels in motion. It dispatched a replacement immediately (it arrived on Wednesday since we had passed the cutoff time for overnight delivery) and sent a courier to pick up the one we had. We didn’t even need to leave home to get this settled.
So yes, Amazon really rocks. We’re happy customers and we’re likely to continue using the e-commerce site.
As for the new pressure cooker, it’s been a fantastic addition to our kitchen and we’ve used it a couple of times already.