After getting hacked off by the shoddy treatment, I decided to email Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com Inc - his email is not difficult to find on-line.
If you can't get help on the front line: I always suggest to start at the top of the corporate pyramid and work your way down, rather than spending months in a complaints procedure system that is purely designed to get you, the complainant to give up.
Baptiste, Amazon Executive Customer Relations, did reply on behalf of Jeff Bezos. And as much as he is well trained in giving out corporate apologies to a level that they come across as being insincere. It only took a couple of emails back and forth before he agreed that their description was confusing and he came to this conclusion:
"The reason why our Express Delivery option remains available after the deadline for next-day delivery has passed is to allow our customers to start placing their orders for delivery on the following day. I understand that you find the wording of this delivery method confusing. Your comments have been forwarded to our relevant department for consideration. Customer feedback such as yours helps us to continue improving the service we provide. We appreciate the time you've taken to write to us."
(In all fairness this is taken by me out of context as a summary of those emails - nevertheless, it does confirm that next-day delivery has nothing to do with Amazon getting you the goods the next day)
Baptiste has also recommended internally that additional training should be provided to the people involved with my initial contact.
However, this didn't solve my problem of needing a USB 3.0 1TB Hard Disk by Friday the second of November (Next day). As luck would have it, I was going to St. Albans, which has the Abbey View Retail Park, which has a Currys (PC World). As luck would have it Currys website showed that a Western Digital Mypassport 1TB in stock. And only at £10.00 more expensive than Amazon, excluding delivery, but not the cheaper Samsung that I had originally wanted. Beggars can't be choosers...
On the train up to St Albans I used the Currys web-portal to reserve the drive and have it made ready for collection. This is a really cool feature that the likes of Argos is also using in order to compete on delivery times with the likes of Amazon.
Good News is that I have got the drive! However, I am not going to rush back to Currys; On arrival at about 16.35, there was 5 Currys employees on the shop floor and 1 customer + me. Not a single person of the 4 people doing nothing approached me to ask if they could be of help. Tired of waiting, I interrupted a person on the sales desk. He must have been doing something far more important than serving customers...
Haven got the reference number and identified the on-line order, he went in search of the reserved Hard Disk. This took him to the back office, where it should have been, but wasn't. Then to the person with the keys for shop cupboard, and finally he located the drive next to all the other drives. Follow on, there was no realattempt to up-sell for a carry cases etc. It was a transaction that took four times longer than it should have done. The whole process made a total mockery out of Currys PC-Worlds advantage over the likes of Amazon and other web only stores.
Must apologise here, but I really don't get it: How on the same day that Comet went down into administration, can the competition can be so complacent?
For those retailers who are interested in improving I am a great fan of "Smart Retail:Practical Winning Ideas and Strategies from the Most Successful Retailers in the World" by Richard Hammond - a real bible for retailers:
Following back onto the story with Amazon customer service; it later transpired that as much as they have in writing promises not to take the money out of the bank account, they were three days later still having my money in a "holding" position. Whether on purpose or not, Amazon had "forgotten" to tell my UK bank that the transaction had been voided. As a direct result I was not able to access the money on my bank account.
The questions are now:
Do I vote with my feet and close the Amazon account?
Is there a UK retailer (store or on-line) who can compete with Amazon in price and service?
Please do tell