Thursday, October 04, 2007

Wall Street Journal's Cranky Consumer Too Irritated To Fact-Check

Diaper Diatribe Against Amazon.com Doesn't Add Up

The normally reliable Cranky Consumer column in today's Wall Street Journal focused on buying diapers in bulk online, a subject that has been near and dear to this correspondent's heart for the last couple of years.
But the article, written by a freelancer named Eileen Gunn, suffered from the same kind of delivery problems it griped about.
Case in point: Gunn writes about ordering a box of 216 size 1 Pampers from Amazon.com for $38.99, but then got hit with a $14.90 shipping fee because she was actually buying the diapers from an independent merchant, BBHealthy.com.
"A spokesman for Amazon said that the company works with its third-party merchants to ensure a good shopping experience," Gunn wrote, "but that their delivery fees and standards are ultimately not under Amazon's control."
All well and good, but the question is why Gunn would have done that in the first place. From my own experience, I have bought Pampers directly from Amazon, which provides free shipping. The diapers in question are available for $39.79.
Moreover, that offer is on the first page after you search for Pampers. You have to drill down to find the BBHealthy offer. True, initially cheaper at $38.99, but then comes the shipping, which would bring the cost to a pricey 25 cents a diaper.
However, if she had bought the Pampers directly from Amazon, it would have been just 18 cents a diaper, just a penny more than the lowest-price site mentioned in the column, 1-800-Diapers.com.
Just as bewildering as the fact that Gunn blew by the Pampers home page on Amazon is the unnamed Amazon spokesman in her article who also couldn't figure out where Gunn went wrong. Instead, he just blubbered about how Amazon "tries very hard to ensure a good shopping experience for our customers."
Which is what happens when you shop for the best price. Only then might you get a little less cranky, not to mention an accurate column.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Glad to see I wasn't the only one irritated by that poorly researched column. I too have bought Pampers from Amazon.com many times and knew her story made no sense. I almost get the impression that diapers.com had a hand in the review. Have you seen this? http://buzzbuilder.typepad.com/my_weblog/2007/10/diaperscom-leve.html

I wrote a scathing letter to the wsj in response, making the same points as you as well as the fact that the other sites she mentioned only give you free shipping on orders over a certain amount (which she fails to mention). And while they didn't print it, I did get a lengthy response today from Ms. Gunn defending her column and saying that everyone has different experiences shopping online.

Anyway, I was glad to find your blog about it. Congrats on being able to stay home with your kids. Not many dads are so lucky.

Liz

Patrick said...

Steve,

Thanks for taking the time time to comment on my Buzz Builder blog post to which Liz refers to above.

I enjoyed reading the response to the WSJ article on your blog and you make some excellent points. It does indeed seem like the reporter made some mistakes. However, this certainly doesn't diminish from the PR value of the article from Diapers.com's perspective.

I wonder why I haven't seen a note from Amazon to the Wall Street Journal clarifying the pricing situation. If Amazon's PR department hasn't responded, they're asleep at the wheel.

Best,
Patrick Galvin

GAP said...

I've totally given up on the WSJ, after being a loyal subscriber for many, many years. Their reporting leaves something to be desired, and they are having big tome problems internally.

I live in Clifton NJ, a NYC metroplitan area - 12 miles to NYC. I have not had delivery of the WSJ since Christmas 2007! I have called many times, and always get the same answer - "I'm sorry to hear that" (as nauseum). "This will be escalated to..." And it never is and nobody calls back. If you try to speak with a manager, nobody seems to be available. Service seems to be going down hill. One of the support people said they had to implement a new reporting program since they have been getting so many complaints.