Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Tracking

I ordered something from Amazon yesterday. It's being delivered today. I don't want to end up trapped in all day waiting... but luckily, Amazon provide delivery tracking information on their website. And looking at this, it seems my delivery is imminent...





I mean, it must be, right? Because it's already travelled quite a long way from A to B and now it's got the even longer journey to make from B to D... but it's already got as far as C and that's, what, 85% of the way there? 



As it goes, I know the depot's only a couple of miles away so they can't be more than 5 minutes away according to this. I'll stay in. I'll wait.

Well I would do if I hadn't seen this before. It looks like this all day. Sometimes they deliver at 9 in the morning. Sometimes at 9 at night. It doesn't matter when it's turning up. The minute it leaves the depot it appears as "almost there" and it remains "almost there" until it's, um, there. (And sometimes, they run out of time and don't deliver to us at all, actually.)

So what's the point of the graphic? In what sense is my delivery being tracked? Once it's left the depot, nobody is able to track its progress. So wouldn't this be a bit more honest? A bit more binary?




Isn't that a bit less suggestive of progress that hasn't actually been made?

I know this isn't a big issue. I know that if you're looking for a stick to beat Amazon with there are far bigger sticks available. But it seems like a counter-productive trick to try and pull. Because it's so obviously a trick. And tricks are dishonest things to try and get away with. When a business transparently tries to flim-flam its customers, don't they just end up with customers who trust them a little less? Aren't they just sowing seeds of distrust? 

"Amazon? Oh yeah... they're the guys that think I'll fall for the progress-bar trick... you want to watch them... they're shifty buggers..."

20 comments:

Stella4eva said...

Thank goodness, I thought I was just being irrationally angry about this.

C8H10N4O2 said...

Hi Dave. I'm a Dave, too.
I work in IT.

There's an organisation called Microsoft that have perfected the art of the progress bar.
You may have seen it when installing an application.
It frequently zips to 25%, slowly rises to 50%, hangs there for a while, then miraculously becomes 99% done with "2 minutes" remaining.
But, these are Microsoft Minutes, and entirely subject to change.
Sometimes, 2 minutes becomes 3, 4 or 5 minutes...232 minutes is my personal record.
Sometimes, it just continues saying "2 minutes" and stays that way for an age, and you only discover it has completed when you come in later from taking the dog for a walk.

aedan said...

One of the delivery companies here tells you what drop off you are, which one the driver is on and even shows his location on Google maps.

One of their drivers even has a spaniel in the van.

Jo Davis said...

It's even worse when they say it's been delivered, handed personally to Joanne, and you're there thinking "I'm Joanne, I've been in all day and its not been delivered to me...".
Or the other one, they take a picture of the house they've attempted to deliver to and it's not your house!

Steve H said...

It's like the Apple OSX installation progress bar!

Dave Gorman said...

@Stella4eva: It's been winding me up for yonks!

@C8H10N402: I did some material about exactly that a wee while ago. But at least that is an actual progress-bar, albeit one that is trying and failing to get it right. This isn't really a progress bar. It's not trying to show you progress. It's just trying to look a bit like one.

@aedan: this is clearly possible and clearly what they ought to be doing. If the driver is leaving the depot at 8 in the morning and knows that I'm scheduled as his 73rd drop off of the day... it makes no sense pretending that he's nearly there at 8am. It'd just be polite to let the customer know a bit more.

Simon Powell said...

I have had a situation where i was waiting in for a parcel, got all the same updates, out for today, in transit etc.
Got to 3pm in the afternoon and i then got a text saying my delivery was now out for the following day, they hadnt even waited the full day before they decided the couldnt be bothered to get to my house in time.
I did ring up and complain and got a ten pounds credit i may add, which i then used to order another item which took two days also???
I emailed them to point this out and got a month extension on prime, how nice of them

Sheffield Mike said...

In the good old days, Amazon used DPD locally and they gave you a one hour delivery slot with email and text updates and Google Maps tracking. They also told you the driver's name to make it more personal.
Then, presumably for cost reasons, they established "Amazon Logistics" where anything other than the day of delivery is pure guesswork.
At least the Royal Mail postman is consistently at my door within an hour of the same time every day.
It surely can't be as hard as Amazon make it look?

Nick said...

Most of my Anazin deliveries come via DPD now. They tell me the name of the driver it's usually David at the moment), where I am on the list and I get a worryingly precise but invariably accurate one hour window, 1653-1753 today, there's even an option to tell them to leave it with a neighbour.

Not to say I've never had the abysmal and open-ended 'progress' bar. Once or twice it has gone from 'Out for Delivery' to never actually arriving and me having to get on to Amazon for a replacement. No explanation for the apparent bending of space/time for that to happen ever came forth though.

Dan said...

I've long wondered since Amazon Logistics was formed (which is a misdirection in itself, seeing as they are individual van owners), why they didn't set out to be as good as their 'competitors' who provide better tracking. If they used the DPD system, which surely shouldn't be too hard as their delivery logistics system must be linked via some back end to the website (and by extension, the 'my orders' page), we'd all be much happier. The only step in that process which is missing is the actual departure time of the van from their depot - but surely they'd be able to give loose enough timings. Part of me suspects they won't because they want to push their one/two hour 'Prime Now' services in the big cities.

Paul Baxter said...

But if your delivery is out at 8am and they can deliver goods upto 8pm that driver must have a long day. Those progress bars must be to see how long it takes to progress you to a raging tired (because you've been up since 8am and you work nights so you haven't been to bed because you checked your emails before you go to bed) and there's nobody to listen out for door for the day, and if it's like RM they must know when you're on the crapper because they stick a 'we called and you weren't home ' card through the door

Paul Baxter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TonyG said...

London underground have been doing this for years. When it says your tube is 2 mins away, it should say 2 mins away (if it is moving)

TonyG said...

London underground have been doing this for years. When it says your tube is 2 mins away, it should say 2 mins away (if it is moving)

Phil Toomer said...

If I'm now out all day I get it delivered to an Amazon locker. Have you tried them Dave, great idea. No more hanging about watching the progress bar. Pick it up locally in your own time

Col said...

The Microsoft progress bar... It frequently reaches 100% and just sits there. If you've done 100% of the task you were doing, surely there's no need for the progress bar to be displayed. So get rid of it. Except your PC can't get rid of it because it is doing something...the task it was progressing on. And if you're still progressing on that task it isn't 100% done, is it? :-)

Unknown said...

http://xkcd.com/612/

Richard Honey said...

As the famous saying goes " There are lies, damn lies, statistics and progress bars"... They never tell you what is actually being measured by those Amazon order progress bars. The bar could represent distance the order has travelled. In which case after Mr G's order left his digital button, travelled through space & time via phonelines, digital signals, servers, etc to wherever the Amazon site is, then processed, sent digitally to the shipping warehouse, then picked and packaged the order could have travelled thousands of miles before its even physically picked up for delivery so the process bar could be correct.... But personally I think those process bars actually show the percentage likely hood of you getting the order.... 100% when you press order because there is a goid chance you are ordering from home so you are in. Bu then drops down as it gets nearer your home because more chance you will need to go out, be in the shower so don't hear the delivery driver knock lighter than butterfly or you don't get the door in under 2 seconds if you do hear him..... But then again...... Mr G could just be right ands its a flim flam...

Dave Gorman said...

Many of you seem to be under the impression that it is actually a progress bar. It isn't a progress bar that doesn't perform accurately... it's not a progress bar at all. It never moves. It has four positions. Ordered. Dispatched. On the way. And delivered. They've just put the "on the way" position 85% of the way to "delivered" to make it appear like a progress bar.

webbod said...

One of the delivery drivers had a major fault or something; van stuff - I don't know something to do with the accelatrix or the distribulator - anyway it was bloody freezing so I made him some coffee while he waited for a repair van to turn up - decent chap, he works fulltime for another delivery firm, but the iPost depot is on his way so he picks up some parcels as he is passing - the only downside is stuff arriving when you're in the shower, but he says he doesn't mind you coming down in a towel. Actually thinking about it, he was really keen on that coffee and his van didn't take long to fix - maybe I pulled? #TakingItAsACompliment

Anyway point was be nice to these guys they work hard.