I received a surprise Amazon shipment the other day. SAP recently released a product SAP Mobile Documents and as its standards-based I wanted to learn more about the underlying technology so I ordered a copy of CMIS and Apache Chemistry in Action. When the package arrived, there were two boxes. I was expecting one box, so the second one surprised me.

I opened both and one was my copy of CMIS and Apache Chemistry in Action and the other contained Guitar for Dummies. I don’t play guitar, so that particular book surprised me a bit. I hadn’t ordered the book and I wasn’t expecting a gift from anyone. The packing slip didn’t have much on it except for an order number, so I looked up the order number and couldn’t find it. I initiated a chat with Amazon customer service and apparently the order belonged to someone else. I’m not quite sure why they put it in a package and addressed it to me, but there it was.

Even though I told Amazon that I hadn’t ordered it, they took a while and finally determined that it wasn’t mine and I’d not ordered it. No surprise to me, but apparently they had to double verify that the package they sent to me wasn’t for me.

Anyway, I expected that they’d email me a shipping label and thank me for sending it back to them.

Nope, that’s not what happened

They told me I could keep it. Apparently there’s no way for Amazon to generate a shipping label and send it to a customer if the order the shipping label is for is not on the customer’s account.

No, seriously – that’s what they told me.

They have one of the most sophisticated and automated online and warehouse management systems in the world and they can’t fix it when one of their folks ships me something I didn’t order. That’s quite a systems problem they have – rather than simply enable customer service reps to order ad-hoc shipping labels, they let me keep an item they sold for $20 or so.

What’s funny is that this isn’t the only time this happened to me. Last week I ordered some CDs from my wish list (some Dream Theater, Tony Iommi and Ian Gillan) and they shipped it to me, it never arrived and they shipped it to me again. Apparently the exact same thing happened with my order – they picked it, but shipped it to someone else. What’s funny about this is that about a week later I got an email from Amazon Customer Service telling me that they were unable to deliver a package to me. Even though they send me packages all the time and the address they have on file for me is spot on, they suddenly couldn’t find me.

It all worked out, my son’s learning guitar, so I gave the book to him.

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