Friday, March 12, 2010

Buy.com and Amazon.com, are they family now?

Why do I save $53.10 buying from buy.com via amazon.com, rather than just buying directly from buy.com?


In my ever "deadline missed" project of getting my basement and home theater setup finished, as well as free up a rec room upstairs, I was looking for a wall mountable server/network equipment rack.
Through my favorite resource, I was able to find a 12U model that fit my needs precisely.

I have a pretty large gift card balance at buy.com (I am an affiliate as well, so take that how you want), so I thought I'd check to see if they offered the rack. They did.

Racks of the type I'm looking for are heavy, so the shipping was $53.10. I expected that.

Coincidentally, I also have a gift card balance at Amazon.com so I decided to check them out, knowing that they usually offer free shipping over a certain price.

Here's the result:

Buy.com sells via Amazon and I get free shipping! (The part number in the title omit's the "WALL", but it's there if you scroll down)


Buy.com's own web site costs me $53.10 more, and I can even use Amazon Checkout!

Here's the e-mail I sent to Buy.com via their customer service interface (I didn't bother calling, this basement project is not getting completed any time soon):

Please refer to these two links:
http://www.buy.com/prod/startech-com-12u-19-wall-mounted-server-rack-cabinet-19-12u/q/loc/101/203033503.html

and

http://www.amazon.com/Looking-Protect-Networking-Equipment-RK1219/dp/B000IE7ZE2

Identical product, and ironically, YOU are the ones selling it through Amazon. However, if I purchase it indirectly from you via Amazon, I don't have to pay $53 shipping. As I have a larger gift card balance with you, I'd prefer to buy it directly from you instead of indirectly from you via Amazon. Can you credit me the shipping or match your offer on their site?


I've gotten the auto-reply, and another one a day later indicating that they had to look into the issue and that it will take another 1-2 business days.

Based on my gift card balances, it would be less expensive to buy it from buy.com, but it would make far less sense financially. Buy.com sells everything and a lot of what they sell is reasonably priced -- I know I'll use that balance in the future.

I can only guess that this is an algorithmic failure. The listings on amazon are likely automatically posted by buy.com (it's possible that they're farmed out and done manually with so little oversight that something like this could slip through, or even maybe something in the middle, but my bet goes to automated listing). Decisions made by algorithms sometimes have funny outcomes.

/wonders how many people have to see this post before I no longer have an affiliate account with buy.com
//which I haven't made a penny on.

Update 3/16/2009 6:30 AM:
Response from Buy.com via Facebook (...and a fix)
Looks like they are both in sync now. I see free shipping on both Buy.com and Amazon.

Our site is real-time; our Amazon updates have a little delay. If we run out of a product from a distributor, we source it to another when available. Sometimes pricing and shipping changes. In this case, our primary distributor received more stock faster than the system could update.

MD: Sort of as I suspected. Supply chain automation algorithm failure, pretty common problem I suspect.

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