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Amazon Wins

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Unlike most 21st-century households, the Redas did not have a flat-screen TV — until last month.

Once we made the “go flat or go home” decision, my husband, the chief electronics officer, began doing his homework. Plasma or LED? Samsung, Sony or LG? 50-inch, 55-inch or 60-inch?

My CEO hit the local electronics stores shopping for the right look and size and — of course — comparing prices, and decided to purchase the TV from a retailer a few towns away; the sales associate was knowledgeable and provided a printout that included a price quote.

Four days later my husband went back to the store, intent on buying the TV. The sale price was now $400 more than the printout, the super sales associate was nowhere to be found and the new guy wouldn’t honor the printout or budge on the price.

To say the CEO was angry would be an understatement!

After a few hours of grumbling, he checked ... and there was the model he wanted, for the price that was originally quoted at the nearby store. The decision as to whether or not to buy online took some hashing out. We shop online all the time but don’t usually buy $1,000+ electronics. Eventually, we decided to click “buy.” Less than 24 hours later, an partner called to schedule delivery. Early the following morning — less than 36 hours after the order was placed — the TV arrived.

I’ve been an Amazon fan for years, but I have to admit, this sealed my loyalty. It’s stories like mine that result in Amazon being named STORES’ Most Admired online retailer (as chosen by retail insiders) and claiming — yet again — the No. 1 spot on our annual e-commerce Favorite 50 list, which springs from consumer feedback.

Everything we needed was addressed — from technical details to customer reviews. The Amazon partner even e-mailed a detailed write-up on how to inspect the TV upon delivery. While purchasing it in a store as we had originally intended would have yielded instant gratification, receiving the item 36 hours after ordering was pretty acceptable for everyone here.

Amazon delivered an innovative product at a price that presented a value to us, paid attention to every detail and made my husband and me feel like we were their most important customers.

It’s just another wake-up call for traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers — many of whom say they’re willing to match price and to do what’s needed to stem showrooming, only to lose a big sale because they weren’t willing to honor a price — even when that price was their own.