Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Shopping Goals: June, 2019

Well, the story behind this month's shopping goals is an interesting one.

Basically, in a nutshell, when I reimbursed us from our loan monies for things we had to pay out of pocket for after the earthquake, we had a bit of money left over so I thought I'd try and do a big Costco sized order of things from Amazon to help build up our food stores that took such a tremendous hit last year with everything that happened around here.  

Man, I had no idea how off the rails that whole plan would go.  

Basically, the normal pattern of events should have been this...

  • Step 1:  Put together a tremendous Subscribe and Save order so that I'd save a bunch of money with the 15% discount, in a lot of cases I had coupons on the items that helped to save even more money to make it even more worth my while.  I knew I would only pay off about 1/2 of the order with the reimbursed monies I had allocated, but I figured with the 5% cash back I got from my Amazon card I could pay off 1/2 of the bill, get some money back on the card from the 5% and then figure out a budget to get the rest of the money on the card paid off as quickly as possible.
  • Step 2:  Wait for the cut off point where they would charge my Amazon store card for everything and then wait for items to get here.
  • Step 3:  Get items in, prepare to put them into the holes I had sketched out on my pantry plan and feel great happiness at the state of my pantry.

How the ACTUAL series of events went ended up being this...

  • Step 1:  Put together Subscribe and Save order like planned.
  • Step 2:  Wait for cut off point where Amazon would start to charge my card for orders and send them out. 
  • Step 3:  Thank the Lord I stalk my credit card at all times because things quickly went South and I found at least three orders that I'd gotten tripled charged for and had to call Amazon and get charges reversed.
  • Step 4:  See where Amazon shipped things in boxes together that had me concerned to say the least.  Glass bottles with heavy flats of cans, etc.
  • Step 5:  Get items in the mail.  
  • Step 6:  Look at terrible state of box in some cases the items came in and know that the items inside are trashed, or open the box and THEN know what terrible state the items came in.
  • Step 7:  Call Amazon ticked as all get out after getting boxes of broken glass, SEVERELY dented cans, open and leaking boxes of dried items.   Lodge complaint against the incompetent shipping department and get refund issued.
  • Step 8:  Repeat steps 4 through 7.

This has been an absolute nightmare the last month.  You know it's bad when you get actual undamaged items in the mail and it seems out of the ordinary to say the least and you feel like you won some type of lottery.

Right, let me quickly go through my thought processes on what I ordered, because it seems like a weird conglomeration of stuff otherwise.  First I went through, figured out what I lost in the freezer and the pantry during the earthquake and ordered as close to direct replacements as I could think of.   Second I ordered things you can not safely can at home (dairy, bread, eggs, pureed potatoes and squash, not pickled cabbage, cured meats, etc).  Third I ordered things that I never really had much luck canning and having turning out with any success (greens for instance) and then the last category was things that looked kind of neat and exciting to add to the menu later on (I'll highlight those when I get to them).

So, let's get to the list of things I got.  I will list them separately with items that came completely destroyed to those that came in decent shape for anyone curious about ordering these items in the future.  I would get a refund in for an item and then look on Amazon for something to replace the item that I got a refund with in a lot of cases as I'd get, say, a few cans that were salvageable from a case and wouldn't want to take the chance on the item again, but would also have a few to try, so I would go and see if I could find something else.  This rarely worked as in a lot of cases the replacements came damaged as well.  The list I ordered though is long, I spent a lot of money, but am hopefully stocked up again for quite a while.  So, the fact that so much went wrong with everything was doubly upsetting to me as Amazon was definitely making money off of me last month.

Note:  No, the following items do not contain associate links.  I would feel hypocritical doing so.  I was that disappointed in how this went down.

Things that came in one piece:

I got all of the following canned puddings for about 5.00 a pop, which it surprises me how expensive they are now.   I ordered all of the following together, got it in one box and it all came in okay.
  • Glory Foods Seasoned Cabbage (Pack of 6):  There are cheaper options on Amazon in case you want to look, but they weren't peanut safe, so I went with these instead.  Used the quail egg refund to pay for it.  Cans came dented, but usable at least.
  • Jello Instant Pudding, Coconut Cream, 6 pack:  I can't find this flavor at my local store anymore, so I ordered it on Amazon.  Came with a couple of small dents in the boxes, but nothing leaking and in okay shape overall.

  • Read, German Potato Salad, 15 oz. (Pack of 12):  These Read products came packaged in special boxes called "Amazon can shippers"  which I think some companies are actually having specially made.  The cans were all braced apart with cardboard, had very nice buffers between them and damage and came in 100% perfect shape (for a change!).
  • Read, 4 Bean Salad (Pack of 12):  Read is made by Libby's by the way in case anyone is curious :).
  • Lucy's 100% Lime Juice, 1 Gallon:  Yes, I ordered a gallon of lime juice!  Limes are terribly expensive up here, this is 100% real lime juice and I love Brazilian Lemonade (which is just lime aide made with sweetened condensed milk) and so does the husband and daughter.  So, I bought this with the express plan to (when I open it) freeze it in muffin cups and ice cube trays to use in recipes later on :).  For 14.99 for a gallon of lime juice (you can also get lemon juice for that price), you can't really beat that.
  • Media Crema Table Cream Cans (Pack of 12):  Used the refund from the Sweetened Condensed Milk  to buy this and see how it came (I'm a glutton for punishment).  This actually came boxed like the Read products and all cans came in perfect shape.  So, yay for that at least.
  • Tamanu Oil  I bought this to try on Alvah's eczema as it got a lot of great reviews from eczema suffers online.  He seems to really like it and will ask you to spray it on his eczema.  It does seem to be making a difference in the patches as well, so I'm glad I ordered it.

Came Damaged/Destroyed:

Betty Crocker Loaded Casserole Potaotes, pack of 6 (two boxes had actually been opened and then taped shut and another box was open and leaking) .  Got refund.
Hunt's Tomato Ketchup No Salt Added, 12 pack (two bottles came with the lids broken, but at least they are usable and the safety seal wasn't broken) 
Del Monte Green Beans, 12 pack I got two flats of these as they were less than 12.00 when Amazon first listed them.  I got one flat that came in nearly perfect.  The other one looked like someone took a sledge hammer to the entire flat of cans.  They went in the garbage and I got a refund. 
Tiptree Apricot Preserve (came completely shattered) 
Tiptree Black Currant Preserves (came completely shattered) 
Solimo Honey, 32 oz. (Came broken and leaking all over the place) 
Butternut Mountain Farm, Maple Syrup, 32 fl oz.  (first one came leaking and awful, they sent a replacement that they shipped Fed Ex and came in one piece)

Right so the following came completely destroyed in one box.  Amazon shipped a replacement box, which came with only half the order being broken and destroyed over the other 1/2.  They shipped me a final replacement minus the liquid items as I demanded a refund on those to avoid more crap going into my dumpster and the third time the dry items all came in one piece, more's the miracle.

  • 3 pack of Kraft Parmesan Cheese (the second box of broken items I received the cheese was packed in a plastic bag, so actually survived, so I ended up with six bottles by the time it was said and done)
  • 4 pack of McCann's Irish Oatmeal.  I can safely recommend this item as the Oatmeal actually comes packed to survive a nuclear holocaust!  I would have saved the first batch of oatmeal in the first box, but everything was coated in broken glass, syrup, oil and everything and I just didn't want to get hurt.  The second box, the box was dented and sticky, but able to be salvaged, so I ended up with 8 tins of oatmeal by the end.
  • 6 Pack Smuckers Hot Fudge Sauce (came loose in box in both the original and the replacement box.  The second box, somehow, five bottles survived and only one got broken and went everywhere)
  • 6 pack of Smuckers Caramel Sauce (not as lucky as the hot fudge sauce...all broken in both shipments)
  • Smucker's Low sugar Strawberry Preserves (same fate as the caramel sauce...bought some at the store.  More money, but at least wasn't broken)
  • McCormick Taco Seasoning, 24 pack (survived the third replacement shipment and they accidentally sent me two, but let me keep the second one)
  • 32 oz container of olive oil.  Yeah, shipments one and two the item came dented in, broken and leaking, probably because EVERYTHING WAS LOOSE IN THE BOX and with all the broken glass flying around the darned thing didn't stand a chance.  Sorry, not upset at all.  Ahem.  Bought a replacement bottle at the store instead.
  • 12 packs of Blue Diamond Bold Wasabi &Soy Sauce Almonds.  Shipment one, destroyed.  Shipment 2, box opened and packs everywhere, but some are salvageable.  Third one came in one piece.
Sylvia's Mixed Greens (Pack of 12):  This looked great when I first got it in and then I actually lifted the cans from their case and found that every single can was dented, on the inside of the can, where you couldn't see.  The middle cans were SEVERELY dented to the point of ridiculous.  Managed to salvage maybe five cans out of twelve.  Got a refund. 
Roland Quail Eggs (Pack of 6):  I got these to use in salads and to use in some European recipes that called for them specifically.  I used money from one of my various refunds to pay for them for free (I ended up with a gift card on some refunds).  A bunch of the cans came damaged.  Got, yet another, refund, but got a few cans to experiment with I guess. 
LaLechera Sweetened Condensed Milk (Pack of 12):  Sweetened condensed milk is terribly expensive at our local stores and this seemed like a great deal to make Brazilian Lemonade with later on.  What a mistake that was!  Got a crushed box in the mail (after Amazon shipped it Parcel Pool and it took forever to get here) with loose cans in it and every single can was dented, all but one so severely there was no way I was going to chance using them.  Got a refund. 

Farmer's Market Organic Sweet Potato Puree (Pack of 12):  6 out of 12 cans came severely, severely dented.  All cans were loose in the original shipper box with a shipping label slapped on top of the other shipping label and a nice "heavy" sticker slapped onto the box.  There was a hole in the box that I really think came from the warehouse as it looked like an old hole and there was an old, dirty, dent in the can beneath it.  Salvaged a few cans and got a refund.
 Now the damaged goods, also take into consideration that I got refunded for the wrong thing on TWO occasions and had to get that fixed, got actually charged instead of refunded on another order (which baffled the person who then fixed it because they couldn't figure out how that happened) and other fiascos.  Like I tried THREE times to order chutney because I've always wanted to try it.  One order got lost in the mail somewhere, one order got cancelled because the item got sold out before they got to shipping me my order (got to love Amazon Prime and how they treat Alaska) and the third one got destroyed in shipping to the point that the post office actually rejected the shipment as hazardous and shipped it back to Amazon themselves before it even GOT to me.  That's when I gave up on that.

I learned my lesson well.  If I can find something local (or in the case of the chutney I can't even FIND it locally) I'm buying it that way or probably doing without.  It's worth the extra money to not have to worry about something potentially coming in completely destroyed and unsafe.  My dump bill was TWICE what we normally pay due to the extra weight from everything I had to throw away.  Wish I could charge Amazon for that.  

Anyway *ahem* I am hoping to pick up a few more things around at the stores like black olives, frozen fruit, vegetable oil and the like, but I am definitely done ordering stuff from Amazon in the way of food for goodness knows how long.  I used the last of the refund Amazon credits to buy myself some new sneakers (which I did definitely needed) and got the son some underwear and I'm just going to work on paying off the Amazon card and not worrying about using it for anything other than Christmas gifts and things.  So, so done.  Which is sad, in a way, as I've ordered things from Amazon for years, but I'll tell you what.  It's like as soon as I started paying for Prime, my satisfaction level with Amazon has gone through the floor.  I can't complain about the customer service, I guess, as they issued refunds without complaint (although I was nearly begging them to let me ship things back to them after the third or forth item came in destroyed so  I could show them how terrible of a packaging job they did) and gave me canned apologies every single time, but I kind of just want my items to get to me in one piece and things to be done right the first time if possible.  I get that mistakes and accidents happen, but this goes beyond the point of ridiculous.

So, there you are folks.  My "Amazon bulk order" experience.  May you learn from my folly!  


  1. Wow. All I can say is I'm glad I don't have to deal with trying to order food up to Alaska. I do believe people don't have the work ethic they used to. They need to be trained well and take pride in their job. My son is a produce manager at a local store and he is constantly telling me about mix ups on the produce order or other departments. They had a huge box come in one time with only one package of bacon in it! They also just got some stuff for the refrigerated case that was 3 weeks past expiration. Then the hassle of making a claim and getting a refund. And it's not like they don't get orders very often. 3-4 days a week fresh stuff is coming in on several trucks a day. Huge pallets. Hope you find the stuff you are looking for at a local store and for a decent price. Take care.

  2. I think you should ask Amazon for compensation especially as it has cost you taking stuff to the dump. I love those syropwaffles too. I first tasted them in Holland and found I can get them at a couple of places here. A pack of 10 is between 69p and £1. I think food tends to be cheaper here but then we don't have the huge shipping costs you have in Alaska. Well done on your resourcefulness sourcing the best bargains.

  3. My delivery guy gets ticked at Amazon on a regular bases according to him as the packaging is next to worthless and they don't always protect glass items. He ended up in the ER during one of his deliveries due to a perfume bottle being broke and he had an allergic reaction. The customer was more ticked as they spent a pretty penny and it was for a gift.. I do separate orders. No longer do subscribe and save

  4. I have had this happen with Walmart online several times. I finally canceled my membership. Poor packing is definitely an area where a store can lose its business. Good luck with the rest of your food purchases.