‘You’re No Longer Useful': An Open Letter to Amazon from Rural Arizona
- Amazon changed the world by offering a broad spectrum of goods rural customers couldn't get locally
- Amazon suddenly changed its shipping service, making it inconvenient for rural customers
- Why I'm canceling my recurring orders from Amazon going forward
Amazon Distribution in Metropolitan Arizona
If you live in a major city, you see those Amazon Prime delivery vans running all over town. Tucson, for example, has an Amazon fulfillment center on Kolb Road, which makes it fairly convenient to most of the Tucson Metropolitan Area. Amazon plans to open a delivery hub in Marana, increasing coverage on the western end of Pima County.
Of course, Maricopa County has Amazon distribution centers everywhere. But what if you live in one of the many rural areas of Arizona?
Fast, Cheap, and Easy: Amazon Delivered Everywhere
Amazon is one of the largest e-commerce companies in the world. It's cornered so much of the retail market and made shopping so convenient that it's cut into traditional retail powerhouses like Sears, K-Mart, and Walmart.
Fast, cheap, and easy. What started with books, has expanded to prescriptions, pantry items, household goods, electronics, and just about anything you can imagine. According to Yahoo! News, Amazon is now rolling out a new service where you can even buy a car through the consumer giant.
There's almost nothing you can't buy from Amazon these days. Years ago, when Amazon began to roll out its Prime next-day delivery service, it made running all over town a thing of the past.
Amazon Changes Shopping in Rural America
I've lived in rural Arizona for decades. Coming from a suburban background, it took some time to get used to the notion of "going to town."
For example, we don't hop in the car and drive to the store if we run out of milk. We have workarounds or do without. Then we add whatever we need to our next shopping trip.
Our little town has all the essentials, but if we want to buy something unique, it takes a trip to Tucson or Phoenix to get our hands on what we need. As you can imagine, if we're not running 20 miles into town for a loaf of bread, we're certainly not running to Tucson every day to shop at Costco.
Amazon Brings the Goods to Us
Amazon changed the way we shop. If my husband needs a new power cord for some piece of equipment, we hop on Amazon, and our order arrives within two days.
Finding more sustainable household products is a challenge in our town. If you want a giant vat of Tide laundry detergent, they've got you covered. Want something more sustainable, like laundry detergent sheets? You're going to have to order them.
If you're trying to live sustainably, ordering twenty different deliveries a week doesn't make sense, so Amazon's bundled delivery program is the way to go.
Not only do you save more with auto-shipments, but Amazon drops them all into one or two boxes, and they all arrive on the same day, so you're saving resources, too. With UPS delivery, it all landed happily on my doorstep once a month, with all the products I use all the time in one simple place.
Why I Love Our Local Post Office
Then things began to change.
I get it. The price of everything is going up. When shipping becomes one of your biggest expenses, I understand why a giant like Amazon would start looking for a less expensive route. The United States Postal Service (USPS) has cheaper shipping options than UPS or FedEx.
I'm sure for most of America, this is a fine option. But this has become a giant hassle in my rural town, and it's got me making changes and canceling orders I once relied on.
Let me say this: I have nothing against the United States Postal Service. In fact, I have some amazing friends who work at the Post Office, and they go way beyond the call of duty for their customers.
As a matter of fact, not long ago, a Sierra Vista mail carrier even saved an elderly man. And according to USPS, this type of thing happens more than you think.
Dear Amazon: You're No Longer Useful to Rural Arizona
You can imagine that when Amazon bundles my orders, some of the boxes can get pretty big. It was something UPS handled and deposited right on my doorstep.
As much as I love my post office friends, I don't love some of the post office's policies. Getting packages delivered through the USPS is a challenge for rural customers.
Most rural postal boxes are set up in clusters to make things easy for our postal workers - which makes sense. Anything that doesn't fit in a customer's box gets put into a postal locker, and the key is placed inside the mailbox.
If the boxes are full or the package is too large for the postal locker - as mine often are - the package gets sent to our rural post office, and a slip is placed in the box informing the customer to pick up the package from the post office.
That's a fine system on the surface. But for the rural customer, it's a giant hassle. Our post office is out of the way and in the OPPOSITE direction from our normal driving pattern, so it's always a special trip. If I can even make it while they're open. I work long hours, and they're usually closed by the time I'm able to make the trip.
We get it, Amazon; you're trying to save money. But you've just rendered your "convenient" services useless to many rural customers. That's why I'm canceling my recurring orders, and I'll do my best to shop locally and as sustainably as possible.
Inside Amazon: A Detailed History of America's Biggest Online Retailer
Gallery Credit: Andrew Lisa
Top 11 Reasons Arizona Hates Shopping at Walmart
Gallery Credit: Val Davidson/TSM
It's Illegal to Give Your Baby Any of These 11 Names in Arizona
Gallery Credit: Val Davidson