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Online holiday grinch?

"Last Christmas everything went great. This Christmas it has not been so good:

Amazon.com shipped two out of the 27 items I ordered. I got an e-mail saying the others will be shipped 'when they become available.'

"Yo, it's Christmas, how about an estimation of when they will ship? How about a clarification about whether they are still guaranteed to arrive before the 24th if they are 'not available.' According to the Web site, each item is in stock and ships within 24 hours, so why do I get an e-mail saying the items are unavailable?

"So I went and ordered the same stuff at Buy.com and BooksAMillion.com, and canceled the unshipped items from Amazon.com. I got partial shipments from both of them as well, and both of their sites indicated that the items were in stock and would ship within 24 hours.

"If the stuff is not in stock, then don't tell people it is. The whole point of all this online stuff is to indicate stock in real time. The current situation is unacceptable. I think this is 'The year that Internet retailers got caught with their pants down.'

"It doesn't appear they were prepared for the volume of orders they are receiving.

"Most e-tailers think customers are willing to pay 10 percent to 20 percent above local stores prices and deal with two to three to four weeks' delay, messed up orders, bad billing, etc. I am out. ..."

"I placed an order Dec. 4. The order status remained 'in progress' through Dec.

15. I called the customer service number. I asked two questions: Why had my credit card been charged when the product hadn't shipped?

"The response that I received was that they were a middle man and that customers were charged immediately to 'prevent customers from canceling orders.' For shame! When I asked about the status of my order, I was informed that it was on back-order. Nowhere was this indicated on the order status Web site page for my order.

"What could they do from an IT perspective to make the experience better? I don't know that it is the IT that needs to be improved, but rather the integrity and honesty."

Should IS cater to small internal groups?

"There are many special needs of departments, divisions, or offices of companies with very capable IS staffs that will never be developed in-house because the project is either too small or everyone in the IS department is too busy.

"These applications can be mission critical to the department. Often, I'm replacing monstrosities created with spreadsheets, word processing macros, or end-user database tools."

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