We can probably blame all of this on Bezos. And that man who founded eBay. They’re the ones who started it all, aren’t they?
For better or worse, Jeff Bezos and Pierre Omidyar have probably changed our lives. Back in the mid-1990s the founders of Amazon.com and eBay, respectively, gave us things that, at the time, we never knew we needed: the ability to be fully functional shut-ins without an obligation to step outside the house. Not even when you have to buy an infant circumcision trainer.
Yes, it took a few years before both websites were fully capable of handling true e-commerce in a seamless fashion (I sent a money order in the post to pay for one of the first items I ever bought on eBay). And the websites lacked the rich photography of the items that are on offer today (who owned a digital camera or even a scanner in the 1990s?), which means it was pot luck if the item you were buying was, in fact, the item being advertised.
But as I’m sure Alexander Graham Bell would agree, no brilliant idea should ever be limited by the lack of technology to actually support it.
Wine retailing, without a doubt, has been revolutionised by the web and by the likes of Bezos and Omidyar. But I’m not sure if it’s for the better. For it seems, as far as I have observed, having an entire case of wine delivered to my home, as quickly as the courier can manage it, serves no purpose except to make me wait longer to receive my wine than if I went to the shop myself and picked it up off the shelf.
If I were a shut-in, an unemployed or even a self-employed type who is able to make a reasonable living from my sofa, ordering online and having something delivered to my house would be the ideal: I point, I click, I watch a bit of Jeremy Kyle and then, before long, a rushed courier knocks on my door and hands over what is hopefully a fully intact case of wine.
But the reality is different. Instead, I point, I click, then I regret supplying my house address because I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that even though this case of wine is guaranteed to be delivered within 48 hours, nothing could be further from the truth.
Half the time, the courier takes it back to the depot where the case will languish for god knows how long as it waits for me to request a redelivery. Under this scenario, I cannot expect to see it for at least a fortnight.
The rest of the time, the case is left with a neighbour who willingly takes it in but fails to mention that they are going away for a week. And the case lays dormant in their front hallway as I peak with desperation through their front window in the vain hope that they left the sash unlocked. It’s not burglary if it’s my package, is it?
Of course, I could have provided my office address. But who wants to be that person lugging a case of wine onto public transportation at rush hour?
It is a predicament. Unless you’re a shut-in, that is.