Regular readers of ‘Letters from the Canary Islands’ will know that I have a love-hate relationship with Amazon. Although we have ‘Prime’ membership with Amazon Spain, I often wonder why I bother, since most of the products that I try to order, end up with the depressing notification “This product cannot be sent to the Canary Islands, Ceuta and Melilla”, which can be very irritating.
I have complained many times over the years, and pointed out that the Canary Islands are very much part of Spain, albeit with different tax regimes, and Amazon’s inability to supply us in the same manner as Peninsular Spain smacks of discrimination. Sadly, Amazon rarely bother to reply, but I always feel better for firing off yet another email. This week, we had yet another ‘Amazon incident’.
Our dog, Bella, is now an elderly lady of fourteen. She is totally deaf and partially blind, yet can usually reach the top of the stairs of our house before we can. Despite sleeping a lot nowadays, she has amazing bursts of puppy-like energy. Therein lies the problem, because in one of these frenetic bursts, Bella pulled a muscle in a front leg.
Concerned to see her hopping around on three legs, we took her to see her vet who gave her a magic injection and tablets. During the consultation, the vet not so tactfully mentioned that Bella was overweight; indeed, he uttered the dreaded word: “fat”. Sadly, until Bella’s weight is reduced, she will no longer enjoy her occasional favourite treat of a little pizza and a few chips. We were also advised not to let her run up and down stairs, since this may cause further problems for her legs.
Bella has access to everywhere in our home, so it was necessary to find something to block her access to the stairs unless we carry her up and down. I immediately thought of a ‘baby gate’ that parents use to stop toddlers going up and down dangerous stairs. I thought this would be easy to find, but a search of local shops, hypermarkets, baby shops, as well as second-hand shops brought only a blank look and a shake of the head.
The answer was clear, I would have to order the baby gate from Amazon even though I knew that it would be pointless to even attempt to order a baby gate from Amazon Spain, who seem to be the most chaotic of the Amazon stores that I deal with. I often find that I can order the same item from Amazon Germany or Amazon UK without a problem; totally illogical, I know.
If all else fails, Amazon International will usually come to the rescue, despite additional postage costs. Sadly, this time, attempts with all Amazon stores failed, and the answer was the same; they would not delivery to the Canary Islands.
In despair, I looked at Amazon Spain and even though, as I had predicted, they would not deliver any of their range of baby gates to the Canary Islands, I found one ‘third party seller’ that would. It looked ideal; a baby gate that seemed as if it would work perfectly for Bella. I decided to order one; it was not available on Prime, and would cost an additional 6,99 euros for delivery. Fair enough, I thought; the order was accepted and my card debited.
Two days later, I received a very brusque email from the supplier telling me that they had cancelled the order, because they could not deliver to the Canary Islands. Apparently, the cost of postage exceeded the 6,99 euros postage that they had requested, and the true cost of postage exceeded the value of the product. They were not willing to supply the baby gate.
My response was swift and to the point. I had ordered the item in good faith from their advertisement on the Amazon website, and had agreed to pay their postage charges. They had already debited my credit card, and in doing so had completed a contract of sale. Would they agree to send the baby gate if I agreed to pay an additional charge to cover postage costs?
In response, I received a very helpful reply from the company, apologising for their earlier message, and confirming that they would dispatch the baby gate on their originally advertised terms and postage costs. It seems that it does pay to complain, and I look forward to receiving Bella’s ‘baby gate’ in due course.
The wider issue remains the same, of course, and that is the availability of products from companies such as Amazon should be similar across all the country. Yes, we live on an island, and an additional charge for postage is not unreasonable, but to be denied the range of products that are available on the Peninsular, simply because we live on an island or in one of Spain’s enclaves, is both unfair, and discriminatory. Indeed, for islanders, our choices are often limited and it is companies, such as Amazon, that could make a huge difference.
If you enjoyed this article, take a look at my websites: http://barriemahoney.com and http://thecanaryislander.com or read my latest book, ‘Letters from the Canary Islands’ and Spain’ (ISBN: 9780995602731). Available in paperback from Amazon, Waterstones and all good bookshops, as well as Kindle editions.
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© Barrie Mahoney