It's currently fashionable here in England to castigate large companies for not voluntarily paying more tax that they are legally obliged to do. Amongst the so-called offenders is Amazon, who have grown a huge order management, warehousing, and distribution network throughout the UK. Probably because we seem to be one of the countries that has wholly embraced the concept of online purchasing.
I'm a regular Amazon customer for a whole range of goods, and I ignore the pleas of those who demand a boycott on "tax avoidance" grounds. Basically I'm on the side of those who feel that if the Government thinks they aren't collecting enough tax from a huge employer who pays for large expanses of real estate and employs lots of people, when that company is following the rules, then they need to change the rules rather than just complaining.
And as a regular customer, I finally gave in and signed up for the "Prime" service where deliveries are made by Amazon themselves (or some subcontracted organization). It wasn't that expensive when I joined, though I may baulk at renewing now that it's gone up dramatically in price because you get the "Instant Video" streaming service in with the package (I've had it for four months and only managed to watch the first two minutes of one film to see if it worked).
But what does amaze me is the efficiency of the delivery service. In the past they used to say that online purchasing would never really catch on because people wouldn't be prepared to wait for goods to be delivered, or they would get lost or damaged in the post, or wouldn't look anything like the picture when they arrived (though you could say the same about most microwaved instant meals).
I preordered the latest Stephen Booth book some while ago. I love his books because they are set in the Derbyshire Dales and Peaks, right here in our part of the country, and I know all the towns and places his characters visit. In fact they even came to a café in our local town in one book, visited the aquarium in Matlock Bath where we went last year, and drive along the roads that we regularly use. And his books are a good read as well, of course.
But, straying back onto topic, the amazement that prompted this rambling post was that I got an email yesterday to say that the new book had been dispatched. Then another at 9:25 AM today saying "We're going to deliver your order today. If there's nobody in when we arrive we'll post through your letter box if possible, leave with an available neighbour or in your preferred safe-place, if you've previously provided us with those details." OK, that in itself is not so amazing. But at 2:15 PM I got another email saying "Your order, containing the item(s) listed below, has been posted through your letterbox." I went and looked, and they were right!
Never mind cloud-connected thermostats, online fridges, and the Internet of Things. I've got someone who emails me to tell me when to look in my letterbox...