I had an Osborne I when that company was ruined by its founder pre-announcing the Osborne II with (it seems laughable now) floppy disk drives with double the previous capacity - result: sales dried up and the new product when it came six months later was too little too late to save it.
I also had a Nokia phone when Elop joined Nokia and ruined it by in effect making the same blunder as Mr. Osborne - i.e. by announcing that the operating system used by them was useless when he had nothing ready to replace it (and then compounding that blunder by deciding on Windows Phone thus ensuring for Nokia a market share in the low single numbers - when that is *those* Nokia phones were ready).
So clearly pre-announcements are not a good idea (see too the Surface launch). What about post announcements?
With hardware devices these are fine - you have the hardware in stock and can supply immediately - but with services they become problematical.
So, finally, we move on to the latest "strategic" move from Amazon UK which seems pretty close to losing an entire large market of often long-term loyal customers for the sake of a minor (and probably temporary) increase in profits.
Now given that Amazon's strategy until now has been trying to get as many customers as possible even at low profit margins, you have to wonder whether Amazon UK's management are following a new company policy based on "OK, it's not working, let's try to cash in on the customers we have" or whether they have just lost their collective minds and in due course will be fired by Jeff Bezos.
If you are still with me, here's what has happened.
Amazon UK sent an e-mail to all its customers outside the UK that *one day earlier* (1) they had abandoned the Free Shipping option.
Now that doesn't seem to much of an issue even though they were only offering Free Shipping on orders over £25 which meant no doubt (and a long thread in their forum of angry users confirms this) that people were like me in that whenever they ordered something they looked around (= raided their Wish List) for something to add to the order to put them over (often well over) that limit. So Amazon UK sold more because of this policy than they otherwise would have done [and because they used slower postal services for these Free orders they didn't lose much money either].
(1) That thread confirmed that people were rightly mad that they had been told about the change one day after it was implemented. There were people who already had an order planned but just had not got round to going to the Amazon web site to order it and there were many more who said that if they had known even only a few days in advance of the chance they would have placed a large order while free delivery was still an option.
However Amazon UK then compounded this error by changing the rules for delivery charges to outside the UK.
Amazon sites (my experience is of US and several European sites) typically have delivery charges consisting of two things a) a charge per order plus b) a charge per item. Some have in the meantime gone over to a fixed delivery charge per order with no charge per item. [For many of them there is free delivery for inland orders but not for foreign orders]
Amazon UK used to have the above system too for foreign orders - for orders under the £25 limit or for orders you didn't want to wait so long for (split up into Standard or Express delivery). However in combination with the withdrawal of the Free Shipping option, Amazon UK changed their rules to make them more expensive and more difficult to work out than before.
Now Amazon UK has three different charges for each foreign order. (Add them all together)
1. A standard fee (£4).
2. A fee per delivery.
3. A charge per weight.
[Charges for 2) and 3) vary with what is in the parcel]
Clearly ordering a couple of DVD box sets for the previous £25 limit is no longer going to be worthwhile, let alone a couple of hardback books ...
As I wrote earlier, responses have in the thread started by one user have been piling up at rapid pace (from Portugal to Poland). No-one is happy with the change (to be expected) but worse is both the fact that we were told after the event and that the new charges are so high that it makes it not worthwhile to even think - except for extreme circumstances - of using Amazon UK's services ever again.
In fact - until those fees are raised in sympathy - the only silver lining here is that orders placed from Marketplace companies apart from typically being cheaper also as before have a reasonable per item postage cost. [Typically Marketplace prices are a couple of pounds less than the Amazon UK price and the postage charge per item is about that two pounds].
In other words if I in future want to order a book; CD; DVD or Blu-Ray I may well still go to the Amazon UK site but only to check out Marketplace offerings. Until such time that their new postage costs have been heavily revised downwards, Amazon UK is dead for me. Why even Amazon Germany with its controlled book prices and (relatively high) fixed postal charge per order is beginning to look good.
But - to close - the real question is, is this a major policy change from Amazon from increasing market share to gouging existing customers or is it local Amazon UK management thinking their jobs are on the line if they don't achieve quickly a major increase in profits? Mr Bezos, over to you.