Friday, 05 October, 2001

Delivery:  The Other Half of the e-Commerce Equation

Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, right?  I made all of the arrangements for today's trip to Chicago online.  I had no trouble on American Airlines' web site, and the flight reservations were fine.  The hotel, though, was another story.  I first reserved a room at the Marriott Courtyard web site, but when they confirmed my reservation they informed me that there were no non-smoking rooms available.  It would have been nice if the web site had informed me of that before confirming the reservation.  I had to call them to cancel, as I couldn't find a cancellation link on the web site, and then go to Hampton Inn's site to reserve a room.  That worked out for the best, though.  I got the non-smoking room and the rate was $10 less.

Alamo Rent A Car has the lowest rates of any car rental firm at the Chicago airport:  $27 per day for a compact car with unlimited mileage.  And they have this Quick Rent program whereby you enter all of your information online (driver's license, address, credit card number, etc.) so all you have to do to get your car is swipe your credit card in the Quicksilver kiosk at the airport rental place.  Cool.  No more waiting in lines.  Except that all three kiosks were down:  one crashed, one unresponsive, and the last with a printer jam.

These and other companies all seem to have figured out how to offer and sell their products online, but many of them lack in actually delivering the product.  E-commerce still has a ways to go before it's clearly superior to the old way of doing things.