KC Lemson

By KC Lemson [MS]

Blogs

Never attribute to malice what can be explained by lack of customer love

  • Comments 4
  • Likes

I'm a huge fan of Amazon. Even though I live in Washington and have to pay sales tax on Amazon orders, I consistently use it over competing sites like barnes & noble or buy.com because I believe in The Amazon Dream and I want to continue supporting them.

Today, however, something happened with a recent order that makes me question my devotion. I ordered a gift for someone on Monday 12/15, and very specifically chose 2 day shipping so that it would be here by the weekend, in time for a holiday celebration. Today, I received an email stating that Amazon was very sorry, but there was a problem with my shipment and it won't arrive until next week. And oh by the way, it's too late to cancel the order because it's already “in the process of being shipped“. And oh by the second way, don't bother replying to this email because no one's listening on the other side.

So I went to amazon's web form for submitting feedback, and tried to send in a report in the “Refunds“ category asking for a refund between the price of 5-9 day shipping and 2 day shipping, which I feel is quite a reasonable request... and the web form won't submit. Clicking the “Continue“ button to go to the preview page is a no-op. I'm almost tempted to joke about how Amazon's complaint form has never worked, it's just a placebo like the “Close“ button on elevators, for people to use so they can feel like they're actually doing something.

I'm really OK with the screwup itself - “stuff“ happens. What upsets me is the lack of customer service. When similar things have happened to me at restaurants (order something, wait 20 minutes, then get told they're out of it, etc), I usually get comped something as a token (a free appetizer/dessert, once at The Keg I even got my entree for free because they saw that I obviously hadn't enjoyed it, since I'd only eaten two bites of it).

The “oops“ email coming from a generic address with not even someone's name attached to it, plus the inability to reply and complain via email is frustrating. I'll even forgive the problem with the web form, I know how tricky technology can be - except how can I report the problem with the web form, except by using the web form? Without a way to submit feedback via email, I'm trapped.

I realize it's not a fair comparison, but in the emails between Exchange customers and Exchange product support engineers that I've seen, there's a very clear relationship between the support engineer and the customer for the duration of the problem. The support engineer is not allowed to 'close' the issue unless the customer agrees that it's been resolved (and defining “When this case can be considered resolved“ is one of the first steps in the support process).

Perhaps I should go search for some blogs by Amazon employees to see if they can help me out - maybe we can trade support for each other. Heck knows my blog has ended up getting me a lot of emails from my customers and I've tried to do my best to help out. :-)

Comments
  • I also believe in The Amazon Dream and support them but their customer service department is taking a huge dive. First, one of my orders was canceled because it couldn't be delivered and I didn't get an email about that. I had to go online to find and look at the "Where's My Stuff" section before I found out that the order was canceled. I guess I would have been waiting forever for it. Also, have you noticed that they don't allow you to call them anymore? Before, they used to have a number and now they don't. It's only that silly online web form (which as you say has issues). I really hope that this isn't a trend that continues.

  • Good news! Slate dug it up the phone number for you.
    http://slate.msn.com//?id=2091623&

  • Excellent, thanks David!

  • Frank Shaw asks . When I was a kid, all of my friends' parents tried to get them to read more. My parents,