Poor Service from Amazon

I like using Amazon, most of the time. But their decision to erect barriers for communication I find extremely annoying. Any time anything goes wrong you might as well be dealing with some organization in the middle of nowhere without phones, any internet connection or even physical mail. I ordered a printer from them a couple weeks ago. Today I get an email that “the following item from your order is not currently available for purchase. This item has been canceled from your order. If your credit card was charged, a refund has been processed.”

First, it is very lousy service to sell someone something and then figure out you don’t have it to sell a few weeks later. Second, if you find you have done such a lame thing – buy it from someone else and deliver it as promised. Third, don’t make it nearly impossible for the customer you just wronged to contact you. This is the equivalent of providing lousy service and then closing the door in someones face refusing to deal with your failure.

And if you really want your business to take those customer unfriendly actions: just sell stuff you don’t have, then tell people a couple weeks later you are not going to sell it to them after all and then tell them if you charged them (you can’t even bother to see if you did? pretty lame) then you will give them their money back it still makes sense to give them the chance to buy another printer from you instead of just closing the door.

Granted some people are going to decide they don’t want to deal with such bad service and chose to deal with a more customer focused company but some will actually still give you another chance – make it easy for them to buy another printer. For example write them instead of what I received something like: sorry for our bad service, and to show we really mean that (we are not just sending you meaningless drivel our consultant dreamed up to say we care when our actions say we don’t) we will discount a replacement printer you buy in the next two weeks by $50. Here are 5 similar printers. Follow the links to purchase one of these printers (or view many others on our site) and we will also express mail the printer selected at no additional cost.

The sad thing is that there are not many alternatives to Amazon that actually provide good service. Though Crutchfield is one – for electronics.

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6 Responses to Poor Service from Amazon

  1. David says:

    Good stuff, John.

    I had the same thing happen to me with Amazon recently. They sold me something ‘available’ then didn’t deliver for months because it clearly wasn’t available. I suppose my level f surprise when it happened says something about just how good I have always found them to be.

    I shall continue to use Amazon, but I’ll be watching them more closely and will no doubt notice if I spot more stories like yours. At this point in time it’s just two data points, your experience and mine, but a few more and maybe we’ll be spotting a trend.

  2. Michael says:

    It’s interesting to read this post, because just last week Mark Graban at the Lean Blog made this post about how great Amazon’s customer service is. Maybe it’s because Mark’s situation required human intervention, while yours was an automated email? But I’d still think a human would be involved when a product became unavailable, and there would be some way for them to contact all customers who had ordered that product.

    A few months ago I had my laundry detergent on recurring order from Amazon using a new service , and the particular size I had ordered became unavailable. I got an email that was personalized, saying something like “sorry the manufacturer discontinued this size, but here are other options for how you can still get the same stuff — in different sized bottles.” So I was very happy with the way they handled a discontinued product.

  3. shaun sayers says:

    They’re not all bad, but this is an interesting article and no doubt will demonstrate how the dynamics of customer satisfaction works. Recently I was quite impressed with how smoothly their 30 day price-drop money-back policy worked. So I blogged it and bigged them up a bit in the process


    However I suspect that the old maxim that tales of dis-satisfaction travel faster and farther than tales of satisfaction will be borne out by our contrasting experiences and subsequent blogging. Only wish we had a way to measure it

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  5. Magda says:

    The answer is 42~!
    Ok just kidding (little hitchhiker guide humor there)

    I’m assuming you’re problem was with .com? I just had a little ‘fight’ with .ca over their terrible customer service in the end they were all apologies.. but it left me with a bad impression. Oddly though all my experiences with .com have been positive.

  6. Pingback: Amazon.ca Sucks <– with some resolution in the end « Magdalicious … the blog

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