Feb 22, 2009

Amazon.com's customer service leaves something to be desired

You might have gathered that I'm a pretty big fan of Amazon.com. I regularly buy things from them, and the only prize I've ever redeemed my Swag Bucks for is Amazon gift codes.

When I receive my gift codes from Amazon, I apply them to my account so that they're ready and waiting for me as a credit when I make a purchase. And I had about $65 in credits to use toward my purchase of the Aerogarden and greens kit two Fridays ago. The order confirmation page and the order confirmation email both indicated that the credit had been applied and my credit card would only be charged the difference of less than $5.

But when my purchases arrived, the invoice indicated that my credit card had been charged for the entire amount. I used Amazon's contact form to send a message asking them to correct the payment method but heard nothing back - even though the "message sent" page says a response will typically be issued within 12 hours. Three days later, I sent the same message again. Two days later, I'd still heard nothing back.

So I went to The Consumerist and found Amazon's customer service phone numbers. Amazon seems to be outsourcing their calls to India, but the representative I spoke to seemed pretty competent. Despite her heavy accent, her English was good and she understood the problem immediately. She even admitted that there had been a "technical problem" that resulted in gift card credits not being applied.

She assured me that this time, the Gift Certificates Department would re-apply the payment and get back to me within 24 to 48 hours. We'll see.

P.S. I haven't done much with the Aerogarden yet because I need an extension cord. But I will definitely give you an update when I have one.


Anonymous said...

I've had nothing but trouble with amazon's outsourced customer support. Three phone calls now on the same order: (1) Original order arrived in a damaged box, 1 item missing, 3 other items ruined. (2) In addition to 4 replacement items, received some other person's order. (3) When I was told I hadn't returned the items from (1) -- which I had, minus the book that was missing. Original customer service rep clearly didn't write it up properly.

I have been very frustrated and am thinking that using amazon is a lose until they get their customer service together -- both in terms of US shipping and India phone calls. At least with Barnes & Noble, there's a brick and mortar store to go to when all else fails....

Get it together, amazon!

Anonymous said...

I've only had one problem with Amazon in all of my orders. One of the book bins might be mislabeled so they send out a UK version instead of USA.

It's been months and I still don't know if they've fixed it. I've gone ahead and used the UK version for the class, as have other students.

My phone support wasn't out of India, as best I can tell.

Bargain Briana said...

I had a problem with my applied gift cards. Somehow they used my gift cards and applied a CREDIT balance to my order because of back order issues. So I had over $120 in GIFT cards as a credit balance for that order. They tried telling me there was no problem it was applied how it was suppose to...then why doesn't my receipt say ZERO balance instead of a credit? Long story short, no one could understand what I was saying so I cancelled the order because I'm sure this Backordered item was never going to come b/c it was such a great deal and they were offering it at higher price now but the lower price was backed ordered and received my gift card amount back into my gift card balance account. So yeah, there wasn't any problem! I usually love Amazon but things have gone downhill lately especially since they stopped offered price drop guarantees!

Laura said...

I had the same thoughts on Amazon's customer service: outsourcing! It was AWFUL!! The lady I spoke with couldn't really understand my problem and kept reading a standard answer word for word over and over again. Terrible, and definitely turned me off to ordering from them. I'm thinking twice about it now!

Anonymous said...

I've been super lucky that I haven't had any issues with Amazon - knock on wood. I've been having trouble with FedEx and UPS, though, so I totally understand your frustration. Unfortunately, in dealing with these shipping companies, I don't have a lot of recourse. It kind of sucks, but what do you do?

I'm glad you had someone that was able to help you, despite the service being outsourced! On the occasions I've contacted a company that has outsourced their customer service, I find I'm usually more frustrated after the call than before I started. I hate it when I can't effectively communicate something with someone, and if they don't understand my problem, that's even worse. I had that issue with Time Warner Cable today. I got bounced around from representative to representative because they didn't understand my question. I finally got to a guy in the department that didn't have an accent and he understood right away. I just think sometimes language barriers make communicating via telephone much more difficult!

Anonymous said...

Recent experience has been shockingly horrible. Orders not filled at all (with no notification), no response to emails to Customer Service and then nothing but patronizing, heavily scripted and accented support where they don't understand the basic problem to begin with and its implications. They just repeat an obviously scripted "sorry" Amazon seems to have forgotten the importance of basic Customer Service in their business model. A body that answers the phone but just repeats a script and can't troubleshoot the issue? Who wants such an experience when they can shop elsewhere online?

This on top of a recent lawsuit related to how they are handling the Kindle problems....

Anonymous said...

Recently when I've tried contacting Amazon.com, I get replies from people in India. The problem is their answers to my questions are ivariably wrong leaving me with no one to contact.

For example: I asked why a certain book can be pre-ordered in Japan and England and not the United States. Their reply was: Unfortunately, we don't have any more stock of XXXXX right now, and we're not sure when we'll be able to get more. Dah. How can a book that hasn't started to be sold yet be out of stock? I also got suggestions to keep a look out for used versions. Are these people living on the same planet?

Amazon's diregard for the customer by allowing a third world country to handle it's business shows a cavalier attitude toward the customer, and aggravates an already problmatic situation.

Amazon's greed will, it seems, cause them problems they weren't expecting. Maybe Amazon thinks it is the only online marketplace for customers to buy things from. I don't need to buy from Amazon. I've foung many other places that sell the same products cheaper without banana repulic telephone and customer support.