Mar 19, 2009

Update on my Amazon customer service saga

Last month, Amazon messed up the payment method of an order, which instigated a series of emails and phone calls on my part to try to fix things. First they made things worse, then they made things better, then they made things worse again. It got to be so frustrating that I couldn't even bring myself to keep you updated until I had a better idea of what I was going to do.

When I last wrote about this debacle, I was waiting for Amazon to deduct the full amount of the payment - $72.13 - from my gift card balance. But for some reason, they only deducted $65.

I waited for nearly two weeks to see if they would deduct the remaining $7.13 but nothing happened. So I've given up.

I feel I've given Amazon more than enough chances to correct their initial error. I've sent at least five emails and made two calls since I noticed the initial error. I just don't feel like going through the hassle of contacting them by email – which will likely get no response – or by phone, which simply results in the agent sending the gift certificate department a message that may or may not get a response. And the chances of them botching yet another attempt to correct the error seems, well, astronomical at this point – perhaps guaranteed.

One interesting development through all of this has been that I didn't purchase anything from Amazon for over a month. I couldn't tell you the last time that happened in the last nine years, when I first started shopping at Amazon. Even as I've become more frugal, I've been able to get great deals at Amazon on things I would have bought elsewhere (mostly gifts). And earning Amazon gift certificates through SwagBucks made shopping at Amazon even more appealing.

I never got around to writing that letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos – though I'm still thinking about it, just because it's completely unacceptable that Amazon doesn't respond to customer service emails.

I also thought about not shopping at Amazon anymore, and have spent the last month when I wasn't buying anything from them wondering if the savings and convenience are worth it. For better or worse, my answer is yes. I placed my first order since this fiasco started last night.

I've already made my decision, but I'm curious: what would you have done?


Camille said...

I love Amazon (although I don't buy something every month. :-)). When I read your fiasco, I was so bummed because I didn't want to stop buying from them! I often end up buying from third party vendors through Amazon, though. Not the most efficient means of ordering, but still I get great deals.

In general, I think problems are few and far between with Amazon's ordering process. If it continued to happen, I'd probably quit ordering from them. But with the free Swagbucks gift cards, I don't even know if continued problems would be enough to stop me from entirely ordering from them!

Anonymous said...

An ordeal, no doubt. It always amazes me how petty and just plain stupid large companies can get.

After they wipe out the mom-and-pop stores (who, by the way, had the best possible service model: local people who knew their customers), the giants just like to crap all over their customers and the public.

You can have a good laugh, or commiserate with GRS over his experience with Smart Money magazine:

(cut and paste the following if the above line is unreadable:)

Chief Family Officer said...

@Camille - Yeah, if not for the Swag Bucks, I might have quit. They were definitely a contributing factor in my decision to stick with Amazon. That, and the fact that my other hundreds of transactions have actually been painless.

@Seeking Lemonade - Yup, I don't get why companies don't realize how important customer service is. I actually do think Amazon was trying, at least some of the time, to get it right. But for whatever reason, they kept screwing it up. And I give up!