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customersvc.jpgDear Mr Bezos: Let me tell you how, earlier today, you lost me as a customer – forever.
A month or so ago, on Amazon’s website, I pre-ordered the second and third book in the 10-book series, The 39 Clues for my nephew.
Book two, One False Note, was published on December 2, 2008. It was my nephew’s much-anticipated Chanukah gift. He didn’t receive it.
The third book, The Sword Thief, is scheduled to be released on March 3, 2009. I also pre-ordered the card set that goes with the second book to help him play the online 39 Clues game. I chose the shipping option “Group my items into as few shipments as possible.”
Would you think that meant do not ship the book that comes out in December until March 2009? I didn’t.
Nobody likes to wait
But as the customer service person for whom I waited for on hold for seven minutes said – that means all items in the order will be shipped when the last one is ready. To whom does it mean that? I wonder.
What would be the next thing the customer service person might have said: “We’re sorry your nephew didn’t get his Chanukah gift. I can imagine that was a major disappointment to an 11 year-old boy. Please let us send the book to him by overnight delivery – at our expense. And we’ll include a $10 gift certificate with the book.”
I guarantee you that would have been the response from customer service at Zappos, or LL Bean, two companies that live and breathe customer service and are wildly successful as a result.
What did your customer service person say when, exasperated and more than a little angry after 20 minutes on the phone with him, I asked his last name or employee number? He said “We don’t give out our last name, just our last initial. We don’t have employee numbers.” When I asked the name of his supervisor, he said, “We don’t give that information out.”
Customers are not always right
Mr Bezos, the only people who don’t use a last name, or at least have an identifying number, are hookers and people who don’t want to be held responsible for that they are saying or doing.
I’m not saying that customers are always right. Because they’re not. Idiots exist, and try hard as you may, you will never make every customer happy. And there are those, too, who try to take advantage of a business’ good intentions. But this was not one of those situations. And your customer service people should have enough training to know the difference.

Would that really have been such a big deal Mr Bezos, if Ronnie T in Manilla has offered to ship the book to my nephew overnight at your expense? Somehow I don’t think so.
What’s a big deal to you?
Given the thousands of dollars I have spent on Amazon – and the fact that I have complained to Amazon maybe once before in the past 10 years – I think it wouldn’t have been a big deal at all.
When I finally got to speak to a supervisor, nearly an hour into this experience – which I documented on Twitter – Lauren R in Manilla finally agreed to ship the book overnight at your expense. Please don’t fire her, even though she was a total pain in the butt to deal with.
Nothing Amazon sells is unique
As far as I’m concerned, there is nothing Amazon can do now to win back my business. I’m done with you. Today was the worst customer service experience I can remember (besides Microsoft and Dell anyway, and I don’t do business with either of them anymore either) There is nothing – not one single thing – you sell that I can’t buy somewhere else.
But before I go, let me tell you that there is nothing – whatsoever – that matters more than how you treat your customers.
You should have well-paid executives handling customer service calls, not some outsourced clerks in Manilla. You should be treating customers like gold. Because we’re all you have. Without us, Amazon is nothing.
B.L. Ochman
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