“Your feedback is helping us build Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company”. That was the message displayed to me after I closed my live chat with an Amazon.ca representative trying to solve my problem. It made me want to laugh out loud, if I weren’t so mad.
The backstory: I recently got married, and my wife and I are soon leaving for our honeymoon, and in anticipation I purchased a new Kindle to replace my old one which unfortunately broke about a year back. I placed the order at the beginning of May, knowing that I left mid-June. The Amazon.ca site said that it usually takes 13-14 days to ship, but since I had more than a month I figured that’d be fine. According to the Amazon.ca estimate my Kindle was supposed to arrive today. Then this morning I received an email:
We wanted to let you know there’s a delay with one or more items in the order you placed on May 11, 2016 (Order# 701-8062825-2341052).
“Kindle, 6” Glare-Free Touchscreen Display, Wi-Fi"
Estimated ship date: June 16, 2016
When I clicked through it showed it wouldn’t arrive until almost a week after I left the country for my honeymoon. This wasn’t going to do me much good.
I’ve had pretty good customer service with Amazon in the past when products haven’t shipped properly, or poorly, or didn’t arrive when I expected, so I figured I should get in touch with them, in hopes that they could help me out. I sent them an email explaining the situation, and received an email this evening telling me I should get in touch with them via telephone or chat to discuss it further.
“No problem,” I figured. I followed the directions in the email, and pulled up the live chat. It was all downhill from there…
Being bounced around the first couple times wasn’t really a problem, it happens. But to bounce me around to four different people only to tell me I need to contact Amazon.ca directly (which I already was doing, I thought) was pretty annoying (you’ll notice that chat says four times that I’m talking to a representative from Amazon.ca).
So I ended the chat only to start another one. I wish I could say things went better, but they didn’t.
I didn’t screenshot this time, but here’s a section from the transcript as it was emailed to me:
Lavanya: I will be completely honest with you here Adam , when the item states, Usually ships in 13 to 14 days , https://www.amazon.ca/Kindle-Glare-Free-Touchscreen-Display-Wi-Fi/dp/B00KDRU028?ie=UTF8&*Version*=1&*entries*=0 that means that we do not have the item in stock and will ship as soon as we get in stock, we did expect to get that is stock sooner, However we did not Adam
I explained that while that’s understandable it’s a bit confusing why they list other products as “out of stock” when they’re out of stock, but for a product they manufacture and distribute themselves say “Usually ships in 13 to 14 days” instead.
I explained that this is incredibly frustrating because I’m left in the position of either cancelling my order, leaving me without and e-reader and e-books for my honeymoon, or I could try and purchase the more expensive Kindle which would cost me more money. Both felt like lose/lose situations for me.
The customer service rep further explained:
I do understand your concern Adam , I do agree with you, When an order is placed we obtain it from the supplier who can usually send it to us within the time frame originally listed on our site when you placed your order.
However, in this case, the supplier was not able to send the item to us by the original estimate.
Wait, but I was ordering an Amazon Kindle from Amazon. Isn’t Amazon the supplier? Why are they having such a tough time keeping track of their stock and fulfilling orders?
Then it got a little more interesting. Since I really wanted to be able to read my books on my trip I went to the product page for the more expensive Kindle Paperwhite, figuring I’d just bite the bullet and buy the more expensive one, where I noticed the stock notice:
“In stock on June 9, 2016″. Interesting. Well let’s go back and check the cheaper model:
“Usually ships within 13 to 14 days” (which I now know is code for “out of stock”).
So, they can be explicit when they want to, but for their cheaper model, which they obviously are less inclined to have you purchase, they keep it nice and vague.
I reiterated my concerns to the customer service rep who didn’t exactly offer any great solutions:
I understand Adam , I may not personally go through it, However I do feel the time sensitivity here,
04:53 PM PDT: I really wish I can do something,
04:56 PM PDT Lavanya: I’m so sorry about all this, I will take this as a valuable feedback and will inform our specialist team about your concern, so that in near future no customer faces the same problem Adam
In other words: “sorry but you’re out of luck”. No "I'll contact my colleagues from Amazon.com to see if we can get them to send one to you". No “let's try to find another supplier who can ship you one”. No “let’s get you a different model as soon as possible”. No “here’s a gift certificate for your trouble”. Just “sorry”. How very Canadian… Look, I don't expect them to send me a free Kindle or anything, but I did expect a heck of a lot more than "I'll pass along your feedback".
Now I hear you saying, “Adam, why don’t you just go buy another e-reader elsewhere? There’s plenty out there”. True, except I’ve already invested money into the Amazon ecosystem, and their DRM prevents me from reading my Kindle books on any device other than a Kindle. Serves me right for not pirating I guess?
You know what’s even more frustrating? Amazon.com has both Kindles in stock, but they won’t ship to Canada (who the hell knows why). They want you to order through Amazon.ca, which across the board is an inferior version of Amazon (seriously, just compare the services offered in the US compared to the services offered in Canada). I’ve read it’s not even technically the same thing but really just a branded front end for a bunch of marketplaces and warehouses.
So, end of the day, I’m completely out of luck. I won’t have a Kindle in time for my trip, I won’t be able to read any of the recent books I purchased for this very reason, and quite frankly I’ve been very much put off by Amazon as a company.
I wish I could say from here on out I’m boycotting Amazon and no longer using their service, but I’d be lying. Because, seriously, what else are you going to use? Amazon.ca may suck in comparison to it’s US (or even UK) counterparts, but it’s pretty much the standard for online purchases these days. And unfortunately this is just another entry in a very long list of companies that offer second-tier versions of their services in Canada, something that drives me absolutely bonkers (but that’s another rant for another day)! That said, I’m sure glad I never bothered continuing my subscription to Amazon Prime after the free trial.
So, perhaps now you can understand why the idea of “earth most customer centric company” is so laughable to me.