A few days ago, Ars Technica had an article on a fellow from Ireland who got in a dispute with Amazon over a textbook he ordered that was the wrong edition. After he left an uncomplimentary customer-satisfaction survey, the next time he opened Amazon, he found a toy of an adult nature sitting in his shopping cart.
I would not advise following that link if you’re at work. Ironically, the customer was at work when he checked his shopping cart, and got some odd looks from co-workers who could see his screen! (Pardon the circumlocution, but we’re not as immune to search engine effects as a major blog like Ars Technica.)
I’m sure we’ve all heard plenty of business/customer relation horror stories—sites like “Not Always Right” and “Not Always Working” exist for that purpose. This story wouldn’t really be all that newsworthy except that it’s Amazon in the spotlight, and you hardly ever hear a horror story involving it—or at least, not one where one of its employees was actively malicious instead of just unhelpful.
It’s also interesting for the featured comments below the article, which are worth checking out (when you’re at home, or on your mobile device). One of them, from the customer himself, expands on the circumstances of his order and his discovery of the item. The other, from a former Amazon customer service employee, sheds light on how and why that adult toy could have wound up in the customer’s cart.
The ex-Amazon employee’s is especially interesting, as it explains that customer service representatives get bonuses based on their feedback, so negative feedback could cost them money—and representatives are able to see exactly who dinged them with negative comments. This is supposed to allow the representative to understand what they did wrong and see how to fix it next time, but it could also give the rep a handy target for a little petty revenge. Also, Amazon representatives are allowed to log in as customers’ accounts, for the sake of being able to help customers who are having a hard time finding their way around the Amazon site—it’s not intended to be used for juvenile pranks.
The ex-employee highly doubts the customer service rep was with Amazon for very much longer after that happened.
While I don’t know the specifics of this situation, I’d be willing to bet money that the employee was fired. Any violation of their security protocols is a firable offense and I’ve seen people fired for less. Customer trust isn’t something they gamble with. They’ll never go on the record about something like that though because of various employment laws and company policy. In the U.S. where Amazon originates, you can sue a former employer for discussing your termination.
Which makes sense. It’s also why it’s so hard to get any kind of a reference out of ex-employers anymore when you’re job-hunting beyond, “Yes, they did work for us at one point.”
I could imagine people using this as another example of why one shouldn’t do business with Amazon, but for me it tends more toward the opposite. It’s such a complete exception to everything else I’ve ever heard about Amazon that it serves more to show what kind of customer service you usually don’t get from the company.
Also, I wonder for how many more years getting the wrong edition of a paper textbook will be a thing? If more schools move toward digital textbooks, it won’t be as much of an issue—though you won’t be able to buy and sell them used, either.