Amazon, Pay Attention: Your Front Line is More Important than Your Executives

Amazon almost lost me as a customer, but not for reasons you might expect. I covered the fall of Amazon Studio Head, Roy Price, who Executive Producer Isa Hackett accused of sexual harassment, but honestly, that didn’t affect my buying habits.

What did? Bad customer service.

Yep. My 9-year-old saved and saved his money in order to buy his very own Kindle Fire. A package, the right size, arrived and I let him open it. Surprise! It wasn’t his Kindle Fire, but two French books. We don’t speak French.

Now, I’m not heartless and I understand mistakes happen. So, I contacted customer service to inform them of the error. They agreed that, indeed, I did not order French books and promised to send the Kindle Fire express shipping. Great.

Two days later, nothing. I contacted them again. Oh, oops, we didn’t order that. Do you still want it? Yes, please, I said.

To keep reading, click here: Amazon, Pay Attention: Your Front Line is More Important than Your Executives

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18 thoughts on “Amazon, Pay Attention: Your Front Line is More Important than Your Executives

  1. Excellent article!!

    I couldn’t agree more, mistakes happen and that is ok. But how they are handled is what matters. Customer service is huge!!!

  2. Correct me if I am wrong, but that situation involving the getting a wrong item instead of the Kindle ordered was placed outside the USA.
    I am not condoning Amazon but most of my problems in getting a product delivered has been caused by the warehouse and the delivery carrier. I have done my fair enough amount of complaints about this problem. Over the years I have been a Prime member, because of the way I track packages, I know exactly where the package started from and who is delivering item.
    As far as contacting Amazon, again I ask, was this order and contact done outside the USA. Because of internet connections difference things like chat and phone calls aren’t aligned the same.
    I have contacted Amazon by email , chat and phone various times. An email response usually is about 12-24 hours, chat wil depend on availability of personnel I have waited for more than 20 minutes for someone, and a phone call usually comes within 5 minutes if personnel is available but you are told when on screen when to expect call. One thing I noticed for a phone call is that it is an unknown number (to me) and they only ring a certain amount of rings and hang up with no voice mail, telling me that call is made via a computer which only reacts to a human voice tone.
    Being a person who has worked in retail, I understand how to get satisfaction for customer service. Anytime I have a problem and I contact customer service, I ask a lot of questions and let them know that I expect to receive a questionnaire to rate transaction. ( in other words, I am telling them that I expect results). I solved a carrier problem with USPS doing that especially when it occurred frequently.
    Your problem was a warehouse problem ( I call it the non- reading ability) clerk simply picked up an item based on spot on shelf without verification that item matched correctly. Hopefully the robots being utilized to help stocking and retrieving will eliminate this lack of effort to verify. As for the delivery delays, that’s definitely a carrier problem.
    I am sorry you had a bad experience but in hindsight you had a few options to make this more to your satisfaction especially since you do have the Prime membership, which guarantees the 2 day delivery unless you choose different when placing order for credit on future deliveries.
    Yes customer satisfaction is a very important part of any company but us customers need to know how to get it through the proper channels.

    1. I don’t agree a customer needs to know how the business works in order to receive excellent customer service. Why is it my responsibility to know chat doesn’t work well in some areas? If a company offers chat option than it is the company’s responsibility to ensure it works where it is offered. I think it’s the company’s responsibility to ensure its customers are satisfied with service without the expectation that customers know the right buttons to push to receive it.

    2. What SSS said – and since when does being outside the US impact chat features? I’ve gotten (generally good) assistance via chat from folks I know were outside the US.

    3. Not placing the order for the replacement the *first* time was 100% Amazon’s fault. Shipping the replacement by slow boat (3 weeks) to a customer with Amazon Prime is also 100% Amazon’s fault.

      They really dropped the ball on that.

      Amazon, in general, has a good reputation on customer service. I’ve never had a complaint, but I’ve also never had any serious problems. As Kelly B says up above, the test of a company isn’t whether or not they make mistakes (they will), but how they handle them when they do.

      This has not improved my opinion of Amazon.

    4. I’m not really sure what I could have done differently. I am outside the US, but I also ordered the Kindle from Amazon Germany, which covers the German speaking portion of Switzerland.

      I don’t mind the occasional error. That didn’t bother me. It was the slow-boating the Kindle Fire to me. And because this was something my son bought with his own money and was so excited to get, it made it extra annoying.

  3. I, too, have had less than satisfactory results dealing with Amazon’s customer service. They are much more interested in making the initial sale than in resolving problems after-the-fact. I’m pretty sure that their customer service is contracted out to India. At least, most of their customer service reps with whom I’ve spoken appeared to be from India.

  4. It’s true, sadly, especially the larger a company gets. On the flip side, I received the most awesome customer service the other day from a teller at a very large bank (not usually known for the most awesome customer service) and would like to give them a shout out only to find it’s impossible to contact anyone. I can’t find a local phone number, no email to customer service unless there’s something wrong with my account, no local address to send a note.

      1. Can I tweet even if I don’t have a Twitter account? How does that work? I’m so behind, I barely Facebook.

  5. In the boonie days I was a manager at a customer service call centre for a mail order company that not only sold small shippable items but furniture that needed delivery.

    So from my middle of the bottom of the hierarchy Amazon not only screwed up but missed the number one rule of customer service, make it right, make it better.

    In a case like this not only would the replacement have been shipped fastest way we had at our cost, we would have refunded any original shipping charges (not applicable with Prime in this case, but there should have been a discount offered for the mistake, 10% is usual.) But ALSO more critically the make it better part would probably have in this case, especially if I was told it was a child who had saved their money a $25 credit in Amazon books/media for the Fire so they could “have the fun of filling up their new tablet.” Such an item is literally no cost to a giant like Amazon.

    Amazon blew this not only because they messed up the customer service but because their customer service doesn’t automatically have a policy of make right, make better, especially on the SECOND mistake. It’s okay to just fix an error, but when the fix fails or is done incorrectly or in this case is not done at all, the voluntary make it better principle makes customers blog about how great you are not how messed up you are.

    They don’t need a post like this right after their E Suite screw ups.

  6. I’ve been generally satisfied with the service I’ve gotten from Amazon, including Amazon UK, with which I also have an account mostly for books or CDs I can’t get here in the States. And I can’t really quit them entirely–you’re right that they’ve infiltrated deeply into the retail experience.

    But I won’t pay extra for a Prime account until they stop advertising on Breitbart. AFAIK, they’re still doing it. So no. If I miss TV shows or whatnot, that’s no big deal. I can watch most stuff elsewhere.

  7. I have had lots of issues with Amazon and honestly would quit them entirely if it weren’t for the fact that I have fire tv stick instead of cable. There customer service is horrible. I ordered a Fitbit Surge- the top of the line fitbit which does everything. It feel apart within six months. I contacted them for a replacement because this product should not fall apart so soon. They won’t give me a replacement unless I contact them about my address which has been the same for seven (7!) years. I have really curbed my spending from them because of the the horrible service.

    1. Contact Fitbit directly. Their customer service is awesome. About a year ago I ordered a Fitbit watch for my husband, but the band was the wrong size. I made arrangements to replace the band, but instead they sent me an entire new Fitbit. I called them about it, but they said they didn’t want to put me through the hassle of sending it back when it was their mistake, so they told me to just keep it.

  8. I find Amazon customer service to be mixed. I have experienced excellent service, where they’ve gone out their way to replace something that was damaged. I have also had the other side where they do absolutely NOTHING! Generally, when a company gets that big, there tends to be a general lack of ownership of customer issues. Maybe due to having such a large customer base and high turnover of call centre staff?

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