Annoyed with @amazon and their b0rked business model

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Last week I was sent a $50 Amazon.com gift voucher: a very pleasant surprise.

English: First 4 digits of a credit card

English: First 4 digits of a credit card (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I immediately loaded the voucher into my Amazon.com account (I had one of these long before I got an amazon.co.uk account) and then thought about what books I’d like to order – picked a couple and thought “that’s nice”.

Despite the Amazon.com website very plainly stating apropos gift cards –

We’ll automatically apply your balance towards your next eligible purchase.

– they did nothing of the sort. They simply billed my credit card.

And when, today, I asked them to rectify their mistake they told me the only way I could get the books charged to the gift card balance was to refuse to accept them when they were delivered so that they would be automatically returned to the United States and then I could place a new order.

Now, the chances of me being actually able to “refuse” a delivery by the Royal Mail (who, according to Amazon, do the fulfilment of the order once it gets to the UK) are in all practical terms, zero. Has anyone reading this in the UK ever refused a package from the Royal Mail? How often would they even get the chance? Quite often packages are left at the doorstep or with neighbours without any further thought.

But aside from that deeply practical consideration, what sort of a business are Amazon running that they are willing to shoulder all these costs (as they implied I would get both a full refund on the shipping costs of the refused order and a free upgrade to the fastest possible delivery method on the new order)? They certainly do not take carbon reduction seriously if this is how they propose to solve what ought to be a relatively minor problem – how can it be impossible to refund the credit card charge and bill the gift card? After all their proposed “solution” amounts to the same thing, just with the addition of significant inconvenience and delay for me, significant inconvenience and costs for them, and utterly unnecessary damage to the environment?

Surely it cannot be because their IT systems are not up scratch, can it? My guess is it is because they simply do not devolve enough power and responsibility to their customer service staff, who are left to propose this utterly bonkers way of working because it works for them and allows them to mark the problem as “solved” even though it must cost the company buckets. I do not blame the staff but the managers who allow this to arise.

PS: In fairness I should add that Amazon have given me a $15 dollar “promotional” certificate to compensate me for the inconvenience – that would be another cost to them – on top of all the additional shipping – if I accepted their “solution”.

PPS: The books I ordered were Elliptic Tales: Curves, Counting, and Number Theory and The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation.