Friday, April 8, 2016

A Message to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos: 'Hubris' Be Thine Enemy.

By Peter Rodman
  What is it, that happens to those few odd visionaries whose genius and innovation makes them multi-billionaires, but whose insatiable desire for "world domination" often means even being "#1" is never enough?
I am speaking today of Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of  Amazon.
If there's a 'shark,' this guy has surely jumped it.
Issue #1:
I've been an Amazon Prime member since the beginning of Prime--way before the guy decided to spend a few billion more, to have drones and rocketships someday deliver our packages.
(In truth, this is NOT what we want; it's what he wants.)
Anyway, back in February I was dismayed to find they'd (for the first time ever) *automatically* renewed my annual Prime membership, without my approval. Just used my card to withdraw the dough, without any permission but their own, having made auto-renew their 'new policy.' (Suffice it to say, I don't like other peoples' fingers in my bank account.)
That was bad enough.
Issue #2:
Last week I had to send back a crappy turntable I'd bought, so I got it refunded, and immediately ordered a much better one at three times the price (also on Amazon) ...only to find out (after they sent a note saying "Your refund has been processed!") that their other "new policy" is that you DON'T get actually your money back in a "refund" anymore.
You get "an Amazon gift card."
That's yet another new policy, set as a 'default,' without prior notice.
I decided I'd call and complain about this--even though I'd certainly spend the $100 on Amazon, within a week or two.
To me, it's the principle of the thing. I'll decide how to allocate my own funds, thankyouverymuch.
Issue #3:
Trying to actually call Amazon Customer Service has *always* been a dicey proposition...
But, now?
In a further display of hubris, Bezos has REMOVED THEIR NUMBER from any readily searchable area on their website!
I eventually found an Amazon "Help Forum," where there were over 350 questions asking, in one form or another, "How do I call Amazon Customer Service?"
Funnily enough, they all seem to have been answered in the past... but now (as of February) each answer says:
"Answer removed by Amazon."
How'da ya like them apples!
It took me another 25 minutes of dog-chases-tail searching, before I finally went OFF SITE, and found the customer service number for them. (My particular complaint about the gift card didn't fit into any of the easy 'categories' that would help me be able to register my complaint online, without calling.)
When I finally reached "Greg" at their Customer Service number, the way, is:  866-216-1072 (Thank me later...and WRITE IT DOWN, because they really, really don't want you to have it!!!) he explained that a gift card is the new 'default' way Amazon refunds are "always" issued.
I said, "Fine, Greg...but that's not actually a refund, which would be you RE-FUNDING my account, for the hundred bucks I paid."
"I understand," he said, quite professionally, "but that's just how we do it now."
"Okay, then," I said, "I'll just have you refund the gift card! Okay?"
"I'm sorry," he said. "I can't do that."
"What? Why not?"
"Because you didn't really buy the gift card..."
"I beg to differ, Greg. If I paid for the gift card, then clearly...I REALLY DID BUY the gift card! I want a refund. And by the way, this isn't really even a request's a demand."
"I'm sorry," he said politely, "I can't do that."
"Then please put somebody on the phone who can," I said. "Greg, I realize it's not you--you're just telling me what they tell you to say, but it's really obnoxious to call it a refund, and then not refund the money. I know I'm right. That's wrong! I'll be happy to contact the District Attorney, who I'm sure would agree with me: Taking my money without my permission is technically theft. But maybe I should talk to a Supervisor instead. I need you--and by that I mean Amazon--to understand that my money is my money, and Amazon needs to give me the refund they said they already gave me."
I order a lot of stuff on Amazon...
but Mr. Bezos is giving customers like
me second thoughts, lately.
Two words to remember, Jeff... 

Well, we finally got it done. Without a supervisor. Greg seemed to 'get it,' and was much nicer by the end of our conversation. I assured him that he is not the problem, and that I do respect the position he's in over there, but I still wasn't ready to be steamrolled by Amazon, no matter what he's trained to say, or how little the amount in dispute. 
"I'd be mad, too," he finally confessed.
My overarching point is this:
These new 'policies and practices' at Amazon bear the grubby fingerprints of a man whose lust for world domination has caused him to lose sight of the basics--those simple needs of his average, 'core' customer.
All the proof you need:  300 requests for the number,
which obviously means people can't find it. 
"Deleted by Amazon"...but no number anywhere, on
the "Help" page
that's a customer's last resort!

We don't actually need drones delivering our packages! We don't need Amazon to be our phone company, or our grocery store, despite Mr. Bezos's bottomless lust for expansion into those (and countless other) areas.
Above all, we don't need (or want) Mr. Bezos to make his choices FOR us, with our money!
All we need is what they used to provide, at Amazon:
Amazingly quick, easy service--with respect for our time, our safety, and our business. In other words, "no muss/no fuss!"
But just lately, Jeff?
You've taken a simple page and glopped it up with so much junk, it's hard to even wanna be there anymore.  Plus, the biggest recent threat to my safety while shopping at Amazon has emerged as Amazon itself--assuming it's okay to play with my money. (See examples above.)  
In short, Jeff...
You've morphed Amazon into ALL muss, ALL fuss.
Not good.
No matter how big you think you've become, there's still such a thing as being "too big for your britches."
Hubris be thine enemy.
This opinion column Copyright 2016 by Peter Rodman.  
All Rights Reserved.

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