Dispatches from the Eccentric Frontier - My response to AmazonFail...

January 30th, 2010

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11:36 My response to AmazonFail...

By now, you’ve probably heard about AmazonFail. This is what I sent to Amazon customer service last night:

I buy my books through Amazon. Rather a lot of them. I rely on Amazon being a neutral and efficient way of procuring books, since the nearest specialty stores that cater to my interests are an hour’s drive away.

It seems that Amazon has pulled Macmillan’s physical books from the market as a way of getting leverage on Macmillan when negotiating ebook prices. That means I’ll have to get my Macmillan books elsewhere, which means that I now need to start taking a serious look at options for a single neutral and efficient way of procuring books, since Amazon no longer qualifies as such.

You need to take a serious look at your business incentives here. Your Kindle sideline is interfering in your core competency. (No, I don’t own a Kindle, and I have no interest in buying a device where someone else controls what books I can and can’t read; your little fiasco with 1984 proved that the Kindle is an unfit platform for the serious reader.) I strongly suggest you put more barriers between your Kindle business and Amazon proper.

To their credit, I got this answer back already:

Hello,

I thank you for letting us know about this.

We are aware of this situation and this issue has already been escalated to our higher officials. I'm also forwarding your response to the concerned department, and I'll get back to you once I've information from them, but it'll take a bit more time than usual.

I just wanted to let you know I'll write back in 2-3 business days with more information about this. I understand that the delay might cause inconvenience to you. But, I assure you that I'll write back with a satisfactory response.

I'll personally follow-up this issue.

Thanks for giving me time to find the best solution.

Best regards,

Abdullah R.
Amazon.com

I was pleased and clicked the “yes” hyperlink on “did I solve your problem?” That response is as good as one could hope to get from someone on the front lines of customer service.


ETA: The followup, on 2010-02-01:

Hello,

Thanks for sending us your comments. We will e-mail you when these titles are available again, which we hope will be soon. For more information regarding Macmillan books, please see the latest update posted here:

http://www.amazon.com/tag/kindle/forum/?cdForum=Fx1D7SY3BVSESG&cdThread=Tx2MEGQWTNGIMHV

We're always striving to bring the most selection to our customers at the lowest possible price. We hope to see you again soon.

Best regards,

Abdullah R.
Amazon.com

Current Mood: patient patient
(6 rants | My 2¢)
Comments
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From:palecur
Date:January 30th, 2010 19:42 (UTC)
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I don't think I could get more than halfway through that essay. Good lord, Doctorow hasn't gotten any less insufferably sententious since last I tried to read him.
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From:kalimac
Date:January 30th, 2010 20:38 (UTC)
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That's a really bizarre answer you got. They're aware that they deleted the entire Macmillan catalog, and now they're trying to figure out how or why they did it? As if it were another weird coding accident? WTF?
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From:slothman
Date:January 30th, 2010 22:54 (UTC)
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I interpreted the response as “the honchos have not yet communicated their policy response to front-line customer support, but I’ll get back to you as soon as they do”.
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From:kalimac
Date:January 30th, 2010 23:44 (UTC)
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So the honchos dropped a nuclear bomb on the publishing world, and haven't yet figured out what to say when people ask them about it, leaving their customer service agents to imitate Sergeant Schultz saying "I know nuzzing! nuzzing!"

Wack-o.
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From:slothman
Date:January 31st, 2010 1:08 (UTC)
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I think the customer service agent who answered my query did better than that by actually forwarding it to the right department and promising to get back to me when he had an answer; he did as much as he could under the circumstances, and that should be entirely to his credit. I reserve the opprobrium for the decision-makers who thought they could try the “dump bad news on a Friday” stunt and not get called into the office the next day to deal with the ensuing shit-storm.
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From:heron61
Date:January 30th, 2010 20:51 (UTC)
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Coolness, I'll definitely be interested to know how they respond further. As far as the issue, there's a whole lot to be annoyed about with Amazon and ebooks, but price is not one of the issues. The price of new high demand ebooks ($10) seems perfectly reasonable, and I think they need to drop the price of the equivalent of older or paperback-only published books. The DRM & platform issues are serious, as are some of the allegations of homophobia and suchlike. However, in this case, Macmillan is (IMHO at least) being idiotically greedy.
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