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ETpro's avatar

Anybody else totally had it with Amazon.com?

Asked by ETpro (34145 points ) February 13th, 2013

Being an eCommerce developer, I get to listen to the horror stories of small merchants who are constantly sucked into Amazon.com’s mighty jaws, sucked dry of their life blood, then spit out to die. Mom and pop shops can get some sales by listing their wares on Amazon. They pay a steep commission on sales that drains their profit margins to near zero, but they do move product.

As long as they do poorly, they remain safe from the insatiable, money-thirsty corporate beast that Amazon has become. But start showing some volume on a product, and Amazon figures out where the little guy is getting it, cuts a huge volume deal with the manufacturer, and offers it at a price the little guy can’t match without losing $$$ on every sale. Amazon has found a way to externalize the cost of all test marketing.

Right now I’m doing a website makeover for a small outfit in Alabama that sells optics for hunting and target practice. They get the Amazon bum’s rush all the time. They go to a gun show and spend 15 minutes talking to some guy about a piece of optics, what sort of rails are needed to mount it on the shopper’s gun, etc. Then right before their eyes, the guy pulls up Amazon on his Cell Phone and finds he can get the item from Amazon at below MAP. Amazon is big enough to get manufacturers to waive Minimum Advertised Price requirements. Try calling Amazon and getting a product clearly explained and demonstrated to you, though. You’ll never get past talking to robots.

The last straw for me came with a supplement I ordered. I got flat-out scammed. I ordered it in the beginning of December. Having heard nothing after 2 weeks, I contacted Amazon, and got an automated form email back telling me to contact the supplier directly. I did, and was told it had been shipped a few days back, and DHL had it in New England somewhere but couldn’t say where. Not to surprising, given that DHL suspended US operations 5 years ago. Needless to say, nothing ever arrived. After waiting a month, I contacted the supplier again and was told DHL had returned the shipment claiming my address didn’t exist. So they give me back the $5 or so purchase price but kept $6 shipping (via a company that no longer exists here to accept shipments).

When Amazon’s robot sent me an email asking me to review my shopping experience, I told the truth. I was not abusive. I used no foul language. I’ve submitted plenty of glowing reviews and all have been accepted. But on this first negative one, I got a notice back that my review was rejected because it did not meet Amazon’s writing standards. Apparently sellers collecting free money for doing nothing meets with Amazon’s approval, but a customer’s honest anger at being ripped of does not.

That email tells me that there is a human being somewhere in Amazon. It’s not all robots. A robot couldn’t have found my review objectionable because there were no trigger words or profanity in it. Perhaps humans work there only to shield the evil empire from customers, not to provide customer service or handle legitimate complaints. No worry, Amazon. I’ll never be a customer again, so you can lay off whatever humans you had around just to fend off humans like me. Maybe you can go entirely robotic and save the corporation Jeff Bezos’ $6.5 billion net worth. That should make your robots very happy.

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10 Answers

tom_g's avatar

I have had nothing but great experiences with Amazon. I do 90% of my purchases there. The shipping keeps getting better, returns are getting easier, and recently Amazon prime streaming refunded my full movie rental cost – without me asking – because they had noticed that I had a playback issue. Note: the playback issue happened during the closing credits, so I thought nothing of it.

Anyway, I am sure I’m supposed to be anti-Amazon for political reasons or something. But selfishly, I couldn’t be any happier.

wundayatta's avatar

The clever approach to product testing is part of the shake out of using information and providing information to make the sales experience better for folks.

Small folks will have to find a way to monetize their research and knowledge and keep Amazon from poaching on it. Perhaps they will have to charge fees up front, which will be take off the order if they order through the merchant. It’s going to be hard to sell that, but there has to be a way of monetizing knowledge. I’m sure people in the business will have better ideas than I have.

jonsblond's avatar

I’ve never had a problem with Amazon. Ordering through Amazon saves me a 40 mile round trip to the stores I would need to visit to get the same products. I save money by not spending money on gas to get to the stores.

wildpotato's avatar

Wow, what a terrible story! I can see where you’re coming from. My only slightly negative Amazon experience has been when I got a package returned to sender because of UPS’ terrible service in my area, so I called to see if there was any way I could select my shipper in the future. They apologized and said no.

Edit: I just remembered another one – I had pre-ordered the Kindle edition of A Dance with Dragons, and they messed up on the delivery so I got it a day late. I was really angry because I’d already been forced to wait 7 years for that damn book. They apologized and refunded my money while letting me keep the book. Still not happy about that one, but I’ll just avoid pre-ordering in the future.

In general, I love Amazon, especially their textbook prices. I’ve been able to acquire many books I would have had to rent from the library – which is big for me, because I can barely read a book without scribbling all over it.

I do feel bad about the issue you bring up about being sold on something in a brick-and-mortar and then finding it cheaper on Amazon. I really like to give the business my money if it is truly due to them that I decided to buy it, and I do so when financially possible and if the difference is not much. But when I want a $100 item that’s on Amazon for $50, no question I’ll go with Amazon no matter how bad I feel about it. I’ll also add that whipping out the phone and pulling up Amazon to check customer reviews before making a major purchase in-store has become par for the course for me (and I suspect for many others), so this behavior may not always indicate what you have taken it to mean. I will begin keeping in mind how it probably looks to the merchant when I do this, though!

wildpotato's avatar

Sorry for the double post, but I just remembered one way that I have found Amazon frustrating: they do not offer carbon neutral shipping. Because I order by far the most stuff from them, and because I try to be environmentally conscious, I consider this a large problem. They contract with two major shipping companies, FedEx and UPS, who offer this option (granted FedEx’s is only for envelopes at the moment, but they’re getting there), and in light of that it seems both odd and unconscionable that Amazon does not just let me pay a couple bucks to buy an offset at the same time I make a purchase. They do other stuff to be green, but it’s not enough given what they could be doing.

flutherother's avatar

My experiences with Amazon have all been good. They can supply books I can’t get from my local bookshop and odd pieces of electrical equipment the local stores don’t stock. When I trudge round my local high street to ask I am referred to Amazon. They are extremely competitive for price and are a very efficient operation and they are driving local shops out of business. They are taking over the world and don’t pay taxes. What happens when they truly have a monopoly and they put up their prices?

FutureMemory's avatar

I only use Amazon to buy used books. You can find plenty of good titles in brand new condition for only a penny, which is awesome, despite there being a $3.99 shipping charge. I like being able to have books delivered to my door for 4 dollars. I don’t buy books new.

As far as computer supplies, I get those from Newegg.com

For things other than books (and computer supplies), I usually buy locally. I don’t like having to wait, even just a few days.

SpatzieLover's avatar

NOPE. Amazon is nothing but awesomeness for us.

We’ve had Prime for years. I <3 the free instant videos, the 2 day shipping, the nearly perfect return system.

For me, “Subscribe & Save” has saved me time & money. The gluten free baking items they offer are second to none.

My guess, @ETpro is that you left feedback about your purchase, instead of about the product. I “report” bad feedback all. the. time.

When I’ve had an issue with one of the 2nd party sellers, I’ve had online chats directly with Amazon customer service and it’s been cleared up in a matter of minutes.

I’m wondering how you got flat out scammed if you used a credit card. Can’t you just cancel the charge?

ETpro's avatar

@SpatzieLover It’s a rarity for me to file a chargeback, but this is one time I am going to do so. I’ll try to get past the robots and talk to human support first. But this is a flat-out, obvious scam.

ETpro's avatar

I just received an email about Amazon’s German distribution warehouse hiring Neo-Nazi gurads to keep migrant workers in line and threatened. Interesting timing.

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