ESC!Webs Blogitorials

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Amazon, Trust Me, You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry...

On August 25th I placed an order for the new Macromedia Studio 8 through It was a good price and it had free shipping so I figured 'what the heck.' Oh, I should mention that when I say "I placed an order" I mean "I, as a representative of my Company, placed an order." I don't want anyone thinking I'm loaded or anything....

So... yeah, the software was due to be available on September ... 15th I believe. Amazon usually does a great job of getting things into your hands pretty much on or very near the release dates. What Amazon doesn't like, however, is change. Any change. I've found that after you place an order if you make any changes to it, their system just goes ka-flooey and you can't properly track it anymore. It's there ... just not quite right. This is nothing new. It's been going on for years and years. For some reason, when you make a change, the order information gets all screwed up and sometimes you'll appear to loose a gift certificate you've applied to the order or your shipping info will be screwed up... Ultimately when they ship the item everything gets ironed out, but gosh darn I'd sure like to be assured of that before my credit card gets charged. It's just one of those quirks you learn to put up with I guess.

I mention Amazon's tendency to do this for a reason.

I was really hoping to have the software in my hands by September 30th. For one, the big boss has a project he'd like me to work on that could really benefit from a feature in the new version and two, because I'm going to have some extra time out of the office after the 30th to get the software installed, tested and checked out before I need to plunge head-long into work again on the 18th.

As the release date passed, however, I noticed the order was not entering the "Preparing for Shipment" phase so I clicked through on the item and found that it was estimated to ship within 1 to 2 weeks. Okay, cool. Macromedia probably just didn't get it out in time or the supplier is held up. It happens.

As it's only a couple bucks to do so, I decided to make a change to my order and switch the shipping method from Free Shipping to 2-Day Shipping. Mostly I did this because Amazon (and all vendors who offer free shipping) tend to drag their feet on preparing and shipping items ordered with free shipping. I can't fault them. Shipping costs are high and, well, you get what you pay for. Right? Besides, as I mentioned, I really wanted to have this in my grubby little hands.

Anyway, soon after changing the shipping method I noticed that the software's status changed from 1 to 2 weeks estimate to 1 to 2 days. Usually this means they now have it in stock and will ship soon. Unfortunately, after 2 ... 3 ... 4+ days passed the status wasn't changing to "Preparing for Shipment" or "Shipping Soon." In truth I figured that behind the scenes the shipping method was still listed as "Super Saver" and was being given the ol'free shipping treatment if you know what I mean.

I finally decided to write and ask what was going on.

After digging around for 30 minutes trying to find their contact form (they REALLY don't want you to e-mail them), I wrote the following:

This order has been sitting stagnant for over a week now even though the item I ordered says it will ship in 1 - 2 days.

Can you please check the status of the order?

Do I need to cancel and re-order?

Thank you.
I think that's pretty straight forward. It has been sitting stagnant (maybe not the best word choice but still appropriate I think in this instance). I asked if I should cancel the order because I know from experience that if something is screwed up in the Order Status screen, often times the only way to fix it is to cancel and reorder. So my reasoning behind writing was that if someone actually looks at the order they might say "Oh! I see the problem. It still shows as Super Saver shipping on this end." Or some such thing and be able to take care of it.

At this point you are no doubt wondering where I'm going with this as it's otherwise a very boring entry so far. Well, we've reached our destination folks, please be careful as you exit the train....

I got my answer from this morning and the content of their reply surprised, amused and pleased me.

In all, it was a nice letter, but I have to feel that the sender just dragged and dropped whatever responses he could find in his computer to make up the reply. Mostly because the level to which he apologized went way beyond (like out to Jupiter beyond) my level of questioning.

What follows are snippets from the letter I found particularly amusing:

Thank you for writing back to us at

First, let me apologize for any inconvenience caused by this issue.

Okay. Thanks, I appreciate that.

I don't blame you for being upset, and I do apologize profusely for all of the delays which contributed to this very unfortunate encounters.

I guess you could say I was "upset" ... okay, sure.

Err, "Very unfortunate encounters"?

I can only imagine how frustrated you must be with us at this point, I appreciate the admirable restraint you exercised in your message. My sincere apologies for the time you have spent dealing with this issue.

I don't know if I'd say "frustrated"... Although it DID take me 30 minutes to find the fricken form to send my question in. You could do something about that....

Good gracious, but what sort of e-mails do these poor souls get if what I wrote -- which I felt was very straight forward and business-like -- showed "admirable restraint"?

And, again with the apologies. At this point I'm almost feeling a bit embarrassed that I even wrote in the first place! Well, that or this guy is just gushing sarcasm... Hmm. Didn't think of that until just now.

Anyway, he goes on to explain about suppliers and delays, etc, etc. That's kind of all I expected in the first place.

Then, as if fearing my "admirable restraint" would suddenly give-way like a levee poorly funded by the Bush Administration, he says:

We will keep these items on order and ship it to you as soon as we are able to obtain it. We will not charge you for it until we ship it to you. I have upgraded the method of shipment for this order to One-Day Shipping. There is of course no additional charge for this. I have also waived the shipping charges of $9.48.

Sweet! Of course providing the One-day shipping for the cost of Two-day would have been fine too but what the hey.

And then my new friend at goes on to say:

In addition to our large selection, one of the benefits we'd like to offer our customers is convenience, and we have not met that standard in this case. Please accept our sincere apologies.

We appreciate your business and hope that you will give us the chance to serve you again in the near future.

Talk about self-flagellation! Ow! And again with the apologies! Five times at least varients of the word "apology" appeared in the short e-mail I got from Amazon. What exactly did I say to warrant all this supplicating?

Well, truth be told, I like Amazon and I'm just having a little fun with their response to my question which, to this date, is the only one I've ever gotten that has gone overboard like this. I've been shopping there a very long time and can honestly say that their support and customer service (though more difficult to find now) are top-notch. Have you ever seen those "nostalgia" articles where they show an old picture of Amazon's home page and ask "Can you believe their site looked like this?" My answer is always, "Yeah, I shopped there then."

But I can't help but wonder: If I had been angry -- really angry -- and my letter reflected it... I wonder if I could get the guy to send me the keys to his car as he implores me to give them just one more chance...

If you really want an entertaining look behind the walls of I'd encourage you to pick up Mike Daisey's book "21 Dog Years: Doing Time @" That's what the hardcover was named anyway. It has since been rechristened "21 Dog Years: A Cube Dweller's Tale" for the paperback release. Whichever way you go, give it a read. You'll have fun as Mike relates his days working for Amazon and intersperses his fictitious letters written to Jeff Bezos throughout the book.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Feeling Horny?

Okay. I may very well be the LAST PERSON on Earth to see this, but I couldn't look away... simply mesmerizing.

Enjoy! (link)

(Do not adjust your eyes. The site is in Icelandic.)