Friday, March 11, 2011

An open letter to Amazon: some of your people and computers are IDIOTS

(I am publishing this here because I have not been able to successfully communicate with through their normal channels. Maybe online embarassment will motivate the company. This strategy has previously worked with other companies.)

Will this blog post make Jeff Bezos cry? It should.

Dear Jeff and other Amazonians:

Most of the time I love your company, and I have widely sung your praises. I love your selection, prices and fast, free delivery. I buy your books, clothing, watches, electronics, food, music, movies and tools -- several times each week. You sell my books, and also help me to sell other things.

Normally you buy my books from Lightning Source, which prints them on demand.

A few months ago I thought I had a good idea -- but it has bitten me in the ass.

I signed up for your Amazon Advantage program which would allow me to supply books for you to sell during the times when the books are unavailable from Lightning because I am revising them. This happens once or twice each year for some of my how-to books.

One of my new books was announced but temporarily unavailable from Lightning because I had not yet produced the final version. Logically, the Amazon computer tried to order ten books from my Silver Sands Books.

Breinigsville, PA

You started sending me purchase orders in late January. You wanted me to have the books shipped to your warehouse in Breinigsville, Pennsylvania -- the same unincorporated outpost of civilization where Lightning Source often prints my books! (My company had no books to send to you, since any books we have come from Lightning.)

BUT, even after the book was available from Lightning, your computer kept sending us purchase orders (about every ten days).

  • Do you really need me to arrange for the books to be shipped two and a half miles down the road?
  • Do you really expect me to sell you books for 25 cents above my cost (about HALF of what you'd pay Lightning), AND I'll pay for shipping, AND I'll take back unsold books?
I promptly responded to each purchase order. I gently suggested that you folks buy my books from Lightning Source, as you normally do.

Most of my messages were ignored.

My most recent message was not ignored. The response (apparently outsourced from a contact center in Asia which employs people with both limited understanding and limited language skills) was absolutely idiotic:


Thank you for writing to us.

In regards to your query, we request you to contact lightning source directly, so that they would be able to do the needful.

We appreciate your participation in Advantage.

Best regards,
Gautam K.
Member Services

My response to Gautam's response:

YOU ARE NOT MAKING ANY SENSE. We are the publisher, not a printer or wholesaler.

You have placed several orders with us to buy this book and ship it to Amazon in Breinigsville, Pennsylvania. I have repeatedly told you to order from Lightning Source, which prints the books down the road from you in Breinigsville. Why are you requesting that I contact Lightning Source directly?

I have not received a response from Gautam or anyone else.

1 comment:

  1. Michael, Advantage will continue to send you the purchase orders for the books until the LSi computers update. Or, you might have a problem now with the vendor of record.

    An easy solution is to set up a version of the book at CreateSpace. After about 3-4 days, the Advantage orders will stop. That's what always happens in my case.