Amazon Support - Episode 5

The Voice of Unreason | Fri, 3 November 2017

So last night I raised this as a complaint. Here's the brief transcript:


Me:I wish to speak to a senior team leader or manager to discuss the incompetence and ignorance of customer services. And the apparent lack of ability of a logistics company to achieve a delivery.

You're now connected to Medha from Amazon.co.uk

Medha:Hello, my name is Medha. I’ll be glad to help you today.

Me:I would note that the efforts of the last agent I spoke to, Sneha, were admirable and mostly helpful, but the way in which she abruptly ended the conversation was rude.

Medha:Could you please tell me with your query so that I can look into it an help you appropriately?

Me:Amazon failed to deliver an item yesterday despite it being a Prime "Guaranteed next-day" delivery. I have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to track the item or at least arrange for it to actually be delivered but no-one in your customer services area seems to have any clue how to arrange delivery of a product.

I wish to speak to someone who has the ability or seniority to be able to facilitate this delivery today. Or who can provide a way by which I can collect the item tonight.

I will spare you the sob story but will say this: the item is/was intended for a gift for tomorrow.

I now have no time to source an alternative due to the repeated broken promises of Amazon customer services, and this will now be a "late" gift, if it ever arrives.

Medha:I understand your concern . please allow me a minute while I check with my resources.

Me:Yes, that's what the rest of them said as well. I want to speak to someone with the authority to facilitate receipt of the item I purchased. This call/order should have records on it.

if not I can provide full text of the conversations thus far.

Medha:Please stay connected while I contact the lead for you.

Me:Thank you.

i will be AFK for a minute...

i'm back now

Medha:I have escalated this to the manager an you will receive an e-mail within 24 hours .

Me:Are there issues with understanding plain English? Read the beginning of this conversation again. I quote "I wish to speak to someone who has the ability or seniority to be able to facilitate this delivery today. Or who can provide a way by which I can collect the item tonight."

I am happy to receive a phone call.

Medha:Please stay connected while I check this for you.

Me:ok

still waiting

the longer you take the more dificult it will be for you to meet your customer's needs.

Medha:I'm having error connecting to a lead. Could you please help me with your contact no. ?

Me:xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Medha:Thank you for providing your contact no.

I'll set a call for you and from there you'll be transferred to the manager

Me:ok

Medha:I request you to please end the chat once the call is connected.

Me:ok

thank you.

Medha:You're welcome.

Me:i seem to be in the normal CS queue

is there any thing I need to reference once I get through?

manager's name, etc

Medha:no David , not needed.

Just explain them your issue.

Me:so you haven't actually passed anyting to a manager at all

Medha:the agent will connect you to the manager.


After that I spoke to a chap by the name of Jude. Actually, this is not his real name. Just like your favourite scam company, Amazon's "Customer Support" do not reveal their real names. They use aliases, and those aliases only have a single name. "Jude" proceeded to tell me pretty much all the same things I had already been told. There was a great deal of shouting on my part and many demands that the item be delivered or I be given a location where I could pick it up.

In the end, after a huge circular argument, I was again being told that I needed to wait 24 hours. "Jude" assured me that he had made sure that the carrier would be notified that I wanted to be contacted when the item was on its way and that it would be prioritised to as early as possible in the morning. He claimed that the complaint had been logged and would be progressed to the highest level. Oh, and he offered me a refund. Again. Jeez.

He stated that he would call me the next day and check what was happening. By or around 1pm UK time. He then sent me an email to verify what he had been saying, assuring me and again guaranteeing that "we would get this sorted". Given that the only way to get this sorted would be to get the item to me, this is rather a hollow promise.

Email:


Hello Mr Hughes ,

I am Jude from Amazon Customer service. This is a follow up e mail regarding the conversation we had on the call today.

I am sorry to know about the inconvenience you had because  you did not receive the order xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx you had placed and had to call back about it .

I'm very sorry about the unsatisfactory experience with your  order. This is definitely not something we want our customers to experience.

I've forwarded your feedback to our concerned department and we'll consider your feedback as we plan further improvements. We're aware that our choice of delivery services reflects on our business as a whole, and we appreciate your feedback.

I have left delivery instructions as mentioned that you want to have the order delivered to you in the early morning hours so I have left instructions as mentioned .

I have also asked the delivery driver to be a bit patient for some one to respond to the knock on the door , I have also asked them to call you on this number xxxxxxxxx when they are about to deliver this order .

I my self will call you back on this number to assist you further I will keep a track of this order and ensure it is delivered to you .

I understand the inconvenience this situation has caused and on this occasion, I'd like to give you £5.00 promotional credit as a goodwill gesture, for use towards your next Amazon.co.uk order.


So that was the end of the second day of chasing this. Still no idea where my item is. Still apparently no way for a logistics company to track its own carriers and drivers.

Friday 3rd November 2017

A new day dawns. Sadly most of today's communication was over the phone. I had a very brief chat with Amazon to get through to "Jude" again, but that was it. However, it has been a most interesting day of discovery.

Obviously the delivery did not happen in the morning. Nor did "Jude" contact me at 1pm. I waited until nearly 2:30pm to start chasing this. And then the discoveries began

Firstly, "Jude" failed to mention that it would be nigh impossible to get hold of him again. He failed to note that apparently Amazon customer services is split among several "locations around the world". And none of them can talk to each other. People that know me know that I used to work for Dixons PCServiceCall in the early 2000s - and we had two to three call centres at that point. Even in those days, it was possible for us to talk to people in other call centres. In addition, we handled the logistics with what today would be called rudimentary tools that could track a service technician or repair call. Yet today, the largest logistics and sales company IN THE WORLD do not have the ability to do this. The organisation I work for now has facilities around the world. We communicate across locations using a centralised phone system and three different online chat utilties. And this includes India, where I assume most of the Amazon centres are (at least guessing by the names...). 

Yeah, so "Jude" failed to mention that it would be impossible to track him down. I'd love to say that was unexpected - I did in fact highlight to him the difficulty I would face if he only gave me a single name., but he assured me people would know who I meant. At 2:30 I discovered this lie as I spoke to three different people in apparently three different locations, none of whom could either contact "Jude" or even recognise the name. I was, however, told that he could be emailed (after I got all shouty again), and that he would be made aware that I was asking for him. How, I don't know. I had already been told he was impossible to contact, yet they could make him aware of my attempt to contact him!

Next, as I finished work (early, due to excruciating pain in my side) "Jude" actually called back. The tired old "technical issues" excuse was rolled out, again taking this to new depths of stupidity (seriously - no-one makes notes any more? paper? Pen? write important stuff down??). Once more I'm told that there is nothing that can be done, the carrier can't be tracked. The carrier has not yet responded to whatever communication method has been used. So as this conversation goes down a very strange rabbit hole, the following is found out ("Jude" actually SAYS these things).

  • Due to my contacting him as well as another agent, this is now being escalated to "the highest level" to improve processes (but not resolve my problem)
  • There is no way that anyone at any level of the organisation can contact the carrier to establish where my item is
  • There is no way that anyone at any level of the organisation can contact ME to communicate actions related to "the process" or any progress in locating my purchased item
  • There is no way Amazon can replace the item because (get this) "the item was supplied by a third party seller and is not covered by Amazon". Yes. Really. There is a clause in the user agreement (cos we all read them with the expectation that the biggest trader/logistics company in the world will screw up this badly) stating that sellers who provide Amazon with stock are not covered in case of losses...we'll come back to that later.
  • The tracking systems do not work. Delivery drivers are under no obligation to register changes in status. Even if an item is scanned at a location, astoundingly that does not mean that the item is actually there. Yes. Really. That's what "Jude" said.
  • The only thing Amazon can do in this situation is mark the item as lost and offer a refund. Repeat x50. And that's pretty much how the conversation ended.
  • "Jude" will contact me each day to find out whether my item has been delivered. Whatever good that might do. But then he contradicted that by saying that he would contact me on the 7th, at which time the delivery window would be closed and he would be offering a refund.

And that's it. NO progress again. Repeatdly told that this has been escalated to the highest level. Not ONE level of which is able to directly contact the carrier - which I repeat is "AMAZON LOGISTICS". So they can't contact their own delivery people. 

This thing about not covering stock. The tracking shows that Amazon Logistics picked up the item from the seller then sent it on a journey between Manchester and Nottingham. All tracked and visible. But even once it is in Amazon's posession, Amazon are claiming to have no responsiblity for that item. This discovery came about due to my simple query as to whether Amazon would be able to offer a replacement item on a like-for-like basis that could be sent out. Oh, my word did "Jude" jump down my throat on that one. "Amazon cannot offer a replacement item for a lost or damaged third party seller's stock - it is their responsibility because it is their product." Look at this from a supplier's point of view. For example, Dixons. Toshiba supply stuff to Dixons. They are a third party seller. If a customer orders that telly from Dixons and it goes missing, do Dixons tell the customer that they have to get a new telly from Toshiba? No! They take responsibility for the lost item and replace it with like-for-like. So what is different about this in terms of Amazon and our consumer rights? 

Nothing. Apart from a wall of text that apparently covers all this. Ladies and gentlemen, the art of screwing the customer. 

But I digress. There were other lies as well. Such as the thing about contacting me every day. And the thing about being able to chase this over a weekend. And basically everything that came out of "Jude"'s mouth that wasn't an offer for a refund.

But this is where it gets interesting.

I contacted the seller directly, initially to query whether they still had any stock of the smartwatch I ordered. At the time of the order, they had listed 3 of the watches, each at "Excellent refurbished" quality. My initial investigations into this product involved calling the store to see what these watches were like, and I was told that they were ex display models in mint condition and all cleaned and factory reset. So, the potential to order directly from the seller was looking like the only way to get this watch.

The guy I spoke to was really helpful. I explained the Amazon screwup and their inability to find their/my item and one of their claims that they had misplaced it. Rather than just trying to sell me a watch, he looked into the order history himself and the information that had been entered into their Amazon Seller information about the tracking.

And it was different to what Amazon were telling me.

Here's the Amazon tracking details for My order:

Latest update: Wednesday, 1 Nov

  • 10:35: Out for delivery Nottingham, GB
    • Carrier: Amazon Shipping, Tracking #: A10044984973
  • 01:41: Parcel arrived at a carrier facility Nottingham, GB
  • 01:22: Parcel left the carrier facility Bardon Hill, LOADING..., GB

Tuesday, 31 Oct

  • 21:28: Parcel left the carrier facility Manchester, STRETFORD, GB
  • 19:04: Parcel arrived at a carrier facility Manchester, STRETFORD, GB
  • 17:18: Item has been picked up by the carrier. Manchester, GB

Hale's records show that a delivery was attempted at 10:22pm on the Wednesday. OUTSIDE the 9am-9pm delivery window that was claimed on the day (and outside the 9:30pm time that I was told the next day). The notes then say that the item was returned to the carrier. I was in the living room with my wife from 10pm, watching Spider-man. At around 10:30pm I let the dog out. At no time was I in a place where there was no way I would hear the front door. There was no out-card. No-one tried to use the "safe place", which is a neighbour's address.

Then, according to Hale's records, someone attempted a delivery on Thursday as well! I can't remember the time of this one, but I know that my wife was in all day (being mobility impaired and all that). Even if she missed it, there was no outcard, no contact with the safe place neighbour and no phone call from the courier to inform me that the delivery was on its way - not only that, but my phone number is on the order for "SMS updates".

So Amazon say one thing and the seller's records say another. If the seller's records are to be believed, they have been told that the delivery has been attempted. I can categorically say that this is NOT the case. Even if it was attempted, Amazon's logistics carrier has not provided any proof of this, either in the form of an outcard or text/phone notification as requested on the order. 

Interesting, huh?

Hale Comms have told me that their boss will take this up with Amazon to work out where the discrepancy is and try to resolve from their end. They have also told me that if they can't resolve it, and Amazon fail to meet their requirements with this order, that they will "try to find a replacement" for me. Which is an awesome offer, and one that they don't have to make. Amazon screwed up. Not Hale. So I thank them for this.

Ultimately, though I don't know what to do from this point. It's become very clear that Amazon's policy in terms of screwed up orders, no matter what the effect on the customer is and no matter how polite, angry, threatening, accommodating or willing to compromise a customer is trying to be, there is no way to obtain any option other than "wait more time" or "get a refund". There's no way to even track or locate an item once it has left the seller (or the Amazon warehouse). So the important question is:

How can Amazon offer "GUARANTEED" ONE DAY DELIVERY if they can't track their carriers? Especially if that carrier is AMAZON LOGISTICS? How can this claim, or that ability, be confirmed if Amazon themselves are being shown to be inconsistent in their tracking?

Well, I'm not sure this incident is going to have any more progress - I fully expect that I will not hear anything from "Jude" between now and the 7th, and my expectation is that the refund will be processed automatically without any input from myself. Or I'll need to chase it. I'll update this sorry tale with any more developments.

Questions:

How useful would it be to offer this information to trading standards or other trade regulators? Are Amazon in breach of consumer rights with their refusal to either track or locate this item or offer a replacement?

Answers on a postcard...


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