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Old 05-09-2009, 01:40 AM   #1
SpiderMatt
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Bad Amazon Customer Service; Not for Lack of Trying

I recently had my Amazon account closed without my consent because my account was hacked an an unauthorized purchase was made on it (someone in Turkey ordered a $120 watch + $40 S/H--it was pretty random and the purchase wasn't even made on my credit card). When I responded by telling Amazon I noticed the purchase and changed my password and that I wanted to keep my account, they said, "We appreciate your support of our decision to close your existing account..." I did not support this decision. Apparently Amazon has generic answers they use no matter what the responding email said. It wasn't a generic email, though, because it did address a couple of my questions.

The response said none of my account information could be transferred to a new account so I lost all my purchase history and thus the only recommendations Amazon can make will be based on the browsing history I have to build back up again (which is less accurate since I browse a lot of things and purchase few). More importantly, though, Amazon reinforced their old position of not being able to transfer Kindle books between accounts even though in this case the account holder is the same person. Thankfully, Amazon did reimburse me for all my Kindle books in the form of an Amazon certificate. I will definitely be keeping my DeDRMed Kindle books for my inconvenience.

I then had the issue of registering my Kindle under a new account. The instructions I received involved connecting to whispernet. I had to explain that I'm a service member based in Japan and that I couldn't connect to the wireless network. Amazon's next response did not address my issue at all. Customer service completely ignored my request for help in registering my Kindle with a new account. As you can imagine, that really irked me. I did some searching on my own and found that I could register a Kindle on the "Manage My Kindle" page. So I went there, entered my serial number, and I got a response saying my Kindle was registered under another account. So not only did Amazon cancel my account against my will but they also neglected to deregister my Kindles (I assume my original Kindle was still registered, as well), which is something Amazon should probably consider important since I couldn't purchase ebooks otherwise.

In my final email to Amazon addressing this issue, I asked them to deregister my Kindle from my old account so that I could register it under my new account. They did it. I finally got something I requested. Dealing with Amazon customer service is like pulling teeth and I have no idea why it has to be so difficult. If anyone is interested, I put up my full correspondence here. I didn't want to clutter my post with it.

Why am I telling you all this? I thought it would be important to some of you to know how Amazon deals with issues like fraud and, of course, everyone should be aware of the frustrations of dealing with Amazon's customer service. As I mentioned in the title, it does appear like Amazon is trying (they did reimburse me for my Kindle books almost immediately) but it does not seem like they care. Appearing to care might be the hardest part of customer service but I would argue that it is also the most important part. Ignoring a consumer's questions in email correspondence should be unacceptable. I don't know why it happened but I don't really need to press the issue because I eventually got what I needed days later. The time involved here is probably the most frustrating part. It took four days to resolve everything because I had to do everything through email. Due to the only free time I had being in the evening, Amazon's Kindle service was closed in the states when I had time to call.

This has all left a bad taste in my mouth for Amazon's service. If it weren't for their prices, I wouldn't even bother with them anymore. I'm now probably going to be looking at other ebook stores more often, though. I don't think Amazon is evil like so many out there. I don't take issue with Amazon's aggressive action to dominate the ebook market (it's a business, after all) but if they can't offer up decent customer service, it's going to hurt them in the end. That concludes my rant for today. I hope you found this informational.
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Old 05-09-2009, 04:56 AM   #2
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My primary issue is that they feel the need to close you account if they think it is hacked, even if you say it's okay now. Perhaps they thought you could still be the hacker. The rest I don't really have a problem with.
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Old 05-09-2009, 06:54 AM   #3
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That was what primarily annoyed me. And I didn't have a problem with the first response when Amazon reimbursed me. I was happy they were willing to do that. Then they completely ignored my first email addressing my concern about registering my Kindle with a new account. I have no idea why and I thought it was poor customer service. I can't think of any reason a customer's concerns should go unaddressed.
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Old 05-09-2009, 07:02 AM   #4
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Well it's definitely a flaw in their procedure. However, they're already set up to assume that everyone should have Whispernet access, and avoid selling to people who do not. So while year, if I were in the company, I'd point out the potential problem in advance and make sure Kindle deregistration was part of the procedure, I can also easily see how this issue was ignored because it shouldn't happen in the first place.

You might try submitting your tale to consumerist.com. It might generate attention from Amazon who might be able to give you some partial satisfaction.
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Old 05-09-2009, 09:11 AM   #5
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They definitely need to support servicemen (and women) with some personal attention.
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Old 05-09-2009, 09:25 AM   #6
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I'm glad that you eventually got the issues resolved, SpiderMatt. But it is disappointing to find that it took so much effort on your part. I suppose it is just possible that you were the first person in this situation.
Let us hope that Amazon learn a lesson from your story, and revise their customer service processes accordingly.
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Old 05-09-2009, 09:53 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirbruce View Post
Well it's definitely a flaw in their procedure. However, they're already set up to assume that everyone should have Whispernet access, and avoid selling to people who do not. So while year, if I were in the company, I'd point out the potential problem in advance and make sure Kindle deregistration was part of the procedure, I can also easily see how this issue was ignored because it shouldn't happen in the first place.

You might try submitting your tale to consumerist.com. It might generate attention from Amazon who might be able to give you some partial satisfaction.
That's not true about the Whispernet access; I have a friend that lives 6 month of each year in the North Georgia Mountains and she does not have Whispernet (Sprint does not work up there). There are a lot of people in the US that don't have whispernet coverage.
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Old 05-09-2009, 10:15 AM   #8
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Sony closed my wife's account so we could combine them with mine. Then we tried to register her computer to my account. Didn't work. So I called Sony and they sorted it right away.

The solution is to install Skype and then use that to call Amazon. Email support like that is not all that wonderful. This sort of case needs an actual phone call so you can talk to someone and explain the situation.
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Old 05-09-2009, 11:07 AM   #9
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The thing I would be most annoyed with was that the books was not transferable. That means you loose all your books that are not in print anymore and cannot be bought again.
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Old 05-09-2009, 11:16 AM   #10
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The thing I would be most annoyed with was that the books was not transferable. That means you loose all your books that are not in print anymore and cannot be bought again.
Seeing as eBooks are never in print, how can they be out of print?

The only eBook on Amazon that I know of that's not available still is The Stand. But what this means is that the money gets returned for eBooks that are not going to be reread that can then be used to buy other eBooks.
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Old 05-09-2009, 11:18 AM   #11
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Seeing as eBooks are never in print, how can they be out of print?

The only eBook on Amazon that I know of that's not available still is The Stand. But what this means is that the money gets returned for eBooks that are not going to be reread that can then be used to buy other eBooks.
Are really all editions of a book still available?
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Old 05-09-2009, 04:29 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
Sony closed my wife's account so we could combine them with mine. Then we tried to register her computer to my account. Didn't work. So I called Sony and they sorted it right away.

The solution is to install Skype and then use that to call Amazon. Email support like that is not all that wonderful. This sort of case needs an actual phone call so you can talk to someone and explain the situation.
I have a VoIP account with Yahoo and I tried that route. Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, the time difference did not work out. I'm 16 hours ahead of Pacific time right now and I only had time to call in the evening, by which time Kindle's customer service had closed. The regular customer service still answered the phones but they were not helpful. I don't think they were trained to deal with the issues I needed addressed.

Quote:
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The thing I would be most annoyed with was that the books was not transferable. That means you loose all your books that are not in print anymore and cannot be bought again.
As I mentioned, I have all the books deDRMed on my hard drive and I am definitely keeping them without paying for them again with my reimbursed money. I figure Amazon at least owes me that. It's a small token. The publishers already got paid, I'm sure. It's Amazon's money I'm taking and I didn't buy that many books, anyway.
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Old 05-11-2009, 08:06 PM   #13
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Seeing as eBooks are never in print, how can they be out of print?
Toni Weisskopf of Baen said that in their contracts they specify the minimal amount of ebook copies sold (in a year, I think), below which it's considered to be OOP.
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