Dear Mr Bezos,
You are quoted as saying that you are committed to making Amazon the earth’s most customer-centric company. I believe you and up till recently I was both an advocate and a loyal customer. Through my blog I have only talked about Amazon in favourable terms and wherever the opportunity has arisen I have sung the praises of your organisation. Recently I shared what I found and highlighted a business opportunity for your Kindle team. I have been a customer for many years and as a customer I have bought the following from AmazonUK: books, DVDs, computers, monitors, networking equipment and televisions. One Christmas your organisation even wrote to me to thank me for being such a valuable customer. I really appreciated that – being acknowledged.
So why am I writing to you? Because I want to introduce you to the Amazon ’employee’ that has single handedly turned me from being happy with Amazon to being disgusted with Amazon. Here is a photograph of him:
- This delivery driver turned up at my home at 08:45 on Thursday 23rd Feb 2012 to pick up a faulty television and return it to Amazon and refused to take it claiming it was too big;
- He entered my home for the second time (after leaving the first time without taking the TV) and told my son “You must be embarrassed and ashamed of your dad. I know that if he was my dad then I would be embarrased and ashamed of him!”
- What was my crime? Asking him to do his job – to pick up and take back the TV he had come to pick up!
How did it come to this? Allow me to share my experience with you and you can then determine whether you, Amazon, have lived up to your commitment to being customer-centric.
Tuesday 21st Feb 2012
On the afternoon of Tuesday 21st Feb, a helpful, smiling, humane delivery driver drops off the 42″ TV that I purchased from AmazonUK. I help him bring the TV in as it is too big for him to lift by himself.
In the evening, my children were pestering me to set the TV up. So I spent between 1 -2 hours disconnecting what is there and setting up the new TV and then disconnecting it. It looked like I was makig good progress setting the new TV up then I hit the following and could not complete the set-up process. In fact the TV is useless – see the picture below:
Then I headed onto the AmazonUK site and arranged for this faulty TV to be picked by Amazon (via Yodel – one of your delivery partners in the UK) on Thursday 23rd Feb. I really appreciate the thought that has gone into the design of your website and how it easy it was for me to arrange the pick up and to printout the return label:
Thursday 23rd Feb 08:45
At 08:50, I am in the kitchen and notice a delivery van on my drive and soon thereafter the doorbell rings. I open the door to find the delivery driver at my door with paperwork ready in his hand. I sign the paperwork and then invite him into my home so that he can pick up the TV and take it back. I tell him that it is too big for him to carry into his van and so I will help him. When he gets into my hallway and sees the package he refuses to take it.
I calmly told him that he had come to pick up this package as arranged. His van was more than big enough for this package to fit into it and that I would help him to load it into the van. I told him not to worry because it was not heavy and in any case there were ‘handles’ that we could use to carry it. He simply repeated “It’s too big!” and refused to take it. At this stage, I pointed out that a pick up had been arranged for that day. He had come to do the pick up. The package was ready. And he was refusing to take it back. Why? “I don’t get it”.
This is when your Amazon brand ambassador really came into his own. He told me that he really cared about his customers. That he is known for his caring attitude and that is why he turns up before 9am – to help his customers out. So I jumped on this and told him “Great, then you can help me out now by taking this TV back!”. He was not to be put off so easily. His response? “No, I am not taking it and I do not have to take it. I am only supposed to pick it up between 9am and 5pm. So I am leaving and I will come back sometime between 9 and 5.”
I simply could not believe what was happening. As he turned to leave my home and make for his van I uttered in disblief and anger “What the fuck is going on here? You are really leaving!” Now your brand ambassador really came alive and accussed me of swearing at him. I told him that I had not sworn at him. Well, this ’employee’ of yours was not having any of it. He told me that he was leaving and was going to phone his manager to say that he was leaving because I had sworn at him.
When he got to his van. I stepped out of my home and took a picture of him in his van and told him that I would make him famous. Well he left and I got busy getting ready to go to the office. I was still shocked by what happened: my mind could not make sense of what had happened. Why would someone turn up to pick up a parcel and then not take it? How could someone claim to be great with customers and yet be so unhelpful, so indifferent?
Thursday 23rd Feb 08:52
This wonderfully helpful ’employee’ of yours rang my doorbell some minutes later. He told me that he had talked to his manager and had come back to pick the TV up. Then he told me that he had only left because I had sworn at him. I replied “I welcomed you into my home. I offered to help you take the package and load it onto your van. You refused to take it. When I insisted you take it you told me that you did not have to take it because you had arrived early before 9. When I pleaded with you to take it as you were here you refused. And when you left I simpled said “What the fuck?”, I did not swear at you.”
To my amazement your ’employee’ out did himself. He told me that I had sworn at him and then he told me off for taking a picture of his van! His words? “You know that the van is trademarked. You are not allowed to take a photo of it!” I could not believe my ears. Just then my 16 year old son came into the hallway and that is when your ’employee’ insulted me, in my home, in front of my face. He looked at my son and said “You must be embarrassed and ashamed of your dad. I know if he was my dad I would be ashamed and embarrassed.” That was the straw that broke the camels back. Furious, I told him to take the TV and get out of my house. As he was struggling with the TV, I helped him get it out of my house and as soon as he was out of my house I slammed the door shut. I heard him say “You’re not going to help me put this in the van?” I replied “You’ve got to be joking”. In the end my son helped him to load it into the van simply because he knew I wanted this ’employee’ of yours gone from my house, my drive.
Thursday 23rd Feb 09:30
I am at work and my mobile phone rings, my wife is on the phone and she tells me that there is someone that wants to speak to me. To my amazement, it is the marvellous ’employee’ of yours – he is in my home, with my wife, talking to me, using my home phone! This after I had told him to leave my home and never come back.
Frankly, I am in total shock, frozen, wondering what the hell he is doing in my home, so I don’t hang up. He starts talking. First he says he is sorry. I think “Ok, we are getting somewhere at last.” Immediately after that he blames me again. He tells me that I was being unreasonable, demanding and that I swore at him and that is why he did what he did. I tell him what I had told him earlier. I did not swear at you, I remember exactly what I said and what I said was “What the fuck? You’re leaving!” And that was only after I had welcomed you into my home and offered to help you load the TV into the van and you had refused to take it no matter what I said.” This ’employee’ of yours was having none of this. He went straight back to telling me off and pinning the whole situation on me again! So I hung up on him, I had had enough for that day. Then I rang my wife on her mobile and told her to get him out of the house and that if he refused to go then she was to call the Police.
Mr Bezos, that brings me to the end of my story and back to my question. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on my experience. Please do not tell me that this chap is not an Amazon employee, that he works for Yodel (one of your logistics partners in the UK) or one of Yodel’s subcontractors. I know that. I also know that I placed an order with Amazon and I hold Amazon responsible for its value chain including its logistics partners. This chap may not be your employee and yet he repesents your brand when he comes to my home to drop off something that I bought from Amazon or to pick it up and return it to Amazon because it is faulty.
As for me I do not know whether I will or will not continue to be a customer. I do know that I will NEVER buy any item from Amazon that cannot be shoved through my letterbox. I have no desire to have a repeat helping of the most frustrating-perplexing-humiliating customer experience of my life.
I look forward to hearing from you once you have looked into the matter.