e-Commerce


MEMORANDUM

To: Amazon.com

re: Communication breakdown

This is pretty straightforward: Once upon a time I ordered something from Amazon. The seller sent the item. The item arrived. All is good in the world. Right?

Okay, so, big deal, right? But it’s a few months later and this order still registers as shipped, but not delivered. Here’s the good news: It was delivered. All is good in the world. Right?

It seemed worth telling the seller. Indeed, I know what happened. At the end of the day, the product was delivered on time by a guy driving a twenty year old Ford Taurus, bearing credentials from a courier I hadn’t encountered before. Big deal, right? The item I ordered is here: It is the right product; it is undamaged; it is on time; I am satisfied. All is good in the world. Right?

All I want to do is communicate directly with the seller, to advise them to close the book on this one. What I do not understand is why that is so difficult. I’m sorry, but what I need to tell them does not fit any of your pre-selected suggestions. You do not have an easily identified pathway to allow this communication.

So, you know. Whatever. Maybe the only way to let the seller know is to explain in a bad review. It seems a lot easier to simply drop a line to say, “Hey, by the way, I got this; you can log it as delivered.”

But that’s just not the Amazon way, is it?

No, really. The product purchased arrived on time and in good condition. For the sake of a bureaucratic omission somewhere in the chain of custody, this is not logged in the Amazon delivery record. I would like to advise the seller that this is taken care of, but there are far too many hoops to jump through just to find out I’m in the wrong place. It’s actually quite astounding what effort you have put into making certain nobody can actually communicate with anybody else.

Look, whenever I grumble about Amazon, someone I know reminds that the company is constantly rated for the highest customer satisfaction in this or that exactly meaningless survey. Those surveys would probably count more if they were capable of accounting for this kind of dissatisfaction: Amazon is so hostile to consumers that we cannot even help satisfactory sellers make certain their book is up to date.

For whatever reason, we seem to take this out on politicians. Go figure.

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Meet Elizabeth Warren


Photo by Stephen Crowley/New York TimesSo The New York Times deems, and so it shall be: It is time to meet Elizabeth Warren:

Among all the dramatis personae of post-financial crisis Washington, there is no one remotely like Ms. Warren, 60, who has divided the town between those who admire her and those who roll their eyes at her ….

…. Ms. Warren has two roles here: officially, as head of Congressional oversight for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, and unofficially, as chief conceiver of and booster for a new consumer financial protection agency. Fusing those projects and her academic work, she has become the most prominent consumer advocate in years.

In a blitz of television appearances, she offers a story of how 30 years of deregulation has rewarded the financial industry but led to abusive practices and collapses that have hurt ordinary Americans — the same taxpayers who are paying for bank bailouts.

Ms. Warren’s climactic hour begins now: three years after she hatched the idea for the agency, the White House has backed it, the House of Representatives has approved it and it is a top Democratic priority in the Senate.

Many fans, including Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, hope Ms. Warren will run it. But even if the agency is approved, it might be far weaker than what she envisioned, thanks to fierce opposition from the financial industry.

Her admirers are many, including President Obama and House Financial Services Chairman Rep. Barney Frank. As Jodi Kantor’s story for the NYT hits the newsstands, Professor Warren is already well-known to fans of Bill Maher’s Real Time, on HBO. Her two appearances to date have shown her endearing, such that my first response was like that of a child to a puppy: “Can we keep her?”

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