Ah, technology! Treated by so many pundits as the saviour of mankind! But, just like politics and education, technology no more has the ability to save mankind than a man turning into a dog, or a wheel barrow turning into a car. Salvation can only be found in Jesus Christ and in no other!
I have done an online interview with Dr. Jim Spiegel and also written a 3-part review of his book, The Making of an Atheist. The interview and part 1 of the review will be published online tomorrow (1 April) at my blog Just thinking…. The other 2 parts of my review will follow on 2-3 April.
Anyway, I went to Amazon to write a short comment/review of Dr. Spiegel’s book. I was asked by Amazon to either set up my Real Name for comments to increase reliability of comments. For this, it is necessary to add your credit card details to verify that you are indeed real and the person you claim to be. It kept on saying that I must add a name and the name I am using is invalid.
Well, what to do? The other option is to simply create a pen name under which you write comments at Amazon. So, I started that process. Lo, and behold! The same thing happened, but this time Amazon decided to insult me! I was told that my pen name cannot include inappropriate language! I suppose that if you have a dirty mind then my surname can seem to be inappropriate. Get your mind out of the gutter!
Then I went to their complaints section where I could fill in a form to voice my query/complaint. I wrote the following:
"Hi,I wrote a review for "The Making of an Atheist" by Dr. Jim Spiegel. I was required to either verify my real name using my credit card/s or create a pen name.I used 2 credit cards to try and create a real name, but both times I was informed that I was using an invalid name. I then opted for using a pen name. Then Amazon had the audacity to tell me that I was not allowed to use inappropriate words in my pen name, which is my real name: William Dicks. Obviously when I created my real name using my credit card, this must be why it complained too!It is totally unacceptable for you to tell me that my surname is inappropriate!When will you have this fixed so I could add my Real Name to my reviews?Regards,William Dicks"
Not long after this I received a response from Amazon by email. Obviously my email was only checked for keywords. I was told to go to http://www.amazon.com/your-account to make the necessary changes. I tried to be a good little user and followed that link. Needless to say, it helped nothing and the same results as before presented itself. In the email, there were two more links. One to click on if the solution helped and the other if it didn’t. I clicked on the link for "useless solution" and was taken to a form to enter my details again! I entered my name and email address and then started entering a comment. Guess what? amazon, in all their wisdom which they no doubt did not get from their books, did not make enough space available for any meaningful comment! On the other hand, maybe that was by design, so that complainants would just go away! I clicked Send and moments later another email from Amazon.
This time, like before they were just too happy to get my customer feedback. They wrote:
"Customer feedback like yours is very important in helping us continue to improve our website and services. I appreciate your thoughts, and I’ll be sure to pass your suggestion along so they may research your issue and make appropriate improvements on our website in future.We’re working hard to provide a stress-free and convenient shopping experience at Amazon.com. It is always important for us to hear how customers react to all aspects of shopping at Amazon.com.Once again, Your comments are greatly appreciated and thanks for taking the time to write to us. If your concerns were not appropriately addressed earlier. We would request you to elaborate your message so that we could research further and provide you with an appropriate answer.Please visit the following link to provide the information we requested:Once we receive this information we can take further action."
The problem with this response from them is that I could not "provide the information [they] requested," again! Of course, I gave them all the information necessary in my first complaint to them. DUH! All I could fit into their comment box was: "I cannot write more than this little bit and it s." From this I once again clicked on the "useless solution" link and this time was presented with a form in which I could get them to call me by phone. It had a dropdown box with a list of 5 or 6 countries to choose from. Yip, you guessed right! South Africa is not on that list. They can’t call me and they are completely useless via their email comment box.
I must say, this is the most useless assistance I have ever had from a company of such a size. I had a similar problem with my surname being inappropriate at another website where I wanted to leave a comment. The site was from the U.S. but that time they responded quickly with valid information and I was able to use my surname the very next day! One of their directors emailed me to apologize for me not being able to use my surname. That was good service, but this online service I am getting from Amazon is simply shocking.
I have thus far received three emails from them and NOT ONE of them helped and not one was of a personal nature AT ALL. The third email I received from Amazon, sent me back where I originally started with the email I sent them above. It seems to me, and I could be wrong, that the responses I received were stock responses. An email is scanned for certain keywords, and then the system recommends a list of possible emails that could be sent by the help desk person. This person selects one of these emails and sends it off. That is the only way that I can explain the useless responses I have received from Amazon.
Amazon’s slogan at the bottom of their emails is: "We’re Building Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company." You must be kidding, Amazon!