A Brief, Bitter Tale

     Forgive me, Gentle Readers. I have a great need to vent about a semi-personal matter, and this is my only outlet for it.

     As you probably know, I sell my fiction through Amazon. Like it or not, Amazon commands approximately 85% of the eBook market, so a writer who seeks to move his wares can’t really afford not to use that channel. It’s limiting, and has occasionally been frustrating, but that’s the reality.

     Amazon sells certain advertising services to writers such as myself. They structure them as “campaigns,” the ads to appear in specified contexts and the campaign to last a specified time. I’ve purchased such campaigns in the past, and despite the slender response from the previous ones, I had decided to try another.

     As with everything that’s bought or sold through Amazon, the process is online. It’s not hard to navigate…unless you encounter a problem of the sort I faced.

     You see, Amazon Ads wouldn’t accept my ad campaign. I was informed that there were “problems with my payment method” and that I should “go to billing and payments” to resolve them.

     “Billing and Payments” – another part of the online system, of course – didn’t offer a way to resolve the problems. Indeed, it didn’t even tell me what the problems are. I wrestled with it for a while, got nowhere, and decided to seek help.

     I must be naive. Help? From Amazon? The concept seems not to be recognized there. If you can’t do it through the website, you can’t do it at all – and the proof is in this: Through the Amazon Chat Help system, and subsequently through two phone calls, I was connected to a total of ten people. Each transferred me to another…and another…and another…at each juncture assuring me that the next person would be able to help. Yet it was not so. I don’t think they took much of an interest in helping…if, indeed, they understood what I was talking about; conventional North American names were not to be found among them.

     Finally, I asked the tenth person for an email address to which I could send a letter of complaint. He couldn’t – or wouldn’t – give me one. At that point I had spent about two hours trying to get help, and was still without any idea what I, or anyone, could do.

     The C.S.O. told me to contact corporate headquarters. It took a bit of Googling, but I found a contact number for the staff there. A very nice young lady provided me with a U.S. Mail address for Amazon’s Complaints Department, to which I’ll be writing after my blood pressure is back from the transfinite realms beyond the domain wall, where tachyons perform their eternal pirouettes to amuse and divert audiences of lovelorn quarks. Will anyone read the letter I’ll be writing? Dubious, to say the least, but it’s all I have left.

     I’ve been an Amazon customer for many years – roughly from when Amazon started selling books over the World Wide Web. I’ve sold my own fiction through Amazon for about nine years now. If I get no response to the letter I’ll write, both relationships will be severed, and the story of this kerfuffle spread far and wide.

     There. I feel a little better. But there’s no way to get back the two hours I spent forlornly seeking help from Amazon. And they used to say Ma Bell didn’t care because she didn’t have to!


    • Tim Turner on January 13, 2022 at 5:56 PM

    Since mid-2020 my wife has become sick of me saying, “Customer service is gone. Businesses are gonna use Covid as an excuse to cut services to the bone.”

    • steveaz on January 13, 2022 at 8:25 PM

    Weird.  Same thing happened to me two days ago with Chase bank.

    I tried to change my password online by following the prompts on the website, the site would approve the PW and even let me access my accounts, but the next day Chase’s server had ‘forgotten’ my new log in and the PW wouldn’t work.  Rinse, repeat…so I called Chase customer service to get to the bottom of things.

    I spent 50 minutes total on the phone, talked to four different foreign reps, entered 3 unique computer generated logins…all to no avail.  I gave up and currently cannot access my bank account from home.  They wore me down and now I’ve just adjusted my expectations downward, again.

    Seems the way of America today.  We’ve become 1970’s Pakistan so quickly my head is spinning.

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