Just had a fascinating customer service experience with @. So fascinating, I had to blog about it: http://is.gd/xw1XrS
@proflafferty
Patrick Lafferty

I just had a doozy of a customer service experience with Amazon.com. I’ve written (and tweeted) about them a lot in the past, both good (here, there) and bad. Today’s experience, though resolved in my favor, would have to fall into the latter category.
Just had a great customer service experience with @. Their partner sent me the wrong stuff, but they took it back and gave me $5. #win
@proflafferty
Patrick Lafferty

Even better, @ was able to handle my entire experience through web chat. No waiting for phone/email response, plus resolution? #win
@proflafferty
Patrick Lafferty

.@ is remotely deleting #Kindle books again! This time, due to content. http://is.gd/jJFdO Who owns the content on YOUR eReader?
@proflafferty
Patrick Lafferty

You see, Amazon has a “strict” no price matching policy for their own store. If you buy something today for $35 and tomorrow the price drops to $25, Amazon says, “Tough luck.” This is nuts.

Even the most dubious of brick and mortar stores (Best Buy, I’m looking at you) will price match their own store within a reasonable time frame. I think Best Buy will match within 30 days for most purchases. But Amazon, the otherwise wonderful beacon of customer service (seriously!), says nay.

Now, as I said, this ended up exactly where I wanted it to in the first place: I got my price match. But as you can see from the chat transcript (after the jump), the circuitous route I was forced to take was less than satisfying. Moreover, the policy is the problem here, not the situation. As you will see, Amazon’s policy would rather have 10+ pound packages sent three times across the country than do what they ended up doing here anyway (and what Best Buy would have done without batting an eye). This needs to change. Amazon needs to price match themselves.

One last bit of amusement for you before I let you jump into the transcript: It was Amazon’s own technology that alerted me to the price drop. If their system hadn’t told me that the item was cheaper, I would never have known. Why have such a notification if you don’t want people to use it? Riddle me that.

Continue reading the transcript:

This transcript is unedited, except for the item name and order number.

You are now connected to Partho from Amazon.com.

Me:After ordering 2 door lock sets, the price dropped by $5.20+tax on the item within the week. I know your policy, but I am hoping you will match your own price in this case as it is what I consider a substantial amount of money ($10.40+tax). Thank you.

Partho:Hello, my name is Partho. I’ll be happy to help you.
Can I get the order number please?

Me:yes just a moment
Order #XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
and I am referring to the (item name)

Partho:Thank you.
With the exception of TVs, Amazon doesn’t offer a price match guarantee. We do consistently work toward maintaining competitive prices on everything we carry. Because the marketplace is constantly changing and we strive to offer the lowest price, you’ll see some fluctuations in our prices over time.

Me:yes, as I said, I know the policy

Partho:I’m sure it’s disappointing to see the lower price on the (item name) you recently purchased. Our prices regularly change, and the price you paid when your order shipped on Jun 13, 2011 was the lowest price we were able to offer at the time.

Me:In fact, your internal system notified me of the price change.
If you were a brick and mortar store, I would return the items and then buy them again at the lower price.
But that seems insane to ship them back to you and order them again. I hope you and your supervisors will see the logic in avoiding this cost both to your company and the environment and simply match your own price.
If this were a matter of a dollar, I would not mention it. But we are talking about 10+ dollars.

Partho:Patrick, If you want I can send you a return mailing label to return the item and get refund. I am sorry it is not possible for us to match price.

Me:Partho, I know it is not your fault that this policy exists. Do you have a supervisor I can speak with?

Partho:Sure, I will transfer you chat to my supervisor. could you please allow me a moment for this?

Me:yes thank you

Partho:You’re welcome.

A Customer Service Associate will be with you in a moment.
You are now connected to Gaurav from Amazon.com.

Me:Hello, Gaurav.
I hope you can help me achieve a logical conclusion to this situation.

Gaurav:Hi

Me:have you read the transcript?

Gaurav:Thank you for you patience.
Yes i am going through the conversation .
How are you today?

Me:I realize that the Amazon policy is not to price match your own company, but that policy makes no sense. In this case, I can order two ADDITIONAL locks at the new, lower price and then have you send me return labels for my previous order.

Gaurav:I’m really sorry for the inconvenience you had with the price match policy.

Me:But this will cost your company more money in shipping costs and have a large environemental impact due to unnecessary shipping of heavy items. Not to mention the fact that it is terrible customer service to make anyone go through this process.

Gaurav:But trust me we can’t make any exception in price match scenarios .
We’ve strict instructions by the higher authorities that we can’t match the price once the order has shipped.
I understand that it is unnecessary trouble for you to return it and reorder the same item .
But this is how the policy works.

Me:It has very little impact on me at all. The trouble is the wasted cost for your company and the terrible waste of fossil fuels to deliver these heavy items and return them, twice.

Gaurav, as I told Partho, I know this isn’t your personal policy and it isn’t your fault. Do you have a supervisor I can speak with?

Gaurav:Yes .i am the supervisor.

Me:You do not have a supervisor?
Who is the “higher up” that told you not to price match?

Gaurav:Yes I do have a manager.But even he will give you the same answer.

Me:That is fine. I would like to hear it from him. I am going to take this as high as necessary to point out the extreme lack of logic in this policy.

Gaurav:I can give you the corporate address and if you want you can send us a letter regarding this.

Me:Gaurav, I am trying to take advantage of the great technology your company has at it’s disposal. I do not want to write a letter. Your supervisor is not available electronically or by phone?

Gaurav:Yes he is available before transferring it i will give you another option .

Me:Go on…

Gaurav:As an 1-time exception i can offer you $20.00 Amazon credit .

Me:That would be an excellent solution! Let’s do that.

Gaurav:I’m sorry i mean $10.00

Me:Gaurav, this is going from bad to worse.
You offered me $20.

Gaurav:Since the difference is $9.76

Me:The difference is actually $11.12
using a 9% tax rate.
But you offered me $20 and I accepted.

Gaurav:I wrote it by mistake.

Me:I can appreciate that. How about an Amazon credit for $11.12

Gaurav:Sure, i can do that .

Me:Wonderful!

Gaurav:I will apply the credit now and send you a confirmation shortly.

Me:Thank you very much!
I look forward to seeing that confirmation.

Gaurav:My pleasure.

Me:Have a lovely day, Gaurav!

Gaurav:Is there anything else I can do for you today?

Me:No, that should cover it.

Gaurav:You too.
Thanks for visiting Amazon.com. We hope to see you again soon!