What’s a consumer advocate to do when readers keep contacting us about a company, but the company doesn’t respond?
As you may have read on this site, we had quite the dilemma in the early part of the year about the handling of a case involving Amazon.com. The case, as we learned along the way, was one where the customer had violated Amazon’s terms and conditions.
Despite Amazon’s outward silence, the company contacted the customer, resolved the matter and refunded money, only to permanently close the customer’s account. The case was hard for some to believe, as Amazon is beloved by the masses and known for its top-notch customer service.
We got into a lot of hot water over that case, with readers launching accusations — not at Amazon — but at us. It hurt to be on that side of the conversation, because we’re well-intentioned. Really well-intentioned.
And once word hit the street that our intervention yielded a refund, more Amazon cases started rolling in.
But we refused to handle these new Amazon cases. How could our advocacy team take reasonable steps to ensure that these consumer cases were legitimate — not fraudulent — and worthy of being one of the chosen few that we advocate? Isn’t Amazon’s only reason to ignore a customer that they’ve broken the rules?
I put the ball in Amazon’s court. I wrote to our company contact, asking Amazon to establish some forum, or provide a point of contact for consumers locked out of their account. I explained, “We will not serve as a clearinghouse for Amazon fraud cases. Yet the problem remains that there are some cases where Amazon has correctly closed the account but perhaps incorrectly kept the customer’s funds.”
That message went unanswered. But the cases kept coming, until finally, one seemed innocent enough for me to speak up again. It came from Jason Gang, who wrote the following complaint (if you can call it that) about Amazon:
Amazon has become a staple of my life — especially after having two children. I purchase items for personal and business use, as well as for both my parents and my mother-in-law.
In recent months my account had been compromised, leading me to obtain new credit cards and subsequently report several purchases as fraudulent.
I have been attempting to communicate with Amazon for over a month regarding the on and off closure and cancellation of my account for reasons unbeknownst to me, but nobody answered my communication. My wife attempted to open an account to order items for her work, and that was locked as well.
If you can please have someone reach out to me, I would greatly appreciate it. I would hate to search for another vendor or company to which I would switch. Amazon Prime is an unbelievable service and I have recommended it to almost all of my colleagues, family members and friends. Thank you for your time.
This doesn’t sound like someone to whom our doors should be barred. In fact, this is a guy who’s saying, “I want to be your customer. Something went wrong; I don’t know what, but could you let me back in?”
As consumers, what do we do when the companies we want to patronize give us the cold shoulder? Jay Baer, author of the new book “Hug Your Haters,” performed a study on consumer complaints, and reports that a full one-third of them go unanswered.
Is Amazon so big that it can blissfully ignore these complaints, hiding behind their terms and conditions, and corporate lawyers?
Only time will tell. I wrote to my Amazon contact last night, in one last ditch effort to make an impression on the retail giant. I sent him all the Amazon cases we’ve received this year.
There may be hope yet.