Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Complaint Department

Well, well, have I had a rollercoaster with My website was just about ready to launch save the e-commerce part of it when I realized that I needed to get on the horn to Amazon about selling my ebook and my audiobook.

Great, I thought, Amazon has amazing customer service—this ought to be a piece of cake. Au contraire!

In between emails to their Digital Services Department that went unanswered (not even so much as an autoreply) for three weeks, calls to their Help Line which took me to Seattle and India and all sorts of places in between, as well as all sorts of Customer Service workers who really did try to help me despite their ignorance of their own systems, I ended up exactly nowhere on the e-commerce front with Amazon.

So I did what I always do when Customer Service is a nightmare. I wrote a letter. It appears below.

101 School Street, Suite Three
Somerville, MA 02143

26th September 2008

Mr. Steve Kessel, Senior Vice President
Amazon Digital Services
605 Fifth Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98104

Dear Mr. Kessel,

I write to tell you how thoroughly dismayed I am at the alleged digital service that Amazon has, in fact, not provided to me in the past three weeks. It has been so unlike the Amazon I know and repeatedly patronize that when I, by some miracle, landed upon your address, I decided I had to write to you.

Given my usually stellar experience with Amazon Customer Service of any kind, when it came time for me to publish and distribute my new e-book, Dr. Susan Corso’s Seeds I-X, and my new audiobook, Oklahoma! Hex, I thought immediately and first of Amazon. Isn’t that what you want? I should think so.

After climbing around on Amazon’s Seller pages, and becoming thoroughly bamboozled (truthfully, unless one already knows how to sell on Amazon, there’s no finding it out from your Seller pages), I hired someone far more techno-adept than I to figure out how to sell my ebook and my audiobook.

Over three weeks ago, Mary van den Berg wrote to in my behalf to inquire as to how to sell both projects on Amazon. Then she wrote again three days after hearing nothing from the first inquiry. Three days after that, I wrote to the same address. I also called Seller Support, spoke to a terrific young woman named Krystal who went to her team leader Tony to find out why I had heard nothing from digital rights, not even so much as an auto-response. Whilst they couldn’t answer that, they did provide me with the information that ebooks needed to go through a new Amazon company called Mobipocket. Great, I thought, I can start the process myself! Her email is included herein. {Give the woman a raise for excellent customer service!}

Little could I know. Mobipocket is unnavigable without prior knowledge of how it works. There is appreciably no tech support whatsoever. Their forums page bears a note stating that we may ask our questions in the fora, and that they “will do [thei]r best” to answer our queries within a week. A week is a lifetime in technology, and you know it! Furthermore, there is no phone support at all, so even if I did want to invest my valuable time in figuring out the time difference and calling France, I couldn’t.

It is no mistake that their homepage lists “affiliates” who do the work of converting any format of ebook into Amazon’s ONLY ebook format, Mobipocket. (Not only is it the only format, but it cannot duplicate exactly the intent of the author because any desired layout or formatting is not available whatsoever!) When I finally hired someone to do what I couldn’t do, I asked her for guidance on how I could learn to do the process myself. She told me, “Oh, it’s way too complicated to bother teaching you.”

This is not the kind of Customer Service I have grown to respect and rely on from Amazon, not by a long shot. What’s happened?

Wait, it gets even better. Determined as I am to have my books on, I tried Seller Support once again to see if I could get anywhere with Digital Rights. An earlier call with a team member whose name I did not capture told me that Digital Rights only deals with finding out IF one has the digital rights. I know I do because I wrote the books. But never mind. A responsible team leader named Jenny H. spoke to me and agreed that waiting thirteen days for a response to an email from any Amazon department was deplorable. She volunteered to find out what she could for me, and to email me back within 24 hours.

After two further calls to make sure things were progressing, I finally received an email from Jenny H. in the nick of the 24-hour time period. Her email to me is attached. The gist is that Digital Rights is no longer accepting digital content. It sounded a little odd to me, but who am I to argue with Jenny who got the answer from inside?

Imagine my surprise when I received an email from Digital Rights three days later telling me how delighted Digital Rights is to welcome my ebook to their catalogue. This email is also attached. I faxed them the form they asked for immediately but have heard nothing further.

Then a techno-savvy friend turned me on to Create Space for the audiobook. Excellent, I thought, I can do that. I registered, but the form wouldn’t let me upload a zipfile for the audiobook. I wrote to Customer Support because, once again, there is no phone support. To be honest, I think it’s ridiculous. Anyway, no answer for two days. Then I got the bright idea of writing to Create Space on their query form. Sure enough, even though I asked for a telephone call, I got an email within 24 hours expressing excitement that I wanted to do an audiobook with them and informing me that they are not able to assist me.

Mr. Kessel, who is able to assist me to sell my digital content at Amazon?

If you were in my position, what would you do? Would you give up on Amazon Digital Services? I don’t want to do this. Would you do as I have had to do and find another way to sell your digital content? I didn’t want to, but had to, do this.

So, here is what I’m asking you, the Senior Vice President of Digital Services for, because, quite frankly, sir, if you can’t get this done, then no one can.

Would you please assign a special, gifted, gentle, kind, knowledgeable troubleshooting wizard with a lot of patience and a sense of humor, and a direct dial telephone number and an email that both receives and responds to the needs of your customer, to hold my very pretty hand and enable me throughout the entire, unintelligible, A-to-Z process to sell my digital content at Amazon?

I know I’ll be glad you did, and I’m sure you will be too since you won’t get another letter like this one from me or, hopefully, anyone else.

If you got this far, thanks for reading this.

Yours most sincerely,

Dr. Susan Corso

Emails from Krystal P.
Jenny H.
Digital Rights
Create Space

e-cc: Jeffrey P. Bezos
Roxy Caraway
Suzanne Rhodes

Imagine my total delight when I got up this morning to find a letter from the CEO (!) of Mobipocket—Amazon’s new ebook partner. Mr. Martin Gorner answered each and every question, and gave value-added service. He understands his own product.

Turns out that unless one knows HTML one oughtn’t to know how to use Mobipocket!

Further delight? Oh yes, I got an email from a David Keyes in Amazon’s Executive Customer Relations Department. I’ll write him back in a little bit. He’s willing to solve my every problem with Amazon.

I have yet to hear from the poor senior vice president to whom I sent the snail mail letter, but I will. Why? Look carefully at the e-ccs I sent. I included the Chairman of Amazon, Jeffrey P. Bezos, and Mr. Bezos, or his staff, have a Forward Button in their email program.

Voila! Solutions. Amazon Customer Service falling all over itself to assist me.

It’s the same principle one uses to stop a swinging pendulum, or a severe problem in one’s life. Grab the pendulum from the top to stop the momentum! For a severe problem, go to the topmost point of what you know about it and make the change from there. At the very least, the momentum will slow. At best, you’ll end up with your ebook on Amazon.

Ask, blessed one, and you shall receive.


Kasey Collins said...

Bravo!!! I looooove that letter!!!

amma said...

I have just had the worst experience ever with Amazon. Bravo for what you have managed to accomplish. I wonder if you would be so kind as to possibly reply me with some advice. I did not realize how awful buying from Amazon Marketplace would be. I live in the UK and I am chasing Amazon/the marketplace seller for my refund. I want to escalate the complaint but not sure how to do it.

Please help me! I am distraught and almost at my wits end. One thing is for sure I shall never buy from amazon again!!!

Regards AD

Dr. Susan Corso said...

Dear AD, I'd be glad to write you back but you've given me no email address. It's quite simple: go as high up the "food chain" at Amazon as you can -- who's the head of -- and write to her/him. You'll get it cleared up.

jacksmith said...

Sorry To hear about your experiences with Amazon.... Why dont you try ebookconversion site for all your book conversions..Rest assured,these guys take care of everything.& the resulting books look so precious...