If you are thinking of sending Amazon gift cards this Christmas, I recommend you think again. Hansel and Gretel received a bumper payout totalling $700 for their birthdays a couple of weeks ago–generous gifts from the Blarney connection in the UK. Today, Gretel (a very cautious shopper) finally made her choices and so we were ready to “proceed to checkout”.
I thought I was still okaying the shipping address when I discovered I had inadvertently clicked to complete the order and so had $600 of teen shopping charged to my credit card. I tried to cancel the order. No luck. I tried to email Amazon with the numbers of the gift cards. No luck. I phoned Amazon and spoke to Topher, painstakingly bellowing the 14 digits of each gift card down the phone (T as in Tommy, U as in Ukelele, Idiot as in Amazon) to identify the Blarney bounty. Topher reversed $200 of my charges, and applied two gift cards, but told me the rest of the gift cards had already been spent. I put down the phone and went back on Amazon to check our recent orders. No sign of a $400 shopping spree. I called back Amazon and spoke to Rossy, spelling out all the card codes again. She agreed I had a balance of $400 and put me on hold while she went away to get some help. Well, she said that was her plan, but actually she cut me off. By now the Amazon experience had lasted a more than an hour. I called back and spoke to Padraic. He agreed that I had a balance of $400, but unfortunately he could not apply it to my order and refund my credit card “The goods are being shipped from third parties” he said “nothing we can do about it”. I spoke to his superviser, Jenn. Nothing she could do about it either. And she was all out of ideas on how she might make it up to me. I suggested a $150 gift card. She agreed to $50 and, after a total of nearly two hours on the phone I was too tired to press the point. “Never mind” said Gretel “You can do your Christmas shopping on Amazon”. Well, yes but unfortunately the remaining items on her list (Victoria’s Secret bras, a card reader for her new phone, a Mac Pink Friday lipstick) are not stocked by Amazon “You’ll have to do without” I told her “the credit card money is gone”
The galling thing about all of this is that Amazon, who have provided hopeless customer service, stand to make a total of $1100 from the Blarney family this Christmas. We can’t get $400 back from them, and so sooner or later we are going to have to spend it (oh, and Jenn’s generous $50) on things we don’t much want. Don’t be sucked into making the same mistake.
And while I’m on the topic of Amazon, their “shoppers who bought x often buy y” suggestions frankly suck. Ebay knocks them into a cocked hat, and they stock (new) Victoria’s Secret, Mac Pink Friday and the right card reader. That’s where we’ll buy our gift cards next year.