Nearly two weeks ago, Amazon.com made a mistake. And I’m very impressed by their effort to own up to the error and make good with their customers.
(Jump down three graphs if you want to skip the backstory on the problem and want to know what they did for me in reponse. )
On March 7, I read a Tweet by Rich Johnston from Bleedingcool.com on my Blackberry. He was practically foaming at the mouth over these amazing deals that Amazon.com was offering on comics. Others followed, Tweeting it as well. Bloggers were blogging about it. Then people started snapping up books like crazy – sales were so strong comics had taken over their overall top 10 list of the day. So I logged on to Amazon to see what all the fuss was about. Anyone who buys comics regularly knows the prices they were offering were unheard of: $90 books selling for $8. And it was almost exclusively premium hardcover editions for which the prices were slashed. It didn’t make sense. But I ordered 3 books anyway because even after shipping costs and the exchange rate it still only came to the price of one regular off the shelf at the comic shop or bookstore. Eventually Amazon caught on and pulled all those books from the site temporarily.
A few days later, my local comic retailer told me some bloggers were encouraging people to stock up on the tomes and sell them back to comic shops at a profit. I haven’t really followed the story closely enough to know if this is true, but it wouldn’t surprise me if some tried that.
I kept wondering how Amazon was going to do because they were selling these big, expensive books way below cost. Needless to say, I half-expected them to cancel the order but a small part of me hoped they would fulfill it. And so a few days later, I receive an email in my inbox from customer service explaining they are not able to process my order (not enough inventory) but they were giving me a $25 credit toward my next purchase. Admittedly, this is pretty good service. They could easily have said they were sold out of books at the sale price, could not fulfill the order as a result and that was it. But they gave me some cash to spend in their store. I’m not sure if this is how they responded tio all their customers, but they did it for me and I was happy.
And then two days later I receive an email confirmation that one of the books I’d purchased was on its way. Bonus! I’m guessing the Brian Bendis/Alex Maleev Daredevil Omnibus volume 2 either wasn’t as hot a seller as the others I ordered or the warehouse had a bigger inventory available. Whatever the reason, I’m eagerly anticipating the arrival of my book.
Two observations from this incident:
1) Amazon would not have lost as much money as they did were it not for Twitter, blogs and such. News moves fast today, and errors are amplified as a result. (Thank you public, real-time digital social communication platforms.)
2) Amazon aims to please customers. They didn’t have to honour anything. I’ve since been watching how retailers in my city treat their customers when I’m shopping, and they could all learn a lesson or two from Amazon’s “mistake.”
So thank you Amazon. You made my week.