prime problems with amazon

You have to package things properly when shipping. Amazon must have a lot of room to write mistakes off because they are becoming geniuses at poor packaging and problematic shipping.

For the third time in one month I have had items arrive broken because they put breakable items in cheap plastic bags without even any padding! And then there are the things they send in boxes without wrapping or padding that arrive open or broken from rocketing around in a box without being secured. It is very frustrating. We pay for Prime, understand it now might be delivered late because of volume, USPS, labor shortages, but packaging properly is the most basic of things.

Anyone who is an EBay or Etsy seller will tell you that if you package something poorly you won’t stay in business. Yet Amazon? They just keep repeating the same things. So what is the alternative now to Amazon?

You can’t get nice people from Seattle on the phone any longer for Customer Service. You can only get offshore online customer service help….if the stupid Amazon customer service bot lets you. And sometimes the bot won’t let you past. An irritating, inanimate gatekeeper.

Today when I opened the plastic bag holding the plastic divided trays I need to take stuff in to a neighbor’s in a few days, I soon realized trays were broken because I essentially stabbed myself under one of my finger nails. That is something that hurts and is quite unpleasant. I dropped the bag and little plastic shards flew about as well.

I. Was. Pissed.

Then I began the process of trying to get customer service. First person a guy named “Vineeth” decided he didn’t want to perform his actual job. So he just left the conversation. No “let me get someone better to assist you or anything, he just bailed.

I. Was. More. Pissed.

The next person, Nithya, was able to help. It wasn’t rocket science. I merely wanted a credit back to the payment type, since I had to order something else.

But the thing is this: Amazon used to take more care, but the bigger they get, it’s like this stuff keeps happening, doesn’t it?

And the shipping problems are occurring on the items AMAZON is shipping on behalf of other companies from their warehouses. Poor and improper packaging hurts the consumer/customer and the business Amazon is being paid to ship for.

I spent a while picking up little shard of sharp plastic off the floor too. The shards came out when I dropped the envelope in shock when I got stabbed underneath my fingernail by one. The last photo shows a few of the shards.

Amazon, if you are in this business to win it, you need to do better. And bring back US based customer service while you are at it.

Little shards of sharp plastic.

dear citibank,

citi 3

(Warning: this post is somewhat of a rant. If you aren’t in the mood, turn away now.)

Prior to being a stepmom in Chester County, I spent years in the financial services industry including as a Compliance Officer. So I am very familiar with how banks and other institutions should send out customer correspondence.

This morning as I am editing some photos the doorbell rings.  A UPS man had dropped an envelope on the front porch. The envelope is from Citibank, N.A. I opened it not thinking initially it could be addressed to someone else.  We don’t have accounts with Citibank, so I did not know why they were contacting us.

Turns out the correspondence was for a woman who used to live in the house, but had been dead for close to three years.

I start reading this letter addressed to the “Estate of Mrs. X” . They (Citibank) open by extending condolences a few years too late. Then they state how they have closed the account referenced above (I whited out the number for this post, but they disclosed the entire account number of this credit card) and apologized for any inconvenience and if anyone in the house was using this card they can call 1-800-456-4277 to apply for their own card. Then they say if the records are incorrect and Mrs. X is still alive, accept their apologies and basically let them know to reactivate account.  They sign the letter Credit Management Department 1-866-775-0556.

As someone who used to work in the financial services industry I was appalled by the phraseology and the unabashed shill to try to get a dead woman’s relatives to sign up for a credit card. I was also profoundly disturbed that they sent a letter to an Estate where they did not even check to see if the address was legitimate still and disclosed not only the decedent’s name but her  ENTIRE account number. People, even dead people, have become victims of identity theft on far less information – the news has these horror stories far too often it seems. (My bank and credit card company which are different institutions do NOT disclose my entire account number on any statements and correspondence that gets mailed.)

So I call up Citibank to (a) tell them they are sending correspondence to my home to a woman who has been dead quite a while and to (b) to ask them to correct the address of record.

I get a “helpful” customer service representative who says they found out only recently this woman had died due to another account she had with Citibank.

O.K. too much information. I am not a relative or estate attorney or executor and if I was I should have to be able to give them proof of such standing before any conversation took place.

So I said to her I had not received other correspondence from Citibank so why would they send account information here when they had another address for whatever the other accounts were?

Very annoyed. I had some nerve asking a reasonable and logical question.

So I then told her how distasteful in general I found the letter along with foolhardy. Foolhardy as they disclosed to me a stranger an account number and did not verify a proper address for estate paperwork before sending anything out.  Distasteful because they are on one hand offering condolences but on the other hand pimping for new customers, but oh yeah if Mrs. X really isn’t dead let’s get her hooked up with more credit again.

Very annoyed again.

So here’s to you Citibank.  I don’t think I could ever open any account with you given this whole thing.  I want my financial institutions to safeguard all my information, and if I had any deceased relatives where I was executrix, I would want the same thing.

Financial institutions are sloppy.  They have rules and regulations they are supposed to follow with regard to client accounts, and once anything gets tagged “estate” they are supposed to be even more vigilant.

Aesop’s moral to this story is make sure accounts are CLOSED when you close them.

domestic diva blows a gasket over sears “service”

searsI cook.  So for me to be without an appliance to achieve said end result is a big deal.  A few months ago I was a lucky girl and got a new wall oven. And then mysteriously six months after install, the digital thermostat gives up the ghost. If we wanted things only 350 degrees or above, I was golden.

Yes, you guess it: the thermostat goes up, only up. It doesn’t come down. (As a slightly related aside read this amusing article about oven temperature on Slate.)

So anyway, my new oven which is brand name came from Sears.  Sears appliances come with these warranties and “Blue Crew” repairmen who are truthfully awesome.

Unfortunately I am learning the customer service as in when you call the toll-free numbers is not so hot. To the point of frustrating enough to make you want to toss the telephone out the window after dealing with them.

So back to the beginning.  The oven is wonky so we call the number on the warranty paperwork.  We tell them what is wrong, give them all the data off the oven door and they say they will dispatch a repairman.  A few days later, we get the repairman.  Only he could only LOOK at the oven, the part had to be ordered. And the fact that warranty repair is this multi-step process like this is not exactly explained to you by the “customer service” people.

We are told the part would arrive by last Thursday (I am not sure it even came Thursday, I think it came Friday). When the box arrives we were told to call Sears toll-free number right away.  So like good little robots we did.  We were scheduled for repair between 8 a.m. and 12 noon.stove 3

This morning begins with a robo-call from Sears at quite the uncivilized hour stating the repairman would be there at 7:30 a.m. O.k. in a civilized world unless someone is bleeding on the side of the road or it is the snow day phone tree, the phone doesn’t even ring then! At that hour in the morning what is happening with families this time of year? Oh yeah, getting people off to work and school or they are trying to enjoy vacation and might shock or shockers sleep in a few minutes extra.

The repairman arrives.  As always, the best and most competent and professional part of Sears Home Repair are the actual repairman. They are pleasant, competent, know their stuff.

So I hand my repairman the box that got shipped from Sears via the manufacturer. I had not opened the box as I did not want to invalidate any warranty if only a licensed technician was supposed to open it.

The repairman opens the box and turns to me with a pained look on his face “Is this all they shipped to you?” he asks.

I replied yes, just that box which I had not opened. Well it ends up what they shipped was not the actual digital panel part but the cover for it.

The repairman excused himself and went out to his truck to call his office or headquarters or whatever. He comes back with an even more pained look on his face.  Apparently my part is on backorder and will arrive on Monday, September 2nd…you know, Labor Day. As in national holiday?

I said to the repairman, I know it is not his fault but how come they can robo-call and call for everything except for things like to tell the customer who has been waiting for over two weeks to get to this point and will be at over three weeks if the part arrives that a part was on back order???

He gave me a card with a “resolution hotline” listed in it.  Resolution my fanny.donna reed

I called the number (888-236-1885).  They said the call center was Houston, it sounded more like the Dominican Republic or something.  The gentleman who answered the phone was very nice, but his voice was so heavily accented that I donnacould not understand him.  And I don’t speak Spanish so I couldn’t converse with him that way.  So I politely said I could not hear him and asked for a supervisor.  I was placed on hold and listened to a mind numbing repetitive fake jazz tune for about 10 minutes before he came back to the line and said he had permission to transfer me to a supervisor.

PERMISSION?????

So a woman named Patricia (still with an accented voice, though not as heavy)  comes onto the line a few minutes after being placed on hold again and forced to listen to more of the same mind numbing repetitive fake jazz tune.  I go through the whole situation with her.  She then replies to me and I could tell she was reading a script or something off a computer screen.

I listened and then I said, look, I need to know what you are going to do to try to resolve my issues, and I need more than being read to off a computer screen. So she tells me that the manufacturer (Whirlpool) is specially making my oven part – yes specially. I laughed and said I wish that was true but we all know the parts are manufactured overseas in factories and there is nothing “special” about it.built in

She tells me there is nothing she can do for me.  I asked who else I could speak to.  She replies “Customer Resolution” but won’t give me the direct number.  She transfers me.  I spent the next 50 yes 50 minutes on hold listening to SAME mind numbing repetitive fake jazz tune and then the call was picked up and DROPPED on Sears end.

I was forced to call again and start the process again. This time although I could have been in Brazil or Cuba, I was told I was calling Florida.  A happy sing songy voice wanted me to go through it all again. So I did and then she transferred me to the super secret Customer Resolution area where the phone rang and rang and rang for 20 minutes before I swear the extension was picked up and disconnected.  I did not even get to the mind numbing repetitive fake jazz tune part of being on perma-hold this time.

Now my better half is having a go at Sears.  And I decided to write about it. And Sears? Your repairman is awesome and none of this is his fault.

There's a simple way to keep your home spring-clean fresh all year through.I just want to know what happened to real customer service? What happened to valuing my time as a customer?  Is my time not valuable?  Am I just  supposed to be Donna Reed sitting on the sofa in the living room with a nice gin and tonic and am not supposed to worry my pretty head about it?

My final word is usually I try to give local businesses more of a shot. Only after lots and lots of looking we discovered no one could beat Sears prices on brand names we were interested in. However, I think next time I might weigh the pros and cons of paying a little more and knowing I will get actual customer service vs. Sears magic carpet ride.

Am I experiencing desperate housewifery?

And I would really like to use my oven……