An Open Letter To Jeff Bezos: Please Stop Pissing Off People Over Amazon Prime
from the pretty-pretty-pretty-please dept
Back in May, we tried to alert you to a serious customer service problem that your company is facing concerning the way you are marketing Amazon Prime. You have a promotion that offers to let people try the program for a month "for free." What's in the fine print is that at the conclusion of this month, if people do not specifically opt-out, then they will automatically be signed up and charged the yearly fee of $79. I'm sure it's a good deal. While I, personally, do not use Amazon Prime, I have some friends who do and they seem to like it just fine.
However, it's become quite clear that many people are not happy with this program -- and that's because it was never made clear to them that they had to opt-out of the program after trying it for a month. Those people receive credit card statements with a surprise charge for $79 for "AMZ*Prime." Many of the folks who receive this charge clearly do not recognize that it is for Amazon Prime. Instead, they go to Google and do a Google search for "AMZ*Prime". The first result happens to point to the story that I wrote in February of 2005 about the launch of Amazon Prime. In the comments to that post there are a number of people who are venting about how they don't remember signing up for Amazon Prime and are pissed off. Those comments keep coming in.
The real problem, though, is that too many people are doing this Google search and are then blaming us, the nice folks at Techdirt, for charging their credit cards for $79. We have been receiving a regular stream of emails and phone calls from people demanding that we refund them their $79, which we never charged them for in the first place. In the last month, despite our earlier pleas to Amazon, the pace of such complaints has only increased. It has become something of a nuisance. We feel bad for these people, though we don't have the time to respond to them all and point them to your own, quite difficult to find, phone number. I realize that you certainly shouldn't be held responsible for people's inability to understand the difference between a blog post about a program and the company running the program itself. However, is it really necessary to use such a scammy technique to sign up people? If you really are offering something of value (and, clearly, some people believe that you are), why not just let people opt-in to the program, rather than telling them you're giving them something for free and then forcing them to opt-out? I think we'd all be better off. I know it must be great to be able to show all those $79 charges to the folks on Wall Street -- but it would be a lot more convincing if it were from people who actually wanted to give you that money.
CEO, Techdirt, Inc.