Amazon do a whole lot of things right when it comes to web design and excellent design of their online user experience. However, when things go wrong and you need some fast answers from Amazon you'd like to speak to an operator. Just finding a phone number is tricky enough! Just for reference, amazon.co.uk can be contacted on 0208 636 9200.
I have had a couple of reasons to speak with Amazon urgently. Last year during a business trip I arranged for amazon to deliver a package to a Denver office I work for several days in advance of my arrival. In the event, Amazon spectacularly failed to get the product there on time and were pretty unhelpful in resolving the situation. Generally though, I like Amazon and decided to overlook this, after all, it is really very easy for an existing customer to buy things with very little hassle.
Last week I used Amazon Marketplace for the first time, to buy Macromedia Studio MX 2004 for just £100 second hand. This purchase was perhaps a bit naive on my part because the full package costs £800 but after reading the Amazon Marketplace guarantee I decided the purchase was low risk. When the product turned up it was a typical pirate disk, no markings or labels on the CD and a serial number scribbled on a bit of paper. Luckily, the seller refunded my money very quickly. However, not happy about seeing pirated software sold on Amazon Marketplace I emailed Amazon. Receiving the typical response saying something like, 'if you are not happy with your purchase contact the retailer for a refund...', I decided instead to call them. I got no joy whatever with the first person I spoke to so I got on to a Supervisor but sadly they were unhelpful too. I would have expected Amazon to have some advice for people who receive stolen or illegal goods via Amazon Marketplace but apparently this is not the case. I asked them if I should send the pirate disk back to the seller or keep if as evidence or send it to the police. They told me to just send it back and gave me no advice at all about how to properly deal with the situation. In the end I called the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) who were also pretty unhelpful but told me to call the Business Software Alliance (BSA). Again, not much help there. So, having tried my best to ensure something was done about this person flogging pirated copies of Macromedia software on Amazon Marketplace, in the end I just gave up and sent the dodgey software back to the seller, who is still selling pirated Macromedia software on Amazon Marketplace. Working in the software industry myself I find all that a bit depressing. I've now bought MX Studio full version.
It's quite disappointing that a company like Amazon who has designed a supreme online User Experience, has made such a poor job of broader aspects of User Experience, in the form of telephone support. They could learn an awful lot from my friends at Smile Banking on that front.