Someone had clicked on her affiliate link, then copy and pasted it onto reddit to share the Amazon product with some people (without knowing it had the affiliate link as ?tag=....). Because reddit is a site you are not allowed to share affiliate links, Amazon suspended the account.
The person who had shared the link was obviously even a legitimate reddit user, and the post was pretty minor only getting a few upvotes (we only found it via a search). But because of this, Amazon suspended over $500 of earnings, and killed a site that took many months to build and establish. And now my wife is now on a "refuse to respond" to list for trying to contact them multiple times to get someone who can apply a little bit of reason to the situation.
I think in hindsight we made the mistake of not trying to publicize the issue and Amazon could just ignore it. So here's an upvote for the OP
How would you feel if someone had a gripe with your cellphone provider or bank and got your accounts suspended until their issue was resolved? How would that impact your life? What if it took weeks or months to resolve?
These companies know what they are doing. They have a set of policies in place that allow them to boost their margins by not spending too much money on policy enforcement, while at the same time pruning accounts below some classification threshold daily. They don't pay out but they get to keep the earnings. Small companies do this too when they find their cashflow inverted. It is a very dirty game.
It's their choice to align with an entity seeking monopoly control of a market, and using their status to arbitrarily ruin lives.
These people are materially supporting that entity, so they're fair game for fallout from retaliation.
Your position is completely amoral, evil.
No one is forced to use Amazon, they're choosing to.
Rather, my comment was that a useful conceptual model for understanding a corporation and its supporting players is feudalism, though there are obvious differences, such as that a "manor" can be picked up and moved to another "kingdom", or even serve two "kingdoms" at once. It was meant as an imperfect analogy to their social relationships, as they actually exist, by drawing on our knowledge of older social relationships, ie, the relationship is closer to a manor owner serving a liege than a tennant in a firetrap, because of the willful support of their business practices, that they are receiving benefits from their service, and the (mostly) voluntary nature of their association.
My point was that merchants using the platform being hurt is no more important than staff supporting the platform being hurt, and that we can't simply abide evil "kings" just because some of their voluntary supporters would lose their privileges (or even be actually hurt) if we stopped them.
To use your feudalism analogy. It's like destroying a freeman's crop because the lord failed to secure the land. In the end it's the freeman who is harmed and not the lord because the freeman must still pay rent to lord even if he has no crop to sell at market.
The same holds true for getting an affiliate's account banned because the links to Amazon still work and customers can purchase items using affiliate links, the affiliate just receives no credit for the traffic. It's only the affiliate who loses out.
Using your reasoning, it becomes permissible to poison an aquifer to demonstrate that a city doesn't do enough to protect a customer who received a high water bill because a gardener broke their water line digging in the yard.
Suppose it takes 2 months to do and during that 2 month period everyone with a suspended account misses out on any sales of their products on Amazon or any commission from referral links. Suppose some of those people rely on the revenue they get form Amazon to pay their bills.
When Amazon resumes their accounts are they now winners?
The downside is that they might just implement a "referrer whitelist"
This is my same logic for going really slow through TSA checkpoints. It's intentionally to screw over everybody else that's traveling to make a point about how asinine the entire process is.
The difference between the TSA policy and Amazon's policy is that one is mandated and the other is self imposed. The TSA is tasked with protecting people and has to demonstrate that it's doing that regardless of how effective it is. Amazon's policy is self serving to protect itself from abuse.
So while screwing people in both cases is a horrible thing to do, the former is less likely to affect change than the later.
Yes them. Because there's no better way to bring the problem to light then to make people experience it first hand. The more people in line, the more people impacted, the further the message spreads.
That's all you're really calling to light.
The quick fix for that is the introduction of additional agents who pull stragglers from the line and detain them until they miss their flights.
If you're hoping that slowing down lines will some how make people feel that the checkpoints are too invasive or violate civil liberties then you're very very mistaken. People might side with you but they won't rally around your cause and as soon as their concerns are met they will vanish and you'll be back where you started.
I am a speck, a nothing, nada, zilch. When it comes to federal decision-making. I am a non-entity.
I despise the TSA. I utterly hate the fact that the Patriot act was passed in both House and Senate without so much as a sneeze for a discussion. But what can I do? That's right; sign some worthless petition on change.org lol... change. I haven't believe in that "phrase since mid-2009 when it was apparent that change wasn't going to happen, especially the dems lost their supermajority.
Edit; And there I go.... Politics.
There probably goes my passive income idea: Make blogs where I present merchandizing for fandoms and other niches, and promote the blogs on Reddit. :-) I wonder if the indirection makes it "legal".
They don't do a redirect or use pushState to remove the "tag" part, so it's completely expected that people might copy and paste the URL to share. And that's even without the person acting maliciously, god help you if someone wants to kill your affiliate account.
All attempts to contacted them ended in a dead end of "sorry, abuses are handled by a special team who can not be directly contacted". And when we finally got the abuse team to respond, the most they ever did was confirmed the affiliate link was posted on reddit. And we have in writing them saying that a single instance of someone posting the link on reddit is grounds for your account suspension, even if that wasn't you.
I really regret now not making a big deal about it, and writing a shaming blog. But at the time I just wanted my wife to move on and focus on something more productive. It was a huge emotional blow to her, as the site was something she was very proud of and something she did on her source of money (As a family we are financially fine, but having her own little stream of money she could use on random silly/unnecessary purchases made her feel a lot better).
Wait, really? I see "buy this poster" affiliate links on Reddit ads all the time.
> This will essentially let an advertiser identify an organic post that they find especially relevant to their brand or product, and promote that in the Sponsored unit you guys are already used to.
Is this a recent change, in the last year or so?
My mortgage was sold to a new company that had a weird computer-directed policy that rejected my home owner's insurance. They then flagged me as not having insurance and charged me over $1,000 for providing insurance. I spent hours on the phone speaking with people in India who absolutely would not send my proof of insurance up the chain of command. It wasn't until I was able to find the CEO of the mortgage company and contact her directly to explain my situation that it was finally resolved... for six months when the automated system rejected my home owners insurance again. I eventually had to refinance the home to get out from under this soulless company's grip.
Institutions like the Better Business Bureau used to protect consumers from this kind of abuse, but the complaints I have registered with them have achieved nothing. If I was poor, this situation would have financially ruined me. I would have missed mortgage payments, my home would have been foreclosed on, and my credit would have been ruined for years.
I highly recommend the science fiction film "Brazil" to anyone who wants to see the dystopia this kind of automated rules-enforcement could create. "Brazil" is the book "Nineteen Eighty-Four" but the totalitarian government rules with a system of overwhelming bureaucracy. The problem here is that it is the Capitalists who are the oppressors.
I guess the side benefit of today's age is that it's not too difficult to find people high up in the company to contact. I usually do these things to resolve issues that can't be resolved through support systems:
1) Search LinkedIn for higher ups in the company who could help
2) Search Google to try and find the email format the company uses for it's company email... e.g. email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
3) Write a clear and concise account of the problem and either include every executive you find or BCC them all
I had an issue with Babies R Us where they shipped me a piece of furniture that was destroyed at some point in the logistics process. I contacted support about it and they kept wanting to charge me return shipping fees and told me to take it to a B&M store to avoid that. So I took it to a local store and they said they couldn't process the return but would ship the item back for me and that I needed to contact the phone support to update them on the situation. I did that and phone support had no ability to sort things out with the store. At that point it had been nearly two weeks and I was charged the money but no longer had the item, as I had left it at the store. I began the charge back process but executed my tactics above and got multiple executive responses by the end of the day.
I've done this with multiple companies in the past and it has ALWAYS worked. It sucks that this is what you have to do but at least it's an option.
The infrastructure of connected things [..] imposes norms on citizens. Not in the form of written laws: the norms are hidden in the design of things. Citizens can’t protest the new laws, or change them, because they do not know them. And because decisions are made automatically, the laws can’t even be violated [..]
: https://youtu.be/qIVTKBeiabI (skip to 2:30 to get to the meat directly)
The only thing that will do you any good against a company like that is hiring a lawyer and it sounds like you should have done that in the first month.
And what about people who can't afford lawyers? Why does any American citizen have to spend exorbitant amounts of time and money disputing something that should be resolvable with a phone call?
I have a professor who's also a lawyer, and he said something that resonated with me: "The law isn't about what's convenient [or profitable], it's about what's right." People who have been wronged can take things far beyond what would be "reasonable".
The mere presence of a lawyer changes every interaction you have with any institution. It makes ignoring you a far more risky endeavor.
There should be legal counsel available, and it should be a lot easier to navigate the system; but unfortunate in the US (and probably most other countries) that is simply not the reality.
Many people believe that all criminal defendants are entitled to a lawyer at government expense, but in fact they are not. Unless you are indigent, you'll be required to hire a lawyer yourself or do without.
Not for civil matters, at least in the US. You are only guaranteed a lawyer for criminal charges.
More accurately it's the Yelp of a generation. I work for a 100+ year old charity that is trying to modernize while not abandoning it's constituent base which is primarily seniors at this point. There's a weird internal schism going on because we're trying to appeal to the younger generation but we have to keep one foot in the past and maintain crap like our BBB rating because our base demands it.
As the Greatest Generation dies off, I think so too will old institutions like the BBB but for businesses that cater to that generation they're still relevant.
They were up front about it, which I appreciated, but it goes to show that using a small town bank does not guarantee your loan will stay local.
I think a lot of small banks have quit writing mortgages, rather than deal with the Dodd-Frank rules.
ONE time, I had a mortgage sold to another servicer, and that servicer had "each electronic payment requires a $3 fee". THAT one ticked me off. Yes, I can still send paper checks, which are subject to getting 'lost' or 'delayed', but electronic xfer? $3. I did not sign up for that, but have no choice about who services this loan. :/ (refinanced and left - that's about the only recourse you have, and it often involves hefty fees as well)
One month, they withdrew my mortgage twice on the same day (found out when my debit card declined at the grocery store).
They sent a mortgage interest statement in January. I filled out my taxes, then after I had gotten my refund, they sent a corrected mortgage interest statement. I had to make a judgement call on whether this required re-filing taxes and the expense that entailed.
The worst was when we got a $2500 check from the mortgage company, saying they had recalculated our escrow, and they had overestimated it initially. We spent most of that money on setting up a nursery for a new baby. Two months later, we received another letter saying, "whoops, our bad, we actually did have escrow calculated correctly the first time. Pay us $2500 in 30 days or your house note is going up by $200 a month until escrow is funded again".
EDIT: Recalled another issue with this company. I'd get e-mails monthly: "You're late on your payment. We're about to foreclose on your house". This would be followed by an e-mail: "Our computer system is being upgraded. Please disregard late payment e-mails if you've paid your mortgage. We should have this fixed within three months".
I refuse to let others handle my escrow, and pay taxes myself. I've had companies 'miss' tax payments, or pay the wrong amount, and I'm still stuck holding the bag, and potentially losing my house, but I didn't have the money to cover it - the mortgage servicer did.
Glad you mentioned Brazil. Was thinking the same thing as I was reading the first part of your comment.
But this is the world we are headed toward with people continuing to stake their entire livelihoods on services with almost non-existent customer service. Companies like Amazon, Google, Paypal, you name it.
If they won't give you a phone number that rings through to an actual human being promptly, you shouldn't allow yourself to become dependent upon said service continuing to work. Let alone base your entire income and the incomes of employees under you on it. That's just incredibly irresponsible.
What I want is an issue tracker that has responsive, accountable, people on the other end. That's my ideal support experience. Phones are the worst case scenario.
The phone provides a means of contacting a human being who is (more or less) constrained to respond to you in some fashion, rather than being able to simply fail to acknowledge what you say.
Any system that provided contact with a human who actually responded would be satisfactory. Bonus points if the human has the authority to escalate things they THEY (not the irate customer) believe that they need to be escalated.
I'd love to start a company that offered this sort of communication AS A SERVICE. In fact, I could run a very successful business just offering "talk to a human" services for one or two big companies (Google, I'm talking to you). But the problem is how to get the company to cooperate -- it would require "political connections" within a company with poor customer service.
My company does exactly this (mostly for multilingual support), and I'm pretty sure it's pretty common (and in some cases exceedingly disliked by customers -- I'm looking at you, offshore support) to outsource your phone customer service.
Good point. It _is_ disliked by customers. The only thing worse than outsourced customer service is ABSOLUTELY NO customer service.
Bandwidth and latency. You can convey, to a human at least, much more with your tone, cadence, etc, than over email or even chat. You will also get much quicker responses and more empathy because of this, and because of the cultural norms around polite conversation (answering when spoken to, etc). You will also be able to judge better the listener's level of empathy and react accordingly.
Text is great for recording and distributing facts, but not so for emotions and the rest of the human psyche, which play a huge part in support and customer service.
Email and chat support doesn't have this UX issue.
While there are occasional hiccups, more often our biggest complaint is time zone differences not language, since calls are routed to the proper language queue world wide. Our support staff is chosen for tech knowledge and comfort with language and customer service skills.
Now I mention userbase mattering since were primarily working with it professionals not your average computer user. There seems to be a higher likelihood that tech people world wide know at least some English or have someone in office who speaks it. If truly no one in the customer's business speaks English, we've gotten by on translate tools and a lot of patience and understanding. The rather specific nature of our product allows a narrower vocabulary to be used, and support works well even if we don't understand each other through spoken word.
This obviously couldn't work for all things - a large enough userbase tends to have no common denominator you can rely on. But if your product
Has a clear customer in mind with a certain background multi lingual phone support is plenty possible.
It's not so much "on the phone", as "talking to an actual human being whose job it is to help solve problems like mine". The 'phone' part of it is mostly incidental, although obviously it works better than typing for people who aren't as comfortable with keyboards.
Even for non-technical, non-complicated stuff, where going off-script isn't a concern, it's still such a tedious waste of time to have to call someone. I get angry at T-Mobile about once every couple of months (I've got a complicated and expensive mobile broadband habit, spread across two providers, so I spend a lot of time fiddling with my mobile data plans), because their website often won't let me change service without talking to a human.
If I sound bitter...well, I really hate phones. My favorite support experiences have never been on the phone. Chat maybe, email maybe, phone never.
THIS. TIMES. A. MILLION.
Call centers put pressure on employees, especially good ones to wrap up calls quickly to keep their numbers high (because shitty policies result in a ton of people calling) meaning that even if you get a rep who legitimately wants to help you, they are punished in their job if they try too hard to do that (or take too long.)
Sidebar; Maybe this is a generational thing, I hate the phone. I hate being on the phone, I hate using the phone. If I have to talk to sales reps I'd much rather do it over email/in person, but not over the phone.
But for the most part I think phone support is a less efficient way to work and actually waste a lot of time both for the customer (waiting in line) and support side. It's expensive for the company but because it's expensive and cumbersome it works as a form of escalation. And given that they are wasting time & money keeping someone on phone might mean they provide some form of support. At least thats what I think.
So it really isn't the best way to support for the most part. But depending on the issue after its triaged, tracked through a issue tracker sometimes a proper phone/conference call might actually be helpful.
hold music plays
Because it's comforting to know that someone is actually looking at your problem and that it's just not awaiting for automation on some pile. Most of the times when I have a problem I need it fixed straight away.
And because companies forums/frequently asked questions/chat/whatever don't cover all your support needs. It's often a big labyrinth. I personally passed through some hard times with Microsoft, Google and Vodafone. Glad that with Amazon, chat support has been very helpful so far.
Which is the real problem, phone calls cost companies more so they prioritize getting you off the phone.
Telling paypal that a mistake had been made and it was their fault they didnt really know what to do. I got passed around 12 times over a few dollars. They basically didnt know how to handle a unique situation. I have similar experience with my bank.
Customer service teams are homoginized to only deal with volume, they are never trained on how to solve problems.
These automation issues just let that same system float to the top.
Amazon does have a seller support line. So what do you want people to do? Google "Selling on Amazon sucks" and then base their life on the opinion of some random strangers on the internet? What about the 99.9% of people who sell on Amazon and have positive experiences but don't bother to write about it? If we held other employers to the same standard using GlassDoor reviews, half the country would have nowhere to work.
"Honey, I could be making thousands of dollars a month selling this product I created on Amazon, but I'm going to take a part-time job instead because Joe Schmoe said Amazon has poor service. I'm sure little Timmy won't mind going hungry as long as he knows I did the responsible thing according to byuu."
While the point you're making is certainly valid and most of these big companies we've come to rely on have next to zero customer service, I just wanted to say that in the case of PayPal I recently had to resolve an issue with a purchase (with Musician's Friend, who I will never, EVER do business with again, but that's another story) and their customer service was actually pretty decent. Granted, I had to make a couple phone calls to them before I got a "good" agent that was able/willing to resolve my issue, but I'd take that experience over calling the likes of AT&T or Comcast any day.
I personally know someone who had their account suspended because apparently Paypal doesn't like emulators -- something not stated in their terms of service. When this happens, they lock you out of your funds. No warning, no notice, hope you didn't need those funds to pay bills.
Your experience may have gone well, but even a cursory Google search for "Paypal sucks" returns 1.5 million results. That doesn't inspire confidence in me. If I instead search for "Stripe sucks", I get 970 results, and most aren't related to the credit card processing company.
I would never offer Paypal as a way to buy things from a small business I ran, unless it was large enough that I could afford to lose a month's revenue from them.
AT&T, at least in the non-essential personal utilities space ... yeah they are complete garbage as well. I paid for the three-month DirecTV Now plan. The service has yet to work on any of my PCs. They do not support the service by phone at all. Their online chat has been busy all 20 times I've checked it. They don't respond from their Twitter account. They direct you to a forum to post about your problems, and then don't respond to issues there. They refuse to issue refunds.
I don't know what I would do if I needed commercial internet service. Probably go for having open accounts with multiple service providers.
Wait, how do they keep someone from accessing their own bank directly? Surely this friend of yours did not keep a balance in their PayPal account. If he actually did that, what was he expecting? A brief search online will tell you that's not a wise thing to do.
That exact field doesn't matter so much as the fact that they can kill your account for absolutely any reason they feel like, even when what you're doing is perfectly legal and not against their stated terms of service.
Why can't just they send me a password reset thru email like most companies do?
You mean the companies a lot of us here work for and should be able to have some influence over but ... don't because they let us play with "Oooooh shiny!" and because we'll be moved on to the next place in a year and a half? Those companies?
We are part of the problem, too.
This is easy to say but can be difficult in practice. Even if they did provide a phone number, there's still no guarantee.
Any business is going to have to depend on multiple individual providers, any one of whom could inadvertently shut you down. Your bank, your energy supplier, etc. Trying to mitigate for such scenarios is near impossible as a small business. It's worth remembering the flip side of the current story. This individual was able to sustain their family and two employees from this business. That's impressive. That an innocuous change on one device can have such a negative impact, with no warning, is a heinous oversight on Amazon's part.
For major companies, this stuff is easy to find out, thanks to people sharing their experiences as in that Reddit post. There's entire websites dedicated to countless horror stories of Paypal locking out small business funds arbitrarily with no recourse. Google is infamous in never responding to their customers.
If you're going to base your entire income on it, then do a day or two of research. Try and find stories from people who have had serious account issues: stolen identities, suspended accounts, you name it. Call and talk to people at the company and ask them what their policies are.
If you get Amazon on the phone and ask them, they'd tell you their phone support team won't help if your account is suspended. Make them go on record. If they lie, you have a solid legal case to bring forward.
It's okay to take some risk if you have a backup plan. Okay, Google shuts down my business e-mail account. But I have all messages downloaded daily, and I can switch tomorrow to this VPS e-mail server I set up. That's fine.
It's not okay to be so cavalier if an account suspension will cost you your home and require you to lay off two employees.
Again, I'm not trying to rag on the poor guy this happened to. Hindsight is always 20/20. I'm trying to warn people against getting into the same situation he found himself in.
Then about two weeks later I got an email saying that I was going to be charged £31 for the replacement. Contacted Amazon again and was told that it was policy to take a payment for it and they wouldn't budge. They also had no record of agreement before either.
I lost my shit. Another 45 minutes later, eventually I have a resolution, I think. I'll only know when they take or do not take the money.
Three lessons from the above and the original post:
1. Get everything in writing. Use Amazon's chat facility when you contact them and make sure you get a transcript emailed to you.
2. Don't put all your eggs in one basket. I wouldn't trust them to solely run my infrastructure or my business fulfillment. You don't really matter in the scale of things so they can afford to do a shitty job sometimes.
3. Cheap isn't necessarily a good deal. I'd genuinely rather pay more these days for something and get it from Argos here in the UK. Or bytemark etc.
Can't agree with this more and I learn that it's truer and truer the more interactions I have with Amazon.
I recently purchased a pair of boots on Amazon that were marketed as authentic and selling for half the cost of the originals, and they were listed as "shipped from and sold by Amazon" so I figured they must be real. The thing is that I own the authentic pair, so was able to compare when they arrived and the Amazon pair was obviously fake.
I no longer have any faith whatsoever in the authenticity or quality control of Amazon's products and wouldn't trust them for any major purchases, and never for clothing or anything that is relatively easy to imitate.
I'm quite sure that they are getting away with straight up copyright and trademark infringement hundreds of thousands of times a day, just because nobody can afford to challenge them.
I did not know that that is not possible.
SSDs have a number of 'tricks' that make them subtly different to hard drives, which include things like:
* Only whole 'segments' of the drive can be 'cleared' at a time, meaning the actual removal of data may not occur until some time after the file is no longer accessible through the file-system
* Often SSDs will have 'over provision' meaning that although your drive is labelled "32Gb", it might have more than that available physically (e.g. https://www.kingston.com/en/ssd/overprovisioning). This is used to augment the capacity as areas of the drive degrade over the life of the drive.
See http://arstechnica.com/security/2011/03/ask-ars-how-can-i-sa... for a bit more on this topic.
Do it for as many times as you want.
This device was stored securely in a fire safe at home, not used as a portable device.
Where do you think the drive will keep data after saving an amount of data multiple times the size of the drive?
What you describe might happen if you "delete" a file and save a new one. Then it is most likely recoverable.
Overwrite you whole SSD 10 times I doubt anyone but the most serious attacker can find anything, and even then.
As a side note, it's frustrating how email email@example.com is fast becoming the only way to get real customer service. I'm a T-Mobile customer and recently had a billing issue that required me to interact with their customer support who were thoroughly unhelpful and just added to the frustration. I had heard about the tactic of emailing John Legere so I did, and sure enough the issue was sorted out promptly by a US-based exec response rep. I was happy to get everything sorted, but the fact that customer service reps apparently didn't have the power to fix a relatively straight-forward issue still frustrates me.
I sent an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a summary of the issue. It took a day or two for my US account to be fixed, and about a week for the other accounts to start working. I don't know whether the email helped or whether it would have been verified eventually anyway.
The process is definitely broken, though. Even one day lockout could be catastrophic for a larger seller.
I imagine these destroy a livelihood around the globe every 60 seconds:
"I lost my Adsense account because someone in India clicked on my ad?"
"I lost my Amazon merchant account because of my
'suspicious' credit card?"
"Uber suspended me after someone threw up in my car?"
"Why am I suspended? I sent the package?"
In my case, I had something like a 50% failure rate of Prime delivery orders. It was at the point that every time I'd buy something with a delivery date of tomorrow, I'd get it 3 days later after it was dispatched from Germany instead. The drivers who did turn up have now been banned from delivering to our apartment block, as they would ditch all the parcels outside or with security instead of delivering them. Standard customer support wouldn't refund my Prime subscription because I had apparently used it 66 times in 3 months, which must mean that they must count MP3 plays as uses, as I only ordered 12 parcels in that time. Thankfully I did eventually get hold of someone who took the time to check and see that I've been buying from Amazon since they launched in the UK, and had been a Prime member since that launched too, and she promptly refunded me the membership. It took far, far too many managers to get to that point, however.
The general customer service seems to have deteriorated in the past year. Prior to that I always had great customer service from Amazon. I've now largely switched away to ordering from elsewhere. eBuyer gets me my parcels within a day on free shipping, and they're pretty competitive on price. I always ordered from Amazon because the CS was good, but they've lost me as a customer for now.
Must be a cost-saving initiative in their support org. I've never seen a retailer that could even properly bucket losses into "our fuckup", "possibly our fuckup" and "satiating customer." And forget about always fixing things when they are recognized as a fuckup. There is too much incentive to not to do anything for the customer. Even when its the "right thing to do." Metrics often prioritize short term savings over burning a large-but-not-VIP customer.
I once worked with a retailer where even their Point of Sale voids were bucketed wrong. If a CSR were to accidentally scan the same $X item twice, they would void one on the POS. The stock control logic would keep the product in inventory counts, but the end-of-day financial tallies would look the same as if they manually applied a $X discount on an order.
I don't mean to imply Amazon is _that_ bad. But just because they're a big software employer, and AWS is a decent product, it doesn't mean that the support staff, internal software, etc... aren't shite.
At this point I'm snookered - I feel like if my password is ever compromised I'm screwed, but it's not like I can just start a new account because all my digital purchases, my Kindle, my Echo, etc are tied to my old account.
Basically: do yourself a favour and sign up to distinct services with distinct accounts and don't have one global account for everything.
I think your conclusion and advice is good. Separate your accounts for different services.
> I've hit an impasse with support, they'll only accept a notarized identity verification form and affidavit to proceed, which isn't that easy or cheap to do outside of the USA.
This should in fact be very cheap most places in the world. Do they not have notaries public in your country?
Generally you just need to sign a legally binding form asserting under penalty of perjury that you are so-and-so, and this is your account. You do this in front of the notary, and they inspect your government ID to confirm it's really you. Then the notary stamps the document to indicate that they've witnessed you signing it, and have inspected your id. Now you're done.
A number of online businesses require this in certain circumstances, and it's something that you can do in about 10 minutes at a store. In the USA, stores like the UPS Store, Kinko's Copies, etc. often have notary services. If you work for a medium-sized company or larger, your company will typically have a notary in its business center who may be willing to notarize personal documents for free. It should be a pretty simple process to complete, if inconvenient.
I used AWS for a bit and then stopped, and then forgot about it. I've kept my Amazon account up to date, but not my AWS details. For years I continued to use my Amazon account without ever needing to use the MFA, so forgot I ever activated it. This year they've suddenly decided to enforce the MFA globally. I blame myself for not removing the MFA when I closed the account, but you can hopefully see why it's a frustrating user experience also. And like I say, the net result is a less secure Amazon account for everything but AWS until I can remove the MFA requirement.
Re notarizing, my understanding is that I need to use a US notary service for it to be valid for a US document (eg available via the US embassy).
Essentially, Amazon is no longer a business. It is infrastructure. Every citizen should have the right to complain if something goes wrong. There could be a little office in every bigger city where you pull a number and get to talk to a real human. And if the dispute isn't settled, you should be able to take your case to a real court.
Note I don't want to expropriate anybody. Congratulations Jeff, you won capitalism! Give the man a billion and make him Secretary of Shipment or something. But the whole structure he created has become so important, that it should be subject to the same scrutiny that a wing of government would be (should be)... parliamental control, transparence and accountability, separation of powers, etc..
It's not hard at all to live without Amazon unless you choose to submit to it.
But it's a pity that other companies can't use this great "technology" of next or same day delivery. It may sound silly, but it is a real organizational marvel. It makes me think of the aztec relay messengers, or the early US postal service delivering mail to the frontier.
There is "fulfilment by Amazon", which is great, but Amazon gets to dictate the conditions, which are not very favorable to other businesses as I understand.
Also, Amazon is said to not pay their workers very well. I'd love to have the option to use something just like Amazon, but where I pay a few percent more, and the workers get paid more fairly.
I'd love to vote with my wallet on these issues, or (crazy!) actually with my vote, but I can't. I don't want to boycott Amazon, as little as I want to boycott the interstate system or air travel and go by carriage, although there are things I might want to improve with either.
The times you do need it, better planning could often have obviated the need for it.
The rare times you still need it, there's always real stores you can go to for most categories of items.
The remaining times it's still needed should be very rare. You can think of Amazon as a fallback you only need in rare times of desperation than your go-to place for buying in general.
The test of infrastructure is whether society would grind to a halt if it disappeared tomorrow. So let's assume as of midnight tonight, Amazon ceases to operate. What happens? It's annoying, but everyone just shops at a different place, probably in person because there isn't a great online competitor to Amazon (at least in the US). It's not a critical part of society the way power, water, roads, and the internet are.
All businesses make errors like this, the key is to push them to have better processes to deal with them, rather than outsourced and unhelpful customer support.
If you are going for a "social market economy" kind of society - e.g. a free market but elements of what would be called "socialist" in the US - then there is a place for huge businesses that are run privately (i.e. not state controlled). E.g. Wallmart, Ford, Microsoft...
I would say the government should step in, that is the public should gain control, if the enterprise becomes utility-like. If you "need" their services to participate in society at a reasonable level. Or if many people build their businesses on them. This feature of "being essential" is not neccessarily the same question as whether a company is a monopoly or not. The end 1990s Microsoft was maybe a monopoly, but it was not a utility or infrastructure.
OTOH, I'm not sure you could classify Google or Amazon legally as Monopolies, but they have created awesome (in both senses of the word) infrastructure. I don't think this infrastructure should be entirely in the hands of a company or a few people. We also don't let owners of toll roads make the rules of the road.
So I wouldn't neccessarily nationalize Walmart, FedEx, Ebay. But I would regulate large Telcos for example. The model here in Germany seems to work quite OK. The market is deregulated, most of the infrastructure is still owned by the former state companies (Deutsche Bahn, Telekom, ...), and these rent the resources to other companies. But there are regulatory bodies that ensure that e.g. the prices are fair. It's not perfect, but it seems the resulting situation is preferable for customers (having lived in the US and Germany, I'd say both public transport and telecommunication is on average cheaper and better in Germany, and I think it is a result of this model.)
Twitter is a possible target. It doesn't seem profitable as a business anyway. But if someone decided that we as a society needed "a twitter" (I don't know if we do...), then maybe it could continue in this way.
Except by your own reasoning you don't "need" Amazon.
> Twitter is a possible target.
My experience was starting a website that showcased interesting/humorous products in the vein of thisiswhyimbroke. After getting a great deal of traffic and getting a fairly substantial number of purchases occurring through my affiliate links, Amazon informed me that they could not approve my account and that I would not be credited for the sales that I referred to them.
I asked for a clear explanation and was not given one, only told to reapply for the program.
I was pissed off but learned a valuable lesson- that Amazon customer service is shit and at any point they can cut the power off to your business if they don't like any minute part of it.
So while I might use affiliate links as a source of revenue again, I'd never rely on Amazon as more than a small percentage of that.
Perhaps that option would create a new set of complaint about people being extorted out of support fees for problems that weren't their fault.
Generally the way to get a human who knows what's up is to email email@example.com.
According to an AMA with a former employee https://www.reddit.com/r/FulfillmentByAmazon/comments/3naqe8...
>I did hear that a few years ago there was Seller Performance phone support and it was simply abusive and harassing for the people on the phones and wasn't really productive.
A few hundred dollars to pay for what effectively is a bribe?
"we're going to close your business down immediately"
"what? Who can I talk to to explain the situation?"
"everyone is busy, but you can pay us $200 and we might be able to fix your problem"
"Nice business you have there — would be a shame if it were to be suspended… but fret not, a few hundred $ and we will resolve everything…"
Zappos is the anti-Amazon, with exceptional customer service. Oh crap....
Customer support should not be considered "noise".
I wonder why, I truly do. Admin manipulation? A messed up algorithm?
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13120872 256 after 10h
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13120794 167 after 10h
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13120301 143 after 13h
Run afoul of some policy, or mistakenly triggered monitoring, and suddenly you are penniless. Maybe your phone and Internet bills go unpaid, and you are connectionless.
Right now, Google can kill your email (et al.) and Amazon can take away your books. Paypal can freeze online payments and balance.
Who you gonna call, when they take away it all?
Given that this is alread de facto business practice and not about to go away, it's sorely in need of regulation.
Well, how do you think we got regulation in the first place? People getting screwed over by circumstances too big to effectively fight, as individuals.
Yeah, some of it went bad. But baby, bathwater. And with changing technology, we are back to individuals getting screwed by circumstances very difficult or impossible to fight and remedy, as an individual.
The long-term effect of crap customer support.
And: too many complaints about those monetary accounts not resolved in time? ⇒ suspend their license to operate a "bank".
An executive support representative reached out after I e-mailed Jeff and was able to figure out what was going on since all of the previous reps had no idea and kept passing the buck. I was in fear that I was going to lose my buyer's account, and hadn't sold more than $100 on my seller's account.
A tip for anyone else going through this: no one reachable through regular CS channels knows anything about this issue and everyone will tell you conflicting things. The only way to resolve it is to reach out through executive support. I tried escalating multiple times and people would tell me to not worry about it, then I would get e-mails asking for the info again or saying that my account was closed (it was not).
If your livelihood is solely invested in a singular vendor, then you absolutely need to find a contact on the inside :/.
I hope he gets it resolved.
Maybe the problem is big enough so a new mechanism makes sense -- something like a well curated (and thus respected) resource that can select and publish "top 10/100" of the most egregious glitches which could shame companies into better behavior.
That, and having a "Plan B" in place -- local backups of cloud content, pre-selected secondary payment option, etc.
(Work 1 & G+, Work 2, personal email 1, email 2, Youtube)
1. Don't login to non-primary devices
2. If you are required to login, use a completely new/isolated account
Side note: I've also found it effective when working with the recalcitrant Amazonian, to ask them if they want to receive a ? email from Jeff Bezos.
A thing to learn: Never, ever base anything big on a big player, be it Amazon, Google, or anyone else. They can screw you at any time with or without a valid reason.
Another lesson: All (especially not very big) companies relying on cloud must remember that AWS, GCE, Azure may sound very good, but they can screw your businesses at any time with or without a valid reason. VPS or on-prem should not be discarded without due deliberation.
Edit: removed a bit of a rant.
It's certainly great advice - but for many this isn't really a reality.
Even in this case, you could argue that OP could sell on other platforms (and maybe they could), but that will depend on the product and whether they need fulfillment and such.
I think more practical advice is:
a) If you rely on any given service for a substantial or majority of your income, try your damndest to build contact(s) at that platform so you have a human with a relationship to turn to when something goes sideways. At Amazon this is much easier if you're their direct customer (AWS) than a seller, though.
b) Have a contingency plan or put a focus on building savings (if it's a case like this) to fall back on while determining next steps. That could mean money for getting legal help, starting new business, etc.