Amazon Black Friday sales: a clusterfuck.

This is a reproduction of a message I sent to tonight, after their Black Friday sales system went to hell on me, and I found their response to the problem less than enlightening. I’m reproducing the message here, as a warning to all. On a related note, links to my Amazon wishlist are gone.

Extremely disappointing.

I’ve been hovering over the lightning deals for a few days, hoping to get something for a good price. Today, I managed to get two items of interest into my basket, out of the dozen or so items I’ve been trying for. The Amazon website clearly states that once items are in your basket, you have until midnight the same day to finalize the purchase at the lightning deal price, so I kept those items in my basket until I got home, so I could pay with my wife’s credit card.

Throughout the entire process, the lightning price remained – seemingly implemented by showing the normal Amazon price, then applying a total of about £55 of promotional discount at the checkout, making the total price about £85.

AFTER I clicked to finalize the purchase, after verifying that the delivery address, card to be charged, and importantly price, were all correct, everything seemed fine. Until I checked my email inbox a few minutes later, to find that no promotional discount had been applied after all – and I was charged full price, not the price shown at the checkout.

Whilst irritating, I reasoned that with the sheer size of the Black Friday promotion, things can occasionally go wrong, so I called up to ask for assistance. However, rather than any degree of sympathy for my situation, the customer service representative seemed intent on blaming me for the problem – first implying that I hadn’t really added the items at the promotional price to my basket, then that there was an unpublished undisclosed rule about a 1-hour limit between adding an item to the basket and purchasing it (directly counter to the “Once you have added to your basket, be sure to check out before midnight” on

Eventually he agreed to cancel the purchase, making it sound like a special favour, rather than the absolute bare minimum response.

I’m not happy. If I’d been told “something broke, we don’t know what, but we can’t discount the items now” then I’d have been disappointed but accepted it. But being accused of being to blame by the customer service representative – using childish banqueting analogies no less – left me utterly infuriated. As a result, I’ve cancelled a second order I placed tonight, and will be looking into closing my account entirely.

Things go wrong sometimes. It’s unfortunate, but they do. But when things go wrong, there’s a wrong way and a right way to deal with the customer. Blaming them is not usually the right path to take. Neither is inventing secret rules.

Since this feedback form explicitly says “we will not respond to messages which were sent to us using this form”, I’ll be sending a copy of this feedback via order help, in the hope that someone might actually read it, as well as republishing it elsewhere for the benefit of friends and family.

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