Well, the server upgrade turned into a 4 hour down-time due to dodgy RAM.

Update: I got a call from Amazon that has started to shed some light on the subject, so there's now more to the story.

Much more importantly, though, the Amazon.co.uk order I was was, in fact, re-shipped and charged for, so I spent a while just filling out the feedback form with a copy of their statement (that it was all a mistake), the relevant invoice references, etc., etc.

And I got a prompt reply stating that it was all a mistake, and that I hadn't been charged, etc., etc.

Well, turns out I was charged - Three credit card transactions, precisely matching the parcels and invoices I got.

Needless to say, I'm more than a little annoyed at this, because:

  1. Despite my warning regarding the erroneous shipment, they denied there was one. In case you missed the first bit, I warned them they were going to make a mistake.
  2. Despite their denial that the shipment was going to be sent and their claim that the notification e-mail was a mistake, the duplicate shipment was, in fact, both sent and charged for.
  3. Despite their immediate reassurance that I was NOT charged, I WAS charged, which means that they did not check the facts prior to e-mailing me.

Maybe this is what comes from outsourcing customer support.

After all, this is Amazon, and one expects Amazon-like levels of service, regardless of whether it's the US or the UK operation.

And one mistake I can put up with (I had already received a duplicate book from a previous order), but three mistakes in a row (all accompanied by reassuring denials) is utterly beyond my understanding.

Also beyond my understanding is this portion of their immediate reply -

In order to investigate this matter fully, please fax a copy of your bank statement showing the unknown. We apologise for any inconvenience this presents.

The unknown? Does this strike you as an unfilled form field or what?

Going back to the outsourcing topic, I am getting a definite feeling from the people answering my queries of their rushing things in order to maximize reply turnaround time (which is a performance indicator for any sort of customer care team) rather than actually solving the issue.

I honestly didn't think calling them to complain was a good idea, but thanks to everyone who sent me this link - it is most enlightening.

Neither am I particularly trusting at this point to just fax them over my credit card number and a bunch of information that they should already have. After all, the whole point of payment systems is that you are able to keep track of your transactions, right?

Well, after they called me and explained what none of their stock e-mail replies managed to convey, it turns out that the reason they want a copy of my bank statement because they seem not to have charged me the original batch of books in the first place. Which is pretty amazing - I mean, they issued invoices for each package...

Going back through my online statement, there are a number of interspersed charges that pertain to orders I placed in November and afterwards - because since then there were two orders that resulted in more than one shipment per order, with some bits of the second order arriving before the last bits of the first one.

Adding all of them up does not, in fact, add up to total of both orders, but when you're dealing with single-book shipments (yes, despite my making sure I want a single shipment, I end up with a few odd singletons), exchange rates and taxes fuzz the numbers a bit, and none of them quite match.

Leaving aside the issue of postage (there are, after all, a different number of packages involved now) and my having 170 Euro pulling a time-shift stunt when I had not allowed for it, the way the whole thing was handled still rankles.

I mean, why wasn't I charged the first time around? And why didn't an audit catch that in the intervening months?

But worse, from a customer perspective, is the consecutive blundering. Why wasn't this detected upon my first contact (remember, even if I hadn't noticed the missing charges, I did notice the duplicate shipment and warned them)?

First there was no shipment and the e-mail was a mistake, then I hadn't been charged when I had just been charged - even if it turns out to be rightfully, etc., etc. How can you make all of these mistakes in a row?

Ah well, at least Monday's a holiday.