Amazing Amazon slipups: Lessons to be learnt


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Amazon has an amazing name for great service and being customeric. So much so that Shep Hyken lauded them. And I have been an admirer, till recently. They had many slipups in Amazon India, and there is a lesson to be learnt from these slipups. Hope Amazon and others will take heed and move closer to zero complaints.

Let me tell you of the problems I have had with Amazon (are they listening? Are they reachable?)

  1. Ordered HP 934XL printer ink on the 31st December, 2016. What I received was a 934 setup ink on 6th January, 2017, which has less ink than the normal ink which has less than the XL version I had ordered. Sent an email, complaining about it. Answer was your order is cancelled, and how do you want the refund. Refund will be given after pickup of the item. The pick-up receipt also says ‘picked up 934XL’. So on record, except for my saying I got a 934 setup there is no proof. There is no way to get Amazon to understand they shipped the wrong item. Also HP tells me one cannot use the 914 setup cartridge!

This is an update made on 11 January 2017. I had re-ordered on the 6th January, 2017 and again the set up ink arrived. I checked with HP, it will not work (my printer gave a message, setup ink cannot be used). Called Amazon, and was told their policy was I had to re-order. They cannot replace the wrong product. They have my money from the previous two orders (I am awaiting refunds) and expect me to pay again for the third order

This update on January 12, 2017: After last evening’s horrible experience, I ordered a cartridge from HP. It arrived at 10 am, no hassles, no mistakes!

  1. Ordered a Samsung phone, paid for it, and 3 days later was told not available and order being cancelled. Refund took 10 days. I had to order from a competitor at a higher price than what the competitor had posted 3 days earlier,
  2. I placed an order for three types of fire extinguishers. One type was delivered. The second type was promised a few days later (and it arrived fine). On the delivery date of the third one, I got a call from someone (not Amazon, maybe third party logistics partner. He said we have a better product, can we ship that. I said, no I want the brand (a known brand) I ordered. I got another call the next day, and same conversation. Then I find Amazon cancels the order, claiming I had cancelled it. Refunds take forever.
  3. I placed an order for a phone. It arrived and I was not home, but my wife was. Amazon would not deliver it to her. She said I would be home in 5 minutes (which was true). He would not wait and said he would come back. When, he did not know, maybe tomorrow. I had no way of finding out or tracking the last mile of the delivery.

Did Amazon expect me to be home the whole day awaiting the order? Or should they have a system of letting me know approximate time of delivery

The message is simple:

  1. You cannot get too big and too automated to ignore the customer’s problems.
  2. You cannot have a one way communication system, which prevents the customer from communicating with you. Also listen to the Customer
  3. And when you have a two way communicating system you cannot allow the customer only to answer from drop down menus where his/her problem does not exist or he cannot explain it.

Amazon and others have to learn from this, or else they will go downhill. Or as Donough Obrien wrote: Banana Skins: The Secrets of the Slip-ups and Screw-ups That Brought the Famous Down to Earth.

Would love your comments and help. We are happy to help others in education and executive education on courses in Value Creation.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Gautam Mahajan
Gautam Mahajan, President of Customer Value Foundation is the leading global leader in Customer Value Management. Mr Mahajan worked for a Fortune 50 company in the USA for 17 years and had hand-on experience in consulting, training of leaders, professionals, managers and CEOs from numerous MNCs and local conglomerates like Tata, Birla and Godrej groups. He is also the author of widely acclaimed books "Customer Value Investment: Formula for Sustained Business Success" and "Total Customer Value Management: Transforming Business Thinking." He is Founder Editor of the Journal of Creating Value ( and runs the global conference on Creating Value (


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