Monday, June 13, 2016

Amazon: making returning a faulty product harder than rocket science

You'll need a comfy chair and cup of tea/coffee/whatever for this one. So, if you are sitting comfortably, I'll begin.

My new sat nav - purchased two months ago - was not working properly, so I needed to send it back to the retailer I bought it from - Amazon.

Naively, I thought there would be somehow that I could contact Amazon, state the problem with the product, and get a new one in exchange [as I would have done had I stuck with Curry's, see Navigating to a satellite navigator made hard ]].

So I went to Amazon.co,uk and found this page, with a link to 'returns and replacements'
 Which took me to this page ...
So I clicked on 'start a return'
Which took me to this page that required me to identify the item I wanted to return, 
... and clicked on the 'return of replace item' link, I got this page ...
 
Which said I couldn't return the product. 

So I went back to the returns support centre page, and clicked on the 'learn more about exchanges and replacements' link,
Which took me to this page ...

and when I clicked on the link to the page it told me I would get help on, it took me to this page ...

Yep ... back to the page I was on previously - from which I had sought help two clicks ago.

So I sought out the 'help and customer service' section, and came across a 'returns and refunds' page - and clicked on the 'replacements, exchanges and repairs' link.
Which took me to this page ...
 Which I had already been to on my tour of Amazon.co.uk [see above].

So it was back to the 'help and customer service', this time; 'about warranty repairs' - and clicked on a useful-looking link
Which took me back to ...
 ... to which I was now becoming a regular visitor.

So I tried a new tack, and found the 'returns policy' page. And there - a good way down the page was a line that said: 'if a product becomes defective after more than 30 days you won't be able to create a returns label using our returns support centre'.

I can't really repeat what I actually said, but it was along the line of, 'well you don't say - that information would have been jolly spiffing to have been told on one of my many visits to that 'returns support centre' page. 
So, thinking I was getting somewhere, I clicked on the 'contact us' link, and got this page [which doesn't look anything like a 'contact us' page to me].
But still ... I clicked on the 'returns and refunds' link, which took to I page where I was asked to identify the item, and when I did so the page showed a link I had seen before: 'return or replace item'. 
This is it I thought: result. 

Oh drat, I said when it took me to that old favourite ... 
So it was back to the returns policy - with the thought that Amazon were actually breaking the law by not providing a method of returning faulty goods. And there, hidden on the left was a little link that said; 'contact us'.
Which took me to this page ...
... for which there should have been a big sign - and link - way back on the second page I was directed to. Note to self: but there wasn't, I wonder why not?

Eventually, I clicked on the 'phone' contact button on the bottom, got a form on which I put my phone number, and immediately I was contacted.

But that is not the end of the story. The lady who rang was very helpful, but obviously in the Indian sub-continent. Now, I have many colleagues who do not originate from the UK. And far many more students who are classed as 'international' - so I am very used to 'interpreting' English spoken by people for whom it is not their first language. But I really struggled with her accent.

Anyhoo ... the upshot was that she arranged for the sat nav to be collected by a courier tomorrow and I would be refunded for it. So, result - I hope.

So if it was that easy for them to do, why isn't that 'phone back' facility made available - and obvious - on the returns page?

Oh ... and she never asked at any time what is wrong with the sat nav - and no where on the email I have been sent does it request that I say what is wrong with it [but I put a note in anyway, 'cos I'm helpful like that :-) ].

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

This online service doesn't hold water


I just received my paperless online bill from Northumbria Water. After checking how much water I had used and how much I needed to pay, I decided to change my password too the site.

So I looked at the homepage header expecting to see [the normal] link to 'profile' or similar [note that they can't call it 'account' as the account in this example is my water usage account].
 
As you can see: no such link. Note also the live chat facility's hours. As I type this at 7am, it is a dead chat facility. Obviously it is designed only for people who can access their watre bill while that are at work or on a day off [but not Saturday afternoon or all day on Sunday].

So I put 'change password' into the on-site search, and got nothing relevant – the closest being 'I've forgotten my password'.

So I then posed a question in the 'ask a question' facility. Thinking that the answer to this question would take me to a 'profile' page, I asked; 'How do I change my contact details?' I got this response: 
 
So I clicked on the 'online form' link, and got:
 
Hmmm.

Further investigation would suggest that:

* To change my password I will need to pretend that I have forgotten my existing one and re-set the whole thing [that will involve – I assume – and exchange of emails and me following a number of requirements].

* To change – say – my contact phone number I will have to ring Northumbria Water's telephone helpline.

Ho hum.