Oban’s Penseive

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Archive for the ‘Amazon’ Category

Get Better Customer Service By Having Amazon.com Call You

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I just came across a post in red chaos’ blog giving Amazon and E-bay’s 800 numbers. I see this every once in a while and had Amazon’s in my address book for a while. As an Amazon customer from the early days, I was always perplexed by their decision to move from world-class phone based customer service to a model that made the phone number next to impossible to find.

Amazon.com Click to CallThat’s why I was so happy when they reversed course last year with “Click to Call”. While signed into your Amazon account, you click a button that appears on every help page and immediately receive a call connecting you with an Amazon Customer Service agent. I was hesitant at first; I figured this was just a way for them to delay calling me. As it turns out, I was able to get to my issue quicker than if I dialed the 800 number. This is because a) you don’t have to go through any automated options on the phone (press 1 for this…), and b) you don’t have to jump through hoops to identify yourself. If you’re logged in when you click to call, the agent already has verified and can move to your problem a lot quicker.

I don’t know how long this service has been out, but I think its been at least six months. Posts like red chaos’ just show how far they have to go to earn back customer trust and have the reputation they once had of doing everything they could to do right by the customer.


Written by oban89

February 28, 2007 at 8:32

Posted in Amazon

43 Sites?

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43 ThingsI stopped by 43 Things today. It was depressing to see that it has been about 2 years since I’d been there, and I haven’t made much progress at all. They have, though. The family of sites now includes:

  1. 43 Things
  2. 43 Places
  3. 43 People
  4. All Consuming
  5. Lists of Bests

I didn’t have much time to poke around today, but looks like they are all at least loosely tied together through a unified login and german words to navigate to.. They do allow have your posts on their sites sent to your blog, so when you see me bitching about never getting around to becoming a professional poker player, you’ll know it’s probably coming from there.

Written by oban89

February 28, 2007 at 5:48

Posted in Amazon

Amazon Subscribe and Save

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Amazon.com has just launched a new feature on its website that offeres discounts on various consumbable items to customers who setup automatice re-orders.
Here’s their spin from the Subcribe and Save page.

Our new Subscribe & Save program is a great way to save money on items you use routinely–coffee pods, shampoo, laundry detergent, and more–while helping to make sure you don’t run out. Benefits include:

  • A delivery schedule that fits your needs–every one, two, three, or six months
  • Discounts on our everyday price, whether you subscribe for a single month or for years
  • Free shipping
  • E-mail reminders of upcoming shipments
  • The flexibility to change your schedule or cancel at any time

The current list of items available for Subscribe and Save includes products from the Health & Personal Care, Grocery, …

Welcome to Subscribe & Save

When you order through our Subscribe & Save program, you’ll:
• automatically receive a new shipment of the item in intervals you select–every one, two, three, or six months
• get a discount on our everyday price
• get free shipping on every Subscribe & Save shipment
• pay for each order only when the item is shipped
• have the option to cancel at any time

Mention previous feature that allowed for re-orders.

Written by oban89

February 24, 2007 at 21:07

Posted in Amazon

I want to know nownow!

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I’m really starting to dig Amazon’s new mobile answer service, nownow.com. The concept is to allow mobile users to get answers to questions without having to search the web. They just e-mail nownow from their cell phone (SMS support coming soon), and the questioun is researched by Mechanical Turk workers. Up to 3 answers for each question sent and the user has the option to rate the answers in order to encourage quality over time.

I was a bit skeptical at first. The service is free during the invitaiton-only beta, but the yet-to-be-announced pricing could be as high as $0.25 per question. I can see how something simple like “What’s the phone number of Piecora’s pizza in Seattle?” would probably net accurate responses, but couldn’t see myself paying to receive 3 e-mails with the same number. What I didn’t expect, was the quality of answers for more detailed questions. For example, when I first heard about the lenghtening of daylight savings time in the US, I was at lunch. I sent in a question and within 15 minutes or so had 3 detailed and comprehensive answers on my cell phone.

Workers are paid $0.02-$0.03 per answer. That’s it. I was wondering why they would do such good research for so little, so I sent in a question and asked*. While anyone who goes to Mechanical Turk can answer a question, I get the sense that there’s a sort of community of people who work these on a regular basis. They mentioned the sense of helpfulness, knowing they are providing information that an individual needs (as opposed to something that will be aggregated, etc). There’s also a pool of bonus money that’s distributed each week to the workers with the most “great” answer votes. Unfortunatley, not everyone bothers to vote (one worker estimated about 1/3 vote). It’s as simple as replying to the email you receive with “great”, “like”, or “lame”. I’m going to bet a reminder to vote gets built into the system soon.

Written by oban89

February 20, 2007 at 21:47

Posted in Amazon, Cool Tech, NowNow

Money For Nothing

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You’ll notice there’s no counter tracking the number of visitors to this site (at least, not yet). That’s because I’d be surprised if I get 10 in the next year. But, if I’m wrong, I’m sure going to want to make some money off the traffic.

If I’m going to allow advertising on this site, I have a few criteria that need to be met:

  1. It should be visually unobtrusive and not detract from the posts. Things like those horrendous key word links that add a double underline hyperlink and pop up balloon to every other word in a post are out! So is the type of stuff that’s just clutter like many pages have.
  2. Content should be at least loosely relevant to the posts. Otherwise, it’s just spam.
  3. Easy to use, customizable would be nice.

Since #3 said it should be easy, I chose Google AdSense as one possibility. You can define and place these adds from right within blogger. Similarly, I knew the url for Amazon’s Associates program, so I decided to check that one out as well.

As of this posting, Amazon Associates is the hands down winner. I spent about equal amounts of time with both services to check out basic offerings and try to add something here right away. My time with AdSense was spent mainly trying to register. You’re given the option to add AdSense to your existing blogger account. That worked great for me since it is also my Gmail/Google account. Instantly I was able to add the basic ad. Very easy! Too easy, I feared. I wasn’t even asked how I wanted to get paid. I clicked on over to the AdSense site to poke around, but could not log in. I tried creating a new account, but after the entire process was done, I was told my e-mail address was already associated with an account (duh, the one I was trying to access in the first place!). Meanwhile, I went back and tried to add a different shape ad box to my blog. No luck, kept getting a “client header” error. A search on that in help was no help at all.


Here’s what happened. When I created the AdSense account in blogspot, an email was sent to me with a link that would allow me to register my legal name, address for payments, etc. This is why I couldn’t add the account with my Gmail address. Unfortunately, no where in the process did it say I should be looking for that e-mail. Furthermore, the AdSense password requirements are stronger than the Google and Gmail ones, and instead of being given the option to strengthen it everywhere, I was asked to create a new one for AdSense. I’ve already forgotten what it was. Once I finally got registered I tried to update my blog ad again. Still no luck. Google has been nice enough to inform me that they’ll review my application and let me know within a week. Oh, and the ads, while they me be effective, look like crap. Plain text went out with pocket protectors.

Contrast that experience with Amazon Associates. I clicked to the site and was asked to create a new associates account by entering my amazon.com login. It recognized me and gathered additional information needed to pay me and had me acknowledge the TOS. Withing 5 minutes I was registered and ready to go. Now, how to add one of those professional looking banners to my site. I saw a link that said Build Links, followed it and viola, was given a easy to understand list of link options. I chose the Omakase because it reminded me of a terrific meal I once had at Nobu in NYC. Anyway, I then had a few choices of size/style which I picked and then was given the html code for the banner. Copied that to a widget in blogspot and I was set with my first real ad. Very easy. I still have some stuff to learn like how to tweak the dimensions and such, but the basic functionality was a breeze. I spent the rest of my equal-split time looking at other types of banners and playing around creating an aStore.

This round goes to Amazon.

Written by oban89

February 20, 2007 at 8:11