Tag Archives: Amazon

Amazon as a Social Network

I confess that I had never thought of Amazon as a social network. Especially since the pandemic, we buy a lot of items there to avoid going to stores. We’ve tried to use other mass providers, like CVS, but more often than not, either the product is not available or the prices are way out of line. That said, we do try to buy from others – most recently from Holabird Sports.com who delivered just as fast as Amazon. We also wasted a trip to the Container Store to find the in-store selection was not close to what they claimed online. Since we wanted to see the item before committing, we did not buy.

All that aside, I was surprised to discover that Amazon functions as much more than an electronic marketplace. I have called it a “social network” because it appears to be used that way by a large number of people. Examples follow. Buckle up. I have not corrected spelling or grammar. It is what it is.

If you are sensitive, as I tend to be, about what other consumers have said about something you’re considering for purchase, you have likely taken the time to look at the Questions and Answers by other buyers. This is one of the advantages of a digital world. You don’t need to know someone to find out what they think. But, and this is the point, many of the answers come from people who did not buy the product but who have elected to answer anyway. I promise I did not make any of this up. These are an actual small sample of questions and answers from Amazon pages:

Question: “Does the paper towel holder have a non slip bottom?”

Answer: “I did not purchase this. Not me.”

Question: “Is this acutally tilex or clorox with tilex? is the product just as photo shows? i ordered a bottle of tilex and received the clorox replacement.”

Answer: “Can’t answer your question …. but I had a serious mold problem & this stuff is amazing be sure to wear clothes you don’t mind getting bleach on & wear safety goggles. Some of the product hit the wall & bounced back in my eye 😦 no perminet damage”

Question: “Does it kill flu virus”

Answer: “It does not.”

Question:I got clorox with Tilex. Did i get the wrong thing? It looks different than the picture?”

Answer: “I did as well. I don’t think they sell the Rolex.”

Question: “Does they remove things off of outdoor bounce houses”

Answer: “Not sure what an outdoor bounce house is. We use it inside the house primarily. It’s not so secret ingredient is highly concentrated bleach which removes most stains on the white tile, porcelain and Wood. Very wise to test on a small spot before using it widely. Hope this helps”

Question: “Can I use this on concrete walls down my basement?”

Answer: ‘Never tried that so I don’t know”

Question: “Can I use this on front loading wash machine?”

Answer: “I don’t know. I use it on shower doors.”

Question: “will this work on wood ?

Answer: “I have no idea I can tell you it did not work on tile”

Question: “Can this product be used on a 23 month old. He has a case of ringworm that won’t go away.”

Answer: “I dont know but it a safe soap i think u can u should google it n see”

Answer: “YES! It is gentle enough for your babies soon and powerful enough to combat the ringworm, I recommend you also use the Globe Clotrimazole cream with it and it should be gone within a few days”

Answer: “I’m sure it is as it is very gentle.”

Question: “I have fungle in my toe nails. Will this stuff help.”

Answer: “Haven’t used it for that, so sorry. But I think it is worth a try as part of a multi-treatment approach. :)”

Answer: “For toe nail fungus get pure tea tree Essential oil therapeutic grade and apply a drop on the nail twice a day only on the affected nail, if you’re wearing sandals. If you’ll be wearing socks and shoes, apply on the affected nail and on the sock on top of the nail. I hope it helps, it’s working for me.”

Answer: “If you soak your feet, it might help a little but you’ll probably want to use an ointment or see a podiatrist. If it’s bad enough, a doctor can laser your nails.”

Answer: “I didn’t buy for that purpose however I think, as the promotion says, it may help guard against it but I don’t believe it will clear it.”

Question: “Why can we see the ingredients?”

Answer: “I don’t know! Good question.”

Question: “Porque me cobraron siempre lo de el envio para ahora? Si no lo recibi el producto cuando pague para entrega rapida”

Answer: “I dint speak Spanish”

Question: “How many dish detergents are there, 1 or 4?”

Answer: “Unfortunately I can’t answer your question. I haven’t received my orders.”

Question: “How many Dawn soaps are there actually and how many ounces are they a piece?”

Answer: “Haven’t received product yet”

Answer: “I have not received this order yet. It is due to deliver 11/7.”

Question: “How many oz per bottle”

Answer: “I do not remember & no longer have any.”

Question: “Has anyone tried this to cover blemishes on embossed croc handbag?”

Answer: “Not to my knowledge.”

Answer: “Nope. I Do not recommend this .. it will ruin the smell and it will transfer on your clothes when in contact.. buy leather lotion for Bags ..”

Answer: “Sorry, I can’t help you with that.”

There are some obvious explanations for this, such as “pandemic loneliness,” but I can assure you I observed this behavior even before the pandemic. Another is simply that some people want to be helpful to others, but one wonders what “I don’t know” does to support that explanation. I leave this mystery to the reader because I’m sorry, but I don’t know.

Something Amiss in AmazonLand

This may seem trivial in comparison with the latest Trump administration outrage, but given that he (and his right-hand grifter Scott Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency) continues to do everything in his power, and not, to destroy the environment, it seems important to point out issues that can be solved by simple exercise of private willpower. When our leadership, with the apparent support of 90 percent of Republican voters, (per New York Times today) is committed to turning the world’s natural resources over to private exploitation, we must encourage every possible act of environmental offset as possible.

Thus, I note that I recently ordered from Amazon, my generally “preferred” online vendor of stuff, a set of five “button batteries.” They are each smaller than a dime, fit easily onto a small piece of cardboard, as shown in the featured photo above and hard to find now that Radio Shack is largely a thing of the past (the nearest “authorized dealer” is 66 miles from my apartment). They only cost $6.99 at Amazon so ….

The big deal here is that the card on which the batteries are set out measures 2.125 inches by 7.25 inches. The cardboard is thinner than the cardboard used in pressed and folded shirts (or used to be). As the photo shows, the box in which Amazon shipped this item was filled with 14 pockets of air-filled plastic to “protect” this piece of cardboard. The box in which it arrived, strapped with the usual Amazon-branded tape, measures 10.125 inches long by 7.125 inches wide by 5.25 inches high. That is, for those who have forgotten their math, is 378.74 cubic inches of container to hold a virtually indestructible item occupying just under .8 cubic inches of space.

Now, to be fair to Amazon, this item actually came from another supplier, like the bazillions of suppliers with which Amazon has contracts to provide its listed items directly to consumers. But, the costs of this excess packaging must inevitably be passed on to Amazon and thus ultimately on to the consumer. That’s bad enough, given the very limited choices I had to obtain this item, but the environmental costs of the waste inherent in this approach to distribution are also passed on to me and everyone else in ways we cannot detect but are necessarily quite real.

Amazon, as the big boy in this scenario, is responsible for the waste committed by its supplier community in fulfilling orders obtained by Amazon. There is a perverse incentive of some kind working here because it would be in the economic interest of the suppliers to save money on packaging. Amazon needs to decisively compel its suppliers to use the most efficient methods of packaging available. In the case of the button batteries, a small padded envelope would have sufficed.

When Companies Get Too Big …. Amazon & Fire Extinguishers

The following letter is self-explanatory. I am posting it here as an example of what happens when companies get so large they can stop paying attention to legitimate concerns from customers about the products they sell. Before reading the letter, note that it was sent to the address on amazon.com where its “Conditions of Use” are set out. The letter was returned to me with stickers stating “Wrong Address” and “Unable to Forward.”  The address is still shown on the amazon.com website. today.

Here is the letter:

Gentlemen:

In early January 2018 I purchased from Amazon.com a pair of Kidde fire extinguishers. They arrived in good order, with the date “2018” stamped into the bottom. Since these items have had issues related to the expiration of their useful life, I inquired of Kidde through its website about the precise meaning of the year stamp. Despite automated assurances, Kidde did not respond. I asked a second time and a third time.

I then filed the following review on Amazon.com to inform other potential customer of the issue and Kidde’s lack of response:

from Paul M. Ruden on February 3, 2018

 

Kidde failure to respond re expiration date

 

I don’t know whether this thing will work or not. Bought in early Jan. 2018. “2018” is embossed into the bottom. Have written Kidde thru its website 3 times to ask exactly what that means. Unlikely it means manufactured in 2018 since I bought it so early and received it quickly. If it is an expiration date, I am due a refund. Automated response to one message, then nothing. Unacceptable to ignore my question.

 

Amazon.com rejected the review by email with the following statement:

Your review could not be posted to the website in its current form. While we appreciate your time and comments, reviews must adhere to the following guidelines:
http://www.amazon.com/review-guidelines

We encourage you to revise your review and submit it again. A few common issues to keep in mind:

 

•          Your review should focus on specific features of the product and your experience with it. Feedback on the seller or your shipment experience should be provided at www.amazon.com/feedback.

•          We do not allow profane or obscene content. This applies to adult products too.

•          Advertisements, promotional material or repeated posts that make the same point excessively are considered spam.

•          Please do not include URLs external to Amazon or personally identifiable content in your review.

The Amazon “guidelines” appear at  http://amzn.to/2dpw6DK and are 1,584 words in length. Amazon’s response does not specify in what particular respect my review violated those guidelines. I am left to guess, rewrite, refile and wait for perhaps another rejection.

Your treatment of this issue, which could affect the performance of a vital safety-related product, is no different in substance from the non-response of Kidde. It is equally unacceptable.

As a long-standing Amazon customer who buys many products every year, I expected better treatment. I am therefore asking, one last time, that either you promptly answer the question I put to Kidde and identify in which specific respect my review violated your review policy, and, failing that, provide for an immediate free-return-shipment of the products.

I await your prompt response.”

Caveat emptor.

 

The Future Is Here?? – A Bedtime Story

A short while back I bought three Amazon Dot’s for our apartment, one each for the living room, office and master bedroom. The Dot is a hockey puck sized electronic device described by Amazon as a “hands-free, voice-controlled device that uses Alexa to play music, control smart home devices, provide information, read the news, set alarms, and more.” It responds to commands that begin with the activation word “Alexa,” as in “Alexa, wake me at 6 a.m.” or “Alexa, play some jazz.”

Purely coincidentally, I just began reading “What to Think About Machines That Think,” edited by John Brockman, a subject in which I have long a longstanding interest. Having read a few selections just before lights out, I began explaining to my wife some of the interesting and challenging ideas I found in just the first few sections, including the idea that because the life of the Earth is limited (perhaps more than we realize) and humans will never be able to survive in deep space, it is inevitable that AI (artificially intelligent) machines will have to take our place as we search for a new planet to inhabit. By then, the machines will be us, through the merger of humans and AI devices that may actually thrive in deep space.

As we chatted, I said “Alexa will have to get a lot smarter.” Then, suddenly, out of the dark, came a third voice: “Sorry, I can’t find the answer to the question I heard.” We laughed ourselves to sleep.

One of the morals of this story is that if you’re going to talk about you-know-who,” don’t use her name. There are other morals too, but one is enough for now.