I don’t usually do the “outrage” thing or write annoyed letters to companies that piss me off. I’m more likely to just quietly stop shopping there. I wrote one this morning to Amazon.com, though. They’ve been delisting books for having any sort of GLBT content.  I have been tempted in the past to give them up for various reasons having to do with the fact that they are a Giant Evil Corporation that craps all over independent booksellers, but they always just suck me back in what with free shipping and recommended reading lists and all that. Unless they come up with a damn good excuse and apology (much, much better than what they’ve come out with so far, which is both pathetic and dishonest), I’m done with Amazon.

Jezebel has an overview of the situation and the LJ community Metawriter has a link to all sorts of info. Just in case you want to share the outrage…

Update: Wow, lots of people were upset about this one – I saw posts all day long in my feed reader on it. Most notably (from my perspective), The Wild Hunt and Mr. Neil both had things to say about it. After I got over my initial “WTF?” reaction, I thought it was most likely either someone hacking Amazon’s page-rank system or an over-zealous staff member with a personal agenda. I’m still leaning towards the idea of internal sabotage, because it doesn’t make sense for Amazon to do this on purpose – why make your products harder to find?

Here’s the response I got from Amazon customer service. Make of it what you will:

“Hello,

This is an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error for a company that prides itself on offering complete selection.

It has been misreported that the issue was limited to Gay & Lesbian themed titles – in fact, it impacted 57,310 books in a number of broad categories such as Health, Mind & Body, Reproductive & Sexual Medicine, and Erotica. This problem impacted books not just in the United States but globally. It affected not just sales rank but also had the effect of removing the books from Amazon’s main product search.

Many books have now been fixed and we’re in the process of fixing the remainder as quickly as possible, and we intend to implement new measures to make this kind of accident less likely to occur in the future.

Thanks for contacting us. We hope to see you again soon.”

But, you know, when you make a mistake, even if it’s totally unintentional, that has the effect of alienating a good percentage of your customer base, it’s really a great idea to include some kind of apology in the excuse letter. “We’re so sorry this happened and apologize for the mistake” is a great place to start. Though that probably should have showed up some time this morning, not in an email sent at 7:09 pm after the Internet has been bitching about it all day.

If this was the only thing Amazon ever did to annoy me, I’d probably let it slide. But I’ve felt vaguely guilty about shopping at Amazon for a while now, and this is as good an excuse as any to kick the habit. In the future, I’ll do what I’ve always felt I should do when shopping for a book: step 1 – check my local used bookstore. If that fails – step 2 – check Better World Books for a used copy. If that fails – step 3 – go to my local independent bookstore and get a new copy through them.

thanks to Executive Pagan for the tip about Better World Books!

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