14 July 2007

 

Have you had a rude (no reply) email recently?

I hate companies being rude to me. This includes Amazon.com, Dell and other companies that supposedly pride themselves in high quality customer service.

They are rude to me by sending me emails and then denying me the opportunity of replying via the same channel. Obviously they know I have an email address, as they are using it. Obviously they know I have access to the Internet because I can use it to collect said email. They then assume incorrectly from those two assumptions that my preferred means of response is via a secure web form. It isn't.

They write to me via email, they get a reply via email. That's the way it works.

Problem 1.

You are disabled and although some sites might be web accessible it's a slow process navigating round them. Every site is different. Your email client is laid out identically regardless of who you email, it's convenient. Companies that deny you the opportunity to use email waste your time.

Problem 2.

An increasing number of people pick up email on PDAs (Blackberry, Nokia E61 etc). Said people have no problem connecting to pick up email, a few Kb if you have a decent spam filter. Sending a quick reply is less than 1K. Fast and cheap. Bring up a web browser on a small screen and wondering where the relevant link is an then navigating drop list spaghetti to find the right option, and then eventually getting to the right form and typing in all your details whilst staying connected the whole time is extremely wasteful of time and it only takes a few such instances to use up several Mb of bandwidth which isn't much if you are on a fixed package. It's astronomically expensive if you happen to be abroad (or even close to a border as your phone can roam to the foreign network even though you are inside the border). A huge waste of time and money compared to the 1K email. There's a vast difference between broadband access from a fast PC and "dial up" speeds on a PDA in another country. Make no assumptions when dealing on the net where your customers are or how they are accessing the Internet.


Problem 3

The website isn't compatible with your PDA. I can't use Jobserve with my PDA web browser as I get a crippled version that is totally unusable (it is impossible to log in and actually apply for a job without having to write to the job link sent to me in email manually and hoping I have entered it correctly). So much for click and go. I can't access the full site as they have disabled access from PDAs.


Problem 4

The website requires you to log in. Since you access hundreds of websites that require log ins and for security reasons you have a different log in for each site, more time is wasted while you fire up the browsers, access the forgotten password feature, wait for the mail to arrive and then try again.

Problem 5

Amazon gave me this reason
The reason that Amazon.co.uk do not provide customers with email addresses to respond directly to us is to prevent spam and viruses from getting onto the Amazon system. This policy also protects the integrity of our customers' accounts, keeping their details secure.

OK, My email is secure. My system has no viruses. I assume that a company the size of Amazon can buy a decent spam filter, virus filter and can assure me that none of its employees will ever introduce a virus directly. However, since Amazon have told me that email isn't secure, why are they sending me correspondence via email? I want a web form right away. I want every company on the planet to have to use my webform to contact me. I want every company to have an annoying random graphic to decipher before they get anywhere near my mailbox, oh and they can have 10 annoying drop lists like ebay to fill in before they get anywhere near the webform. I'll even throw in a useless wizard to hinder and annoy then. Then when they have filled in their details on my secure webform I'll even give them an auto generated response that tells them to get lost if they even think of replying to it. Yeah, that'll do nicely. I'll be secure then. I wonder how bloody inconvenient the companies that send tens of thousands of email each day would find THAT. Then when they reply they might appreciate how valuable MY time is with all this secure webform bollocks nonsense.

I sent my comments to Amazon who then changed their tune somewhat and wrote:

In response to your comments on our email communications system, email is not necessarily a "risky medium". But by not having a direct email address, we can prevent time consuming spam and junk mail that is often automated and sent indiscriminately. By not having a direct address, we avoid this, and spend our time replying to relevant customer queries.


Yeah, right. Like you can't get a decent spam filter? How many billions are you worth? Here's my response if you still have problems, even with a spam filter.

1. Send me an email using a custom reply address with the issue number in it. e.g. amazon-helpdesk-abcd1234@amazon.com

2. Only accept emails to the above address from the email address used to log the particular issue (in this case, my address)

3. If you like, you can expire the above address a few weeks after the issue is closed.

That's it. Didn't take a brain the size of Jeff Bezos' to work out that one. Indeed if they did implement such a system, rather than trying in vain to navigate PDA hostile webforms at great expense, I might actually have more free time when I get back to a real PC and use that time on the Amazon site buying that Harry Potter book etc. that's coming out soon. We all want more free time and certainly I would have more if I didn't have to waste it on webforms when email should be good enough.


I have worked on a large number of help desk systems that deal with responses to emails, filter them correctly and then file them against the relevant issue provided the subject is left intact. It works. Big Rude Companies Please Pay Attention.

I realise it is somewhat ironic having to fill in a webform to reply to this blog, but this blog is a web based medium, so using the web to reply to a web based medium doesn't contradict the above.

Thank you for listening to Rant Of The Day.

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Comments:
I agree, it is really annoying.
I left facebook recently as it's a temporary condition and in time will be recognsied as a stupid, shallow thing to do.

despite this facebook still email me from no reply emails and the only way to reply or unsubscribe is to rejoin.

the net is much less individual now and has a corporate mentality, look and increasingly noticeable sense of self importance. No reply emails are like the standard rhetoric of a london drone; ' ooh i'm sooo busy and important'; too busy to allow discourse it seems.

It's bad enough that facebook exists, i have learnt to hate my friends after seeing their constant and inane comments , but the fact that facebook are harrassing me this way (after months of pushy advertsing and forcing 'friends' on me) is too much. How do i tell them to fuck off without becoming one of them again?

I am renaming twitter 'shitter'. It may not help.
 
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