Amazon.com Attacked Me! I’m gobsmacked.

Wow . . . I can’t believe the e-mail I just got from Amazon.com’s so-called “customer service” department.

~~THEIR E-MAIL TO ME, AN INNOCENT CUSTOMER WHO HAS MADE NO INQUIRY AT ALL: (summarized for those who believe everything’s “tl;dr”–the full e-mail is interspersed with my responses further down)
Subject: Your Amazon.com Inquiry
It’s come to our attention that your recent discussion posts were outside of the Meet our Authors forum.
If this continues, we’ll remove your posting privileges from your account in accordance with our Conditions of Use. Please take a look at our guidelines before posting again. If you come across a self-promotion thread outside of the Meet Our Authors forum, please let us know. We’ll be happy to move that thread into the correct forum so it can be used appropriately.
~~

WHAT?

First, let me say that I have never posted in their “discussion” forums. I’m not big on self-promotion, and it would be fruitless to go out and hawk your books out there because they’re mostly spam from other authors hawking their books. Many people do that, but I am not one of them.

Yet I received this “threatening” e-mail just now. It is beyond comprehension. Their site consists mostly of fake reviews raving over how WOOONNNNDDDERFUL some inane book is, written by sockpuppets and the posse of the author, and they dare to write to ME and say that I cannot post other in the “Meet the Authors” forums–especially when I have NEVER posted on their site that I can recall? And definitely not since January of this year, when I do recall reading some of their discussion threads and concluding that no one would waste time reading those because they are all made up of unhelpful blathering about someone’s own self-published work. I decided that being another of the idiots talking about their own POD books would be silly, so I didn’t do it.

But they attacked me anyway! Directly to my e-mail address. Apparently some crank complained about me and they just fired off this standard scolding without even checking. This is not a good business practice.

Here is my response. I am sure it went directly to the bit bucket, so I’m going to post it here because it makes me feel better. I can’t fight back against their steamroller of rules, and now that I have been identified as a Troublemaker Of Interest (although it is completely without basis to claim this!), I really have no choice but to leave their site. Why should I spend $100 or more a month on books there when they treat me like this? Hey, they don’t care, because they have enough money–it’s like WalMart: who cares if ONE stupid customer leaves? Still, I felt I should fire back into the void. It might make me feel better and stop crying.

If you don’t care, just scroll down and read something else. I can’t blame you. You don’t have to care if *I* am slandered and treated badly. But when they do it to YOU, maybe you’ll feel differently because you’ll know you are not the only one they have accused. Right now, I AM the only one I know of who is being falsely accused . . . and it’s lonely.

~~MY RESPONSE (e-mailed to them, as well):~~
At 02:53 AM 10/12/2011, Roxanne P wrote:
>It’s come to our attention that your recent discussion posts

WHAT recent discussion posts? I haven’t posted for at least six months on ANY of the Amazon forums. I have to wonder who is posting under my name and ID. I found that doing discussions and so forth was more of a time-waster than anything else, and also I’ve had my mother in the hospital, so I haven’t even had time to work on the 3 books I have going in Create Space. If I had time to post somewhere, there are several people I owe responses to.

Could you send links to what these “posts” supposedly are?

“It has come to our attention” implies that someone has complained about me. I would imagine that this is a person who somehow got offended by me or chose to complain about me because it was just a fun way to make trouble. I can’t see how anyone could have a legitimate complaint about ME, as I can’t even remember the last time I was ON your discussions, let alone posting on them! I have definitely not posted anything about my four books that are poised to come out from CreateSpace. I would love to see the post that is being supposedly complained about.

And are you saying that I am not allowed to review books or comment on reviews because I am an author? If that is the case, there are LOTS of people in violation of that rule. I can recall posting a couple of replies to helpful reviews about two months ago, dimly.

The ONLY thing I have ever done as far as Amazon “discussions,” though, was several MONTHS ago, and it was indeed in one of those “Looking For A Book” threads. Tons of authors recommended their own books in those threads. I can’t even remember what I might have posted in the various threads. As I say, I need a link. (There must be some way to see all the stuff you have posted by pulling up “all your posts,” but I don’t have the time to search your site for that.) I would like to see proof that I am spamming the earth about my books.

>were outside of the Meet our Authors forum. I understand that it can
>sometimes be difficult to determine whether or not a discussion thread
>is meant for authors to promote their titles

Let me get this straight: the ONLY place you can post, once you are a published or self-published author, is on the “Meet Our Authors” forum?? That should be put up somewhere VERY clearly. There are SO many authors who spam everything with info about how much you’ll love their books and so forth. I agree that they are a problem and should be stopped. However, it is not appropriate to attack ME for doing this, because I do not.

This especially rankles because I am one of those people who doesn’t promote myself or my books very vigorously at all. In fact, I have been told that I need to be out there, and I am not, other than on my blog and on a couple of Yahoo group mailing lists. I mean, why pick on ME when I have not done anything at ALL–while you have tons of authors jumping on every thread spamming them to death? I suspect you have been misled to believe that I am one of those people. I simply am not.

>If you come across a self-promotion thread outside of the Meet Our Authors
>forum, please let us know. We’ll be happy to move that thread

OMG! MOST of your forums are composed of a few people who ask legit questions, and then the rest is “I have just published a wonderful book titled Blahblahblah” and giving links and quoting fake reviews. In fact, most of your REVIEWS appear to be from friends and cohorts of the authors, or from middle school students who review great classics at the insistence of their teachers (apparently) with drivel like, “I hated this it so BORING” and the like. I find very few helpful reviews, and that’s why I like to respond with a thanks to the reviewers. If I am not allowed to do this because I have published with CreateSpace, that is pretty ragged.

>Likewise, thread titles like the ones in the Kindle Communities that say
>”Books under $.99″ or “I’m only buying Kindle books under $9.99 ­ know
>of any good ones?” aren’t for promotional opportunities.

Here’s MY point. If an author does not believe in his or her own work sufficiently strongly to think that it’s worthy of telling people about, should it fit those guidelines, then why should I believe in the work? So I really don’t see how you can prohibit authors from posting in these threads–I assume that most of the postings are from “sock puppets” that belong to authors or to their friends and “facilitators,” which is a term I have heard used to refer to the posse who goes out and promotes an author’s book out of friendship or business sense, not because of the quality of the work. In other words, you should be going after these sock puppets, not someone who is using your CreateSpace site to help you make money!

More to the point, I have not DONE this. I have not posted AT ALL in the communities for several months. I found that going elsewhere to talk about my books was far more beneficial. So it is really outrageous that I should be attacked with such firmness when I AM NOT EVEN DOING THIS.

>If this continues, we’ll remove your posting privileges from your account

Hey, I am now seriously considering removing the account!! I have found it convenient to order MANY titles from your site, but they can be had from other sites. I can take my books elsewhere to be POD-published (Lulu is one of the providers I was considering until I got the messages from your contest saying I could do CreateSpace books free.) I am really bent out of shape by your attack. It sounds as if you have been told to crack down on all the spam threads and such, but **why** you would choose me to single out here is difficult to understand.

Amazon is NOT the only provider of books, cameras, USB cables, socks, and so forth. I have ordered so many things from your site . . . and now I’m terribly sorry that I gave you all that business and MONEY. You do not appreciate my patronage and you do not appreciate my having posted helpful review responses, and in fact you attack me for doing something that OTHERS are doing. If I ever recommended my own Kindle novel, it would have been long ago and in a thread that was chock-full of similar recommendations from other authors. This should have been handled by postings in the threads or notifications in the discussions pages, not by personal attacks by e-mail.

Don’t worry about me. I will be making a decision as to whether to continue on the Amazon site very soon. At the moment, it doesn’t appeal to me AT ALL.

They’ll be issuing ice skates in Hell before I review another book there, read another thread/review there (and trust it), or buy another item from Amazon. (In my “shopping cart” I have two digital cameras and various other big-ticket items that we were considering, but fortunately there are other places we can order those from at about the same price–we were choosing you because your deliveries are reliable and your handling of our money has been trustworthy, but this pretty much cancels out all good feeling I ever had about your company.)

I even feel that I should remove my books from CreateSpace. I have found that service to be very good and I’ve received very good proof books. I wish that I could in good conscience continue to use them after this experience, but at the moment I feel like pulling them and starting all over. It is a disappointment because the service seems to be a good one, but how can I continue to use a company that, out of the blue, accuses me of doing things I do not do and tells me they’re going to take punitive action against me and my account?

Please think twice before singling out authors who have posted maybe ONCE or TWICE on your discussion threads to be threatened with “removal of your account” when there are SO MANY AUTHORS who have bombarded threads with endless drivel about their work!! I realize that you feel you are such a large company that you will soon be a monopoly, but for now you are NOT, and I have a choice to go elsewhere. The tone of your message implied that I was a major offender and spammer, and unless you can send me links to these many messages I supposedly have sent (and WHEN these were sent and by whom), I must assume that you have singled me out in error. I HAVE NOT POSTED THESE KINDS OF MESSAGES EVERYWHERE. I’ll bet you can find ONE or TWO from January of this year. That doesn’t justify your coming at me with threats months later!

This is absolutely the worst “customer service” message I have ever received. Perhaps someone should study up on what customer service is supposed to do and how to treat loyal customers. You have just blown years of good feelings toward your “brand.” Was that your intention?

I’m sure you will not respond, so I’ll post this exchange on my blog in hopes that people would see how unfair this is. It’s my tiny little barbaric yawp, and I have no hope of being heard against the steamroller that is Amazon. But it’s the only way for me to respond, so I’ll have to be satisfied with it.

Have a . . . nice . . . day.
~~END OF RESPONSE~~

I know . . . pathetic. Well, I’m pathetic. I don’t know why I don’t just kill myself, except that I’m too cowardly (and I keep hoping “something good” will happen, which is an artifact of reading too many fantasy novels, I’m sure, in childhood) and that I am the only one who takes care of my mother and my dog. What would become of them? But everyone else would be better off without me. I know this, and yet I stick around and look ugly and “post things on Amazon” (which I didn’t and do not bother to do!!). How uncaring and inconsiderate of me to be such a loser. *sigh* But I do offer a service in the sense that others might look at my life and say, “At least I am not that big a loser! Say, I’m lots better off! Now I’m happy!” So perhaps there’s hope.

I do hope that other corporations don’t adopt this wonderful way of retaining customers! They might find that there is a mass exodus from their sites. Or maybe not. Maybe now that the corporations pretty much control the American government and the world economy, they don’t have to care.

*sigh*

I’ll just order from CD Universe and other book sites (try Daedalus Books–they have interesting stuff) from now on. What a thing for the Universe to stick me with this morning, when I was already SO CHEERFUL!

*EDIT* Indeed, my reply went directly to the bit bucket. The auto-responder already sent a standard thing telling me to go to the site and e-mail customer service. I chose to post there and innocently ask whether this could have been a spoof e-mail, but it wasn’t, obviously, because when I replied, I got a legitimate Amazon auto-responder. Most likely, no CS rep will ever have to read my reply. I still think it was patently unfair to attack ME for something I never did when there are hundreds of people actually doing what they complain about. But I’m no longer sure that I should pull my work and lose all the prep work I’ve done as far as releasing books through CreateSpace. Dammit, I should be ornery and just USE them anyway. After all, I go on living just to piss the world off, don’t I? I’ve outlived lots of mean people and have outlasted most of the people who come and go on the scene. Sometimes it’s worthwhile to stick around just to see how angry it makes the others!

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Author: shalanna

Shalanna: rhymes with "Madonna" and "I wanna," and is not a soundalike with "Hosanna" or "Sha-Na-Na." Aging hippie with long hair, husband, elderly mother, and yappy Pomeranian. I've been writing since I could hold a crayon. I started with fiction, which Mama said was "lying." “Don’t tell stories,” she would admonish, in Southern vernacular. “That's all in your imagination!” When grownups said this, they were not approving. So, shamed, I stopped telling stories for a few years--rather, I stopped letting anyone read them. I'm married to a fellow computer nerd who doesn't really like hearing about writing, but who reads sf/fantasy and understands the creative drive. I'm actually a nonconformist/hippie still wearing bluejeans and drop earrings and the Alice-in-Wonderland hair with headbands and sandals. Favorite flavor is chocolate/orange, favorite color is either Dreamsicle orange (cantaloupe) or bubble-gum pink, favorite musical is either Bye Bye Birdie, Rocky Horror, or The Producers . . . wait, I also love The Music Man. Is this getting way too specific and irrelevant yet? Obvious why I don't sell a ton of flash fiction, isn't it? To define oneself, I always say, it is good to make a list. How about a booklist? Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth, Cheaper by the Dozen C.S.Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (all the Narnia books) J.R.R.Tolkien,The Hobbit/LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy Gail Godwin, The Odd Woman F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye (before dismissing it, actually read it) George Orwell, 1984 Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle Donna Tartt, The Secret History Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn James Allen, As A Man Thinketh Mark Winegardner, Elvis Presley Boulevard James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum Winnie-the-Pooh/House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie The KJV and NIV Bible (each translation has its glories)

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