Monday, January 26, 2009

I Made the Amazon EC2 Cloud Rain

Sometimes, elastic ain't so elastic.

I got (2) $50 AMEX Gift Cards for my Birthday, which are like feces that can only be exchanged for exactly ${FECES} worth of merchandise (not one dollar more!).

Sure enough, I decide to buy a couple games for my PS3, because it's lonely and nothing I want costs ~$50.00.

I have a credit on my Amazon account for $119.45 (two Christmas returns and three gift certs). After carefully reading Amazon's allowable methods of payment:

Which cards can you use on We accept the following cards as payment for your orders:

* Visa (including the Visa Card)
* MasterCard/EuroCard
* Discover Network
* American Express
* Diner's Club (U.S. billing addresses only)
* Visa or MasterCard check cards or ATM cards
* Visa, MasterCard, or American Express gift cards
* Amazon Credit Account

You can use debit, check, and gift cards issued by the companies above in addition to their standard credit cards. For example, if you're paying with a Visa Check Card please select Visa from the drop-down menu on the order form when indicating the card type. Similarly, if you're paying with a EuroCard or MasterMoney Card, select MasterCard.

If you are using a Visa, MasterCard, or American Express gift card, please note the following restrictions:

* Pre-paid gift cards can't be combined with credit cards on a single order.
* Pre-paid gift cards can't be used to sign up for Amazon Prime membership.
* Amex Gift Cards can't be used to purchase gift cards.

It says I can use an AMEX Gift Card (PayPal says no, but they lie), it says I cannot tender a second credit card with a pre-paid gift card, and I cannot use an AMEX Gift card to buy an gift card.

Knowing the rules, I try to buy a $59.99 game with a $50.00 gift card, assuming the $9.99 can come off the $119.45 Amazon owes me (!). Sure enough, it tries to put the whole amount on the card and closes out the transaction. Five minutes later, I get the "Your Order Has Blown Up" email. I try to explain to Customer Service three times by email (with my good friends Pranvi, Rhett, and Ooshmani) that I read and followed the rules and the payment system exploded. Frustrated, I used the "Call Me now" option, and Caucasian Brian from Seattle called me back.

Over the next 28 minutes, I discovered:
  • There is a bug in the system that Amazon's Customer Service Folk used, that does not show them the proper gift card balance (my $119.45 showed as $0)

  • My CS rep was very knowledgeable, but I taught him that you can't use Amex GCs to buy GCs (when he recommended that could fix this situation

  • Amazon employees cannot, in fact, fix this on their side. They have an extra option on their screen (gift cards), but that doesn't work either. I know this b/c I bought a $15.00 gc while we were on the phone, he tried to apply it, and it wouldn't work. I was able to add it to my account, bringing me up to $134.45

  • Though the pimply douche who makes $7.00/hr at Best Buy can tender two credit cards, the Internet(s) have no such capability. As I told Caucasian Brian: I've only been an Amazon customer since 1999, why should they enhance their checkout process? It's only been 10 years -- they'll catch up to cash registers eventually.

  • In the end, the only way to fix this was to reduce the price until it went through.

I think bug-finding and brow-beating a human-Amazon-employee were far more rewarding that the $10 off my video game. I did fill out a survey and gave him excellent marks, but only because he laughed at my jokes.

No comments: