Did Amazon Place A Giant Dildo In This Customer’s Shopping Basket?

Source: Highspot.com

Bad customer service is common on the web–one look at online reviews and you’ll find a lot of unsatisfied customers who either didn’t like the products they bought or didn’t like the customer service reps they dealt with–or both. Usually, when confronted with an irate customer, however, reps have no choice but to maintain a calm demeanor, knowing that they’ll likely reap the consequences for any attempt at retaliation–either from their supervisors, who record most communications, or from the customers thesmelves in the form of negative reviews.

But in October 2015, all that changed. Pedro, an IT contractor in Ireland who prefers to keep his surname private, received the wrong textbook that he had ordered from Amazon.de. He wanted the current version of the art textbook, but Amazon had sent him the previous version. Like anyone would do, he called customer service to report the error. The rep told him that after a few days of looking, they found they didn’t have the current version of the textbook and told him to return it for a full refund.

Pedro had spent days searching Amazon for the correct book and waiting for the reps to get back to him and inform him about what was happening with his order, and he was understandably disappointed with the customer service he had received. He provided negative feedback on a customer satisfaction survey.

Pedro said that when he next opened up Amazon.de, he noticed something a bit odd. Something was in his basket that he didn’t remember putting there: “The Hulk 10.25-inch Huge Dong Black.”

“If my best friend did it to me while I wasn’t watching, of course I would find it funny,” Pedro told the website Ars Technica. “I’m not a prude.”

“The problem is, I was at the office, in an open space, with people behind me. A guy and two girls were sitting by me when I opened up Amazon and they saw the contents of my shopping basket.”

Of course, like anyone would, his suspicions soon fell on a customer service rep. He took a screenshot, then emailed Amazon. His complaint was passed back and forth before Andreas Mühlbauer of the “Executive Customer Relations” team at Amazon.de agreed to speak with him on the phone Oct. 22.

According to Pedro, Mühlbauer was very sympathetic during the phone call and apologized repeatedly. He said he had, “been in touch with the HR department” to prevent future such incidents, and that he would add a €100 voucher to Pedro’s Amazon.de account.

In the conversation, Pedro reported that Mühlbauer said that he “can’t really understand” how an employee could do such a thing, but that he hadn’t been able to talk to the associate. “Has he been fired or put on paid leave?” Pedro asked. Mühlbauer said he couldn’t talk about “that internal process.”

Pedro wrote: “I cannot accept the CS of a company I am paying patronage to act so familiar — particularly in (alleged) spite of a bad review (I mean alleged because I cannot confirm that he did that out of spite — who knows what went to the guy’s head to think that he could do that and get away with it).

“Having said all that I consider this to be an isolated incident which in no way represents the overall customer service I got from Amazon. Amazon is still my favourite place to shop online BUT I will refrain to do so at Amazon.de. ”

Sebastian Anthony, a reporter at Ars Technica, e-mailed Mühlbauer asking him if he could confirm or deny the incident. Daniel Baur of the Amazon.de Executive Customer Relations team, responded saying they could not comment “due to our privacy policy.” But Pedro gave them permission to talk about the case, so there would be seemingly no reason to resist for privacy reasons. Anthony re-emailed them several times, but they declined comment.

Pedro tells Ars that, following the call with Mühlbauer, he was satisfied, although still dismayed at all the time and effort he was forced to expend. He just couldn’t understand how an employee could be allowed to drop a giant dildo into someone’s shopping basket. He thinks Amazon should have safeguards put in place to prevent that from happening. We agree that that seems logical.

Recently, there was an incident of Comcast cable employees changing customer names to negative epithets like “Super Bitch” or “Asshole.” Comcast eventually took action to prevent such things from happening in the future by enacting safeguards like a block list. In Amazon’s case, customers would still need to have the capability to add items to shopping baskets, so that probably wouldn’t work.

Although there is no proof, Pedro said that Mühlbauer giving him the €100 “gesture of apology,” and hinting that the employee had been fired or reassigned strongly suggested that it happened the way Pedro said. Also, Amazon never directly denied the incident, so we have to believe at this point that a customer service rep really did put a giant dildo into a customer’s shopping basket.

Although we recommend that safeguards are put in place in the future, we aren’t sure how Amazon could go about this. Still, going forward, it’s something that Amazon needs to address if they want to continue to provide quality customer service.

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