I clicked too soon. Premature ejacuclick. I went to a vendor on the Amazon page and before I thought to change the address to which it should be sent, my father’s apartment, I clicked Place Order. The default is my home in Venice. I would over-estimate if I said I waited more than thirty seconds to rectify the mistake. I immediately emailed the online store and told them the situation. And just as immediate was the auto-response touting we ship instantly so we can’t modify or cancel any order, and there was no human intervention.
Really?, I thought, curious about the pride with which human intervention was avoided, and determined they would make an exception for me. I fired off my first email:
To Whom It May Concern:
While your auto-reply is very efficient, and the no-human-hands thing is fun and Orwellian, I still need to change the shipping address to my order. If I cannot do this, please let me know immediately.
Either I want to be able to change my address or get a full refund at which point I will re-order to the right address. If neither of these things can be accomplished because of your super efficiency, I'll take other avenues to get satisfaction.
Thank you from a new but irritated customer.
I made some calls and a few moments later, I received this reply:
First I would like to say what a well written email you just sent and that I was tickled to read it… It makes me sorry that I don’t have a good solution for you. I am not trying to make light of the situation, but just to complement you on your writing style. The problem is that our fully automated, instant shipping, system makes it nearly impossible to make modifications to your order once you have finalized your purchase.
Oooo-kay. I mean, a compliment will get you everywhere, and while his email droned on for two pages explaining this bold step into automation, I wasn’t getting what I wanted. I had to return the email:
Dear Customer Service,
While I'm thrilled you enjoyed my email but it does not, however, solve my problem.
I wanted to rush this book to my father, a diehard Republican, in hopes more information would halt his lockstep toward another vote for Bush.
It's now being sent to my home in Venice, California where I have tenants renting my house who absolutely hate me. I'll never see the book nor will my dad.
I'm afraid I can't subscribe to an efficiency that does not involve a human touch, especially when it comes to "customer service." What exactly do you do if not help out customers, and if that option has been taken away, then what's left?
I won't blame you for another vote for Bush but come November and he takes office again, I'll certainly remember you.
This morning when I came in and logged on, I received this:
Thanks for more fun banter… My days are filled with a lot of boring emails… but I continue to enjoy your writing style and wish even more that I could do something to get back a book that has already shipped.
Thank you for your understanding and patience.
So, To Whom It May Concern is named Dave, is he? Poor poor bored but increasingly sweet Dave. I wrote back and told Dave I would use the opportunity improve my relationship with my tenants and then I thanked him for his time. He thanked me back for a fun day and suggested that, in the future, I deal directly with them as a vendor and skip that whole pesky Amazon process.
You see? If you dig deep enough, there is human intervention left in the world, after all.