If you’ve ever had a frustrating experience with an Amazon chat support worker you’ll sympathize with Chris Williams.
He was worried that someone named “Brittni” was “phishing” his email address — that is, trying to reverse engineer his identity from his email for the purposes of fraud. So Williams contacted Amazon’s customer support team through its live chat function, to ask Amazon to block an email address that appeared to be associated with his real address.
Unfortunately, the Amazon worker on the other end of the chat appeared to not understand English.
Williams told Hacker News he spent nearly an hour with “Farah,” trying to explain the problem.
At no point did “Farah” show any understanding of what Williams wanted: She variously suggested deleting his own email account, resetting his password, and offering to delete his account for him.
At one point “Farah” began addressing Williams as “maam,” even though he is a man. Here’s a sample:
Me: i need you to delete this “[email protected]” account because it is not mine.
please don’t change my password.
Farah: ah yah sure..I’m not going to change your Password maam..
what is going on here?
Farah: oh so sorry to call you Maam..Its ok..I got mis information in here..but let me handle this for you..
In the end, Williams became so angry he posted the entire chat transcript online (see below).
In an effort to see whether Amazon chat support is really that bad, Business Insider engaged an Amazon worker in a chat this morning under the pretext of seeking a job at Amazon. It turns out that some Amazon chat support workers are based in India, and they are responding to customers by cutting and pasting pre-written scripts. Here was our experience:
To Ravinder’s credit, he did answer my question, though not without trying to give me a canned answer first. Also, his answers were fairly quick. (We contacted Amazon for comment but did not immediately hear back.)
But still, dealing with Amazon felt like the opposite of dealing with Zappos (the shoe and apparel company owned by Amazon).
I asked a customer support chatter for a job at Zappos, too, and “Margret” told us, “We are all about the sunshine here in Vegas! … You can go on our site at the bottom of the page and apply for a job through Jobvite.”
Although “Margret” began her chat with a piece of script, she obviously veered off into unscripted, plain-spoken English, fairly quickly. It was refreshing.
Here’s Williams’ Amazon transcript:
You are now connected to farah from Amazon.com
farah:Hello. This is Farah. How can I help you today
Me:Someone created an account using my gmail account but with a “.” in it. This is still associate with my email address and is not my account. How can I delete this account?
my name is not brittni.. my name is chris williams. my actual account is [email protected]
this other account was created using [email protected]
i believe it is some sort of phishing attempt but I don’t want this account associate with my email.
farah:yah..Im just here..but before we proceed let me check your account for security purposes ok?
mAY i KNOW THE ACCOUNT HOLDER PLEASE
Me:ok. my real account is [email protected] NOT [email protected] – i had to password reset in order to get this account.
farah:May I know the account holder please..
Me:Account holder is Chris Williams
farah:your first and last name plese
Me:First = Chris
Last = Williams
farah:ok let me check this out for you ok?
one moment plese
farah:yah..im just here..Im so sorry for taking a long time to wait on this ok..?
[email protected] ..this one is your account am I correct on this?
Me:yes… [email protected] is my account.
farah:ok..Il reset your password..just check the link on it..so you can have your new password ok?
i don’t need you to reset my password
farah:OH OK..I ask an apology for that one..
Me:i need you to delete this “[email protected]” account because it is not mine.
please don’t change my password.
farah:ah yah sure..I’m not going to change your Password maam..
what is going on here?
farah:oh so sorry to call you Maam..Its ok..I got mis information in here..but let me handle this for you..
Me:can you delete the account “[email protected]” or not?
farah:ok..please give me another moment again..
do you understand the problem i am having or is this a lost cause?
can you please just let me know if this is a problem you can help resolve?
farah:I recommend that you delete the e-mail. For your protection, do not respond to it, and do not open any attachments or click any links it contains ok?
Me:delete my email?
did you say delete my email?
farah:one moment please let me check it further for you..
Me:ONE MOMENT? NOT SURE WHAT YOUR DEFINITION OF A MOMENT IS BUT THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR A LONG TIME AND YOU OBVIOUSLY HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE DOING.
THIS IS F—ING RIDICULOUS!
1. YOU CAN’T SPELL 2. YOU AREN’T LISTENING TO MY PROBLEM 3. YOU KEEP ASKING ME TO WAIT A MOMENT (10 MINUTES EACH TIME) 4. YOU SUGGEST I DELETE MY EMAIL (HOW THE HELL DOES THAT HELP?) 5. YOU ARE VERY UNHELPFUL.
I FEEL LIKE I’M BEING PRANKED HERE.
I WILL ASK ONE LAST TIME….
CAN YOU DELETE THIS ACCOUNT OR NOT? SIMPLE QUESTION.
farah:ok..i will refer you to our account specialist do this account you want to be deleted ok..
Me:READ WHAT YOU JUST TYPED. IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE.
farah:I am really so sorry about this inconvenience that you experienced but our account specialist will handle this for you ok?
Me:YES PLEASE PUT ME IN TOUCH WITH SOMEONE… ANYONE.
farah:ok..i will refer you to our account specialist do this account you want to be deleted ok..this text is a mistake so sorry for this..
Me:WHAT THE F—
farah:What I’m trying to say here is I will refer you to our account specialist..so it will be deleted the one that you want to SO SORRY really for this..
I hope you can forgive my fault in here
Me:OK.. CAN YOU PLEASE CONNECT ME WITH AN ACCOUNT SPECIALIST.
farah:I am really Sorry for this..yes sure I will..
I am really Sorry for this..yes sure I will..
I will ask first an apology for this please..I am so sorry Brittni..let me connect you now to our account specialist ok?
Me:CHRIS MY NAME IS CHRIS I HAVE TOLD YOU THAT AT LEAST 6 TIMES.
CONNECT ME TO SOMEONE ELSE NOW
I WILL NOT APOLOGISE TO YOU.
ARE YOU TRANSFERRING ME OR NOT?
farah:May I have your phone number please?
Me:I AM POSTING THIS CONVERSATION ONLINE. THIS IS UNBELIEVABLE. WORST CUSTOMER SERVICE I HAVE EVER EXPERIENCED.
farah:I do apologise that this is taking time than usual however, let me go ahead right now and will look for another available rep to call you.
Thank you for your patience and understanding!
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.