[The following is a true story, with no exaggeration, of the time I spent over five hours trying to get help from a tech support representative. – TEJ]
I had completed what I hoped was my final draft of my newest humor book, THE SECRET TO SUCCESS AND HAPPINESS. I was using Amazon’s publishing division called Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). I had compiled a list of questions to which I needed answers in order to fix several book formatting issues their online system had flagged.
I decided I needed to call their tech support team for help. I located their CONTACT US page in less than 12 minutes simply by navigating through an endless series of menus that required me to answer several series of questions until the website finally unlocked the secret passageway to its elusive CONTACT US page.
This page offered me several options: I could submit an email (“please allow 72 hours for a response”). I could initiate an online chat (probably with a web bot). I could pour through their voluminous online community forum containing scores of article links, none of which would be directly on point. Or I could request a call back from a tech support agent. I think I’ll go with Option D.
I clicked the button to have a tech support agent call me. Twenty minutes later my phone rang. The readout indicated the call was from Amazon / KDP. Oddly, it only rang once and then the call dropped. I tried to call back the number on my phone, but I reached an automated message: “We’re not able to accept incoming calls to this number. Please visit our website to request a call back.”
I then navigated the maze back to the CONTACT US page. I clicked on the button to request a call back – again. That triggered this message: “Our records indicate that you have already requested a call back. Please wait until you receive that call.” Arrgh!
I waited thirty minutes. No success. I clicked on the “Call me” button again. Up popped the same notification as before. Feeling stymied, I tried their online CHAT to request a phone call. Within a minute Agent Adrian generically typed, “How can I help you?”
I explained that I had requested a call, then the call dropped after one ring and the system would not allow me to make another call request. “Could you just tell someone in your tech support department to call me?” I pleaded.
Agent Adrian typed back, “I’m sorry but this CHAT feature does not allow us to talk by phone with the customer.”
“I know that,” I wrote back, frustrated. “I get how online chat works.” I pounded away at the keyboard, trying again to explain my dilemma and that I just wanted to have someone from their tech team call me.
Then, like a broken record, Agent Adrian, who by now I was fairly certain was a bot, typed, “I’m sorry but this CHAT feature does not allow us to call the customer.” Instead he / it offered to help me via their web-based chat utility. I wrote back that I had literally 20 questions and I doubted he / it would be able to respond to all of them via chat. But he / it insisted that they were happy to be of service.
I copied and pasted my long list of questions into the chat message field and pressed SEND. Seven minutes later, the Agent Adrian bot resurfaced: “I’m sorry, but you will need to talk to a member of our tech support team. You can request a call back by visiting our website. Thank you.” He / it then abruptly closed out our session. WTF??
I then noticed that during the time I was bonding with the Agent Adrian bot, I had received an email from KDP tech support:
“This is Jennifer from KDP customer support. You had requested a call, but I called and there was no answer. If you would like to speak with a representative, you can visit our website to request a call back.”
Seriously? I guessed that enough time had elapsed to take a chance and try clicking on the “Call me” button again. I guessed wrong: “Our records indicate that you have already requested a call back. Please wait until you receive that call.”
I tried using the online chat app again. After I explained my situation and implored them to have someone from their tech support team call me directly, the Agent Paul bot offered this by now very familiar feedback: “I’m sorry but this CHAT feature does not allow us to talk by phone with the customer.”
The website referred to this as their Customer Service department. But as I reflect back on my experience, I think “Customer Severance” department” would have been a more appropriate name. Then the Agent Paul bot, no doubt programmed to follow the tech support chat protocol handbook to the letter, offered to try to help me via Chat. I explained – again – that I really needed to talk to a LIVE PERSON BY PHONE!
Finally, Agent Paul relented and agreed to try to find someone to call me. I’m pretty sure Agent Paul was going to be summarily fired for violating Online Chat Policy Rule #1: Never let the customer talk to a live human being. Or perhaps he’ll just be rebooted and upgraded to a more recent security protocol.
An hour went by. Noone called. So I tried their “Call me” option one more time. This time, to my surprise, it accepted my request. Twenty minutes later, I received a call from KDP tech support. Interestingly, one minute later, while on the phone with KDP tech support, I received another call – also from KDP tech support. Not wanting to risk my first call dropping, I ignored the second incoming KDP call. I went into great detail describing my issues. Then I asked Agent Maria, “Maria, do you understand my situation?”
Agent Maria did not respond. I repeated my question – four more times. No reply – unless you consider the dial tone that followed to be Maria’s reply. The call got dropped. Crap! I saw that there was another email from KDP tech support. It said they had just tried to call me but I had failed to pick up.
I went back to the KDP website’s CONTACT US page. When I tried to request yet another call back, yup, you guessed it: “Our records indicate that you have already requested a call back. Please wait until you receive that call.”
It went on like this for another hour. Finally, I received another call from KDP tech support. This time the call did not drop. This time I was actually able to present all my questions to an actual live person. After describing my problems in exhausting detail for 10 minutes, tech support Agent Thomas paused and explained: “I’m in first level tech support. I can’t help you with your issues. You’ll need to talk to someone in Senior Level tech support. Would you like me to transfer you?”
“Sure,” I said. “I’ll be most curious to see what rabbit hole this sends me down,” I muttered under my breath. Agent Thomas put me on hold. Ten minutes later someone came back on the line: “This is Thomas again. Would you still like to continue to wait to speak to a Senior Level support agent?”
“Um, yes, I would. Thank you.”
“Okay, please hold.” The next sound I heard was the soothing, familiar melody of … of another dial tone. My call had been dropped. Again. It’s now been over five hours. I’m still waiting to talk to someone about my issues. I’m sure they’ll be calling me back… any moment now.
That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.
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© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2022