Thoughts on the Day After
Yesterday was a whirlwind of activity and emotion. Nearly from the time I woke up to when I went to bed, the Amazon/Pedophilia case consumed me. I was hooked up to the phone, email, Twitter, and Facebook without pause (except for a quick trip for groceries), talking and writing to anyone and everyone who would listen (and to many who wouldn't).
The number of people around the world who were horrified and ready to act grew exponentially by the hour, everyone waging their own grassroots-level activism against Amazon's unethical behavior. Individually, our voices were being dismissed by Amazon one by one, but as the number of us grew, we became a nuisance to Amazon's customer reps (whose hands were quite tied). Two Facebook pages of people ready to boycott Amazon, and Twitter full of enraged customers, and people bombarding newsmakers with requests for coverage finally began to turn the tide. Our voices combined finally began to reach the ears of those with real clout — big-named journalists with respected news outlets.
After CNN's Anderson Cooper reported on the matter last night (see two clips at http://www.cnn.com/video/), interviewing Dr. Phil, under the title of "Peddling Pedophilia", Amazon suddenly and silently removed the book from both its US and UK Kindle stores. It took a while before most of us could believe it, and many reloadings of the page, but sure enough, the book was gone. I received an email from Amazon at 3:25am ET/2:25 CT, stating simply "Hello. This book is no longer available for sale." Clearly, Amazon still has a long way to go in the PR department. Even a two-liner stating: "Thank you for your concerns over [Book Title]. We have reviewed the matter and the book has been removed from our site," would have been smoother.
Considering the hours and hours we spent trying to effect that result — the shock, horror, disgust, anger, and even grief most of us felt throughout the process — would, in my opinion, have merited a better statement from Amazon. It would have been nice, even if they were not sincere, to issue an apology to their customers for having to wage the battle in the first place, for leaving us feeling betrayed, and for the outrage they made us feel over their first, callous responses. Where was the PR? Why did a company with Amazon's revenue not hire a special Damage Control PR Team?
The book is gone. That is the result we wanted and achieved. And while most of us will probably slowly trickle back to Amazon over time, their handling of the entire process, ending with a surreptitious concession without gracious apology... leaves a bad taste in the mouths of many, myself included.
For over a decade, Amazon has been my go-to online store. All of my experiences have been positive ones — until yesterday. And yesterday, they irreparably damaged my image of the company and, more importantly, my feelings toward them as a customer. Many of our buying decisions, where the product and price are near equivalent from one store to the next, are based on emotion: "I'll get it through Amazon because I've always had a good experience with them and I like them." They've damaged my trust, and damaged the relationship.
I will not be moving my baby registry back to Amazon, even though most items are a few dollars cheaper there. I don't know when I'll be buying books or other items from them again. Someday, certainly, but not in the near future. Their behavior throughout the whole issue was... sleazy... underhanded. It will be a long time before I can forgive, and even longer for me to forget.
I want to thank everyone who called or emailed Amazon, everyone who tweeted and retweeted, everyone who got up in arms, everyone who did their own, particular, important part. Individually, our voices might have been too weak to reach the necessary ears, but together, we little mice made a mighty roar!
Image tinkered by "Yours, Truly" from a royalty free Image Zoo Illustration
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