Amazon.co.jp sucks – CDJapan Rocks !!!
Posted by redracer on March 14, 2007
(steps on soapbox)
I have unfortunately been forced to sever my long standing relationship with Amazon Japan, where I used to get most of my J-pop CD’s & DVD’s, train DVD’s and other Japanese movies. This is thanks to …
- their poor insights into what customers actually want
- the ways they go about making changes to their systems without telling anyone
- the hidden ways that their systems work that they never tell anyone about
- they refuse to answer questions that will implicate problems with their systems
I have had lengthy email conversations with their Customer Service staff recently, and I will admit that they do reply promptly, and except for one case, their English is at an acceptable level. However they do tend to use a lot of ‘form letter’ replies, without addressing the issue exactly that was asked about in the first place. And they always say variations of “I will be sure to pass your message on to the appropriate department in our company for consideration. Customer feedback like yours is very important in helping us continue to improve the selection and service we provide.” and “We want you to have a pleasant, successful experience with our web site each time you visit. ”
Recently they introduced a Loyalty Points facility (on the 1st of February, but they didn’t tell anyone, did they?). However pre-orders that were to be shipped after that date did not qualify if the order was placed before Feb 1. They would not address this, so all you have to do was cancel the first order, and order the item again – isn’t that stupid !!! However some items they sell at a pre-order discount, and if the release date was past, you then had to pay the full price, even though you had already placed the previous order before the release date, and were just re-ordering the same item again. The system is too complicated to look after, with different items allocated a different percentage of points, and some items not getting any points at all. Then they have a facility where you can allocate Gift points or Reward Coupons to an order. However once that order is placed, you cannot alter it or combine other items with that order – none of these conditions is specified anywhere on their web pages.
Their Customer Account page has various ways of looking at your orders, including ‘open and recently shipped orders’ & ‘orders placed in the last 6 months’. I queried how recently ‘recently’ was, as orders that I had placed in the last week or so did not appear under the first category. their explanation was “if your order was placed different month from date of shipment, the system recognize the order as past then categorized into “orders placed in the last 6 months”, even though the order have been shipped recently.” Is that confusing or what ? (and not documented on their web page).
In the past, they offered two kinds of shipping – ‘International Economy’, and ‘International Express’. The Economy options was sent via the normal post, usually using Japan’s SAL method. The International option was sen via DHL, the international freight forwarder. I would never use the International option as it was far too expensive, and I didn’t need my items to arrive that quickly. However around 50% of the time, Amazon would just change the shipping option from Economy to International without telling me, and suddenly I would get a call from DHL asking me what they wanted me to do about my parcel. DHL would not deliver my parcel, because I do not like to use a street address for security reasons, and instead have a PO Box. But they will not deliver to a PO Box (why can’t they just go to the nominated Post Office and leave the parcel there ?), so each time I have to make arrangements to have the parcel delivered somewhere else (which causes delays) or go and pick it up form their depot myself (a 1 hour round trip !!!). Several times they have taken the parcel to the wrong place, or delivered it somewhere else without even asking me first. It seems that nearly every time DHL has been involved with a delivery, there is some kind of stuff-up. I have asked Amazon many time to not do this, and that they cannot use DHL if the customer’s address is a PO Box, and I get the same form reply as above, but nothing changes.
And now for the icing on this rotten cake – once again Amazon made changes to their system, a really major one this time, and didn’t tell anyone first. On the 7th March, they decided to drop the Economy shipping option, and have only one kind of shipping – Express !!!! Their reasoning was “our cutomer had many trouble when they order at Amazon.co.jp with economy shipping. We thought our cutomers are not happy and sometime they are unavailable to get the items at all. To deliver your items safely to you as soon as possible, we have decided to offer only International Express shipping which has tracking ID on every shipment. ” – as you can see, not one of their better English responses. Well I have used the Economy option for years without any problems, and they didn’t ask me if I wanted this facility taken away from me !!! I refuse the pay the exorbitant rates for International shipping – if you buy 1 CD, the postage is more than the item itself.
Every time I complain about something, I always get the reply “I’m really sorry about the entire situation.” & “Thank you for shopping at Amazon.co.jp. We hope to see you again soon.” Well in this case, it is now a big NO THANKS !!! My experience with Amazon Japan has NOT been pleasant and successful as they would suggest.
Another company that I have been using for many years is CD Japan. This is the English division of a company called ‘Neowing’, and unlike Amazon, their web site is ALL in English, and the details they give about the items on their pages is a lot more comprehensive and useful. They have preview sound samples available for many of the CD’s, so you can listen before you buy. They also have a point program, and whilst the % is less than Amazon’s, it is on EVERY item you buy. One of their best features is a great facility whereby you can order items and just add them to a previous order, rather than having to place a completely new order, and then combine it with the previous order like Amazon make you do (and which sometimes doesn’t work). And with Amazon, sometimes if you tried to do this with orders that were all in stock, before you had a chance to try and do the combining thing, the order had already been processed and was ready for shipping and unable to be altered. So you always had to add an item that was a pre-order into the order, and then cancel it later – what a hassle and waste of time !!!CD Japan’s customer service is always helpful as well, and they have an email notification service that lets you know about the new releases information in the category you have specified. The only thing that Amazon had over them previously was that they do not offer discounts, particularly on new or pre-release items, whereas Amazon would often discount new release CD’s and DVD’s at 15% & even 25% off retail price. However I am not willing to put up with all the hassles that Amazon has caused me recently, just to get a discount.So in the last couple of days, I cancelled all my exisiting orders with Amazon, and transferred them over to CD Japan, and unless there is something I really need that it not available anywhere else, I will never be using Amazon Japan again !!! Another thing that really annoyed me was that Amazon Japan sold an obnoxious race-hate magazine GAIJIN HANZAI in Japan that targeted foreigners as causing all the problems with crime in Japan. When members of the international community, lead by American born but naturalised Japanese citizen and social activist Arudou Debito, complained about this, particularly as it was being sold openly in convenience stores, all retailers EXCEPT for Amazon were very quick to recall the offending magazines and get it off their shelves. You can read all about the whole sorry story here.
(steps off soapbox)
P.S. make sure you read the Comments section as well, where the responses from both companies mentioned are documented ❗
Also make sure you see my follow-up post about more problems with Amazon 🙂