An open letter to Mr. Bezos
Dear Mr. Jeff Bezos
This is obviously assuming and hoping that this post (letter) will get in front of you, knowing that you probably have many excellent gatekeepers sorting through your mail. Something tells me that there are clever people and bots hired to filter out perceived spam and other surplus letters.
This is draft 9 as the 8 previous attempts had to be severely censored. My emotions took over and might have offended somebody in your organization, and even scared the Amazon Bot.
My father always taught me to take a breather, go for a walk, and rethink what you are trying to say, especially if you are upset. You might end up saying something that offends or cut deep, or worse, a stupid accusation or insult. Hence I left this post sit for 76 hours.
I normally do not get involved with the cancel culture or nasty yelp reviews. Product and service reviews are often too emotionally fueled, and you wonder why some reviewers even purchased the product. Selling products and services online is something I fully support, as people should be applauded for finding ways to make money.
Many times, these products might be utterly useless and have some strange political views, but that does not mean I cannot be fairly understandable and forgiving. Allowing people to have their views, and respect other people’s opinions are part of our 1st amendment.
However, a week ago I saw something that really sent killing feelings down my spine. My primal instincts kicked in and I immediately started to Google the company to find out if I could travel there to chop off some kneecaps. I felt like Liam Neeson in ‘Taken’, looking to track these idiots who attempted to sell a t-shirt on Amazon.
In this case, Vietnam is a bit too far to travel during COVID-19.
The t-shirt in question was promoting to kill off people with Down Syndrome. Not with those words exactly. The wording on the t-shirt was “Let’s make Down Syndrome Extinct“, using a Sasquatch on the shirt. (see insert)
I don’t know about you, but to me that is a rather hostile and offensive sounding t-shirt.
As a father of a wonderful son with Down Syndrome, it pains me to see the lack of understanding in society. People are trying to make money on being overly offensive, without any knowledge of how great people with Down Syndrome are.
Any such t-shirt should be banned. I’m certain any special needs group would be saddened to see a message calling for the eradication of a group of people. Imagine the same t-shirt calling for the end of people with autism, cerebral palsy,, severe learning disabilities, etc.
The nazis called for extinction of people with special needs and killed thousands of innocent people, just because they were different. The nazis would have applauded this kind of t-shirt.
I’m appalled that a diverse and public company like Amazon supports the sale of such t-shirts. So, I decided to file a complaint. It was important that they heard from an upset customer, and allow them to take necessary actions.
One could at least try and hope!
Finding customer support on the Amazon platform is not easy, and you are first introduced to an AI bot that will attempt to address your concerns.
Shortly after me joining the chat room, I asked for a customer service representative, who cheerfully joined the room and attempted to address my purchase issues.
I kept asking about their policy for allowing such products but quickly realized that the ‘person’ failed to read or understand my comments, and kept referring to my recent purchase. At that point, I asked for an escalation call.
Now, this is truly a scary moment. The representative asked for my contact number, and within30 seconds of sharing my number, I received a call from a real person.
I laid into this person, in a polite way of course, and demanded that they remove the t-shirt, expressing great anger that something this aggressive could be allowed on the Amazon platform. The person was clearly uncomfortable, and I did assure the person that I was not upset with them as a person, but the organization.
She kindly escalated to a senior person, a person who is more experienced dealing with irate customers like me, and who clearly had spoken with numerous less happy Amazon customers.
He quickly reviewed my chats and listened to my grievance, and attempted to explain that Amazon has no control over what their partners sell on their platform. Amazon is in their view just a vehicle for entities to sell products, although Amazon takes a significant cut of the sales price as their commission for using the platform.
If you get paid to provide a service, then you are indirectly supporting the behaviors and products being presented on their platform.
My concern with that view is that they are providing the platform for thousands of sellers, and they most have some guidelines in place to ensure that hatred and violence are not promoted. They must take some blame for what is happening, and they must attempt to block sales of such goods.
Amazon must take some responsibility. They cannot look the other way when their vendors are selling hate and killings.
I went on to explain that they can easily deploy bots or search criteria to identify such hate speech. Yes, the sellers can outsmart these automated tools, but Amazon must take a stand and protect customers, and block such vile products.
Similar case was reported to the news in the UK, about the same t-shirt!
To my surprise, the person agreed with me. At least with the request to remove the t-shirt, and block the seller. He filled a complaint and made sure the evidence was included and assured me that this would be dealt with.
Victory for the little consumer!
Yes, the product was removed from the Amazon platform, which I’m delighted about. The challenge will remain for Amazon to prevent similar shirts to be sold, promoting the killing or extermination of different groups of people.
At the end of the day, the issue was resolved by a friendly and well-trained customer service representative. I just hope Amazon takes further steps to eradicate these kinds of products.
I’m not going to ‘cancel’ Amazon just because of this little incident. We need to be able to raise our concerns and allow the vendor to address them. Depending on the shops or platform you use, the outcomes might not be dealt with to your liking, but we have to accept it.
The company will have to do what they can, within reason, to address it. However, if you are complaining to a gun shop that they sell guns, and you are against guns, then don’t visit stores that sell guns.
Mr. Bezos – you have a great platform for selling many goods, and it offers excellent choices for your customers. I applaud it and support your endeavors. However, please use some of your hard-earned cash and use technology to seek out products that call for killing or hatred, and review these before they hit the virtual shelves.
I’m convinced that you can do better!
Thank you for listening (reading), and feel free to reach out if you have any questions.