When Amazon Pissed Me Off

It’s amazing how much we, as consumers, rely on brand names. I don’t often buy stuff online, and when I do, however, I always choose Amazon. Whether it’s books, clothes, or something bigger like electronic goods, Amazon is my go-to place online.

I have specific reasons, and they’re simple, too. Amazon is the most popular ecommerce site and it’s ubiquitous. Obvious conclusion: you don’t get to do business on such a large scale if you’re not good.

But as it is with consumer behaviour, it’s weird how a tiny glitch could break even a giant as gigantic as Amazon. A couple of weeks ago, I ordered a memory card on Amazon India and was promised delivery about 12-14 days from the date of purchase. It was a long wait, but I didn’t think much about it then because I was positive the estimate date was just an estimate; most orders arrive much before the delivery date. Besides, the day after I placed my order, I got a message saying my order was shipped. Ha, I thought, Amazon is Amazon for a reason, and I had no reason to worry.

Wrong.

After the prompt first message, I got nothing else. The estimated date whizzed by without me receiving my order. I tried tracking my package only to find out that the shipping details on my Amazon account were false. I dug up some trash on the seller, realising that almost all customers of that seller hadn’t received their orders. I tried contacting the seller (twice) and received no response as response.

I grew annoyed. Deciding to give up on Amazon, I ordered from another website, and got my package within two days.

Now I know Amazon has limited control over the sellers on their website, but I still flare up at Amazon. It’s natural human instinct. As a customer, I don’t care what’s going on with the company and a seller they’re hosting, but if you piss me off, I’m ditching your business.

Maybe I judge Amazon too harsh. But again, customers want what they want, and if a business fails so bad, customers won’t be compassionate. I work for an IT company and I understand that I shouldn’t blame it all on Amazon because of one seller’s mishap. But hereafter even before I type Amazon in my browser, I’ll think twice. My impression of the brand is tarnished forever. And that’s a price Amazon has to pay.

Men Without Women

men-without-women

When I first read it, the title bemused me. That’s not the kind of topic anyone at Hemingway’s time would’ve spoken about. Nowadays, sure. In the age of vapid vanity masquerading as fierce feminism, people would be more than happy to talk about men without women.

But Hemingway doing so? I wanted to go in and find out for myself why.

Like always, I read through the contents page. There were a list of lines that seemed like the titles of short stories rather than chapter names of a novel. Since the title on the cover felt like one for a novel, I hoped to read a thrilling tale of a group of men who lived without womenfolk.

Instead, I stumbled on many little stories and into the lives of many men whose egos, societal pressure, and selfish greed for power had hardened them. I had opened the book and fallen into a world of men, all of whom had no sense of what they were missing in life.

The book had a total of fourteen tales, and every one of them had vivid characters that jumped out at me. At least one character in a story refused to give in to his surroundings. I don’t know how having a woman in their lives would’ve changed their actions, but as a woman reading these men, I realised they were just jerks. And at some parts, their actions went beyond enlightening and entertained as well.

But it wasn’t all proud men wearing garlands of thorns. Some of the stories were a little dull, I admit. But every time I closed the book, thinking I’d read it later, the men on the cover called out to me. There was something about the picture on the cover, something about the three men smiling without a care in the world. As the book lay on my table, it made me wonder who those men would be and how the title of the book related to them. Men drinking and smoking, laughing and chatting — what did they speak of? Just the sight of the cover made me open the book again, hoping I’d find the answer in one of the stories.

I didn’t find the answer or the relationship between the title and the stories until after I finished the book. Two days after I had read the final story, it dawned on me how each story developed, and how every man in every story was walking proof of an empty life. And that’s when I appreciated the true power of Hemingway’s writing.

Whenever the plot vaned, Hemingway soared with the narrative. For a long time, I’ve basked in the image of Ernest Hemingway being an earnest writer. And this book proved it again. Some of the sentences and word choices popped out from print, making me gawk in awe at Hemingway’s simplicity with narrative. It’s unbelievable how basic words, with basic structure, can radiate depths of meaning. Such was Men Without Women — a joyous read.

What’s the Point of Getting Up?

Each time we fall down, the world tells us to get up and dust ourselves. And then get going again.

Setbacks are stepping stones; they come to those who can face it and transform said setbacks into a positive force. Only those who can endure will endure and emerge as victorious.

The universe only pushes us down to see if we can get up again. It’s how nature weeds out the immaterial and unworthy and finds true triers. And so, we should always get back up.
For how long, though?

Perseverance — it’s one of the first lessons we learn as children. Never give up no matter how hard things become. It’s a good lesson, but often misleading.

After a certain point, it makes no sense to pursue what we know is a lost cause. Sometimes we have to give up. Sometimes, we have to accept defeat in a gracious way and move on with whatever pride that’s left in us.

There’s no point in banging a crooked nail over and over again hoping to straighten it. There’s no point in a father telling his daughter he always wanted a son — it’s a girl, dad, deal with it.

But if it’s not too late to change what’s happened, then we’re not trying hard enough. No matter how many failures we face and how many times we get back up again, if we’ve already made up our minds to lose, there’s nothing else to do.

If the heart’s not in it, no game is worth playing, and no fall isn’t worth getting up from.

The Absolution That Comes From Unrest

If you think that that’s one scary title, let me break it down: it’s a trap being like everyone else.

Throughout our lives, we’ve been taught to blend in, conform, adjust, and settle without complaint. And to make it all worse, our parents tell us to think about the ones who aren’t as lucky as we are; that ought to shut up a whiny kid.

Since a young age, we are moulded to be like everyone else, and accept what we get. We don’t think beyond what’s given. We are discouraged to, in fact. Even in school, the hyper kid is the first to get punished. If a kid sits in class without questioning the teacher (or throwing paper balls at the board), all would be well.

So we obey the rules, follow the orders, take what we get, compromise when we’re overpowered, and just grow up to be the average tax payer.

It’s the curse of being human. We don’t ask for more.

And it’s everywhere, even in the literature that we cherish and appreciate. Look at our Oliver, for instance. They chased him out of school and cast him into a world of misery — all because he asked for more.

However, what we often forget about Oliver Twist is that if he hadn’t asked for more, we wouldn’t’ve heard of him at all. He could’ve stayed in his bench, licked his bowl clean, and went off to bed. But he didn’t. The moment he asked for more, Oliver broke though all barriers and went beyond every line. The result, changed the course of literature and the life of Dickens.

That’s the power of a rebellion, of unrest.

For as long as we stay with the herd, as long as we settle, we limit ourselves. But when we think beyond the borders of the square we’ve been thrust into, we can reshape our lives.

Support Unsupportive

If you’ve been on the internet at all, you’ll know too well how hard it is to figure some apps out. We’re always using these apps — blogging tools, photo editors, text editors, proofreaders, budget managers, ebook readers, reminders (my saviour) — you get the point. These aren’t luxury apps either, they’re necessities. That’s why it’s important that these apps are proper. For the most part, my apps are great. They’re pretty straightforward so I don’t have to toil much. Not all products are like that, though. Some products work fine until they don’t anymore. When that happens, I panic.

Because when something isn’t working as it should, I have no choice but to call customer support. I can’t stand the idea of asking for help. Not because I’m an egotistical bastard, but because customer support isn’t supportive at all. You almost never get the feeling that the person sitting on the other side is, in fact, a person. They’re more like robots with western names.

Whenever I write to the customer support team of a product, I get an automated reply. Which is alright, because that’s how they acknowledge mail. But then they reply to my message with another message that makes me wish they hadn’t bothered at all. It’s incredible how support teams treat customers. They scatter words that make no sense and punctuation that makes everything worse. Some emails echo satire — without intention. “Welcome to the world’s best support team,” they say when they’re far from helpful, and not even close to good. Sure, I can tolerate the waiting time, but I can’t tolerate inhuman response.

“Sorry for your troubles. Any inconvenience is regretted.” That’s the most passive aggressive statement anyone can say to another person, let alone someone asking for help. Of course, the inconvenience is regretted, but what are you doing about it, apart from declaring said nonexistent regret?

I can understand, though. Supporting is tough. It’s exhausting to answer the same questions to a bunch of people who refuse to understand. It’s tough playing the educator to people who’re determined to act stupid. It’s stressful to deal with angry customers across the globe — when more than half of them don’t even speak your language.

Nevertheless, at the end of the day, the customer is king — or queen. And that’s why patience is a virtue. That’s why humaneness is a value. In this age when people tweet hate-words to get the attention of a company, it’s just too easy to bring corporations down.

But it’s not about bringing corporations down with the “power of the people.” It’s just plain hurtful to open my inbox and look at a reply that says, “Your patience is appreciated,” when I know that’s not true. I’d rather decode the product for myself, even if I have to read an unhelpful help document. And when it goes beyond me, it’s easier still to give up altogether. Besides, if one product fails, there are a hundred alternatives online.

Ever had trouble with customer support? Sure you have. What did you do?