Amazon – Are you listening?

Jeff Bezos, I’m sure you have plenty of time to read this.  

My Amazon account was hacked, but I’m not sure when.  I do know my last order was July 16, 2020.  I discovered a problem myself on July 27.  I couldn’t log in.  TEN calls later, the problem is finally resolved.

At some point between July 16 and July 27, some lowlife decided to hack my Amazon account, and purchase a number of gift cards.  The lowlife also decided to add a 2nd-level authentication to the account.  

Amazon blew it on many levels.  

Amazon failed to inform me of a possible problem.  No email, no phone call, no text.  I receive notifications of charges on my credit cards, and there were no notifications of anything amiss.  Amazon apparently realized there was an issue sufficient to lock my account, but didn’t think it was important enough to let me know.  

Amazon – at least for some items – permits a user to use a credit for a returned or traded-in item that hasn’t been returned.  Apparently, the hacker claimed it was trading in some items, was issued a credit, even though the item had not yet been been received by Amazon, so the purchases didn’t involve my credit cards.  Permitted a user to claim an un-received item for usable credit indicates another rather significant flaw in their system.  By contrast, my credit cards have been compromised at least a couple of times, but in each instance, I received an immediate notification, such as a text asking if I’d authorized an unusual purchase.  

Amazon is virtually unreachable.  One can email Amazon only if one has an active account.  If one is locked out, that option is not available.  It took me some time to find a phone number (for your records, the number is  800 388 5512.  You’re welcome.)  That’s the only number that can be called for account issues.  Even after you’ve reached a live human being, you cannot email them or call them directly.  Not surprisingly, every time you call, you get a different representative.  The representative only provides a first name, no email, no way to call back if you’re disconnected.  After I was cut off twice, I always began my conversation providing my number in case of a cut-off.  At least one time, a representative promised to call me back the next day to make sure the issue was resolved.  That call never came.  

After each call, I’d get a confirmatory email thanking me for calling – at, at times, it provided the rep’s first name.  But if I tried to reply to the mail, it was returned as undeliverable.  It’s a generic customer service email address that does not accept replies.  

Amazon can’t solve issues.  I suspect I’m not the first Amazon customer to have an account-hacking problem.  Yet it took 10 calls – consuming hours of my time, not to mention untold frustration – to resolve the issue.  The hacker had added a 2nd-level authentication.  Whatever phone number the hacker added, it wasn’t mine.  Various Amazon reps were flummoxed that I could not receive the authenticator information, despite my having two authenticator apps on my phone.  I (usually patiently) explained that they had to send the signal to MY phone number, not the hacker’s.  They didn’t seem to get that.  The ones that did understand said I couldn’t give them my phone number (even though it was the same number from which I was calling.)  

In five of my calls, the rep sent me an email with a link to click.  In each instance, the link asked for my “one time password” to send to my authenticator app, which, of course, I couldn’t get because they wouldn’t send it to my phone (see above).  In four of the calls, the rep told me that I would be receiving an email from a mystery department (I think they called it “account recovery”) in 1-2 business days, providing a link for me to  upload identification documents.  I asked if I could speak to that department, and was told no – the rep had to message them.  A couple of times, I escalated my complaint to a manager, to no avail.  The mystery department remains an unreachable mystery.

The issue was finally resolved.  In my last call – on August 6, 2020, the rep made the same promises previous reps had made, and (again) escalated it to a supervisor (or perhaps, a co-worker who was playing a supervisor role).  Both Don and I told them that I’d been a loyal Amazon customer for many years.  They both promised I’d receive an email in one business day, and – lo and behold! – the mystery email finally arrived, with instructions to reset (again) my password and call them back.  I was admittedly skeptical that it would work, but it was a different email than those I’d previously received.  I called, as instructed, and the rep asked me for information that only I would know (last four digits of the Amazon credit card, how long I’d been a prime member, etc.)  After the rep confirmed with the mystery department that I’d gotten the answers right, I was emailed a 6-digit code, and I was able to log in.  I do have to re-enter my credit card information (a reasonable request under the circumstances), but I’m back.  

I’m back, but not happy.  Amazon claims to strive “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company.”  They’re not. 

Amazon, are you listening?  

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