Missteps Alienate Some Customers

The “Occupy Amazon” movement spoken of by Richard Russo in The New York Times hasn’t quite started yet. But the “Wal-Mart of the Internet,” which now sells everything from graphic novels to riding lawnmowers, doesn’t play by the same rules as other retailers because of its lack of physical storefronts.

That fact is becoming obvious to customers, who are finding that while they can get low prices and Super Saver Shipping from the retail giant, they can’t always get the respect that they want. Here’s a look at the latest of Amazon’s controversial moves:

The Kindle Fire

The Kindle Fire is now the bestselling Android tablet in the world, according to Taylor Wimberly of Android and Me … even topping the Barnes and Noble Nook Tablet, which Digitimes reports shipped more than a million units. But while it’s being heavily promoted on’s front page, reviews and even a professional study conducted by usability expert Jakob Nielsen have shown that it has serious shortcomings. The UI is slow overall, and several features don’t work as intended, like magazine reading and “accelerated” web browsing.

As of this writing, nearly a third of the Kindle Fire reviewers on have given it three stars or fewer, and more than 1 in 10 reviewers gave it one star. A software update will be released soon, but stock analyst Paulo Santos of Seeking Alpha nonetheless expects that ” will face a material percentage of returned devices.”

One-click ordering

Not the controversial patent on one-click ordering, but the ability to do so on a Kindle Fire … including on tablets you gave to your children as gifts, according to Reuters’ Mitch Lipka. Amazon gives the option to gift tablets that aren’t tied to your account, but children or thieves can easily order things from if the Fire’s screen isn’t locked, since the order process doesn’t ask for a password or confirmation.

Price-check promotion

Last Saturday, did a one-day promotion where it offered people a discount of up to $15 on their purchases if they scanned prices at stores with the Amazon smartphone app. In other words, people were being paid not only to check local prices for Amazon, but to buy from the company while on another store’s premises.

According to David Streitfeld of the New York Times’ “Bits” blog, local retailers are now retaliating against and reaching out to their customers. Third Street Books in McMinnville, Oregon even offered customers a discount if they closed their Amazon accounts.

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