You know what? I am so sick of getting excited about some special offer from some site I’m a paying customer which I’m not eligible for. Amazon did it with the Prime membership thing, plastering my front page with it for weeks and weeks although they’re oh-so-personalised that YES they know damn well I don’t live in the US and that YES it’s free shipping within the US only. Now .mac offers me a free subscription to roaming wireless coverage — and not until I’ve clicked through three screens do I see the fine print “US residents only”.

What’s with that? They must realise they have an international customer base — they have my credit card billing address, for goodness sake. Everything else is customised. Why offend me by giving me ads for great deals I can’t sign up for?

16 thoughts on “pet peeve no 1

  1. i1277

    Amen. Paypal used to annoy me with their constant nagging about claiming some registration money that only applied to US residents. Arrogance or ignorance, not always easy to tell the difference, but some of these companies need a reminder that America is not the world.

    Speaking about personalisation: I love shopping at amazon.com or amazon.co.uk and their recommendation system works fine, but they tend to “forget” my personal details. Checking the shipping fares to Norway is a process involving too much information and too many menus. How hard could it be to conclude from my billing address that I am probably not interested in the rates for “U.S. Protectorates” or Latin America? And, if my Amazon is so personalised, how come there is no link to this information on “my” front page, just add the clicks Amazon, and you’ll find that I (forgetful as I am), always check that information before ordering.

  2. Espen

    Outside US? There is a world outside the US?

  3. Francois Lachance

    irony of ironies… a search of “customization Amazon complints” nets a link to Amazon for a book. The title in question: “The Unfinished Revolution: Human-Centered Computers and What They Can Do For Us” Very interesting to observe the buying patterns of the Mazon consumers. Unfortunately the data on the location of those consumers is not available — imagine market profiles based on geopolitical factors. Amazon could and probably does sell such information.

  4. torill

    I go with Espen on this. If it’s not America, it’s not the world.

  5. Elin

    Torill…. that’s so…. lame. America is the big bad wolf? Because Amazon and other businesses made a decision?

    There is much more to sales than you’d imagine. Costs and taxes and regulations, liabilities etc – even in the US, there are different rules for different states. Some insurance policies, for instance, cannot be offered in all states. On the surface, we don’t imagine that these concerns exists. If a company makes a decision to offer only certain areas a deal, yes, that sucks for the rest of us. To them, it’s cost analysis. I’m a bit fed up hearing about how bad and selfish America is – it’s such an ignorant statement. This isn’t about America. It’s about corporate affairs. It happens everywhere.

    That said – I completely understand Jill’s frustration. Bad use of technology! Although, do you remember the small uproar when Yahoo routed their visitors to their local portals instead of yahoo.com?

  6. Scott

    Isn’t Norway somewhere up near Minnesota?

  7. jim

    late lastnight I went through the same tortuous experience with amazon.uk…they even flashed a pop-up when I got to the “My Shopping Basket” section promising if i spent 6 more pounds I get free delivery..then i had to change the order twice in so as to buy the slightly more expensive books but from amazon and not the second hand dealers and then….finally…..your are not eligable due to living outside the UK. I cancelled the whole order.

  8. Jill

    Scott, it’s a little further east actually, kind of past England and up a bit, ya know? Oil, salmon and polar bears in the streets sort of thign?

  9. Mum

    I’ve only ever had good experience with Amazon orders. I’ve placed orders on the French, the UK and the US sites. Accordingly, the free delivery offers have been limited to France, the UK and the US respectively. And yes, it’s frustrating when you don’t live in any of those places, but at least it shows it’s not just a US thing. All of the above mentioned Amazon branches recognised my e-mail address/password and orders have taken very few key strokes …

  10. David

    We get these perks to offset our National leadership. When you elect George W. Bush to run your country then you can have free wireless.

    If I had a choice I would pay for the wireless.

  11. Elin

    If you’re referring to the .mac deal, there is no free wireless and this is not a “perk”. This is about T-mobile trying to sell monthly internet plans for those who lounge with their laptops outside their homes and offices. “Try this for a month” they ask – by then, they count on you being so hooked that you’d hate to be without it, and pay. $39.90. Every month. It is more expensive than your cell phone plan, or your home internet provider. Why is this so confusing? What does politics, presidents and countries have to do with this?

  12. Jill

    Oh Elin, honey, it’s not that the perks are so great, I know they’re not, they’re commercial propositions, it’s that they’re advertised so prominently to people who aren’t eligible for them on sites that are already personalised for their users. Other perks ARE nice: like the free itunes songs you get when you sign up for iTunes, or the free shipping you get with orders over however many $ within the country each Amazon is located. I’m not complaining about not getting the perks, I understand that iTunes, for instance, is still not in sync with Norwegian customs and law and such and therefore Apple can’t sell me an iTunes song even if they want to. I’m complaining about the way they treat customers who aren’t eligible for these various offers.

    It’s rude, that’s all. Sort of like if phone salespeople kept ringing you offering you “great deals” and waiting until you’d accepted and given them your credit card address before they said Ooh! Sorry, this offer is only for people without telephones.

    I suppose from their point of view, they save a little work programming. From MY point of view, I waste time considering an offer I’m not eligible for. I get cross about the wasted time, and I feel tricked. Sounds like Jim above felt rather like that in his experience with Amazon.co.uk.

    Pissing your customers off sounds like it might cost as much as that programming they saved doing would.

  13. Elin

    I didn’t misunderstand you, Jill:-) I agree with you. I find it just as frustrating as you and everybody else.

    I just don’t understand why some (not you) add Bush and U.S. politics to this. I don’t think Bush or any other Ameican would mind if Amazon got their stuff together and let international customers know earlier in the process wether they were eligible or not for an offer.

    That said… perhaps Amazon found a clever way of tracking how many international users would accept an offer… and they use this to analyze their market etc. There must be an awful lot of useful data left behind in our clicks, right?

  14. Jill

    It’s indicative of how many non-Americans perceive the US’s perception of us, if nothing else….

    Ah well. And yes, I hate thinking of how many traces I leave everywhere! Only way to deal with it is to try not to think about it. Which is not really a very good strategy…

  15. David

    You were frustrated about American companies limiting offers to Americans. I was simply pointing out that there were frustrations for Americans too – many of which free wireless doesn’t ease the strain of.

    Sometimes my humor, it doesn’t go through the net well.

    I guess I didn’t have to make it about Bush. I could have said re-cycled, made unfunny British television, or likely the best and most inaccessible healthcare, or news media that reports no news, or a culture that worships Paris Hilton. There are many things that come with the other things that are maybe not the greatest.

    I just happened to think of Bush because he was on TV at the time.

    By the way, the complaint your making isn’t just an interational thing. Many many companies trumpet offers like this that after 30 minuts on the phone, or 5 emails, or schlepping down to the store you find out are for new contracts only, or not in your area, or for a limited time only. Here where I am, the Cable TV and the Satellite TV marketing people are the biggest offenders. Cell phone and DSL are a close second though. I always find myself asking “ok, what does it cost when the deal ends?” and then hanging up.

  16. Erica

    Hi Jill, I read your blog from Sydney, Australia. A couple of months ago, just after I had purchased by beautiful IBook G4, I wanted to do the right thing” and buy songs online from the ITunes Music Store and “surprise”, even though I bought a Mac, visit the site constantly and have an Ipod, my credit card was no good, because I am in Australia. I relate to your frustation big time!

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