Reader A. Hildebrandt writes:
On Black Friday, Amazon.com held a raffle of sorts. Essentially, they had several awesome items at insane prices, and people were randomly selected to get these details. One of these items was a really nice laptop, regularly $1000, discounted to $300 for 250 lucky people. I was not one of those lucky people. That didn’t stop me from winning in my own sort of way.
While these crazy sales were going on, quite a few people started donning tinfoil hats. Very, very few people got a shot at these details. So few, in fact, that people start wondering out loud if the prizes were being awarded at all. Finally, people started crying about how the prizes were _obviously_ being snatched up by Amazon employees, since their best friend totally voted and didn’t win anything. The forum was quickly flooded with angry customers demanding apologies, compensation… I think one person even was talking about a class action lawsuit. That’s what I love about the internet — low on rationality and high on hilarity.
I thought I’d add my voice to the party, in a post entitled “OH NO I DIDN’T WIN A LAPTOP.”
You can read Mr. Hildebrandt’s post as well as the replies it prompted, here. Sadly, his sarcasm did little to calm the conspiracy theories, so we rejoin our hero as he dashes over to Consumerist.com for Amazon’s Executive Customer service contact info…
By this point, I felt like it was important to escalate my complaint. After a little digging, I found the e-mail addressed for not just Amazon’s customer service, but Amazon’s _executive_ customer service. Just for kicks, I CC’d it to Amazon’s president, Jeff Bezos, as well. This is what I wrote:
Please escalate this e-mail accordingly.
Dear Jeffrey P. Bezos,
Recently, I participated in the “Customers Vote” promotion on your website. There was one item in particular that caught my eye: The HP Pavilion TX1305US Notebook PC for the discounted price of $299. I was ecstatic at the prospect of receiving this notebook. I’ve been without a mobile computing platform since I graduated college this past spring (after four rigorous years of post-secondary education). I had planned on using this laptop to write epic novels while sipping mochas at my local Starbucks. Sadly, when the time came for winners to be announced, I was greeted by a cruel message: “We’re sorry. You weren’t randomly selected to be offered this deal.”
This has thrown my life into somewhat of a turmoil. I had greatly anticipated receiving this laptop, and doing so would have enabled me to not only pen epic novels, but win prestigious literary awards from various countries. Not being in possession of a laptop, I am instead forced to write with the humble pen and paper, a process that lacks both proper editing features and spell checking.
Since this traumatic event took place, I have taken solace on the Amazon web forum, where I found others who were in a similar predicament. Together, we were able to conclude that the reason we were unable to win the laptops is that the laptops were never available in the first place, but were instead given to Amazon employees. In a thread I started earlier today, eighteen people (thus far) have confirmed that they did not receive a laptop. Since two hundred and fifty laptops were “available”, it is practically a statistical impossibility that not one of us was given the offer. The only possible explanation is that these laptops were claimed by Amazon employees before they were ever available for sale.
Even so, I have used Amazon for years and would like to offer my continued patronage. In return, I would ask for the opportunity to purchase one of these laptops for the low price of $299 plus applicable shipping. I would even offer to extend my patronage beyond its normal constraints, writing “I wrote Amazon Executive Customer Service a cheeky e-mail and all I got was this AMAZING LAPTOP” with a Sharpie (as opposed to a generic-branded marker, which tends to bleed) on the upper lid of the laptop. Also, I would dedicate my first published novel to you, Jeff Bezos (though you may not be the sole dedication), for providing me with the means to create the world’s next great literary work.
Please take this offer into consideration. I eagerly look forward to your response.
e. (e-mail removed) p. (phone number removed)
Several days went by, and I thought my story had reached a conclusion. I was happy. It was fun. And I got to feed a couple trolls.
What happened next, though, took everything to the next level.
On November 30, three days after Black Friday, I received an e-mail from Autumn Walker of Amazon.com Executive Customer Relations.
Dear Mr. Hildebrandt,
Hello from Amazon.com.
My name is Autumn Walker of Amazon.com’s Executive Customer Relations. Jeff Bezos received your email and has asked me to reply on his behalf, taking any action necessary to assist you.
I understand and fully empathize with your desire to write epic novels using the “HP Pavilion TX1305US Notebook PC” offered in the “Amazon Customers Vote” promotion. I had similar hopes of producing my own work of greatness when I cast my vote.
Perhaps fortunately for the general public, neither I, nor any of my colleagues whom I was ready to beg from, won this round. (Come to think of it, I don’t think we won *any* rounds.) It is important, however, that your genius be heard.
I am unable to take one of the fully claimed and purchased laptops away from its winning owner to provide you with this deal, nor will we be discounting other $1000.00 items to the fire-sale price of $299.00 offered in our “Amazon Customers Vote” promotion. As I’m sure you are aware, promotions are for a limited time only and cannot be extended.
I share your wonder that neither you nor any of the other 18 bloggers participating in your thread did not win the “Out & About” round. As a matter of fact, I was quite vociferous in like-minded protest. Perhaps the response I received to my own objections may clear this matter up somewhat: when I stoutly declared that some member of my voluminous family should have statistically won something, I was reminded of a common thread in our “Customers Vote” forum which states buying a lottery ticket only marginally increases one’s chances of winning the lottery.
Take heart; Norman Mailer wrote all of his novels by hand. And you’ve surely heard the phrase, “the pen is mightier than the sword”? It would sound absurd to substitute “laptop” for the word “pen.”
In the meantime, since fate has conspired against me as well, I will continue the process of gathering material for my novel, (also known as staying employed.) This means that I will certainly be on hand to help you find exactly the right Sharpie should you wish to persevere in your brilliant endeavor. That is, until next year’s “Amazon Customers Vote” promotion…
Despite this setback, I eagerly await the publication of your novel, and can assure you that I will be among the earliest purchasers at the bookstore.
Here’s wishing you the best of luck in next year’s promotion!
Autumn Walker Executive Customer Relations
Amazon, I love you.