Pepsi & Amazon Won't Fix PepsiStuff Error, Keep Ignoring Customer

Jon saved up a bunch of PepsiStuff points and decided to redeem them for an item PepsiStuff is promoting on its website. That’s how these point redemption programs usually work, you see. PepsiStuff.com apparently thinks otherwise—they’ll let you redeem the points for a COBY player (ha ha ha ha), but the Sony alarm clock is just redemption bait. You’re not supposed to actually pick that.

We’ve bolded the dumb “go look on PepsiStuff.com” responses from Amazon:

After amassing a lot of PepsiStuff.com points, I decided to try and redeem them to get a Sony Alarm clock as a gift for my parents. Upon visiting PepsiStuff.com, you can easily login with your Amazon ID, and then click on the category for the prize that you wish to redeem. I clicked on “Electronics” and then on the “Sony ICF-CD815 AM/FM Stereo CD Clock Radio” link to try and redeem my points for the clock radio. However, there is no link anywhere on that page for redeeming my Pepsi Stuff points for the item. In fact, Amazon.com doesn’t even sell the item itself, and its being sold entirely through third party resellers.

Note that if I click on the Coby CD player instead, I do get a nice “Redeem with 125 Pepsi Stuff points” section:

con_pepsistuffscreenshots.jpg

So, I e-mailed Amazon and the first response came in at 1:46 AM almost copying the Pepsi Stuff FAQs verbatim. That wasn’t the answer I wanted. I e-mailed them back asking them again how to order it, and I received a reply at 11:34 and was asked for the ASIN. (Never mind that I already gave him the verbatim link to the product, as well as how to get to the product from the PepsiStuff.com home page.) I replied back and received another e-mail at 12:43 PM (wow – quick response), however the answer was this:

  Thank you for contacting us at Amazon.com.

First, please allow me to express my sincere apologies for any frustration that has been caused.

The item “Sony ICF-CD815 AM/FM Stereo CD Clock Radio with Dual Alarm” you’re inquiring about is offered by one of our Amazon Merchants. Right now, all of the information we have on this item is on the product description page. Our information is limited to what the Merchants supply to us; this information appears on our Web site.

If you’d like to know more about this particular item, we encourage you to contact the Merchant’s customer service team with your inquiry. Merchant customer service contact information is available through a link at the bottom of each item’s product detail page.

1. Click the “(Seller name) Returns & Exchanges” link.
2. Click the “At A Glance” tab and look for contact information in the bottom right corner of the page.

Thanks for asking about the possibility of using your Points from the Pepsi Stuff promotion in order to get “Sony ICF-CD815 AM/FM Stereo CD Clock Radio with Dual Alarm”. I’m sorry to say that item isn’t eligible for the promotion, but thousands of other items are. You also can find links to eligible products on PepsiStuff.com.

Only designated items from our MP3 Music Downloads, Unbox Video, Apparel, and Electronics stores are available with Pepsi Stuff Points. To read more about the eligibility and promotion rules, please visit the Pepsi Stuff Promotion Rules on PepsiStuff.com.Thank you for contacting us at Amazon.com.

I hope that this will help you find the information you need.

Thank you for shopping at Amazon.com.

Well, that wasn’t the answer I was looking for. I e-mailed Amazon.com again and tried to be as clear as possible, stating that the item was on the PepsiStuff.com website, and linked directly to that page, so how wasn’t this an orderable item? I received another e-mail at 5:28 PM today, and nothing has changed.

  Greetings from Amazon.com,

Please accept our sincere apologies for any inconvenience this issue has caused you.

As mentioned by our previous colleague the item “Sony ICF-CD815 AM/FM Stereo CD Clock Radio with Dual Alarm” you’re inquiring about is offered by one of our Amazon Merchants. Please note that this item cannot be bought using Pepsi Stuff Points. Your understanding is highly appreciable in this regard.

But thousands of other items are. You also can find links to eligible products on PepsiStuff.com.

Only designated items from our MP3 Music Downloads, Unbox Video, Apparel, and Electronics stores are available with Pepsi Stuff Points. To read more about the eligibility and promotion rules, please visit the Pepsi Stuff Promotion Rules on PepsiStuff.com.

Please do understand if there was any possibility we would have done it for you when you have contacted us earlier.

Thank you for contacting us at Amazon.com.

I seem to be caught in an infinite “we can’t help you” customer service loop. I asked in my fourth e-mail to get a supervisor’s help, because the representatives (all with Indian names) cannot seem to understand that 1) This is a Pepsi Promotion that they are servicing and 2) The product is listed as an eligible product, so 3) Find out why I cannot order it and please fix it so that I can. Note that he completely ignored my request to escalate the matter.

I have been extremely polite and clear/to the point the entire time, but after four e-mails like this, I’m wondering if Amazon even knows what “Customer Service” is. Is there anything that you suggest that I do that I’m not doing?

Thanks,
Jon

We suggested he contact Pepsi directly to ask them to resolve the issue. At the very least, they could ensure that the products they promote at PepsiStuff is actually available. Jon did, and here’s what he got back:

This is what I got back when I wrote Pepsi. I’m still not getting anywhere. You would expect someone to help or volunteer to find a resolution, but nothing seems to be happening.

  A Message from Consumer Relations XXXXXXXXXX

Dear Jon,

Thank you for your thoughtful response to our e-mail. We appreciate you taking the time to follow up with us.

Please be assured that we will share your sentiments here at headquarters.

We value your feedback and the constructive manner in which it was shared.

All the best,

XXXXXXXXXXXX
Consumer Relations

Good to know: we can add Pepsi to the list of companies who’ve engineered their customer service departments to be insatiable maws, in which every complaint and question is devoured without resolution.
 
Seriously, is this such a difficult task? If you’re from Pepsi or Amazon and you’re reading this, take a look at these two hypothetical responses, which I managed to type up in less than 30 seconds:

Amazon: “Thanks for bringing this to our attention. We will investigate and remove the merchandise from the PepsiStuff site if it is no longer being offered for redemption.”

Pepsi: “Thanks for bringing this to our attention. We will contact Amazon about removing this item from our redemption list.”

Good luck with those PepsiPoints, Jon. We hope your parents enjoy COBY. (The alarm clock probably had a rootkit in it anyway.)

Comments

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  1. cde says:

    You really shouldn’t be up in arms about this. Its not reasonable to expect Amazon or Pepsi to require a 3rd party merchant who isn’t involved with the promotion to act on it.

    I bet Amazon used to have it, then ran out, and it only shows the merchant as having it now.

  2. Jon Mason says:

    The form letter/email is one of the most improperly used tools ever invented. I have been through similar conversations a couple of times via email with customer service at various companies, up to the point of writing “Your responses are not addressing my complaint, PLEASE DO NOT SEND A FORM LETTER OR CANNED RESPONSE.” Guess what I got back?

  3. Jon Mason says:

    @cde: But if it is not available Pepsi should remove it no?

  4. cb7296 says:

    Just check back tomorrow…the item probably fell out of stock at Amazon’s warehouses momentarily and it will be reordered promptly. The PepsiStuff promotion page and the in-stock counts on the inventory are probably not matched in real time.

  5. brainologist says:

    I had a virtually identical problem with the MyCokeRewards promotion from coca-cola. In my experience with them, e-mailing their promotion-website support was 100% useless.

    The only time I got results was by telephoning a corporate customer service number and pointing out that I was a loyal Coca-Cola customer who also was using the promotional website, but that the supposed “customer support” supplied by the website’s listed e-mail was completely bubkis. (I think I said, “they have outright refused to help me.”)

    For Coke, everything was somehow in one big system, so the person who I spoke to at their corporate support was able to read the e-mails I’d exchanged with the website support (gasp! good thing I hadn’t said anything nasty!) Ultimately, she put me in touch via phone with someone directly involved in the promotional website, who was finally able to help.

    So, I highly recommend that old-fashioned device, the telephone. (Note: It was very hard to find a number to contact “Coke Customer Service”, but it was embedded in a random Coke website’s Terms of Service, listed specifically as a recourse for California residents who had questions about the ToS. (Yay for California consumer protection laws!)

    The who actually work for Pepsi are likely to take their product and promotion more seriously than the people they hire abroad to do website support.

  6. ogman says:

    Amazon – Home of the very best in Bangalore Babble.

  7. ornj says:

    did no one think to CALL?

  8. dorianh49 says:

    Amazon is out of stock. You can tell because one of the merchants, Target (who is patched in directly to Amazon’s stock), says that this item is currently out of stock. If Amazon had it in stock, you would probably see the Pepsi points thingie.

    If you do end up with the alarm clock, make sure not to get it too dusty.

  9. cde says:

    @masonreloaded: As far as Pepsi knows (before this), if the Amazon sku/link is still valid, the item exists. Amazon doesn’t give the same item two different pages depending if Amazon or 3rd party item.

  10. mgy says:

    Coby even ripped off the logo. Wow.

  11. Anonymous says:

    @ornj: That’s what I was wondering. It’s really really easy to have machines autorespond to emails.

  12. FightOnTrojans says:

    Reminds me of Pepsi’s last point-redemption fiasco. Anyone else remember the guy who tried to buy enough points to redeem them for the Harrier jet that Pepsi used in their commercial? Dumbass thought he would get a jet. [www.mtsu.edu]

  13. urban_ninjya says:

    By this time, I think everyone should realize that real people answering customer service emails don’t exist anymore. It’s a big myth. It’s like searching for the Lochness monster, Big Foot, or UFO’s.. there’s one way to find it. Except the latter 3 exists.

  14. MalcoveMagnesia says:

    I hate the “MyCokeRewards” website oh so much. It’s Flash grossness (and slowness) combined with technical incompetence (I try almost weekly to link my mobile phone with my account, never succeeding). I’m tempted to give up accumulating points, as it takes forever to drink enough poisonous chemicals to get to any decent prize level.

    Maybe these promotions are only geared for the underpaid drones who work in restaurants or company cafeterias, where they have the time & motivation to collect caps & cardboard case point magic numbers.

  15. robertbenda says:

    While they weren’t clear they did answer the question. You can’t get the alarm clock because its not coming from Amazon, its sold by AntOnline through Amazon’s website (this is why their email says its “offered by one of our Amazon Merchants.” Thus making your Pepsi Points irrelevant.

  16. krunk4ever says:

    I’m pretty sure what’s happening is that Amazon.com is the seller/shipper of the PepsiStuff items and what happened is the alarm clock is OOS (or out of stock in deal speak) from Amazon.com. Therefore since Amazon.com can’t fulfill the order, they’ve removed the pay with pepsi points link for the time being.

    If you wait for it to come back in stock at Amazon.com (not one of its 3rd party sellers), which can be a few days to a few months, I bet you’ll be able to use your pepsi points then.

  17. Hawk07 says:

    Buy.com and Amazon must buy their CSM software from the same vendor.

  18. Chris Walters says:

    @cde & @krunk4ever: If Amazon can manage the hi-tech programming code that turns the PepsiPoints redemption button on and off depending on who’s offering it, you would think they could also build a back-end to the PepsiStuff website that removes or hides merchandise from the redemption list when it’s not available for redemption.

  19. rdldr1 says:

    Why would you pick something so obsolete? With some MP3 players so cheap right now, no wonder you never see anyone carrying around a portable CD player along with a CD case.

    I’d pick the Sony alarm clock any day. Shame on you Pepsi, shame on you!

  20. milw123 says:

    They must be out of stock. I redeemed the required amount of points for the alarm clock in Feburary and received it about 6 days later. No problems at all.

  21. cde says:

    @Chris Walters: What makes you think Amazon has anything to do with the coding of Pepsi’s site?

    I’m sure the Amazon addition is just reusing code they had in place for other promotions, which I have seen before.

  22. ianmac47 says:

    @cde: The Sony clock is the SECOND item listed under electronics offered through the Pepsi Stuff promotion. They are falsely advertising that the sony radio is available for redemption when in fact, its not. They might as well put an image of Lear Jet in the electronics section. Oh

  23. witeowl says:

    I aree with many here: this is Pepsi’s problem, not Amazon’s. Of course, unless they’re somehow linked in some sort of megamonopoly. I can’t keep track of them anymore. If that’s the case than it’s probably Sony’s fault. Or maybe Tide’s. Who knows.

  24. Chris Walters says:

    @cde: Because

    1. pepsistuff.com resolves to pepsistuff.amazon.com
    2. You can sign in with your Amazon account, which means some sort of data sharing is happening with the backend

  25. Nytmare says:

    @dorianh49: The screen-capture image says the item is “In Stock”.

  26. Parting says:

    How much Pepsi did you drink? Or are you working/own cafeteria?

  27. mv0093 says:

    hahaha..bowdown at rootkit comment!

  28. forgottenpassword says:

    I have found most of those points rewards programs that pepsi & coke often have are woefully understaffed & mismanaged to begin with. I am having a helluva time dealing with the mycokerewards promotion. They just dont seem to care one bit & if they actually DID… they probably wouldnt be able to get around to addressing it beyond a standard reply letter/email saying that they appreciate feedback & will get back to you blah blah blah.

    Mycokerewards has a MISERABLE selection of items you can redeem for. And the actual good ones that they restock once every 3 months or so sell out in hours.

  29. BlinkyGuy says:

    Jon: I read several times in your post “that wasn’t the answer I was looking for”, but somehow missed the question.

    If you are looking for a specific result to your complaint, rather than just listing what is wrong, cut the guys some slack and tell them what you think the solution is. It points them in the right direction.

  30. KogeLiz says:

    “because the representatives (all with Indian names) cannot seem to understand that..”

    Nice.
    Not sure if you have contacted any other customer service via email, but canned responses are pretty much automatic. I don’t think it has anything to do with the person’s name and where they might be from.

    Also, did you call them and speak with a live person?

  31. BeFrugalNotCheap says:

    @FightOnTrojans:
    Oh yeah, what was the outcome of that? I remember the little prick actually sued pepsi for displaying “1 Million points” along with a jet in their commercial. Reminds me of that Simpsons episode where Bart wins that elephant from a radio station and the stations lawyers end up getting him the elephant to shut him up. Classic.

  32. BeFrugalNotCheap says:

    The always dependable snopes turned this up: [www.snopes.com] lol.

  33. Buran says:

    @cde: I think that’s what’s going on. I bought a CompactFlash adapter from Amazon for my Macbook Pro, but it would go in and out of stock at Amazon and I had to put it on my shopping list and then keep logging in from time to time to see if Amazon had it in stock yet.

    This guy is expecting a third party, who didn’t sign an agreement to be part of the promotion, to honor Amazon’s price. He should just do what I did and wait for the item to be back in stock at Amazon itself.

  34. Buran says:

    @FightOnTrojans: How is someone a dumbass for expecting something advertised to be actually available? There is a very good reason why you no longer see ads like that or you do see disclaimers on anything similar. If you advertise something you need to actually offer it or suffer the consequences. It is not illegal to own an ex-military aircraft as long as it has been demilitarized, by the way.

  35. friendlynerd says:

    Wow, first comment blames the victim. Is that a record?

  36. mdkiff says:

    I have to say, people tend to make it easy on these companies to blow them off when they only send an e-mail. Anyone who has to get people to respond on a regular basis knows that you’re always better off getting them on the phone (or in person, of course). E-mail is a passive means of communication, and by using it, he let Pepsi and Amazon passively blow him off.

  37. binutils says:

    @Hawk07:
    I believe they use Remedy as their CRM platform.

  38. tvmitch says:

    I actually ordered this item from the PepsiStuff site on March 4, after saving up enough points to do so. (I quickly became very good and fast at entering the codes.)

    Got an email yesterday from Amazon saying that my order was going to be delayed, and now I should expect to receive the item between 3/20-3/28. (They had promised that it would be shipped in 24 hours, and since I’m near an Amazon warehouse, I usually get that stuff the next day.) As long as I get the clock, I’m fine…I didn’t need it by a certain timeframe. “Never” is not an acceptable timeframe, however.

    So to answer everyone’s questions, yes – the clock is OOS. It’s the only NICE, USEFUL electronics prize that they have on offer, so 2093480356 people redeemed their points for it, and now Amazon is screwed because Sony never made that many of the clock radios to begin with.

  39. macdude22 says:

    You’re kidding me right, how do these Amazon stories keep getting approved for Consumerist. Ben, quit letting horse $#|7 be posted and keep up Consumerist’s high standards. I can CLEARLY see via the two posted pictures one item offered directly from Amazon, one from a 3rd party. You can’t honestly expect Amazon to force their 3rd party merchants to be involved with Amazon’s promotions. Items often go in and out of stock @Amazon at which point they offer up a 3rd party merchant. This is a non issue. And seriously, who cares if it was supposed to be a present for your parents, it has no bearing on the issue at hand. Plus you likely could have bought 3+ alarm clocks with the money you spent on soda. At worst you have a slight beef with pepsistuff.com but to be honest there are people with a lot worse Customer Service problems than this.

    I’m all for calling companies when they don’t step up to their responsibilities but this isn’t a case of that. Stuff like this will sully Consumerist’s good name.

    @freiendlynerd nobody here is a victim. The user is confused about how amazon works. The email response from amazon seems reasonable to me, it explains the situation, heck it even looks like they stepped outside the form letter a bit.

  40. Saboth says:

    @cde:

    Err…huh? It isn’t reasonable to follow up on what you are advertising? Either 2 things need to happen: Amazon needs to offer the product and set up the Pepsi points for it on their site, or Pepsi needs to remove the item from their website. Yes, I think that is reasonable.

  41. AMetamorphosis says:

    This thread has started to include mycokerewards issues as well. One of the other posters mentioned how pathetic their items are. I agree. I saved up 1071 points for a Coca-cola branded sweatshirt only to be told it was out of stock. My advice is to use your points for 12 packs of coke … 100 points gets a certificate for one and they always come. I’m lucky, I work in an office where all our coke & juice is supplied free as a perk. I’ve talked my coworkers into putting their lids into my work mailbox. As a result, I get a 12 pack of coke about every 4 days and haven’t bought soda for my family in about 6 months … yeah coke points !

  42. Triborough says:

    We have stopped dealing with Amazon after they sent us two damaged books, dealing with people who think they can speak English in Hyderabad on the phone/via e-mail, they promised to send out new ones which never arrived. Wound up taking a couple weeks to get a refund. We will never get anything from them again (well maybe if they stop outsourcing to India), no matter how cheap it is, since when everything works they are brilliant but if there is a problem it really sucks.

  43. BigNutty says:

    The whole point is the “runaround” by CSR and the stupid responses from Amazon and Pepsi. No one can actually use their brain to give a reasonable answer to his question.

  44. elislider says:

    I suggest calling amazon (or having amazon call you as it were). Then, if you receive any emails from Amazon after the call asking if your issue was resolved, say no and have them call you again and you should get a nice american person who is much more helpful

  45. FightOnTrojans says:

    @Buran: Because there are some things that are so outlandish, so over-the-top, that you would have to be an absolute moron to believe it to be real. Furthermore, if you would look at the link I provided and the link that BeFrugalNotCheap provided, it clearly states that the jet was NOT included in the catalog of items that one could have redeemed Pepsi points for.

    Do you seriously believe that rainbows and leprechauns will pop out every time you open up your box of Lucky Charms? Why not? It’s in the commercial, isn’t it? It’s called common sense, rational thinking, the ability to differentiate myth from reality. Pepsi shouldn’t have to put up a disclaimer that you can’t really redeem 7 million points for a Harrier jump jet because it is just crazy to believe that to be real, especially in the context that it was presented in that commercial. I remember seeing that commercial when I was a teenager and thinking “Wow, wouldn’t that be cool?” If I, as a teenager, could make that distinction, a rational adult should have known better. Instead, this guy tried to milk it for whatever he could and got exactly what he deserved: nothing.

    Sorry to hijack the thread, you may resume your normal programming now.

  46. ShinRa-TDR says:

    “Your understanding is highly appreciable in this regard.”

    Translation: Shut the fuck up and stop emailing us, thanks.

  47. Triborough says:

    @ShinRa-TDR: Nah, that is probably some subcontinent colloquialism.

  48. KJones says:

    @FightOnTrojans: Anyone else remember the guy who tried to buy enough points to redeem them for the Harrier jet that Pepsi used in their commercial? Dumbass thought he would get a jet.

    So when a toy maker advertises a doll doing something it is not capable of doing, that’s fraud (I believe it was Hasbro that got nailed for it), but when Pepsi advertises somethign they’re not capable of providing, it’s okay with you?

    There are laws against false price advertising, which is what this is: Pepsi advertised a set number of “points” for a product – an alarm clock, a jet – so they are liable to provide it. This is not a case of “no reasonable person would expect it”.

    Pepsi was the dumbass for making the offer, NOT the customer for meeting the requirements to get it. If a company has no intention of fulfilling its promise, it shouldn’t be making one.

    A waitress scammed into a “Toy Yoda” sues and gets a Toyota.

    [www.usatoday.com]

  49. consumerfriendly says:

    Best advice I can give you is to call the number for promotional questions on Pepsi products: 800-462-9900. That way, you can speak to an actual, live person.

    I am a Pepsi point collector, too….so I am bothered by this.

    Good luck.

  50. centralnewyorker says:

    I admire your persistence in trying to obtain customer service. Companies need feedback. The item in question is the item I also wanted. Such a disappointment that when a promotion first starts there is a slim selection of good or great prizes, but as you work to accumulate points- the best prizes just get eliminated or are otherwise unavailable. It happens on both Pepsi & Coke. And I email them both on a regular basis to try to encourage them to provide and keep good prizes. Be persistent and keep them informed of your level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction. I know I do. Every now and then they might listen- but don’t bet your firstborn on it. Pearl in NY