Sunday, 9 December 2018


I forgot who I am and the family I come from. Beguiled by the supposed ease of gift shopping online, I ordered three DVDs from Amazon.

After receiving the usual order confirmation and tracking number, I was slightly concerned when I started to get spammy emails from a company that claimed to be delivering for Amazon.

We’re constantly told what not to do online. Don’t divulge personal information. Never click on a link in an email. Even if a message looks completely kosher, scan it for any sign of error.

These days the scammers have it down to a fine art, so it can take a while to spot the strange spelling mistake, the odd spacing, the dodgy-sounding address, or unusual grammar and language.

That’s why my hackles went up when I started to be bombarded by emails from Rupa, Mehnaz, Mrudula, Abhishek, Rupa again and Mounika.

Their emails couldn’t have looked more suspicious. Each demanded that if I wanted my delivery, I had to send them my mobile number, eircode and address. 

They used a beige font, crazy spacing, quoting order numbers and tracking numbers that failed to correspond to anything.

Also the language they used was plain weird:


“Hi, Good day you! This is Mounika reaching out to you…”

I mean, would you trust that?

Surely, if they’re delivering for Amazon, they’d have my details anyway?

Bizarrely, it turned out they were actually genuine, but can you blame me for thinking they’d hacked into my order?

I explained that if they sent me a phone number, or called me, I’d share my information, but not online.

In return I received more spammy requests.

Weary from the hassle, I signed into Amazon, to be greeted by a banner announcing:
“Earth's Most Customer-Centric Company.”

Well hoorah and yippee! Clearly I’d have no problem sorting out my little problem. I’ll just take a peek on the My Orders page and, oh hang on, wait a bloomin’ minute! They say my DVDs were delivered weeks ago.

Cheeky little bastards.

Right. Enough. Time to speak to a human.

Try that ‘Problem’ dropdown menu.

Where’s the Contact Us?
No phone number anywhere.

Maybe if you’re the Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company, you don’t need to speak to your punters, because they’re all permanently ecstatic.

On an internet board I found out that if I went to Help on Amazon’s banner, then ignored all the help offered and found the More Help button, lurking down the bottom, I’d enter a portal where it’s actually possible to contact the Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company.


A phone number! 
Oh, hang on, they say the phone’s not recommended.

I believed them. 

Didn’t fancy 30 hours waiting on hold.

Instead I did what Amazon suggested, and went on live chat with, well, I don’t know.

A robot?
A human?

I’ve no idea.

Engaged in written online conversation with someone/thing called something like Tbilisi, I gave her/him/it my order and tracking number.

No such order existed, they claimed.

Quickly checking Amazon’s website again, my jaw dropped. The order I’d seen minutes before, supposedly delivered weeks ago?

It had completely disappeared.

Dodgy biscuits, Batman! I started to lose it, explaining that they’d taken money from me delivered nothing, and in the world I live in that’s called theft.

I stuck to the ‘theft’ word for several minutes until a supervisor arrived to say my order was with, not, repeatedly insisting I needed to contact them.

I assured her several times in calm, powerful and assertive language that I did not have to do anything. She had to contact whoever she had to contact.

Next morning I received an apology from Amazon, followed by an email from an Irish courier company, asking for my address and eircode.

I told them to - yeh, you know! - send me a phone number or call me.

When they too started bombing me with more emails l went plain berserk, using language far less calm and considered than before.

Hey presto. It worked. An audibly impatient woman from the courier company telephoned me, and I gave her my details. Before she hung up I asked why they’d refused to email me a phone number.

She said they don’t have a phone number for dealing with the public.

How incredibly customer-centric of you.

Then I remembered who I am: a man raised by a father who ran record shops, and a mother who had clothes shops. My sister has run her own shop all her life and I’ve had many retail jobs.

Unlike most of the modern world, here in the west of Ireland we are blessed with high streets crammed with family-owned shops. We have wonderful markets, indoors and outside.

If we do our Christmas shopping with independent neighbour traders we can be sure of two things: we’ll be able to give unique presents that our loved ones could not find in a chain store, and we’re investing directly in our own economy.

Instead of throwing money at global concerns, concerned only with removing messy humans from their process, we put food on the plates of Connacht, while saving our streets from becoming bland brand mausoleums.

This Christmas put away your computers and phones. Shop in Galway’s towns and city, where creative humans who truly care about their products are waiting to smile at you.

Enjoy the magic of physically shopping for individual gifts, while keeping our vibrant enterprising local traders successful.

©Charlie Adley

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