This week, our glorious founder, William Storie, paid Eastbourne a visit. The great man was present when I took delivery of a package from Amazon.
I’ve always been a huge fan of Amazon. It sells a wide range of goods, often at reasonable prices. I’ve bought hundreds of items from them, and been happy with every one of them.
I’ve spent years looking for a DVD of a 1936 film called “Lloyd’s of London”. Then, a couple of days ago, I saw it advertised for sale on Amazon at £20.84 (about $33). Expensive, yes, but I wanted it, so I bought it.
“Whoosh” went the money leaving my bank account. Two days later, the movie arrived, except it wasn’t “Lloyd’s of London”. It was “Lloyds de Londres”, a copy of the movie dubbed into Spanish. Oh, and being Spanish, it wouldn’t play on either of my DVD players, one set for Europe, the other for the US (thank you, Microsoft).
In simple terms, Amazon had committed a crime, known colloquially as Bait And Switch. It was advertising for sale something that it didn’t sell. Amazon would doubtless argue that the DVD was supplied by someone else and merely distributed by Amazon, but it was Amazon that advertised it for sale and took my money.
Amazon offered to refund my money, so I was willing to call it a mistake and offer the online retailer the benefit of the doubt.
But … in order to obtain a refund, you have to own a printer. It’s as if a pickpocket stole your money and offered to give it back to you only if you own a space shuttle or a kilt.
I’m a writer by trade, but I don’t own a printer because nothing I write is ever printed out (by me). Ever. Nor is anything else. I need a printer exactly as much as I need a space shuttle.
There may be a way of contacting Amazon to find out what those without printers have to do to obtain a refund, but I’m damned if I can find it. Because of a mistake Amazon made (or a crime it committed), I’ve lost an hour trying to make the damned DVD work, the use of my £20 for weeks (and possibly forever if Amazon’s refund service subsequently requires me to own a bayonet or a wildebeest), two hours trying to find a printerless way forward, and the sense of humour I used to cherish.
Good grief. It’s called the Digital Divide, and lots of Olderhood people are among those divided from the modern world.
I was going to report Amazon to the authorities. If I must waste my time and money, I thought, I’d do some public good. But then I thought: Jeff Bezos has $24 billion, and I’m in need of £20. Guess who’s going to win that one? And if it were me, the headlines would say Crombie Closes Amazon, with a sub-head: Old Geezer Ruins Christmas.
So, I’ll e-mail my brother the Amazon form and he’ll print it out and send it back to me by snail mail, and that’s all I wrote.
Fact: Amazon sells printers.