There are many fringe benefits to being a blogger, including free stuff, working in my bathrobe, admission to press conferences, etc. Lately I've come to notice one of the lesser known fringe benefits, namely extra special customer service from Amazon.
Where Amazon's regular customers have to contact Amazon and ask for help, bloggers and other journalists merely have to mention on Facebook, Twitter, or a blog that they're having a problem with an Amazon product or service, and Amazon will contact them.
For example, on Friday afternoon I published a post on the latest update to Amazon instant video app for Android. The update added support for Android tablets, but it also didn't work for me (the Amazon website kept telling me to install the app, which I had already done).
I happened to mention my problem in the post, and yesterday evening - out of the blue - I got a call from Amazon tech support. Someone at Amazon had spotted my post, pulled my information from my Amazon account, and had tech support call me.
You're welcome to view that as helpful, if you like. I find it creepy.
While I'm sure Amazon thought it would be helpful, in my mind this falls close to stalking. They watched me from the shadows, went digging for info I didn't include in my Amazon account, and then made unwanted contact.
That sounds too much like cyber stalking for my tastes, and it's not the first time it's happened.
Amazon has a long history of watching journalists online. For example, they have numerous Twitter accounts which are used to follow journalists. Here's one; note that there's no mention of Amazon nor any actual account activity, so if you didn't already know that this was an Amazon PR rep you wouldn't know that Amazon was following you on Twitter.
Again, some may see it as innocuous, but I found it really creepy when I figured it out in 2013 (following a couple out of the blue emails).
So is this inappropriate?
You tell me.
All I know is that I'm not happy with the situation. When we combine this with the fact I have to write about Amazon on a regular basis, I feel this puts me in an uncomfortable position which I cannot object to nor can I escape. As I sit here writing this post, I'm afraid that Amazon might retaliate by cutting me off completely.
But in the end I realized that I am probably not the only one to feel this way, so bringing attention to this practice is worth the risk.
image by Ian Sane