On the contrary: Up the Amazon

Perched uneasily on the cusp of late middle age and seniority, one is especially vulnerable to appeals to one's vanity. If a random service provider, say a hairdresser or physiotherapist looking for a generous tip is unwise enough to remark, "Gosh, you don't look a day over 40," this inevitably sets off the sort of preening a peacock would envy. When gullibility is combined with being tech-challenged, the consequences are far-reaching. In retrospect, some proportion of the blame for the Amazon brouhaha must adhere to my physiotherapist; I have long since dispensed with a barber. Flushed with her snake-oil laced compliments, I got home to find an email from Amazon nestling coyly in my inbox.

'Dear Customer,' it read, 'what do you think of Amazon Prime? Please share your opinion with others on Amazon.com' and add your star rating. I had just been billed the princely sum of $13 for my monthly subscription and was justifiably furious since as any fule kno, the annual fee for Amazon Prime is `800 which is, yep, you did the math, $13/- In my misguided enthusiasm to join the herd I had clicked unwittingly on the US sign-up slot and had been contributing to Mr Bezos's $ 129 billion net worth by paying twelve times the market price. Consoling myself with the thought thatthe world's richest man was personally handling my customer feedback, I sat down to compose an appropriate response.

I gave it one star and called it the greatest rip-off sinceBitcoin and would you believe it? Snotty Amazon refused to publish my review because it didn't meet theirguidelines. Dude, what are you smoking? I realize one can't create an Amazon without destroying a few rainforests but how about showing some appreciation for my restraint? What I really wanted to say was &*#; so if you were unhappy with one star, suck it up and refund my money.You guys blew $100 million driving diapers.com out of business and you don't have trackers sophisticated enough to figure out an Indian IP address? Jeff, man up and get back to your real job of making grandma cry by telling her smokingtook 10 years off her life expectancy.Grandpa Bezos stopped the car and took his grandson aside for a heart-to-heart talk on how kindness is better than cleverness. Ajja was wasting his breath since Jeff clearly doesn't have a heart, just a robotic chamber that tracks consumer behavior. If he had left him on the highway, the world would have been a better place.

Clearly Jeff didn't go to charm school either; when a sucker has coughed up a king's ransom for your crappy service you don't rub salt in the wound by asking for feedback: this sort of behavior makes Harvey Weinstein look caring and compassionate.

For more insights into Bezos's character check out this excerpt from Andy Borowitz'ssatire column: "Saying that he was "horrified" by a New York Timesarticle recounting callous behavior on the part of Amazon executives, founder Jeff Bezos warned that any employees found lacking in empathy would be instantly purged, through a new internal reporting system called EmpathyTrack.  ET will allow Amazon employees to secretly grade their co-workers on a scale from a hundred (nicest) to zero (pure evil).Through a program called Next Day Purging, the 10% found to be least empathetic wouldbe culled from the herd within 24 hours.

"We can't be the greatest retailer in the world unless we are also the kindest," wrote Bezos. "So my message to all Amazonians is loud and clear: be kind or taste my wrath. Love, Jeff."

In Brad Stone's book, "The Everything Store", when Jeff hears something he doesn't likehis demeanor can become explosively sarcastic. So he can dish it out,but when it comes to taking it, he's a big baby?"A colleague failing to meet Bezos's exacting standards will set off a foaming rant. If an employee does not have the right answers or takes credit for someone else's work, or exhibits a whiff of internal politics, uncertainty, or frailty in the heat of battle, a blood vessel in Bezos's forehead bulges and his filter mechanism dissolves. He's capable of hyperbole and harshness in these moments and over the years has delivered some devastating rebukes. Among his greatest hits, collected and relayed by Amazon veterans:

"I'm sorry, did I take my stupid pills today?"

"Do I need to go down and get the certificate that says I'm CEO of the company to get you to stop challenging me on this?"

"This document was clearly written by the B team. Can someone get me the A team document?"

Princeton University must have fairly sloppy standards: why else would they have asked Bezos to deliver the graduation speech in 2010?  They could have got KangnaRanaut for half the price and double the hypocrisy.


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