Wise? -> "Please do not reply to this automated message"

Today I received an email from Amazon.com regarding a delayed order.

In that message:

Please note: This e-mail was sent from a notification-only address that cannot accept incoming e-mail. Please do not reply to this message.
Amazon.com certainly has enough technical savvy to arrange to have mail from the address forwarded to a customer service rep. So why don’t they?

I understand why this message is used in a lot of cases, the organization wants the reader to preform an action in the email and is not equipped to personally respond to a high volume of emails. However, I’m not sure that reasoning holds true for eCommerce.

Shouldn’t businesses make it as easy as possible for customers to contact them? Speaking for myself, there are two reasons why I might contact a company.

  1. I want to buy something else. (Company gets profit)
  2. Something messed up and I want to give the company a chance to make it better. (Company prevents loss of sale and possibly prevents loss of customer)

Amazon gave me a link to check on the item but it didn’t provide much info. Contact information is buried several layers away. Amazon did make one thing easy for me though: In three straightforward clicks I can cancel the order.

Amazon usually is given high marks for customer service, but this doesn’t seem wise to me. Of course, they aren’t alone, lot of sites do this, which is why I mention it.

Any thoughts on the topic?

Do you think that Amazon’s savings from having less customer service emails to answer balances whatever losses might be experienced from customer backlash?

Does anyone here do this for any of their sites? Are you sure it works out for you?

Off Topic:

I also resent Amazon saying that the address “cannot accept incoming mail”. Complete bull, if they wanted mail from that address to get read, they’d make it happen. There’s no “cannot” about it, only “will not”. If you have the caliber of website that Amazon does, you really shouldn’t try to play dumb and lie to your customers by pretending that the email is a technical factor out of your control.

I agree. :slight_smile: I don’t know why they don’t forward the email, maybe it’s so they have less to deal with? :\

Amazon doesn’t want to get flooded with zillions of emails, spams, rants, gripes etc etc.

Usually that kind of message is from an automated system such as when you place an order and the system automatically sends you a confirmation. Even if they don’t want you to reply they should provide some kind of contact info in the message.

I would expect that Amazon would want to be sent gripes if the alternative is a frustrated customer going to a competitor.

Amazon’s big hurdle to clear is how few people shop online. If people are confused about some part of their order and a method of resolution isn’t readily presented, seems to me they are likely to stick with methods of shopping where there is a person available to help you (catalog sales, retail, etc).

I agree with jaiem that there should be some form of contact info in the message. In Amazon’s message to me, there was not. In contrast, buy.com is very good about that and they actually encourage contacting their support.

I have worked for a major competitor to Amazon.com in the past and I was one of the people that used to write these emails.

The sentence "Please note: This e-mail was sent from a notification-only address that cannot accept incoming e-mail. Please do not reply to this message. " is included as you would not believe the stupid and ignorant replies that you get.

It is incredibly easy for a client to just hit the reply button.

This sentence would only be included if there was no reason for the customer to ever need to reply to such an email. If it was just forwarded on it does clug up the customer service reps with needless mail such as “thanks”, “why”, etc etc.

A very smart practice for a large company, but if you are starting out you most likely have much more time to be personal.

Thanks for that perspective, I can see where a company would be coming from.

Interesting you should mention “why” as one of the stupid questions. That was exactly my question about my order being delayed. Certainly, I would have spent the time to construct a complete sentence including the reason I was wondering (the reason I want to know the cause of the delay is that I’m wondering if this item will ever come in as this was the second delay). The information I want isn’t available on my Amazon order page.

With that rationale for “why” in mind, which types of emails present no possible reason for customer service involvement?

IMO, “why” can be very annoying. It often can have no basis in fact or reasonability.

Case in point: On our e-comm site we have occationally had customers place an order on Sunday, we process and ship on Monday, and according to tracking they get it on Wednesday or Thursday. Not bad IMO for standard shipping (non-express/over-night shipping). Yet some people still email asking “Why did it take so long to get my order?”

Your are correct, that sounds irrational.

However, that’s a patron. If they decide to never shop at your store again for irrational reasons, you don’t get their business just as if they had a rational reason.

Perhaps I’m oversimplifying, but how about a response like this (easily bottled so that a customer service rep can click a button and generate the message):

I’m sorry that you felt that it took a long time to receive your order.

According to our records:

  1. You placed your order on Sunday
  2. The your order left our warehouse on Monday via US mail
  3. The order arrived at your door on Thursday

That is a total of four business days for order fulfillment, three of which were outside of our control, in the hands of the US postal service. This speed of processing and shipping orders is consistent with our estimates on our website.

We are always looking for ways to improve our service. If you have any suggestions as to how we could better serve you, please contact us. We consider all suggestions.

I suppose if an automated system can tell you that your order has been delayed then that same system probably updates your order page when you log into your account with ‘delayed’. You would think that same system would be able to add a reason for the delay even if its a blatant lie like “order delayed - awaiting supplier to deliver” or something like that.

Just my 2$