Famous Last Words: Who Can You Trust on the Web?

2012 was a good year for us, and we decided to splurge on a joint Christmas present—the commemorative set of 22 James Bond DVDs to celebrate the 50th anniversary.

We journeyed to Costco to buy some hamburger and the Bond DVDs. Got the hamburger, but Bond was nowhere to be found.

So, Peggy, my wife, went online and ordered it from Amazon.com. As Kindle users and serious readers, we spend a ton of loot with Amazon.

Peggy ordered the product gift-wrapped and express shipped in time for Christmas. The cost: $300-plus.

Christmas Day, she handed me the Amazon shipping box. I opened it with great enthusiasm and tore into the gift wrap. The packaging was splendid.

Not splendid: The sticker on the back that read:


What the bloody hell?! My guess: Amazon bought out the Costco inventory, doubled the price and sold it to its customers, who were happy to pay the full freight amid the holiday shopping frenzy.

We decided Christmas Day was not the ideal time to phone customer service, so Peggy texted a masterpiece of a complaint to Amazon. She felt ripped off, her Christmas was ruined, she’d never trust Amazon again and you can damned well refund $150.

Amazon replied within an hour with apologies and assurance that the refund request would be honored.

One of the great professionals in our craft was the late Joan Throckmorton, who wrote in Don Jackson’s and my “2,239 Tested Secrets for Direct Marketing Success”:

As direct marketers we’re not here primarily to make a sale; we’re here to get a customer. Sales are important, of course. (Where would marketers be without them?) But the name of this game is repeat sales rather than one-shots.

British Airways, One-Shot Dudes
Fast-forward a month. We needed a break and decided on four days in London and transatlantic return via Cunard.

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

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  • Textmail

    Who can you trust on the web? Denny.

  • Judy Colbert

    Is it possible the BA price went up because it saw your cookies on the Cunard Web site and figured you for a big spender? What would have happened if you had cleared your cookies and tried for the flight again?

  • Adsla Teng

    Shoulda booked the flight first then the boat, Denny. Travelocity or Expedia (one of those) does this all the time.

  • Anonymous

    I’m embarrassed that our flag carrier treated you so badly.

    Having said that, I’ve known for a while that if you return to a booking with an airline (maybe other vendors too) they always jump the price. So I delete cookies or use a different computer. The fiendish algorithms they use always come back with a good price.