#AmazonFAIL and the importance of customer trust

2009 April 13
by Kate O'Neill

In case you haven’t heard, a change took place at Amazon over the past few days that resulted in an uproar from customers on Twitter, Facebook, and around the web: merchandise relating to LGBT topics ended up classified as “adult” and, consequently, excluded from sales rankings.

Church of the Customer has a timeline of the events.

Queerty has a listing of some of the books that have been classified as “adult” along with descriptions,  sarcastically described as pornographic, such as

Winner of the Whitbread Award and often taught in British schools, it tells the story of Jeanette who is raised in an evangelical household who grapples with her lesbian identity, while submitting to exorcisms by her famly.

Consumerist shows us that not all books on homosexuality have been relegated to the adult section.

Much of marketing punditry lately has been about how the customer is in control and the importance of trust: this move from Amazon and the popular reaction to it demonstrates that the customer doesn’t get to control Amazon’s decision, per se, but they can certainly control where they spend their money. Because needless to say, this move has caused offense among writers, LGBT consumers, sex educators, and more, and several blogs are calling for readers to go out and buy these books, DVDs, and other items… from someone other than Amazon.

Customers can also control certain aspects of publicity: another movement underway is the effort to Google Bomb the term “Amazon Rank” with an alternate definition expressing displeasure with Amazon’s decision.

04/13/2009 9:30 AM – Edited to add: Thanks to Twitter user arkley68 for pointing out our Amazon Store widget that was visible on this blog, running alongside this story. The store widget has been removed and will remain gone until Amazon reverses their policy.

04/13/2009 1:52 PM – Edited again to add: Is it a hack? Could be. Or not. Valleywag has the run-down.

04/13/2009 8:15 PM – Edited again to add:An embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error.” Embarrassing for them and for those of us who got worked up over what turned out to be nothing. Our Amazon Store widget has been returned to the sidebar; life goes on.

Image credit: Jasoon, via flickr

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