It’s only eleven days ago that I got to write the heart-warming story about a local pub that, when I forgot to collect my cashback, drove it round to my house.
Today, I write in a very different mood.
Mostly from this blog’s book reviews, I — and Englishman living in England — have accumulated a tasty account balance of $274.28 at Amazon.com. And thanks to a sequence of appallingly stupid policies on the part of Amazon themselves and various publishers, that balance is almost completely useless to me.
You would think, wouldn’t you, that in today’s shiny, integrated, global digital market, it would be easy to make use of my balance?
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.
Plan A: transfer the store credit to Amazon.co.uk
Obviously the correct thing to do, right? I’ve not done the numbers (I am scared to), but I know that I spend a lot more than $274 (=~ £176) at Amazon.co.uk every year. So just move the credit across and start buying all those books, DVDs and MP3s I’ve been wanting.
If that option exists, I’ve not been able to find it on the Amazon.com web-site. Someone please tell me it’s there, but concealed beyond the wit of any honest merchant?
Plan B: use the credit to buy an amazon.co.uk gift card for myself
Can’t be done. Amazon.com sells gift cards only for Amazon.com. I quote from the Terms and Conditions:
Gift Cards may not be redeemed for the purchase of products at Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Amazon.co.jp, Amazon.ca, or any other website operated by Amazon.com, its affiliates, or any other person or entity.
(By the way, I notice that the link to the Terms and Conditions page doesn’t work, because Amazon.com stupidly adheres to the stuck-in-the-1990s policy of generating session-dependent page addresses rather than linkable URLs. It’s almost as though they don’t want people to be able to see their T&Cs.)
Plan C: use the credit to buy an Amazon.com gift card for an American friend, who can reimburse me via PayPal.
As if. Those Terms and Conditions again:
[...] Gift Cards cannot be used to purchase other gift cards
Gift Cards cannot be reloaded, resold, transferred for value, redeemed for cash or applied to any other account, except to the extent required by law. Unused Gift Card balances in an Amazon account may not be transferred.
Why? In the name of all that is rational, why? How does it hurt Amazon.com if my friend uses the store credit instead of me?
Plan D: use the credit to buy MP3s
Nuh-uh. I wrote about this one before. Not gonna happen: Amazon and the music publishers who sell their stuff at Amazon would prefer that their customers pirate music instead of buying it from them.
Plan E: use the credit to buy a Kindle
This was my happy plan yesterday — many thanks to everyone who gave me advice on how to make this work. Makes sense, right? A Kindle is valuable and light, it’s not a disaster to ship it across the Atlantic; then I can link it to my Amazon.co.uk account, and off I go.
You would think.
Yeah, not gonna happen. They won’t sell me a Kindle. Because, you know, anything might happen if they did that! I might use it to buy e-books from them, and they wouldn’t want that!
So as far as I can see, this brings me right back to …
Plan Z: buy heavy dead-tree books and have them expensively shipped from America to England
Come on, Amazon — is that really the only thing you can do with my store credit? Are so so very determined that everyone outside the USA should be screwed over? Are you actively trying to waste time, money, fuel and environmental cleanliness by physically moving chunks of paper around the planet?
Seriously. What is your excuse?
And are you going to fix this?
Because it’s a pretted darned poor show from the world’s leading e-commerce store.