As you might expect, online retail giant Amazon has been enjoying incredible sales these days as people are generally stuck at home around the world – around $11,000 a second of sales, to be more precise. Their share price has climbed by more than a third in under a month, and owner Jeff Bezos has solidified his spot as the richest person in the world with a personal net worth of $138 billion.
With all this good fortune, you might think they’d be expanding their customer service offerings to keep up with the sales influx, but the opposite appears to be true. In fact, the Daily Mail reports that they’ve closed an essential fraud helpline right at a time when cybercrime is soaring, and lawmakers in the UK are calling for action.
When customers whose accounts have been hacked call the help line, they’re greeted with a message asking them for patience during this “challenging time” before being directed to the website – which is where many people came from in the first place because they were unable to resolve their issue online.
Customer service lines are exactly the type of work that can be conducted from home, and many other major firms are taking this approach, including some of the world’s top banks. Why can’t Amazon do the same? One complaint website reports that they’ve seen more than 3,500 complaints about Amazon in the past two months. It makes no sense that a forward-thinking and tech-savvy company like Amazon hasn’t figured out a way to man the service line regardless of what is going on in the world.
One problem is that many Amazon customers store their credit card details in their account for easy checkout. When their accounts are only protected by their email and password – which is the traditional setup – it’s easier for hackers to get inside than it is for those who take the extra step setting up two-factor verification.
On top of their credit card information, hackers can get other personal information from their Amazon account, such as their address and phone number, and trade this info with other criminals who want to target them with other types of scams.
One woman told the Daily Mail that she had trouble reaching Amazon after discovering that scammers bought £150 worth of gift cards using her account. She couldn’t get in touch via phone, but her bank refunded the money when she contacted them directly. However, a week later, Amazon locked her account and she has been unable to access it since then. She was disconnected when she tried to use online chat to sort it out.
Another customer tried to contact the company when she noticed a fraudulent transaction. Although she is legally blind and needs to speak to someone, she received an automated message on the phone saying she needed to contact them through their app.
Labour Party MP Dame Margaret Hodge stated: “Digital giants like Amazon need to stop ignoring their loyal customers and start taking seriously their responsibility to tackle online fraud.”
Amazon has also come under fire for not doing enough to protect its workers from coronavirus. Two employees who criticized the firm over the unsafe conditions at some warehouses were fired recently, and dozens of warehouse and delivery workers have tested positive for the virus.
While many firms have been furloughing workers, Amazon has been hiring tens of thousands of workers to keep up with the soaring demand. So far, its staff numbers have risen by at least 175,000 since the start of the coronavirus crisis. With such a rapidly growing workforce, how is it possible that they don’t have enough people to answer a phone line and help protect their loyal customers from fraud?
Sources for this article include: