Sunday, June 22, 2008

Some Very Expensive Yogurt

My latest rant at centers around a yogurt maker. It’s the 1-quart Salton I bought earlier this year for $10. I liked it so much that I bought my daughter one at $12. But when I tried to buy one today for my friend Deborah for her birthday, the price suddenly has been raised significantly to $89.99.

Anyone looking at this Web page can easily see it is full of mistakes. It’s fairly obvious when the list price of $24.99 is slashed that the resulting price should actually be $8.99. Even with inflation, the same item would not have increased to such an outrageous price in just a few months. Check out the other two offerings at $98.95 and $100,000.00.

I have always had a great deal of respect for Amazon and have always been pleased with both their products and their service. So I thought a simple phone call would solve my problem and I could perhaps receive the yogurt maker by Wednesday, my friend’s actual birthday.

The first challenge was how to actually talk to a person at Amazon. A simple Google of “ + telephone number” netted this useful information.

I called 1-866-216-1072, still anticipating a helpful staff member who would quickly fix the pricing problem.

Instead I got someone in India who asked me a million questions before ever even pulling up the problematic Web page. Then she tried to tell me there was nothing she could do because the product was being offered by a third party, not Amazon. My complaint that it was appearing on their website had no effect whatsoever. In my frustration I asked to speak to her supervisor.

The supervisor gave me the same pat answer without even bothering to see the problem. When I asked what I would actually be charged if I ordered the yogurt maker listed at $100,000, she said “$100,000" and said it was out of her control. That’s the point when I hung up, shaking my head in frustration.

I even suggested to my husband that we order the $89.99 yogurt maker and just see what happened, with the option of returning it if indeed we were charged that amount. He wasn’t willing to take a chance.

A further look would suggest that for some reason there is a shortage of these Salton yogurt makers on the market. I shot off e-mails to Value-Warehouse, the $89.99 provider, and to Salton itself asking for some clarification.

At this point I still have no good source for a yogurt maker and am pissed as hell at the incompetence of Amazon, a company that has gotten a lot of business from us. They have outsourced this one past the point of providing the necessary customer service.


Blogger Kristin said...

That bites. I do NOT do well with customer service, especially when it's outsourced.

Is this the same?

10:09 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- Yes, but I just noticed this note at the bottom:

Excellent yogurt maker.
However, Salton has ceased manufacture of it. There are none available at this site nor at almost all of the other sites which used to offer it.

I wonder if the $89.99 site still has them? :)

10:16 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Well that's just nutty. (Especially given that they're on sale until midnight.) Maybe that's why the third-party on Amazon has such a high price - limited supply?!

I wonder if a place like Hills Kitchen could get one. The harder it is to find, the more I'd want to find one.

10:20 PM  
Blogger media concepts said...

That's a new one. What about emailing Amazon through the "contact us" link on the website and just giving them the minimum info. (without the Indian customer service fiasco) demonstrating that the price is a misprint?

10:25 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- Yes, scarcity has often driven me to desperation!

MC -- I just fired off a very polite inquiry at your suggestion. We'll see what they have to say. I wonder if the office answering my inquiry is located in India...

10:42 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

MC -- Just talked to a very good customer service rep at Amazon. She said they would look into the $100,000 price, but the other 2 are what the sellers are asking. A good lesson in supply and demand?

10:48 AM  
Blogger Ulysses said...

I remember that $100,000 one from a sci-fi movie. It makes 250 gallons of yogurt, and it was in "The Culture that Conquered".

12:33 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Ulysses -- Amazon has wisely chosen to take down the $100,000 yogurt maker, probably someone's way of protesting the fact that the $10 model is extinct!

I noticed that the price on the $89.99 one is now up to $93.95. Worse than the accelerating cost of gas! I hope no one is dumb enough to buy one at that cost. I'm thinking I could probably make one with a $10 heating pad...

2:14 PM  

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