Posted by Pierre Igot in: Technology
June 1st, 2005 • 10:50 pm

One of the good things about Amazon’s Customer Service is that they really do respond pretty swiftly. Yesterday evening, I experienced a weird problem, which led me to submit an inquiry via their Customer Service on-line form. This morning, I already have an answer, and it clarifies the issue.

Here’s what happened. Yesterday, I had a problem with an order I had recently received from So I went to the Amazon web site and went to check my account pages, in order to bring up this particular order.

As usual, the Amazon web site asked me to log in with my e-mail address and password. Since it was my first visit since reinstalling Tiger from scratch, Safari did not have the password for this particular web page in my keychain, so I had to enter it again. I entered it, and clicked on the Login button, and it looked like I was logged in.

But then I went to my account page and tried to bring up my recent orders. Much to my surprise, however, the Amazon web site had absolutely no recent orders in my account. I tried bringing up older orders, and again, much to my surprise, there were none — even though I have ordered a fair amount from Amazon over the years and in the past few months.

That’s when I realized that I was actually browsing the web site, and that I had logged in using my password, which is not the same. But then, immediately my concern was: How come I was able to log in with the wrong password?

I explored my profile a bit further and was able to see a fair amount of information about myself. Clearly there was a serious security failure here! I quickly fired off a Customer Service inquiry about the problem.

Still, what was strange is that there were no past orders in my profile. If I had accidentally been able to log into my account, then I should have been able to see my past orders, right? At the time, I was relieved to think that, at least, if someone was able to log into my account without my password, they couldn’t see any of my order history. But still!

Then I got the following reply this morning:

Thank you for writing to us at

First of all, my sincere apologies for the time you have spent
dealing with this issue. I realize that you have been greatly
inconvenienced by this situation.

Please note that your e-mail address and password will be
accepted on our Canadian and European sites; you will not need to set
up a new account unless you wish to order from

Phew! Now I got it. I was only able to log into my account because, while my password was not the correct password for my account, it was still the correct password for my account, and Amazon had automatically created a profile for me as an customer in the store — a profile that was distinct from my existing account. Hence the lack of an order history.

What happened here is that, back when I first joined as a customer, they probably did not have this unified system where one account works in all stores (except for the Japanese one). So at the time I had no option but to create a different account with a different password. Since then, they’ve obviously added the convenience of having a single account (and password) for all stores. And they never told us existing customers with multiple Amazon accounts…

In my case I already have a long order history with my existing accounts, so I don’t really want to unify them. The need for a separate password for each account is a minor inconvenience.

The other concern I had was that, once I was logged into my account with this “wrong” password, I wasn’t able to easily log out and log back in using the right password. (There is no “Log Out” button anywhere in the Amazon web site interface.)

Here again, Amazon’s Customer Service did answer my query satisfactorily:

If you would like to log out of, there is an easy way to
clear your identity from the screen. Simply click the link on the
home page that says “If you’re not ____, click here.” This link is
located on the right side of our home page, under the heading “New
for You.” Then, leave the e-mail and password spaces blank and click
the “Welcome” tab at the top of the page.

Doing so will remove your name from the home page, and will make your
1-Click ordering settings inaccessible to anyone else who uses the
same terminal afterward.

You may also log out by visiting our Help pages, and navigating
to “Help > Using Your Account > Signing Out.” The URL for this page
is provided below:

While Amazon is slightly at fault here for not having informed old-time customers of this ability to unify accounts or for having a slightly confusing interface for people in my case when they use the wrong password, I must commend them for their prompt response and the fact that this response did address all my concerns. It’s not often that you get such decent service from such a large company. With other companies of the same size, you’d expect to spent half an hour on the phone on hold while waiting for a customer service representative to “be with you shortly”.

Kudos to Amazon for having maintained such high customer service standards over the years.

Comments are closed.

Leave a Reply

Comments are closed.