The surprisingly delightful musings of a humble Virginian whose satiric paeons to a plausible utopia implicitly shame the cynical zeitgeist of our times, causing it to cry, as 'twere, 'Damn, what was I thinking?' or words to that effect.

June 2014
Brian asks Spike Lee for Jeff Bezos' street address in order to protest the way that recently tricked said blogger into purchasing a teeny-tiny watering can (instead of the full-size watering can that he was obviously expecting)

Getting Amazon to Do the Right Thing

Frydog, Joon 27, 2014

Let's see, it's got to be here somewhere.

Oh, hi, folks. Brian Ballard at your service. I'm just checking the local rag in search of the latest religious edicts by the Right Honorable Spike Lee. I'm hoping he's going to give out the current street address of Jeff Bezos so that I can take up an indignant perch on that guy's front stoop in protest of the lousy customer service that I received lately at

Yeah, I ordered a watering pot, assuming that a search for "watering pots" on would bring up real, honest-to-goodness "watering pots." Well, when the box arrived, I discovered that this $13 pot of mine was a cheap plastic miniature that was no bigger than my right hand -- which by this time was naturally in the shape of a fist, ready to bust heads (figuratively speaking, of course) in Seattle, Washington.

More coffee please, Minnie. (My new housemaid, ladies and gentlemen: Minnie Goodfeather from Maid to Order. Not only does she do windows, but she comes with a full moneyback guarantee. That's right: If I'm not fully satisfied with her, I can ship her back to the company merely by affixing this pre-paid mailing label to her forehead and then flagging down the next UPS truck that I see -- OR FedEx truck: the choice is totally up to me! And she comes with a complete set of skimpy garments: today she's gone with the rosy-cheeked milkmaid ensemble. Ja, Fraulein.)

Let's see: Maybe if I look under "fatwa."

I'll tell you what, while I keep searching for a street address whereat to exact my old-school vengeance on Jeff Bezos (ooh, you dirty rat! you dirty rat!), let me bring you up to date on my Amazon problem through the magic of cut-and-paste technology. What follows is the actual complaint that I posted at Amazon in the comment product section for the microscopic plastic trinket that they foisted upon me under the somewhat grandiloquent appellation of "watering can." Not only should the following copy bring you guys up to speed, but it will ensure that the details of my complaint will still have a place online after Amazon takes the no-doubt inevitable step of removing my product-related jeremiad from the product's comment section. (To paraphrase Al Pacino: "You're out of order! They're out of order! He, she and it are out of order! Why, bless me: the whole algorithm system is out of order!")


When I purchased this product, it came up IMMEDIATELY under the search term "watering can" and it looked ENORMOUS (and I do not recall the term "miniature" appearing in the description). Now that I have received this MINISCULE watering can, I can no longer bring the item up using Amazon search. I wanted to double-check how the product was listed and displayed so that I could figure out how they bamboozled me (intentionally or not) into buying it. I'm a veteran Amazon shopper after all, and I've never been misled like this before. It looks like a case of bait-and-switch to me -- or rather bait-and-REMOVE-the product from the search listings.

Whatever the explanation is, SAVE your money. I'm sure you could buy 12 of these for the same price at any Dollar Store. (Although the object may be miniature, the price was not.)

Finally, a note to Amazon: If you're going to list MINIATURE items inside a list of REGULARLY SIZED items, please display the miniature items beside a picture of an object of known size (such as an American quarter) so that purchasers won't assume that it's a normal sized version of the object that they were looking to buy.


One additional note. I was misled into purchasing this item in the following way:

Prior to searching for "watering can," I had been searching for miniature items to decorate a train layout. Although my subsequent unrelated search for "watering can" did NOT include the term "miniature," Amazon's overly ambitious algorithms decided that I would probably be interested in a miniature watering can -- so they scrambled in this miniature item on a page otherwise full of regularly sized watering cans. And since I figured that a watering can was a watering can, it never occurred to me to read the fine print to see how many teaspoons that this particular watering can I'd chosen might hold.

When I called to complain, I was basically told that the algorithms generally work very well.

And I'm like: Well, they may work well for Amazon, but then it's not Amazon that just lost $13. (Actually, Amazon is going to lose hundreds if not thousands of dollars thanks to this problem, since I've begun paring back my Amazon purchases in response to the cavalier attitude that the company adopted when responding to my complaint.)

Then when I complained about the ambiguous product picture (which gave no idea of the product's size), the Amazon image department (with irritating speediness) fired back with an e-mail saying that the picture looked just fine to them, thank you very much.

But they were missing the point: the image itself WOULD be fine if it appeared on a page of miniatures, -- but it's a misleading product representation when such an image appears on a page of otherwise REGULARLY SIZED watering cans.

I pleaded with the customer service rep to pass my complaint on to the algorithm programmers, who were the ones that were truly at fault here -- but she didn't sound very interested in doing so. (She gave one the impression that the algorithm programmers were some distant demigods that, as a rule, take no particular interest in the affairs of mortal men, customers included, and that I might as well ask her to contact Zeus -- er, Jeff Bezos -- himself as to contact these mysterious free agents who rule invisibly from on high.)

Just another case of human beings being forced to adjust to the way that software and code works (or in this case doesn't work) -- rather than the other way around.

(I even tried to contact the product manufacturer called (weirdly enough) "Ebertsankey" to tell them how they are (albeit unwittingly) making sales based on Amazon misrepresentation, but it turns out that the company's Website is available only in German and Dutch, neither of which language I know -- and besides, I'm having a hard enough time getting folks to respond to my complaint in English.), spike lee, jeff bezos, algorithms

Copyright 2017, Brian Quass (follow on Twitter)