Don't get me wrong – I think Amazon MP3 is a great service, and over the last ~1.5 years that I've been using them to buy music, I've usually had no problems with either purchasing music or dealing with their customer service group.  But a recent issue makes me wonder if the right hand knows what the left is doing (or in this case, whether the developers are talking to the customer service reps, and vice-versa).

My most recent fiasco with them involved The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon my "Purchase Review" screen from the site:

When you first start using Amazon MP3, any time you try to get any album/mp3, this screen will pop up after you click the "Get MP3" button.  It provides one last sanity check and confirmation that you're actually purchasing what you want – in this case, the song is free, but if you click on the wrong button or misread the price, this gives you one last review screen to confirm you want to continue your purchase.

Unfortunately, it seems that if you uncheck the box "Always ask before completing purchase" shown on the picture and then continue, it is IMPOSSIBLE to re-enable this option to show this purchase review screen in the future.  Not difficult, but actually physically impossible to ever see this screen ever again.  There are no toggles in the user preferences/settings to turn this back on.  No way for customer service to reset it.  If you turn this off, it's gone the way of the dodo bird.  I had three different customer service reps confirm this. 

So, after going through the following steps (spanning 3 different customer service reps):

  1. Calling rep #1
  2. Deleting all my 1-click payment methods from the account
  3. Transferring to rep #2
  4. Deleting all the saved addresses from the account
  5. Arguing with rep #2 that this "Purchase review" page even exists and that it wasn't something new (I've used it for the last year without problems)
  6. Transferring to rep #3
  7. Logging out, deleting all cookies, and logging back in
  8. Still seeing the problem and finding out this rep had no clue on how to fix it either

the last rep suggested I do the following:

  • Create a NEW Amazon account with the SAME email account but different password.1  This will create a new set of preferences and have this option available again (but only because you've basically created an entirely NEW account!)  Of course, the purchase history and anything related to the old account (Amazon Associates, product reviews, etc) will not be available within the new account and they won't be linked in any way, but this would allow me to have a "purchase review" page again.

or alternately:

  • Log off of my account any time I wanted to make a purchase, and it would ask me to log in before it actually allowed me to purchase the product, providing an extra level of confirmation on my part.

Seriously?  Your solution is to nuke my account and/or force me to log out and back in every time I want to purchase something?  Because that is SO much easier than adding a fricking checkbox in one of the preference pages that gives the option to "Display review purchase confirmation page prior to MP3 purchases."  Not to mention that the log out/in option won't even solve this problem, as it won't display a confirmation page prior to logging in, and after logging in it auto-purchases the album (believe me, I tried).

The last gal I spoke to said she'd forward on a request to the developers to add this option, but that I shouldn't expect it to be rolled out any time soon.  She wouldn't go so far as to agree with me that this was a bug in the website, but what the heck else do you call it when you can disable something but can't re-enable it? 

Oh wait, I know what you call it – an impetus to get me blogging again. :-)


1How many websites do you know that allow you to make completely separate accounts with the same login but different passwords?  Isn't that sort of weird?  I wonder how many different Amazon accounts you could create with the same email but different passwords?  Anyone want to experiment and let me know if you hit a limit?

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