I just wanted to buy my granddaughter a princess dress for her fourth birthday. I had sent Meredith an email asking if a princess dress would be a good gift for Sydney’s birthday coming up in a few weeks. “OMG!” she responded. “That’s such a good idea. She wants to be Elsa for Halloween” which was just a month away.
“OK, where do you think I could get it?”
“At the Disney Store in Columbia Mall.”
I hate Columbia Mall. It’s far away, confusing to get to, I have the worst sense of direction, and when I do find it, I have to park in Shlabutkeyville. There had to be a better choice. I went on-line to see if there is another Disney store closer, but there isn’t. Back to email.
“I hate Columbia Mall. Do you think I could get it on-line?”
“Sure. Just go to the Disney site. It’ll be easy.”
Well, one would think that, but one would be wrong. I did go to the Disney site, saw about a dozen dresses, which were all slightly different in design—some had long sleeves, some short, some sleeveless; different necklines, etc. However, all were the same price–$44! For a four year old! I decided to go to Amazon and see if I could get one cheaper, and this is where my problems started.
Amazon had what appeared to be the same choices as Disney, but they ranged in price from $18 to $22. Much better. I found the same dress I had liked on Disney and chose that one. As it happened, they were selling the accessory packet that was also on the Disney site for the same price of $10. Why not buy that too since I was getting such a bargain on the dress? So, I clicked on my two items and went to checkout.
Here’s the rub: you must put in your password. I had not bought anything on Amazon in at least four months. Who knew what password I had used? I can barely remember yesterday; how am I supposed to remember some random password I’d chosen months ago?
I tried many things, but nothing worked. Cursing down, I looked for a “help” phone number but could find none. I left the site and went back to the list given when I put “Amazon” in the search bar. And there it was: Amazon Need Help with an 800 number to call. Yay! I’m saved.
I called the number and, of course, an East Indian voice said, “Hallow, wat is you name?” Well the accent wasn’t too bad, and I thought we could do it.
“My name is Linda Miller.”
“Ooo keey, Mees Leenda, how kin I hulp you?”
I explained my issue of trying to buy something and not knowing my password. He asked me a number of questions I don’t recall and finally said he couldn’t retrieve my password unless we could do screen sharing and would that be okay. I’d done screen sharing before when needing help from my security company so thought nothing of it and agreed to this solution. Anything so I could get through the process. I’d already spent about 20 minutes on it and was beginning to be weary and frustrated.
After he accessed my computer, he asked many questions. I could hear talking in the background, other conversations between the experts (all with accents: Are they in Mumbai or Minnesota or some other unknown place?) and their customers. Well, I’m glad to know I’m not the only computer idiot on the planet, I thought to myself. But then he said, “Mees Leenda, if you go to Walgreens, you can get special card is $200, but I gonna give you the money, and then you won’t have so much trouble in future.”
“What are you talking about? I’m not going to Walgreens. Are you crazy? Just fix my problem!”
“No, no, you not understand. This be hulpful to you in future.”
“Listen. I don’t care about the future!” And then, embarrassingly, I started to cry. “I just want to buy a birthday present for my granddaughter,” I sobbed. “I’m not going to Walgreens or to the moon! Just help me!”
“Mees Leenda, why you cry? Nothing to cry about. Ooo key, forget Walgreens. I gonna hulp you.”
After we’d been on the phone at least a half hour, he said, “Ooo keey. I got everything for you. You just haf to call you credit card company to ooo keey the purchase. We hang up, and you call them, and I call you back in ten minutes, ooo keey?”
“Okay, fine. Call me in ten minutes.” When we hung up, I called Visa, and asked why they had not okayed this purchase.
“Well, we’re not familiar with the company and it’s not one you’ve ever used before, so we were taking precautions.”
“What are you talking about? It’s Amazon.”
“No, Mrs. Miller, it’s not. It’s a company called “Game Flip.”
“I don’t understand. I called Amazon.”
“There are many scammers out there that make you think they’re Amazon, but they’re not. That’s why we wouldn’t OK it.”
I would have been shaking in my shoes if I’d been wearing shoes, so I was just shaking. “Okay, ignore the request, and thank you for being on top of this.”
When the guy called back, I told him he had lied to me and to cancel the order.
“No, Mees Leenda, what you mean I lied?”
“You said you are Amazon, but you’re not. You’re Game Flip.”
“No, no, Amazon, I promise.”
“Promise all you want but cancel this order.”
“No, Mees Leenda, if you cancel, my boss, he gonna fire me; please Mees Leenda.”
“I’m hanging up now,” and I did. The phone rang again, but I didn’t answer it. The next thing I did was call Laura (my child who’s like a computer guru), got her voice mail, and left a message figuring she’d call me when she left work, which she did.
“Hi Mom, what’s up?” I explained everything, and then she said. “Don’t worry, mom, we’ll take care of it. Tell me what you’re trying to buy.” I explained it all, she looked at the dresses, told me various prices which were exactly as I’d seen.
“Honey, just choose one. She’ll love whatever she gets. Just make sure it comes in size 4.” She did that and also added the accessory packet. I gave her my credit card number, and because she has Amazon Prime, there was no shipping charge. The accessories came in two days, and the princess dress the following day. I was happy. “Mom, in the future, when you want to buy on-line, just call me, and we’ll do it this way.” I love my Laura.
But wait! This is not the end of the story:
The day after Laura had helped me, I turned on my computer and found I couldn’t get in. There was a message that said, “password error, put in password” which I did but continued to get the same message. I had to call my computer guru, but it was erev Yom Kippur. Instead I called my friend, Arlene, to ask her what time services were the next day as I couldn’t remember. However, her husband Rob answered the phone and told me Arlene was out. Then I remembered that Rob is a computer whiz. “Rob, while I have you on the phone…” and then I gave him the thumbnail sketch version of what happened the day before.
“Linda, NEVER screen share with anyone except your daughter and your security service! There are just too many scammers out there.” Rob attempted to help me fix my problem, and we tried many things for at least 20 minutes without success.
While we were waiting for the computer to try to reboot, he looked up “Game Flip” and discovered it is a real company but it has a ‘C’ rating. He said, “It looks like they’re legit. Amazon allows companies to use their name. I think he was annoyed with you, so he messed with your password. Still, you should change all your passwords on Facebook and other sites you use, just to be safe.”
“I don’t have a password for Facebook or anything else; just the one I use to get on my computer.” He was shocked at this; probably everyone would be, but it just proves my ineptness when it comes to computers. I thanked him for making the effort to help me and turned off my computer, trying not to think of it any more.
The day after Yom Kippur, I called “Computer Cures” and the owner came out that afternoon. He also gave me the “screen sharing” lecture, and I just listened. I figured it was my penance. In any case, it took about 45 minutes and while he was here, he “cleaned up” a bunch of junk on my computer. He asked how old it is, and when I said “about seven years, maybe more,” he was a bit shocked and thought it didn’t have many years left. He has no idea. I had my previous computer at least 10 years. If you don’t use it much, I guess it lasts longer.
In any case, he charged me $99. So it cost $99 to save $22. At least I learned something. And Sydney LOVES the dress.