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HOW TO GET FREE STUFF FROM AMAZON. Better than Black Friday!

2014 November 14
by Steve Lawson


Better than Black Friday.
How to Get FREE STUFF FROM AMAZON!

If you don’t want to read this entire post, just scroll on down to the step by step instructions that follow.

I didn’t invent this idea, nor have I ever gotten anything free from Amazon. But I recently learned that Amazon’s A-Z guarantee pretty much exists so that scammers can have their cake AND eat it too. In fact, I wish I were back in college taking Econ 101, because I just learned that there IS such a thing as a free lunch.

First a little background, then I’ll teach you How to Get FREE STUFF from Amazon.

I sold a TV Sound Bar through Amazon to someone in Massachusetts for about $35. The sale transaction occurred on 10/28/14.

The only address I had for the buyer was a PO Box, so I purchased postage through Amazon, printed the shipping label they created, carefully boxed what I’d sold and handed it off to our friendly postman on 10/29/14.

The shipping label included a USPS tracking code, which would confirm delivery.

On 11/6/2014 I received an email through Amazon from the buyer. It stated,

“Hi Seller! Do you send my speaker bar already!! please let me know it should be already in my hands! Thank you”

According to Amazon, the legal delivery window for that package was anytime between 11/4/2014 and 11/20/2014 so I wasn’t worried.

I had done everything correctly and had handed the package to our trusty postman (he really is trusty – no sarcasm there).

I replied to the buyer that I had purchased postage via Amazon and had shipped the product on 10/29/14, and that he should have received shipping confirmation and a tracking number for the shipment from Amazon.

On 11/10/14 I received an email from Amazon letting me know that there was an A-to-z Guarantee Claim filed against my order. It read: (I’ve highlighted and italicized the text – other than that it is a straight copy. The misspellings by the buyer are real).

“Greetings from Amazon.com. We have received a claim under the A-to-z Guarantee program for the order 104-2792061-2110640 because the buyer in this transaction believes the item(s) sent were materially different from how they were listed. This could mean that the item(s) are defective or damaged, that the wrong item(s) were sent, or that the item condition and/or details are different from what was represented in the product listing.

The buyer’s comments were “Item not received!- : -Hi Amazon! I don’t received the sound bar yet! I contact the seller and he don’t gave me a valid response!! So I want my money back. thank you and sorry for the inconvenience. “.

Please note that you have seven (7) days to respond to this e-mail. Failure to respond with all requested information below may result in a debit to your Amazon Payments account. If you accept or want to defend this claim, the easiest and quickest way to refund or represent yourself is to use A-Z- Guarantee on-line forms. By doing so you will ensure faster resolution to the buyer and yourself. Do not reply to this email if you use the on-line forms.”

Which I did, to no avail.

First off, the delivery windows hadn’t closed yet on 11/10/14. That window wouldn’t close until 11/20/14.

Had the buyer used the “I didn’t get my order” pull-down, he would have been advised that the shipping window hadn’t closed yet, and to be patient. Instead, he pulled down “The item(s) sent were materially different than how they were listed.”

By lying, he was allowed into the system to write:

“Item not received!- : -Hi Amazon! I don’t received the sound bar yet! I contact the seller and he don’t gave me a valid response!! So I want my money back. thank you and sorry for the inconvenience. “.

Interesting. So, if the item wasn’t yet received, how could it have been different than what had been listed?

Hmm, could this guy be a scammer??

I logged on to the Amazon site, and found confirmation that the package had been delivered according to the US Postal Service.

Where was it delivered?

That’s not 100% clear, but I can assume it meant to the US Post Office that housed the buyers PO Box.

If you’ve never had a PO Box, here’s what happens when someone sends you a package. Since your PO Box is small, the Post Office receives the package on your behalf, places it in a safe place, and leaves a note in your PO Box alerting you that they have a package ready for you to pick up.

Then you stand in that long line at the Post Office counter, and wait your turn.

When you are called to the counter you hand the postal employee the slip you found in your box alerting you that they had a package for you, and the employee heads off to retrieve your package.

No slip – no package – no exceptions.

Amazon has an amazing Customer Service system in place. But only if you are Amazon.

They have a bevy of automatons in India that handle each and every inquiry with a short canned response. I’m guessing they are paid by how many inquiries they answer per hour. Or maybe it’s per minute. I’m sure they use their own system of “pull-downs” when handling an inquiry.

At any rate, I explained to Amazon in India that my account showed that the package was delivered so the buyer should NOT be refunded the money.

Their answer back said that since I didn’t have a delivery confirmation signature from the buyer, I had no proof that he received the item, and that they were returning the purchase price including shipping to the buyer and would be debiting my bank account.

Which they did rapidly!

I wrote back and complained, which prompted this reply from Amazon.

“We can only change this claim upon receiving direct communication from the buyer stating that the item was received with authorization to recharge them for the purchase. We encourage you to contact the buyer directly to determine if the order was received subsequent to the claim. It is important to remember you are accountable for all aspects of fulfillment when selling on amazon.”

So now the buyer, who presumably has the product I sold him AND his money back, can only be charged for the product again if HE lets Amazon know that he actually got it.

Like that’s going to happen.

I tried to explain the whole PO BOX thing to them but got this response,

“Thank you for writing back to us about order 104-2792061-2110640. While we understand your concerns about this transaction, we cannot reverse the claim decision at this time.”

The arrogant automaton had spoken. Jeff Bezos’ minions had unilaterally decided that I’m wrong. End of story.

I’ve tried to escalate my complaint a couple of times and haven’t heard back. I’ve got about 5 (of the same) cases pending right now.

So, I figured with Black Friday coming up, and Amazon touting their Amazing Deals, I’d share with you How To Get FREE STUFF from Amazon by following the steps used by this buyer to scam me (I’m assuming) with Amazon’s blessing (I’m sure of that last statement).


So here are the steps To Get FREE STUFF From Amazon.

1. Get a Post Office Box and have your product shipped to the PO Box, not to a street address; that way the seller can’t use UPS or Fed Ex with their pesky tracking numbers and easy signature delivery confirmations.

2. Order the product and pay for it. Don’t worry; you’ll get your money back.

3. Go to the Post Office, pick up what you bought and enjoy it!

4. Four to five days after you’ve placed your order, contact the seller and ask them where it is. (Don’t worry that the shipping window hasn’t closed, we’ll cross that bridge soon).

5. Wait a couple of days and claim an A-z Guarantee Claim via Amazon’s website.

6. Don’t pull down the “real” reason you are claiming damages (that you didn’t get your package) because the delivery window isn’t closed yet. Instead, use the pull-down that says, “The product is different from what you ordered.”

7. In the comments, write that you didn’t get the product and you want your money back. Actually I’m guessing that you could probably write anything you want in that box, because I doubt anyone reads it. They certainly don’t check to see if the pull-down and the comments match.

8. Sit back and wait for your refund. You should get it in the next few days – maybe even hours.

There you go.

Step by step instructions on How to Get STUFF FOR FREE from Amazon! At least it appeared to work for the guy that bought my sound bar.

And as we all know, FREE STUFF from Amazon is way better than any Black Friday deal they could offer.

Happy Holidays!!!

Update:

Amazon has re-credited my account for this transaction. They shorted me about $4 but how else are they going to pay for that new campus they are building in downtown Seattle.

I’m leaving this post here on my blog, because it shouldn’t be THIS hard to get any company, even a HUGE one to listen to everyone they touch. Not only people like me who make a lot of noise!

So, while I thank Amazon for almost doing the right thing (the right thing would have been to credit me the entire amount they refunded to the buyer who they allowed to scam me and not short me $4), I feel strongly that they need to add more “pull-downs” for the customer service agents in India to use. Or at least them them actually read stuff and respond!

Friendly Voice, Inc. wins 2014 Telly Award

2014 June 4
by Steve Lawson


Friendly Voice wins Bronze in 35th Annual Telly Awards

 

2014 Telly Award Winning video produced by Steve Lawson for Friendly Voice, Inc.


Out of more than 12,000 entries from all 50 states and numerous countries, Friendly Voice, Inc. was named a Bronze winner in the 35th Annual Telly Awards competition for its creative work for Kemper Development Company and The Bellevue Collection.

According to Friendly Voice, Inc. president Steve Lawson, “Kemper Development Company commissioned a series of videos featuring interviews with top Bellevue Collection merchants, sharing the keys to their success in order to inspire their peers with tips on hiring, merchandising, marketing and more. The videos were shown during monthly breakfast meetings the developer hosts for its tenants. Together with Robert Spector, author of The Nordstrom Way, and videographer Aaron Horton, we produced over 25 videos in the past three years. This year’s Telly Award winning video featured Marc Chatalas, owner of Cactus Restaurants discussing some of the keys behind his restaurant chain’s success.”

A prestigious judging panel of over 500 accomplished industry professionals, each a past winner of a Silver Telly and a member of The Silver Telly Council, judged the competition, upholding the historical standard of excellence that Telly represents. The Silver Council evaluated entries to recognize distinction in creative work – entries do not compete against each other – rather entries are judged against a high standard of merit.

About Friendly Voice, Inc.
Steve Lawson and the Friendly Voice Team are fluent in any digital medium. From broadcast television to online streaming via You Tube, Facebook, Twitter or the Big Screen – Friendly Voice drives traffic and results through the creation of unique, creative social media content.

About Kemper Development Company
One of the few family-owned and operated super-regional shopping destinations in the U.S., over the past six decades, The Bellevue Collection has evolved from its humble begin­nings as a 16-store shopping center to its current status as the Northwest Region’s number one shopping and entertainment destination. Frequently cited as the catalyst for growth for the city of Bellevue, The Bellevue Collection is owned and operated by Kemper Free­man, the third generation to head the company that bears his name.

About The Telly Awards:
The Telly Awards was founded in 1979 and is the premier award honoring outstanding local, regional, and cable TV commercials and programs, the finest video and film productions, and online commercials, video and films. Winners represent the best work of the most respected advertising agencies, production companies, television stations, cable operators, and corporate video departments in the world. www.tellyawards.com

Click here to view the entire video series commissioned by Kemper Development.

Friendly Voice, Inc. Wins Bronze in Top International Award

2014 May 23
by Steve Lawson

Friendly Voice, Inc. Places in Top International Award
2014 Summit Creative Award

 


2014 Summit Award Winning video produced by Steve Lawson for Friendly Voice, Inc.



Friendly Voice, Inc. has been awarded a 2014 Summit Creative Award

2014 Summit Creative Award


(May 23, 2014 Seattle, WA.)

Out of more than 5,000 submissions from 24 countries Friendly Voice, Inc. was named a Bronze winner in the 2014 Summit Creative Award® competition for its creative work for Kemper Development Company, and The Bellevue Collection.

According to Friendly Voice, Inc. president Steve Lawson, “Kemper Development Company commissioned a series of videos featuring interviews with top Bellevue Collection merchants, sharing the keys to their success in order to inspire their peers with tips on hiring, merchandising, marketing and more. The videos were shown during monthly breakfast meetings the developer hosts for its tenants. Together with Robert Spector, author of The Nordstrom Way, and videographer Aaron Horton, we produced over 25 videos in the past three years.

This year’s SCA winning video featured Marc Chatalas, owner of Cactus Restaurants discussing some of the keys behind his restaurant chain’s success.”

The Summit Creative Award (SCA) recognizes and celebrates the creative achievements of small and medium sized advertising agencies worldwide with annual billings under $30 million. This year's SCA creative competition included companies from 24 countries including Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States.


About Friendly Voice, Inc.
Steve Lawson and the Friendly Voice Team are fluent in any digital medium. From broadcast television to online streaming via You Tube, Facebook, Twitter or the Big Screen – Friendly Voice drives traffic and results through the creation of unique, creative social media content.

About Kemper Development Company
One of the few family-owned and operated super-regional shopping destinations in the U.S., over the past six decades, The Bellevue Collection has evolved from its humble begin­nings as a 16-store shopping center to its current status as the Northwest Region’s number one shopping and entertainment destination. Frequently cited as the catalyst for growth for the city of Bellevue, The Bellevue Collection is owned and operated by Kemper Free­man, the third generation to head the company that bears his name.

About SIA:
The SIA organization was founded in 1994. Annually it conducts the Summit Creative Award, the Summit Marketing Effectiveness Award and the Summit Emerging Media Award. Additional information about the Summit International Awards organization, its competitions and winning firms can be found on the SIA web site at www.summitawards.com.

Click here to view the entire video series commissioned by Kemper Development.

Friendly Voice Wins “BIG M” Award for The Stern Center

2014 May 22
by Steve Lawson


Friendly Voice awarded Big M Award by The Marketing Awards
For Stern Center TV Commercial titled “Someone You Know”


M-Web(May 21, 2014 Seattle, WA.)

Friendly Voice, Inc. was awarded a "Big M" Award during The Event held last night at Seattle's Bell Harbor International Conference Center.

The competition, organized by Marketing Northwest recognizes creative work produced in the Pacific Northwest region in Advertising, Public Relations, Creative Arts, Direct Marketing, Outdoor and more.

According to Friendly Voice president Steve Lawson, "Our client, Dr. Fredric Stern and The Stern Center in Bellevue needed to stand out in a narrowly targeted cable TV buy. The budget was small, and the need for an upscale look drove us to use stock footage. The theme, Someone You Know Had a Little Work Done, was developed as a new way of delivering The Stern Center positioning statement "Creating Natural Appearing Beauty through the Art of Laser Cosmetic Surgery."

The commercial was written, produced and edited by Steve Lawson of Friendly Voice, Inc. The voice-over announcer is Vera McKinney Kutz.

Pioneer Human Services

2013 October 15
by Steve Lawson

I saw this article on October 10th about Pioneer Human Services being awarded $1.17 million grant from the US Department of Labor to help expand their job training program.

Pioneer Human Services was founded in 1963 as a halfway house. Fifty years later, it operates 10 of the 16 state’s work-release programs through contracts with the state Department of Corrections.

I had the privilege of interviewing many of the founding board members of Pioneer in 2009 to create a living history of the founding and early days of Pioneer.  It’s an amazing organization.  If you have an hour or so to learn their story you can watch the series here.

These videos bring the history of this remarkable agency to life through stories told by its founding board members and honorary governors.

This story was distributed internally on DVD and has been posted online for additional public exposure.

Want to see their incredible story?  Just  click on the image below.

Pioneer Human Services - The Early Pioneer Series

 

Can a Brand Rescind an Offer?

2013 June 15
by Steve Lawson
Click Image to Enlarge

Click Image to Enlarge

Can a Brand Rescind an Offer?

I never saw the initial email from Thrifty Car Rental offering me a free day of car rental. I even checked my spam filter. But I did get this email from Thrifty Car Rental apologizing for an offer they were not going to honor.

It seems to me, that if a company makes a public offer, even as a mistake, they need to honor that offer.

For one thing it will teach their team to really be careful about what they are sending out, and to keep customer trust.

I don’t think a free day of car rental would have killed the brand.  What do you think??

Does Comcast No Longer Care?

2012 October 27
by Steve Lawson

Comcast was an amazing pioneer in social media based customer support. But my recent dealings with them have me wondering if A)  they lost interest, or B) they can’t keep up with the complaints?

I just moved about 1/2 mile.  But in dealing with Comcast you would think I had moved to Jupiter (and I don’t mean Florida).  TV set up pretty easily, as did the internet.  Bu the phone?  That was a whole other story. And dealing with their “customer care” was a nightmarish joke.  I called the activation number, they transferred me to billing who said I needed to call activation who then transferred me again to billing.  This cycle happened about three times over about 2 hours.

I posted @comcastcares (they didn’t) and DMd them as well on Twitter.  no response.

The next day, I called “customer support” again, and asked immediately to be escalated, which of course, couldn’t happen until the customer service agent recited the Comcast guarantee, offered me other services and then went through the rest her script.  Once I screamed “ESCALATE ME” i was admonished for not being nice as she was trying to help me, which made me scream louder “ESCALATE ME” which eventually got me to a supervisor, Marilyn, who was AWESOME.

She listened, asked intelligent questions and fixed my problem.  Kind of.  The technician working on my account via Marilyn made a few mistakes along they way, but she dogged my issue and her tech until all was well.  And she adjusted my bill and gave me some premium channels to make me happy.

And then, last night, after 24 simultaneous hours of uninterrupted phone service, Comcast did some sort of network “refresh” and once again my phone service was dead.  Really dead.

Saturday is Marilyn’s day off, so I couldn’t reach her for help.  I called the “main” Comcast number as I had on Wednesday and Thursday, but couldn’t play their phone tree game and listen to their up-sell messages.  Why, or why don’t corporations segment their messaging?  People calling with a problem want their problem fixed, not  be sold to.

So, I contacted tech support via chat.  Which got hung up on my first try.  Right after the admonition on the script that the person I was talking to could help me.

So I started up a new chat.  This time, it worked.  Emmanuel (who I’m assuming is in a place very very far away), was able to get my phone service up and running. And this time he “locked” the account, so when Comcast does another network “refresh” it will resume my service once refreshed.

You can read the transcript from my online chat with Comcast.  For dramatic effect when you read Emmanuel’s lines, think of them in the voice of HAL in 2001 A Space Odyssey.  Oh, and feel free to call me.  The phone lines are open.

Click here to read the transcript of my last chat with Comcast.  Keep in mind, this chat lasted about two hours – so when you read it, put it down for about a minute or two after every line.

Cartier Commercial. Image builder? Or big waste of money?

2012 March 11
by Steve Lawson

Cartier 2012 commercial. Image builder?
Or commercial masturbation?

I was watching CBS Sunday morning when this ad came on for Cartier (the jeweler). Ever since, I’ve been trying to figure out the message. Is it, “our stuff is expensive because we have absolutely no handle on expenses” or, “we make so much money on this crap that we don’t care what our commercial costs” or??

Don’t get me wrong, this commercial is a production masterpiece. Everything about it is absolutely gorgeous and amazing. But it’s also a commercial exercise in masturbation. Is it effective? Or a huge waste of money??

See for yourself, then let me know what you think.

Steve Jobs Remembered – In His Own Words

2012 February 24

I originally wrote this as my November 2011 column for Larry Coffman’s Marketing Newspaper.

Steve Jobs Remembered
In His Own Words

 


Since his passing, much has been written about Steve Jobs and the legacy he left. Enough has been written about this remarkable man. So for this column, I tuned to YouTube so I could pay tribute to Mr. Jobs with his own words. (To see the following video clips in their entirety, click here.)

Opportunity: On seeing the first user-interface at Xerox—the inspiration behind the Mac operating system.

“Basically, they were ‘copier heads’ that just had no clue about a computer and what it could, and so they just grabbed defeat from the greatest victory in the computer industry. Xerox could have owned the entire computer industry today.”

Innovation: Before returning to Apple, in a 1996 interview on Wall Street Week with Louis Rukeyser.

“Apple was a company that was based on innovation. When I left Apple 10 years ago, were 10 years ahead of everybody else. The problem was, that Apple stood still. Even though I invested cumulatively billions in R&D, the output has not been there and people have not caught up with it and the differentiation has eroded, in particular with respect to Microsoft. And so the way out for Apple, and I still think Apple has a future, there’s some awfully good people there and tremendous brand loyalty to that company. I think the way out is not to slash and burn; it’s to innovate. That’s how Apple got its glory, and I think that’s how Apple could return to it.”

Differentiation: 1997—Steve Jobs explains the reasons behind the new Apple “Think Different” marketing campaign.

“What we’re about isn’t making boxes for people to get their jobs done, though we do that well, we do that better than almost anybody in some cases, but Apple’s about something more than that. We believe that people with passion can change the world for the better.”

Know The Competition: In 1996, Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires aired on PBS. Steve Jobs explains the problem he has with Microsoft.

“The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste, they have absolutely no taste, and what that means is—I don’t mean that in a small way. I mean that in a big way. In the sense that they don’t think of original ideas and they don’t bring much culture into their product, and you say, why is that important? Well, you know proportionally spaced fonts come from typesetting and beautiful books, that’s where one gets the idea—if it weren’t for the Mac, they would never have that in their products. So I guess I’m saddened, not by Microsoft’s success—I have no problem with their success, they earned their success for the most part. I have a problem with the fact that they just make really third-rate products.”

Find Influence:

“Picasso had a saying, good artists copy. Great artists steal. And we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”

Passion:

“People say you have to have a lot of passion for what you do, and the reason is, because it’s so hard, that if you don’t, any rational person would give up. It’s really hard, and you have to do it over a sustained period of time. So, if you don’t love it, if you’re not having fun doing it, you’re going to give up.”

Reality:

“Sometimes you just have to look at yourself and go, you know, it‘s just not really great, it’s OK, it’s good, but let’s not fool ourselves and call it great. You know, we’re willing to throw something away because it’s not great, and try again when all the pressures of commerce are at your back saying, no, you can’t do that.”

Rubbing It In: 2007 with Bill Gates, being interviewed at the D5 Conference.

“We’ve got cards and letters from people saying that iTunes is their favorite thing on Windows. It’s like giving a glass of ice water to somebody in hell.”

 

Local Online Media – Borrell Associates 2010 Survey

2011 March 31
by Steve Lawson

Content Is King!

Content is king. But you may be surprised at which content drives revenue. The Local Online Media Report from Borrell and Associates indicates that while “news and information sites do indeed generate revenue, the Top 5 local online companies derive all their content from their own advertisers. In fact, half of the top 20 are all-advertising sites.” These include AT&T Yellow Pages, Auto Trader and more.

According to the report’s Executive Summary, “TV stations and yellow pages companies continue to do well with about 11 percent share each, up from the past year. Radio stations, meanwhile, are languishing at a two percent share of all locally spent Internet advertising and appear to be barely treading water.”

For 2010, Borrell found that local online media accounted for 14.9 percent of all local ad spending, or $13.5 billion. They are forecasting that to grow to $15.9 billion in 2011, or 17.8 percent more.

By 2015, for the first time ever, Borrell Associates expects newspapers to be toppled as the perennial king of local as online media reach $24 billion, for a 22.7 percent share of all local advertising.

Click here to download the Borrell Associates Benchmarking Local Online Media: 2010 Revenue Survey Executive Summary.

Gordon Borrell explains the study