Absurd Amazon-Aided Antics

We start with a story from this week’s column:

First World Problem

When UPS pulled up at her Buffalo, N.Y., home to make an Amazon delivery, Jillian Cannan thought nothing of it: she gets UPS deliveries all the time. But there were several boxes, and when she opened them she realized they weren’t something she had ordered. The next day there were more — a lot more. So many that eventually UPS dispatched a freight truck with pallet loads of boxes. The contents: a thousand or more silicone brackets for face masks — per box, and she received at least 100 boxes. It took several tries to get Amazon to stop the deliveries: the retailer stopped “an additional 1,000+ boxes” that were getting ready to ship, Cannan said on Facebook. Amazon says whoever ordered them doesn’t have an Amazon account, so they don’t know who it is. But, Cannan said, “We’ve been through worse, honestly.” (RC/WIVB Buffalo) …And she didn’t tell that story?!

In the Author’s Notes I commented last week I ordered a HEPA room air purifier: we’re early in the wildfire season, but the resulting smoke from nearby blazes is still triggering breathing problems. At the same time, I ordered a box of two replacement filters. The filters supposedly arrive today. The air purifier is set to arrive Wednesday. I wonder if a “silicon face mask bracket” would let Kit and I strap filters to our faces in the meantime?

(Since I know many will ask: I bought this air purifier[*] because it is well liked by other buyers, and the replacement filters are reasonably priced. Plus, this particular model allows for remote activation; if you don’t have or want an Alexa or Google Home “smart speaker” for that, it can also be operated via a smartphone app.)

Then, I figured readers would have their own nightmare (or amusing) Tales of Amazon Antics, so Comments are open below, but of course this story begs for more details.

The Details

Woman wearing the contraption.
If it helps folks who have to wear masks for hours at a time, I’m all for it.

First, what the heck are “silicone brackets for face masks”? I found this Amazon example silicone (take a deep breath) “3D Mask Insert Turtle Mask Spacer for Easier Breathing Room, labato Mask Cage Silicone Mask Bracket Plastic Mask Inserts Face Mask Shield, Mask Frame Mouth Nose Guard Cool Mask Brace Breathe Cup” from Amazon.

A two-pack “was $8.99” the pricing says, but it’s now $6.99 — with a click-for coupon for $2 off.

But why would anyone buy them? They can’t even give ’em away!

Feature list.The same Amazon page had this helpful illustration demonstrating that the “3D … Cup” can help with “Mouth and Nosel separation”.

Why would you need that? To help with “reducing oder” (of course!) for your nosel comfort.

Makes me wonder if the silicone thing adds its own oder …um, I mean odor.

Ms Cannan posted this clip of TV news coverage of her predicament:


But Why?

Pallets of boxes in driveway.
A small portion of the family’s deliveries. (Photo: Jillian Cannan)

The obvious question remains, why would anyone order 100,000+ (or, if we are to believe the numbers, and I see no reason not to, 1.1 million!) mask “cages”? Why would Amazon have that many in stock, for that matter, just for this particular model, and there are many variants!

Some sites have theorized it’s an example of “brushing,” a “victimless” scam where the manufacturer — or a shill for the manufacturer — orders a product, has it shipped to a random person, and then that shill can post a glowing review as a “verified purchaser.” That inflates the product rating, which presumably leads to more sales.

That’s against Amazon policy, of course, and if caught they can lose their Amazon Seller account.

Screencap
Aukey’s current Amazon page: mostly blank. (Screencap by thisistrue.com)

That apparently happened recently to several well-established Amazon-sold brands, including the Aukey line of power adapters, battery banks, and such, and TaoTronics, which makes lighting (and other) products, says the site Android Police, which I skim through every week or so.

They note that Aukey and TaoTronics, among other brands being spanked by Amazon, are owned by Sunvalley Group, a Chinese manufacturer.

The Better Business Bureau says that it doesn’t cost the companies doing “brushing” anything because, “After all, they aren’t really purchasing the items, since the payment goes right back to them.”

Well, minus Amazon’s substantial cut! So it makes sense to send a million copies of the same thing to the same person …how? It doesn’t: the accusation doesn’t make sense to me. They only needed to send one for that …but then they need an account to post the review, and Amazon says whoever ordered these doesn’t have one.

So, again, why?

Only the purchaser knows. Even if the buyer is only paying 10 cents each, that’s still $100,000 plus.

What Is She Doing With Them?

Amazon told Cannan that they were delivered to her, and she now owns them — even if she didn’t order or pay for them. Well gee, that’s certainly helpful!

Dozens of packages on front porch.
A day’s deliveries to Cannan’s front porch. (Photo: Jillian Cannan)

“We were just like ‘How can we get something positive out of this whole hilarious story?’” Cannan said. “So, my business partner and I reached out to the children’s hospitals and we decided we want to do a decorate-your-own-face mask and include the bracket in the little kit with a blank face mask and some crayons and stickers that kids can work on while they’re in the hospital.”

Cannan said on her Facebook page that Amazon and other companies have agreed to donate some of the components of such a kit to make it happen.

“I’m trying to put a positive spin on it,” she told NBC News. “I have four little kids, and I’m trying to show them how to make lemonade out of lemons, and just kind of run with it.”

My Amazon Story

I have my own frustrating “Amazon story.” I ordered a 2-pack of a heavy product, and was not surprised (because the items were heavy) that they came in separate boxes. But they also not only came from separate shippers, one of the boxes didn’t say “Amazon” on it, but rather “Walmart”! The latter’s package had obviously been previously opened.

I put in a review on Amazon to comment on this, but the review was not only rejected, but Amazon threatened that if I mentioned the shipping aspect in a review again, my account “could be” terminated.

Living in a rural area where there aren’t all that many stores, that’s a big threat. We rely on Amazon to, for instance, quickly ship technology items when there’s an equipment failure here at True’s International Headquarters.

But I heard them loud and clear — and will never review any product at Amazon ever again. Why take the risk?

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10 Comments on “Absurd Amazon-Aided Antics

  1. Several years ago I was visiting my daughter for Thanksgiving. I showed her an embroidery machine on Amazon that would be on sale the next day for Black Friday. The next morning I was reading my email in our hotel room. I have an email stating my Amazon order had shipped. I hadn’t ordered anything so signed into my Amazon account. Seems that machine had been ordered shortly after midnight. I checked with my husband and daughter — neither had ordered the machine. My husband said to check it out when it arrived as I had been wanting one anyway. Next morning I have an email again stating my order had shipped. I check, 2 embroidery machines were ordered (and charged on my credit card!)

    I call Amazon. They tell me it is a glitch and to refuse them when they arrive. Ok I can do that and thank goodness I have a large credit line because the next morning they sent me 4 more machines. Monday comes and they sent 8. At this time we lived in Oklahoma and received our mail at a rented mail box so I call to alert them what is going on. They are not seeing the humor in this mess as it is a small store and their busiest season. Monday evening I spent several hours on the phone with Amazon who finally gets the orders stopped but still has no idea how this happened or who ordered the original machine. Tuesday all the machines arrive at once. I felt bad for the UPS driver as they had to be unloaded and returned the next day to Amazon.

    Reply
  2. Now I know why the Aukey car charger I want has been out of stock for so long. I’ve used their products before, and I was really impressed with the quality and design. But I thought they were an Australian company (I read that somewhere) — hence their name.

    This disappoints me, because I did like their products. They screwed themselves, it seems.

    Reply
  3. I have been using “silicone brackets for face masks” for over a year. I learned about them by the name of “lipstick shields”. They create a pocket of air by your mouth and prevents the mask from getting pulled against your mouth when you inhale, both of which gave me the feeling that it is easier to breathe. The cons are that the pocket of air is warm and moist and that there is a piece of silicon touching your nose and chin, both of which made some people dislike using them.

    As far as Amazon reviews, twice they blocked my ability to review products and removed all reviews I had previously created. The page told me to communicate with them by email, to an email address which is apparently not monitored. The first time I tried the email twice about a week apart, then called Amazon when I was ignored. They were unable (or unwilling?) to tell me why I had been blocked or why nobody responded, but were able to re-enable my ability to do reviews. It happened again about 9 months later, that time I waited for 3 weekly emails to be unanswered before calling. Once again they could not tell me why, but the rep guessed that it might have been triggered because I had rated too high a percentage of the products I bought. After twice losing the work I did trying to help the Amazon community, I decided that I would no longer waste my time trying to help their other customers. I apologize to those who will never see my lists of pros and cons for the products, but I refuse to expend effort to help them if they do not care.

    Reply
  4. I laughed so much at this story — in sympathy! I haven’t run into those kinds of order glitches (yet) but as a long-time customer, seller, and reviewer, I have a love/hate relationship with Amazon.

    Amazon (or rather, their bots) are strict when it comes to reviews, and reviews can be legitimately reported if the content has to do with the seller/shipper. Report those issues via orders (‘problem with my order’), as that’s a much more reliable way to get something done about it! (I mean. If anything is going to be done. Which is low probability.)

    I have had it happen where I ordered a second of what I thought was the same item. …But although it was New from Amazon, the actual seller was different, so the item ended up being slightly different. I’ve also fought with Amazon about incorrect catalog information, and I report it whenever I find it, tho recently I found out there’s no way to report it for digital music (I bought an mp3 album where every single artist and track name was wrong!).

    A few years ago Amazon wiped out a bunch of my reviews. I think I actually cried.

    Just have to keep pushing back and sending feedback, and hope a real person will be there to help.

    Reply
  5. I don’t have any interesting Amazon stories because I only use them if the only option is to do without. I’m helping diminish unemployment numbers by having three jobs, one of which is a company that spent the better part of 2020 shipping masks to its stores for employees. We even gave out a bunch of masks to customers. The masks we received ran the gamut from generic, blue and white disposables through schmancy, logoed reusables with little pouches for filter media.

    One of the batches of masks were made of this lovely silky stuff that felt really good against our faces, but were so outrageously soft that any attempt to inhale resulted in the mask making an enthusiastic attempt to enter whatever opening was doing the breathing. Those masks were followed a few days later with neat, little frames similar to those pictured in your article. I thought they were plastic until reading your about those; the texture and malleability suggests that they are probably silicone. They’re quite comfortable, support the masks nicely, and help get a better seal over the bridge of the nose. I guess one could say that they provide “nosel” comfort, though, I would rather say “nosal.” The only downside to them was that they didn’t hold on to the mask well unless it was attached to a face.

    Reply
  6. We’ve been having an interesting time with Amazon lately. Seems they can manage to deliver to me no problem, but when my daughter orders anything under her name, they deliver to the next door neighbor. Fortunately, we’re on great terms with our neighbor, so it’s not that much of an issue. But we have called on every order made in the last two months, griping about the misdelivery. They always swear it’s at the right address, but the photo they take isn’t of our brick house, but the wooden house next door.

    Reply
  7. Amazon is important for Switzerland too cause many products are nowhere available cause the market is way too small for companies to bother. But it‘s also expensive with the taxes, tolls & such.

    I never review products cause always when I read the reviews I end with not buying the product.

    Some months ago a teenage girl ordered clothes on my name on a fake account with the intention to steal the parcels. First she was stupid enough to ring at our door in the middle of the night to ask for the parcel (I am always up late so no problem with that), second she came back the next night so we called the police. She now has to face the juvenile court. There were 3 parcels ordered in total which we all gave to the police. The girl went pale when I mentioned the Swiss Post sends am announcement email in advance and I knew there were more parcels coming. They don’t live on the other side of the street anymore cause there were a lot of other issues with them which then came to light.

    For the story:
    A revenge order from someone holding a grudge maybe? But then why is it paid for?

    Your neighbor is remarkably stupid indeed! -rc

    Reply
  8. Wow — that situation the Cannans experienced with the unsolicited (by them) delivery of some 1M+ silicon brackets is astounding (as are the experiences of several True readers as evidenced in comments published so far); but, funnily enough, my main takeaway from the story is: You can make purchases on Amazon without an account??

    Apparently payment is the most important thing. Funny that. -rc

    Reply

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