Customer Service – or Lack Thereof – in the Age of the Internet

So on the one hand, we have Amazon. A large organization used to dealing with shipping problems now a streaming-media supplier with “technical support” that is not very technical. And to add insult to injury there is no way for me to communicate with them aside from opening a “new” ticket. Because of course they can solve any problem with their canned response.

On the other hand we have Firefox and Mozilla who likes to pretend to the role of commercial software provider except for all that commerce part. As a result, they have a take-it-or-leave-it attitude toward changes. (They will make as many as they want, as often as they want – even changing the functioning of various interfaces without regard to the impact on anyone else. ) After all, they aren’t losing any money.

The subject of the day is streaming Amazon videos in a Firefox browser. It can’t be done. And each side seems to be saying it is the others’ problem. (Though it is hard to tell with Amazon – see the piece above regarding customer service.) It was working the last time I tried to do it, though I’m the first to admit I don’t spend hours at my desk steaming video. It seems like one or both of these parties should be interested in keeping me as a satisfied customer. Or however Firefox views its user base.

You see Firefox development has decided to drop support for Microsoft’s Silverlight product, instead opting to support DRM capabilities in HTML5. The only problem is that they apparently didn’t bother to tell anyone – like Amazon – about their plans in advance. And so Amazon (and Netflix) are not working today on FF because they are still passing FF browsers the Silverlight parameters.

It you read the Firefox support forums, the fact that FF no longer works for streaming Amazon videos doesn’t seem to be much of a moving issue. (I haven’t delved into the Netflix threads because pounding your head against a brick wall is only interesting in the short term.) They aren’t responsible for the way Amazon reacts upon seeing a Firefox browser. And they don’t seem to care that Amazon’s base response is to suggest the use of a Firefox alternative. (To say “competitor” would be to invoke all those commerce issues.) Maybe it is too much to expect Mozilla to play in this commercial space. Maybe it is better to just use the version wrapped as the TOR browser and find something else for stuff like Amazon.