I am a 23-year-old guy studying in a college far away from my home. I live here alone, in a rented place, near my college.
My story starts here.
I am an avid online shopper. I frequent the Amazon India website – and almost every week, I receive packages which aren’t just ordered by me, but also those by a few of my friends who also use my address for their delivery.
A few months back, Amazon set up a pick-up store nearby. Around that time, I ordered an NCERT book. It was a small cash-on-delivery (COD) payment. On the day of the delivery, the agent who was assigned to deliver my parcel misbehaved with me and talked very rudely, when I requested him to reschedule the delivery as I was not present there at that time. This was followed by an argument over the telephone. Not only was he reluctant to the idea of rescheduling, he was also abusive. It seemed as though his only problem was that the payment was small. I felt it was very unfair. Whether I order a ₹40,000 package or a ₹40 one, shouldn’t I get the same delivery experience for both? So I gave negative feedback about the service, and wrote to Amazon India in detail.
Amazon responded very promptly. The higher authorities from Amazon India called me and apologised for the incident. They assured me that there would be an internal investigation and all the necessary measures would be taken to ensure that such an incident wouldn’t happen again. I let the matter be and didn’t follow up on it thereafter. I didn’t know what kind of disciplinary actions were taken.
A few weeks later, I had another package from Amazon. Even though I received an automated message from Amazon about the delivery that day (along with the contact number of the person who was to deliver it), I didn’t receive any call throughout the day. This was an important package. So, after waiting for it the whole day, I called that agent in the evening. He hurriedly told me to collect it from the nearby pick-up store. I didn’t carry the conversation forward and went to the pick-up store to collect the parcel.
There, I enquired why no attempt was made to deliver it. It was then that the man at the pick-up store – a well-built person, probably in his early 40s – told me that none of my packages would be delivered to my doorstep any longer and that I would have to pick it up from there.Why? Because apparently, after I had written to Amazon about the misbehavior of the delivery agent a few weeks ago, he had been suspended from the service. He was a localite. So the other delivery agents felt that a local boy lost his job because of me (an outsider). This was unacceptable to them. Hence, they would no longer deliver any packages at my address as I had been ‘blacklisted’ by the local office.
I could not help but write to the Amazon authorities, again. I paid money to get the home-delivery service. Now, if I had paid and hadn’t got the service, I did have rights to complain about it. But should a local Amazon office have ‘blacklisted’ me because I gave negative feedback? Wasn’t that a violation of customer rights?
The Amazon officials again responded promptly. A day after I wrote to Amazon, I got a call from Amazon’s office at Bengaluru. I was told that there’s no policy of ‘blacklisting’ customers if they gave negative feedback, and that they had ordered an internal investigation into the whole incident. He further told me that he had checked with the local office and ensured that the packages I ordered would reach my doorstep henceforth. He told me that he was awaiting the investigation report and strict action would be taken against those who had broken company guidelines and customer policies, even if they were higher up in the food-chain.
And indeed, he was true to his words. From that day, my packages would reach my doorstep – and surprisingly enough, the delivery agents were polite and understanding. I also got a call from someone in the local office who informed me that the ‘blacklisting’ thing was pure rubbish. He gave me his personal number and told me to give him a call in case any delivery agent misbehaved.
This happened back in September 2017. I ordered many more things after that and had a smooth delivery experience.
Early in November, I was coming back to my room after I had visited a nearby ATM. All of a sudden, a car stopped in front of me, and that guy from the pick-up store came out of the car. Without saying a word, he grabbed me by my collar and hit me hard. He didn’t utter a single word and kept on hitting me. I was taken aback, but somehow, I was able to push him away after a while.
Then he started hurling abuses at me, saying that because of my complaint, someone who worked at Amazon under his pick-up point service lost his job. I told him that I hadn’t asked Amazon to sack anyone or to take any harsh action. I had paid for the service – and if I didn’t get quality or satisfactory service, it was in my best interest to give negative feedback. There on, it was up to the company to investigate and act. He didn’t listen. He again grabbed my collar and slapped me a couple of times.
By then, a small crowd had gathered there. So he stopped beating me, but kept on threatening. I secretly turned on the voice recorder of my phone and all the harassment and the threats were recorded. He even threatened to kill and dispose of me somewhere in river – and nobody would know. And because I was an outsider, he would get away with it since no localite would come forward to help me.
It didn’t end here. He further told me that he could implicate me falsely by bringing in any of the women in his family and saying that I had harassed them, or by alleging that I had stolen things from his delivery point. Time and again, he threatened to make me disappear in no time at all. When a few people from the crowd tried to step in and stop him, he told them not to help me because I was a drug addict!
Later, when he realised that I might have recorded the ‘conversation’, he snatched my phone and deleted my recordings including some important files. Fortunately, he deleted the wrong recordings. So all the threats he gave me remained in the recording.
I was injured from the assault. My eyelids hurt badly. I also had severe pain in my neck and jaw. I wanted to file a police complaint. But when I informed my family about the incident, they asked me not to do so. They were afraid that a legal battle might affect my career severely. They were also worried about my safety. They feared that a police complaint would lead to this guy’s Amazon contract being terminated, which might lead him to assault me again. Being a localite, he did have the time, muscle and resources to do so. My family simply asked me to stop purchasing from Amazon.
I decided to narrate the incident to my landlord. He asked me to go with him and then, he would ask that person to apologise. I went with him, but it turned out to be a big mistake. On seeing me in his pick-up store, that person slapped me in front of my landlord, who was deeply embarrassed and tried to stop him. But he wouldn’t stop. He grabbed my throat so hard that he almost choked me to death. My neck injuries worsened due to this. There was also an intense throat pain, and I’d had significant trouble swallowing things.
My landlord brought me back and asked me not to file FIR as it would certainly worsen things. He told me that being an outsider in this area, I wouldn’t be able to reason with these rowdy local elements. So I should just let things be.
I understood why he said all this. He was a fine gentleman who tried to settle the matter. But he couldn’t reason with the goon, and he was worried about my life and my career.
I was depressed. I felt as though I’d been physically assaulted for nothing I believed I had done wrong. And this was disturbing me. The worst part was that I was unable to share this with anyone, mainly because I feared for my life. After all, I’d been told that if I complained to the company or anyone or if anyone took any action, then I would be killed.
So, I added all the details of the incident anonymously on Quora. However, after a few days, I deleted it from Quora fearing that if those goons noticed it, they wouldn’t spare me.
After posting about it on Quora, comments started pouring in. Among these, many were from Amazon who wanted to know about my details, so that they could take it up with the company and ensure that proper steps were taken and I got the justice I deserved. Many lawyers and sellers from the Amazon marketplace also offered help. However, I didn’t respond – and once again, the reason was that I feared for my safety.
But, Amazon India is amazing in their customer service, which can be witnessed from my story itself. They tracked me through the details provided in the anonymous Quora post, and they contacted me. They told me that since the issue was very sensitive and concerned my safety, they would keep it confidential and wouldn’t take any action till the day I felt safe.
They also provided me the contact details of a country senior operations manager, and asked me to call him any time if an unfortunate situation arose and that he would be able to act. The operations manager was also very helpful, and he told me that I could report the incident to him anytime I wanted when I felt safe. He said that even if I moved out of the area, he would look into the issue with the same severity.
I stopped purchasing from Amazon. Even today, sometimes I feel like I am being stalked.
There are a few things I learned from this incident. Perhaps it’s indeed true that Amazon has the world’s best customer service. But they need to work more on dealing with customer feedbacks or complaints and the appointments of delivery guys, pick-up stores, etc. Given my experience, I would say that a few people think that killing a person is easier than improving their own deficiencies.
And, irrespective of the year we are living in, it’s very unfortunate that these ‘localite vs outsider’ conflicts still happen in our society.
Note: Youth Ki Awaaz is in possession of a 28-minute audio recording and photographic evidence of the incident.