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I bought an XBox360 through an Amazon.com gold box "lightning deal"--the deal was for the item at full price plus a $100 store credit. I completed the transaction, and was a bit puzzled as to why the store credit didn't seem to show up on the receipt. But I waited for the package. When it arrived, no credit. So I contacted Amazon customer service, and had the following spectacularly unhelpful exchange. I was shaking with anger by the end, but strove to keep my language polite, even as I tried over and over to explain that the problem was with their promotion failing to go through, not my intelligence level. An hour into the chat, they are still explaining to me what a lightning deal is, and refusing to answer direct questions. (By the way, I'm a web designer who has build ecommerce sites, so there's zero chance that I am simply too dim to complete an online purchase correctly):

You are now connected to Rafael from Amazon.com.Me:This purchase was supposed to include a $100 credit, but there's no indication of a credit in my account, and nothing was included in the box, not even a packing slip, just the product.Rafael:Hello there Hillary, my name is Rafael. I'm really sorry for the trouble, let me go ahead and check the details for you. Me:It was purchased as a gold box promotionRafael:Hillary, may I have the order number please? Me:xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Rafael:Thank you for that information, would you mind waiting for a couple of minutes while I research that for you?Me:sureRafael:Thanks! Hillary, thank you for waiting.Hillary, what was the gold box promotion when you ordered the item? Me:The offer was for the XBox 360 plus a $100 credit.Rafael:Hillary, was it for lightning deals? Me:I don't know what that meansAh, just looked, yes, that's where the deal appeared.Rafael:Oh I see! Hillary, I checked the order for you, I'm sorry you weren't able to take advantage of the Lightning Deal before the promotional discount's timed checkout expired. Lightning Deal promotional discounts are only valid during the displayed time period and expire when the displayed time period ends.Me:Well, I did purchase it during the period of time. I waited for the deal to go live and purchased it immediately. Something went wrong on your end.If I have to hassle with returning it and paying for shipping, that's really terrible.I purchased it within mere minutes of the deal going onCheck the time of the purchaseRafael:Hillary, I'm really sorry about this, however, I see here that the order details and there was no promotion applied.Me:I know that, it's why I'm contacting you. The promotion was live, I did what I was supposed to do, and it wasn't applied.I'm contacting you because that's a problem.Can I escalate this issue?I buy a lot of stuff from amazon, and this is extrmely dissatisfying and aggravating.Rafael:I understand. Lightning Deal promotional discounts are only valid during the promotion time period listed and will expire approximately 15 minutes after you add the deal to your Cart. You'll see an alert when you have 10 minutes remaining to complete your deal purchase. If you don't buy the item by that point, the deal will expire and it won't be visible in your Cart anymore.Me:Are you questioning my intelligence, or my honesty?I have told you I purchased the item immediately. Which I did.I want a supervisor, please.Your system clearly didn't process the purchase correctly, and that's amazon's fault, not mine.Rafael:I'm so sorry about this Hilary. Hillary, let me gather information about this for you. Me:I don't want you to be sorry, I want you to provide actual customer service, and listen to what I say, and address the problem. If you check the time of my purchase against the time of the offer, you'll see I am correct.What is your company's policy when someone asks for a supervisor?Rafael:Hilary, one moment please as I look for an available supervisor. Hilary, one moment please as I connect you over to my supervisor. A Customer Service Associate will be with you in a moment.You are now connected to Leonard from Amazon.com.Leonard:Thank you so much for waiting and good day Hillary.My name is Leonard, and I am one of the member of the Amazon leadership team.Me:Hi LeonardLeonard:Please give me a few minutes to review your concern. Feel free to provide additional information while waiting.Me:Thank you, I appreciate the helpRafael seemed not to be listening to my actual issue. He kept repeating what a lightning deal is--I am aware of the deal I thought I was purchasing. My problem isn't that I'm too dumb to buy something online. It's that something went wrong with the transaction.I know as surely as I know my own name that the deal was still on when I bought it.Leonard:I am so sorry for the inconvenience Hillary. I am still checking on the order. Me:I'll be quiet and let you work, then :)Leonard:Thank you so much for patiently waiting Hillaryy.From what we can see on the order, the lightning deal promotional codes is not attached to your order.Me:Yes, that seems to be the case.Leonard:I believe this is what Rafael is referring to. Me:Another thing was strange about the order: there was not one scrap of paper in the box, just the product. No packing slip, nothing.Leonard:Lightning deal works this way that when you click on the item in the lightning deal page, it will add a code to your order, and that we cannot find it.Me:I don't know why the promotion didn't attach.Leonard:I can still remember this deal and we don't have issues with this one.Me:Well, I think you had at least one issue.Leonard:The only contacts we are having from customer were questions as to when they can receive the promotion. No reports of issues as well from our promotions department.Me:Well, you are having one report. From me. Right now.Are you actually going to tell me that my problem is not real, because I'm the only one reporting it? Gosh, I hope not.Leonard:I hope you understand that this promo is limited in terms of stocks and time, so all I can think of is either, the order was placed outside of the promo period or, you are one of the waitlist, or the item was ordered not on the lightning deal page.Me:If I was able to click on the item, add it to my cart, and complete the purchase, yet the deal did not apply, it seems like that shouldn't be my problem.And I am telling you, now for the fourth time, that I made the purchase exactly as I have said that I did. So are you actually, a customer service rep for Amazon, going to tell me that I am not telling the truth?Leonard:After placing the order in your cart, customer only has 15 minutes to complete the purchase. If its just a second over, then the code will not be attached.Me:Because that seems a bit extreme.So, if I was in the process of entering my credit card, for example, and the offer expired, the transaction would complete, and I would be charged, and would not get the item I had actually put in my cart, but something else, that I had at no point agreed to buy?Would there not be an alert telling me that I was now buying something else?Can you verify that the promotion was on while I made the purchase?I'd also like you to answer my question: are you actually accusing me of being untruthful?Leonard:A Lightning Deal is a promotion in which a limited number of discounts are offered on an item for a short period of time. Lightning Deals can be found throughout Amazon.com, including the Gold Box page, and are available, one per customer, until either the promotion period for the deal expires or all the available promotional discounts are claimed. Since Lightning Deals are time-sensitive, it's important to complete your order as soon as possible.Me:Why does your system allow a transaction to be completed for an offer the customer put in the cart, once the offer has expired? That seems like a bug. You'd have a lot of people very unhappy, it seems.Leonard:http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-2?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200417170&qid=1322165546&sr=1-2 You may check further on this link on how it works.Me:How was I able to leave your site thinking I had bought something that I hadn't?And why do you keep telling me over and over and over what a lighting deal is? My problem is that I did what I was supposed to do to buy one, and it failed. My problem isn't that I don't "understand".Leonard:Problems Claiming a Lightning Deal"Checking Deal Status" MessagingFor some very popular Lightning Deals, you may see a "Checking deal status" message after you click the "Add to Cart" button. For all Lightning Deals, we'll verify eligibility on a first-come first-served basis before applying the promotional discount to an account. Please don't reload or refresh the page in your browser while this status appears.If promotional discounts are still available for the item when we get to your request, you'll see the status change to "in your Cart" and the item will appear in your Cart. If all promotional discounts are claimed before we get to your request, you won't be eligible to receive the promotional discount. Me:I don't want to keep going in circles. What can be done to correct this situation?Leonard:I am only explaining all the possible reasons why the lightning deal promo wasn't applied to your order.Me:I have been a great customer for many, many years. And I feel like I'm being treated like I'm *** here.Leonard:I am so sorry Hillary, but what I can do further is to forward your concern to our Marketing and promotions department.Me:I would never have bought this item, without the deal. I want to return it to you. And I will file a complaint with the better business bureau.I feel there was a mistake in your purchasing process, and instead of treating the customer as valuable, you are dismissing me and haven't offered a single solution, just excuses.Leonard:I am so sorry if you feel that way. It is not our intention, its just that this promotion is time limited so, sometimes in a matter of minutes all the promo has been claimed.Me:Then the transaction shouldn't complete. It's deceptive.And it's not my problem, it should be amazon's.Leonard:Again, the last option that we have is to forward your concern to our marketing and promotions department. They are the best department that can determine the qualification of this order.Me:How do I return the item?And yes, please do forward this. I'I'll also be escalating this however I can.Leonard:I'm really sorry for the inconvenience. I can provide you a $20 concession as a one-time exception. Would this be fair enough?Me:I just want my return shipping covered, and a guarantee that the item can be returned. $20 doesn't make up much for feeling insulted, patronized and condescended to and treated badly by a company I have until today much admired.You and Rafael were both polite enough in your delivery, but as for the content of the exchange, you were both entirely dismissive and unhelpful, and that is something I find very disappointing from Amazon.Leonard:I am so sorry, that is not really our intention, but only to provide your the process of the promotion for you to be familiarized next time. But do not worry, I would still provide you the $20 in a form of a promotional credit applied to your account. I will escalate a case to the marketing and promotions department.Me:There won't be a next time, that's certain, and I will do my best to broadcast what a rip-off Amazon's promotions are, and I will file a complaint with the BBB. I appreciate your time, and am only sorry that your customer service department doesn't have the power to actually serve customers. That's not your fault, clearly.Anything else Hillary?Me:I also mentioned that there was no packing slip. I trust that I can still return the item without one?Leonard:I will be issuing a return packing slip, and send it to your email address with the instructions.Me:Thank you, Leonard. Have a nice Thanksgiving.Leonard:Again Hillary, I'm really sorry for the inconvenience, but I'd still for you to have a nice Thanksgiving celebration.Happy holiday and take good care.Thank you for contacting Amazon.

Location: San Mateo, California

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I came across your post after searching 'Amazon Bait and Switch lightening deals' because I was frustrated after attempting to shop their lightening deals and felt mislead. I have been shopping on Amazon for years and this year I did nothing different however my experience was much different. When the deal became available I would click on it and it would be one price, until the page opened and says Sorry! We lied, 100% claimed...but out of the kindness of their heart they would still offer it at a discount, just not as deep a discount as it was when I clicked on 'buy' and Amazon and I started our dance. Oh and if I am a prime member thats another price too! 4 different prices, same item. No wonder they cant keep anything straight.

I too once admired Amazon and believe they have sunk to a new low. I was seething and laughing (more in shock than humor) while reading that exchange. Even though they tried to convince you otherwise, you were the only sane person in that conversation. A few weeks ago I bought a collectors edition dvd/blu ray set. Amazon didn't bother to put it in a box, they slapped an address label on it and put the actual item itself in the mail.

Thanks for sharing your experience. You have convinced me. No more business with Amazon.