Amazon has outsourced their tech support to YOU


The other day I was talking to my best buddy at work and he was doing tech support for Amazon for free. I gave him one of my “whatchu talkin bout Willis?” looks and he said that he had just received an email from Amazon asking him to answer a question about a product that he had purchased from them in the past. Click the image above to read the email. 

I asked him if this was the first time that he’d received an email like this and he said no, that he’d received them before for quite awhile. I was surprised because I’ve never received an email like that… although I then realized that the types of products that I usually buy from Amazon don’t really require tech support. For example, other than the 12″ MacBook that I ordered this morning, my last several purchases were turmeric capsules, vitamin D tablets and a replacement battery for a Neato Botvac robotic vacuum.

A quick Google search helped me learn that Amazon Answers has been around for at least 3 years.

Should Amazon compensate people who help out and answer tech support questions for them? From what I can see, they don’t. Correct me if I’m wrong though.

FYI, you can opt out of receiving these types of questions by clicking on the opt-out link if you receive one of these emails.

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What do you think about Amazon asking customers to help answer questions from other customers about products that they’ve purchased in the past?

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24 comments… add one
  • Jackie Cheng April 7, 2017, 4:27 pm

    I’ve gotten so many of those emails. I usually answer them because sometimes I do ask/post questions on their product page and I’m pretty sure Amazon automatically emails past purchasers about my question to get an answer.

    • Julie Strietelmeier April 7, 2017, 4:34 pm

      They don’t give you anything in return though for helping out?

      • Jackie Cheng April 7, 2017, 4:43 pm

        Nope. Nothing at all. Would be nice if they offer incentives like free digital content or free next day shipping.

  • RainyDayInterns April 7, 2017, 5:05 pm

    We have stopped answering those questions from Amazon. In fact, they are now filtered directly to SPAM…

  • Aaron April 7, 2017, 5:20 pm

    (The screenshot doesn’t have the email address blurred in the search box)

    • Julie Strietelmeier April 7, 2017, 5:27 pm

      Thanks for pointing that out. I fixed it.

      • Aaron April 8, 2017, 12:44 am

        Different Aaron here but just mentioning the url seems to have the email as well, just seems like something to point out seeing as I seemed to notice so others might

  • Mike Strange April 7, 2017, 5:32 pm

    I would definitely opt in if they offered an incentive like Aaron mentioned. Otherwise, no thank you. As for myself, I’ve never received any such emails from them.

  • Chris April 7, 2017, 5:41 pm

    I don’t mind at all. Someone interested in a product has a question about if something is right for them, and if I’m a verified buyer, I may be able to answer a question. Seems a friendly thing to do! While it might lead to a sale for Amazon, I’m not doing it for them, I’m doing it for another person.

  • Tamara April 7, 2017, 6:47 pm

    It’s not exactly tech support. It’s mostly answering basic questions about a product that you have received and handled. What are the dimensions, etc, or asking for more feedback on a particular aspect of the product. Sometimes the product descriptions aren’t as informative as one needs, so it’s nice to be able to reach out to other customers who have the product and verify if it does what you need or if it will fit your space. An Amazon customer service person probably wouldn’t be able to answer many of these questions unless they had the product themselves.

    Some people do give pretty detailed answers, but it’s no different than writing reviews. Some are more detailed than others. And if you think the question will take too much of your time, then don’t answer.

    My big pet peeve with the feature is that I think the email prompts lead people to leave stupid non-answers on the site because I guess they feel like they have to answer the question even if they didn’t use the product that way, didn’t keep it, or otherwise have no idea what they are talking about. Some answers are like “I don’t know, I never used it for that, but here’s some other totally irrelevant piece of information!” Sigh.

    As someone else said, it’s a way to help out other people.

  • Nicholas April 7, 2017, 7:44 pm

    Many companies now rely on community support. I used to volunteer for Google in their help forms and on Twitter through their “top contributor” program. At least Google flies all their TCs to a conference at the GooglePlex each year.

  • nickie April 8, 2017, 5:06 am

    i’ve received such mails from other sites , it’s actually funny when you get stuff from clueless people saying “i haven’t received my order” or “the thing doesn’t work”
    most of the questions i have received were the most basic RTFM things though so since i don’t get anything for answering i’m ignoring them all …

    perhaps if you could obtain store credits from your answers it would look SO MUCH LESS like a scam …

  • John051 April 8, 2017, 9:30 am

    I buy a lot of things from Amazon. Sometimes I would like clarification on an item before I buy it so I use the ask question function. I have found it helpful, but you never know who is answering the question.

  • Patrick L April 8, 2017, 10:04 am

    I’ve answered several of these. I don’t think it really qualifies as tech support. Rather, it’s more like an interactive review, where someone is asking about a specific aspect of the product instead of you writing a general overall review. I do think it would be nice for Amazon to compensate for it, but I can’t see it being very much. Maybe for every X questions answered you get an order with free shipping (up to some reasonable shipping amount) or if it’s an order that already gets free shipping you get a shipping upgrade.

  • Earl April 8, 2017, 10:34 am

    Hi Julie,

    My first thought after reading your post was that it reminded me of the nice little advertising scheme perpetrated by sportswear/activewear companies. You know, the one where I buy, say, a Nike/UnderArmor/{Insert Brand Name here} quick-dry athlectic T-Shirt – replete with one or more logos – and pay a premium price to let the world know “I’m wearing Nike!”. If anything, we should pay LESS when wearing any merchandise sporting a logo. If pro soccer teams can get paid for plastering their players’ uniforms with ads, why can’t I?

    BTW – this practice is beginning to be adopted by US-based pro sports leagues; the first baby-steps are being taken in the NBA, I expect the NFL, NHL and MLB to fall in line over the next few years.

  • Aphoid April 8, 2017, 2:15 pm

    Per other posters, this isn’t necessarily tech support. It’s often a specific question about the product that actual users might know but might not be well documented. I’ve both asked and answered these kinds of questions. Some answers can be quite helpful, though some

    Things like “Does [this product] work with [specific product I own]?” are common things or “Does [this product] have [feature specific to prospective purchaser’s needs]?” Sometimes the manufacturer or seller will answer in addition to fellow customers. It’s much more “Q&A review” than “Tech Support” in general.

  • KevinR April 8, 2017, 3:03 pm

    As a seller on Amazon, I often get those emails from Amazon asking to reply to customer questions. I try to have fun with them. For instance, once i was asked about an Star Wars R2-D2 Toy.
    Question: Does this hold a drink?
    Answer: No, R2-D2 is a known alcoholic. Just 1 drink will set him off to wandering. It was a single Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster that precipitated his leaving Uncle Owens moisture farm and starting the whole Star Wars adventure in Episode 4.

    • Chris April 8, 2017, 4:04 pm

      You can’t mix your fictional space universes like that!

  • KevinR April 8, 2017, 6:56 pm

    Yes, I definitely lose a few points for that faux pas.

  • Donald Schoengold April 8, 2017, 7:53 pm

    I have no problems w this. I often ask questions about stuff I am thinking aabout buying so I figure that it is only fair that I answer questions in return.

    DON

  • Bob Kolin April 10, 2017, 8:45 am

    I always try and respond to someone’s questions about a product I purchased. But I must admit that some potential buyers ask either stupid questions, or don’t read all of the product description where the answer to their question lies. (Ex: What are the dimensions of the product? You really want to respond, “Read the product description, knucklehead!”)

    Some questions invite and deserve sarcastic responses, like the person that asked if a Kindle came with a “stylist”. They got hammered with all kinds of answers dealing with hair care, shampoo, barbers, etc. Too funny!

  • Jan Lindemann April 10, 2017, 10:36 am

    I have no problem with it. It’s not much different than writing a review. I’ve answered a few questions, and I’ve received answers to several questions I’ve asked. I appreciate hearing from someone who actually has the product rather than some one reading from a spec sheet provided by the manufacturer.

  • john kes April 10, 2017, 12:51 pm

    I was asked just last night by TurboTax to help answer users’ questions. Questions were way out of my league so I clicked out of it. Free tech support indeed!

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