Life as Clay

Clay’s Continual Decline: a kick when down from Amazon

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I had a crummy day yesterday. My grandfather died in the morning and my emotions flared in a work meeting that ended with some confusion and hurt feelings. I went to Amazon to buy a book that I wanted, when I noticed Amazon’s suggested “pay phrase” for me:

Clay's Continual Decline

Any other day and I would have laughed about it. Instead, I emailed customer service:

01/20/10 11:23:22
Your Name:CLAY …
Comments:Dear Amazon.

I had a bad morning. My grandfather died and then a had an awful meeting at work. None of that is Amazon’s fault.

I came to the home page, though, looking to buy a book. That’s when I noticed that your website was suggesting that I use the phrase “Clay’s Continual Decline” as a pay phrase. Really? I mean, I know that’s probably randomly generated, but it is a horrible idea to insert your customers’ first names into suggestive or derogatory phrases.

Thanks for making my bad day slightly worse.


I didn’t really expect a response, but this is what I received:


Thanks for letting us know about this. I’m sorry if this phrase caused any offense, and let me tell you how sorry I am about your grandfather death and for the awful day you had at work.

If you haven’t already created a PayPhrase, we’ll display a suggested phrase when you visit our site. You may see a different suggested PayPhrase each time you visit PayPhrase suggestions come from a variety of sources, including published books, and are randomly selected for each customer. They aren’t based on your purchasing or browsing history with

I’ve reported this to the appropriate team in our company. Your report will be investigated, and the appropriate action will be taken if necessary.

We hope to see you again soon.

Did we answer your question?

If yes, please click here:
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If not, please click here:
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Please note: this e-mail was sent from an address that cannot accept incoming e-mail.

To contact us about an unrelated issue, please visit the Help section of our web site.

Best regards,

We’re Building Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company

Sorry, Richard. I shouldn’t have taken my frustration out on you. I wonder if the team responsible did anything to address the issue or just chuckled about it.. The whole affair distracted me enough that I did not purchase the book. Has anybody else seen an inappropriate pay phrase?


Written by Clay

January 21, 2010 at 22:25

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