Amazon could be more international
I sent an gift card to a friend who lives in England. All kinds of hassles arose from that choice.
by Dave Winer Wednesday, December 28, 2016

I bought a gift card for a friend who lives in the UK, but I bought it on, thinking that would be great because they're so international. But it turns out you can't use an card on

So, that meant she could spend the money in the US, but then the shipping fees would seriously cut into the value of the gift and shipping would take weeks. Not the experience I signed up for.

Luckily my friend, the gift recipient, told me about the trouble (in a FB chat conversation that was instantaneous and cost $0). I got on the phone with Amazon, probably talking with someone in China (even more international) and we figured out the only thing to do was to cancel the gift card, and I'll now have to become a member of so I can give my friend a gift card she can actually use in the country she lives in.

So Amazon, a creature of the net, if there ever was one, can't get their two systems to talk to each other? I should send them a pointer to the XML-RPC spec or book. ;-)

So I went ahead and logged on to with my American account and it worked. So the rep was wrong, I didn't need to create a new account.

I did have to re-enter my credit card, and choose between pounds and dollars. This isn't something I've done before, so I had questions that weren't addressed in the process, like what are the tradeoffs in choosing betw pounds and dollars (I imagine my credit card company charges me a conversion fee if I use pounds, but it's harder on my friend if it's in dollars, so I went with pounds).

Net-net the guy on the phone could have been more helpful, or (it seems) the whole process could have been transparent, if they let my friend use the gift card on Perhaps there's a tax reason for this? Or some regulation? But it took some of the fun out of the present, which isn't a good thing. Hassles are tolerable on my end but on hers? Please this is a gift. Amazon could have been a bit more on my side here.

No first names please

As a by-product of waiting on hold listening to elevator music, I realized why I don't like big company reps using my first name. It's because they are repping a big company and don't have a first name. 

I'm not talking with a person, I'm talking with a company. When they try to make it person-to-person that's got to be to my disadvantage, as a customer. So I don't like it. (Finally a purpose in being on hold listening to elevator music.)