I live on Amazon and I use A9.com as my default search engine not because I like it but because if I use that search engine I get a 1.57% discount on all my Amazon purchases.
You qualify for that A9.com discount by logging into the A9.com page and doing a certain amount of searches a week. 


Amazon won’t tell you how many times you have to use A9.com to get the
discount but I found out how many you need and I will tell you that
number in a moment. Amazon owns A9.com. That’s important to remember.
The trouble began when I purchased something on Amazon this week and I
was informed by the Amazon payment system my A9.com discount was not
active. I went to A9.com and it said I was logged in and active.

I
placed the order anyway hoping to get my discount by contacting
customer service after the purchase.
Amazon customer service, in both email and over the phone, refused to
credit my account for the 1.57% discount — even though I could prove I
had the A9.com discount since the day it was available when A9.com went
live on April 14, 2004 — because Amazon does not “retroactively give
discounts on purchases.” Amazon told me “to take it up with A9.com.”
When I reminded Amazon that A9.com is owned by Amazon, I was told my
Amazon account “would be noted.” Here is the official notice of the
relationship between Amazon and A9.com on the A9.com website:

As a wholly owned subsidiary of Amazon.com, A9.com uses
your Amazon.com account to identify you. By signing in you agree to the
A9.com privacy notice and terms of use.

It finally came out in another extended discussion with Amazon customer
support that “the A9.com system has changed” and you “have to re-enroll
in A9.com to get the discount again on Amazon.” When I asked why there
was no notification given to existing customers that the discount
process had been changed behind our backs, I was told there was no
answer. When I asked when this change took place I was told no one
knew.

When I asked how soon I could get the A9.com discount again, I
was told to go to A9.com and click on a special link to reactivate my
account and that “in due time” my A9.com discount would be active again
on Amazon. When I asked how long it would take to “reactivate” my
account that I had not de-activated in the first place, I was told it
would be in effect the “next time you place an order on Amazon.” I
said, “So if I go to Amazon right now and place another order the
A9.com discount will be active?” “No” was the reply and I was told it
would — take three days of doing two searches a day — on A9.com to
reactivate my 1.57% discount.

I have used A9.com all day long for cross-engine searches
because their main web search returns are pulled from Google but after
this chilling effect from Amazon for taking away what has always been
mine, it may be better to just go back to Google for good.
It has now been over three days since I “re-activated” my A9.com
relationship with Amazon and I have been using A9.com for all my many
daily web searches.
I still do not have the 1.57% A9.com discount on Amazon.

Have you dealt with a company that changed the ground rules for
interaction with you without telling you before those changes were made
and then acting surprised when you don’t know about the changes?

29 Comments

  1. That explains it! I had the same thing happen this week. My A9 discount was gone on Amazon. I’m still waiting to hear back what happened. Now I know. I guess I better call and hope I get someone knows what’s going on.

  2. Hi Jules!
    Welcome and I thank you for your post!
    I’m glad you now know what’s going on — good luck dealing with Amazon on the phone. The phone people are only marginally better than the email people. Make sure you take good notes on what you are told. You will need that in the future.

  3. Hiya clem!
    Nice to hear from you. I hope things are calming down a bit more at home and you are feeling better.
    I agree notification to identify changes in the terms of service is important — then you can decide on your own if you want to stay with the service or find a cheaper one elsewhere.

  4. Hiya clem!
    Nice to hear from you. I hope things are calming down a bit more at home and you are feeling better.
    I agree notification to identify changes in the terms of service is important — then you can decide on your own if you want to stay with the service or find a cheaper one elsewhere.

  5. You are right, clem, that if I want my 1.57% discount I have to stay with a9.com as my search engine — but maybe that discount isn’t worth the hassle of getting it reactivated. I can choose to let it go and just stay with Google forever.
    Your electricity situation is difficult, but you can change electric company providers if you so choose, can’t you?

  6. You are right, clem, that if I want my 1.57% discount I have to stay with a9.com as my search engine — but maybe that discount isn’t worth the hassle of getting it reactivated. I can choose to let it go and just stay with Google forever.
    Your electricity situation is difficult, but you can change electric company providers if you so choose, can’t you?

  7. i could change but then i might lose electric for a week or two like my neighbor up the road when he switched
    the companies keep you hostage by making the change hard as possible and you reach age when you want to stay all the same for comfort

  8. i could change but then i might lose electric for a week or two like my neighbor up the road when he switched
    the companies keep you hostage by making the change hard as possible and you reach age when you want to stay all the same for comfort

  9. Here is the response from Amazon today:
    Thank you for writing to us at Amazon.com.
    I’m sorry to hear about the system error you experienced that prevented you from a9_reward.
    We are aware of this issue, and our developers are working on a resolution. Often these errors are corrected after only a short time, so please try again in a day or two.
    Again, I apologize for this inconvenience. Thank you for shopping at Amazon.com.
    Note: If after two days you are still experiencing the same problem, please use the link below to e-mail us so we can investigate further.

    I contend this has always been a system problem and the whole “re-activate” instruction is a way of saving face while saving a few pennies on denying the 1.57% discount to rightful participants.

  10. I remember signing up for a free email account with a service back in 1996 or so. It was guaranteed to be free forever. Of course, the company was bought out by some other company and all bets were off. It wasn’t free after the buyout.
    I always wonder how some places make money on the internet. I assume A9 hopes to get eyes on its search page and sell ads. It would explain why they’d offer the discount on the Amazon products for using their search engine. Since they changed the rules mid-stream and a lot of people are losing out on the discount, they still have the benefit of the eyes on their page, but don’t have to pay for those eyes. Someone probably got a promotion to a vice presidency at A9 for that. Pretty sneaky!
    Of course, I bet there is language in the terms of service that allows them to modify and change or discontinue the program at any time.
    Clem: Speaking of power companies, I got a solicitation to lock in natural gas at some outrageous price a week or two ago. It was lower than our peak cost per therm when natural gas was through the roof, but was higher than what the price is now. If I’m going to lock in a natural gas rate, I’m doing it on the hottest day of the summer when the demand is at its lowest. I thought it was pretty sneaky and taking advantage of people who might benefit from locking in their gas prices, but not at that level.
    I’ve noticed that sometimes it is always good to read your own meters (gas and electric) to make sure that the utility hasn’t estimated the bill in their favor. If there is a major discrepancy, it’s worthwhile to call customer service and give them the actual results and have them re-calculate the bill. Too bad they aren’t like my water company — they read the meters electronically and are always accurate.

  11. Hi Chris!
    Yes, “free forever” always has limited strings attached!
    A9.com is owned by Amazon and one of the keen things I like about the service in addition to the discount is you can set it to show you columns of returns. I always have mine set to show three return results for all my searches:
    1 — Web search returns from Google.
    2 — Book search returns from Amazon (it makes for big book sales!)
    3 — Image returns from wherever…
    Having those three things — web, books and images — returned on a single screen for every search I do saves me great time and money. I have always liked the Amazon discount you get for using A9.com but the way the search is set up is also helpful. A9.com was invented to better sell Amazon books via search returns.
    It’s been two more days now and I still have no A9.com discount on Amazon.
    I agree about locking in rates — very important — but when and how the offer is made is precisely how they get you thinking they’re doing you a favor.
    I’ve never understood meter readers in the age of smart machines. I’m glad you’re on top of it all!

  12. I used A9 and found you! I thought it was just my acct. I won’t place another order with Amazon until this is resolved! I got the same runaround reply as David, but still not activated.

  13. Hi J!
    Welcome! Thanks for the comment!
    My re-activation came through the other day on Amazon. Did you re-sign up at the A9.com site? Log out. Log in again. Click to “sign up” for the a9.c0m service and then do a couple of searches a day for a week or so and you should be back.