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16 February 2018 – the Amazon nightmare continues

The nightmare continues.

Makes me wonder if it is just abysmal incompetence from Amazon staff, or if they make bets among themselves, pick a customer at random who sent any kind of request and test how much they’ll be able to piss him off.

So, early afternoon, I get a response from Amazon communities:

Sent: Friday, February 16, 2018 12:40 PM
Subject: A message from Communities

Hello,

This is Mervin from the Communities Team. I hope this e-mail finds you well.

We can no longer accept Amazon non-verified purchase reviews for these ASIN’s, because we detected unusual review behavior on these producst and therefore are allowing only Verified Purchase reviews of these products at this time. An Amazon Verified Purchase means that the person writing the review purchased the product at Amazon and did not receive the product at a deep discount. There is no limit on Amazon Verified Purchase reviews.

You may try to submit your review again when we have removed restrictions on submitting unverified reviews.

I hope this helps.

We’d appreciate your feedback. Please use the buttons below to vote about your experience today.
Best regards,
Mervin V.

 

WTF?????…. Now, how is that response related in any way to the problem I submitted to them? My problem is NOT that this or that review didn’t get posted, or was deleted, because I didn’t buy the CD from Amazon… Anyway, the classical music CDs that I review are conspicuously NOT products on which “unusual review behavior” would be detected – unless, of course, you consider that ALL my reviews are “unusual” by Amazon standards, which certainly would be true! But unusual review behavior refers to, say, political books that attract lots of reviews, both positive AND negative, because they are being campaigned around… or commercial products that a manufacturer is trying to promote underhand, or a competitor is trying to denigrate. I WISH that CDs of Honegger had sufficient following to attract that kind of attention!

Anyway, my reviews that are not appearing on My Profile are STILL posted under their respective product page, and they have been there for 3 to 9 years! My problem is not that they were deleted or not posted, it’s that all those between May 2009 and 15 August 2016 do not show up any more on My Profile, dammit! And I was very clear in my explanations, do you not even read the requests that are sent to you and serve any generic response that you have in your bag, just to be able to brush the request under the carpet ? (answer is probably “yes” – Earth’s most customer-centric company my ass!)

I mean, this response is so egregious that I really, seriously, don’t rule out that this response was sent to me in error.

Or, they just try to exhaust and discourage you, hoping that the flies will finally go away.

Well: persist, against all odds, and move the boulder, again and again, up that hill.

So I wrote back (what does that make it? Fourth time? Plus the chat…?).

And, surprise surprise, got a very quick response:

Hello,

This is Liam from the Communities Team; I trust this finds you well.

I’ve contacted our technical support team and they are currently working on the issue with your reviews not displaying on your profile page.

They were not able to provide an exact date or time when they expect this issue to be resolved, but I’ll continue to monitor the situation with the technical support team until the problem is fixed. We appreciate your patience in this matter.

We look forward to seeing you again soon.

We’d appreciate your feedback. Please use the buttons below to vote about your experience today.

Best regards,
Liam A.

Well, Liam, best regards to you to. It seems so simple when you have someone who appears to actually read your request… Forgive me however if I abstain for the time being from giving a positive response to your inquiry about service quality. I’ll wait and see how my problem is solved. Oh I can wait: you may indeed “appreciate my patience”, because Amazon is taxing it real hard, and I don’t have so much of it in fact, but I substitute dogged determination, and persistence.
This is the kind of thing that has me running away now from Amazon.
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And with all that, I resposted my review of Honegger’s Symphonies Nos. 3 & 1 by Dennis Russell Davies and the Basel Symphony Orchestra (2012) – very mediocre versions, I’m afraid, for reasons developed in the review.

16 February 2018

Morning. Another non-response from the Amazon asses: “I have checked your profile and I can confirm that all your reviews in you profile are all active

Not on my screen, and no more today than the days before.  Are you accessing My Profile through your private in-house network, or are you going through the public internet as the rest of us users do?

So, e-mails won’t do. Can’t call them, because they accept calls from the US and associated territories only. So I chatted, and at least I was able to send a screen caption of what shows up on my screen. Said they “forwarded your images to the concern team they will contact you back in 24hrs via email please do not worry“. Sure I worry, I worry like hell, knowing the efficiency and responsiveness of the Behemoth which Amazon has become. But we’ll see. The battle continues. Don’t give up hope. (to be fair, the chat agent gave me an e-mail address where to send my photo caption and that went very smoothly).

And with all that, yesterday evening, I pulled out my scores of Honegger’s symphonic works from the shelves, and started listening again to Symphony No. 1. Listened to the first movements of Tabachnik, Baudo, Plasson and Rozhdestvensky. Need to hone my ears back in discriminating shape, because I found them all excellent (which I did in my original reviews, but you’d like to be able to make the finest distinctions). I was even more impressed by Rozhdestvensky that my review from 5 years ago reflects. I called is movement somewhat lacking “bite and fury” because of his very deliberate tempo, but I don’t find so. Lacking fury, maybe, but certainly not bite, and even less massive power, because the sonics are so stupendous and the orchestral presence so awesome. Five years ago I was already a bit embarrassed to find a word to characterize it: not “pastoral”, but “more playful”. Well, not pastoral, that’s for sure, it is so NOT pastoral that I deleted that sentence entirely. I kept the “more playful”, but it’s for want of a better characterization, and added a mention about the massive power, because that’s what strikes me now.

15 February 2018

No new from Amazon this morning. I’d better write back.

I created the entry for Munch’s Honegger Second Symphony with Orchestre de Paris, one of his last recordings, from December 1967. Didn’t actually leave a review – I saw that my notes were too sketchy, and I need to listen again, but the review is really scattered all over the other ones, each time I make a comparative reference to Munch. Nonetheless, it was a huge amount of work, locating and listing and finding suitable cover images for all the different editions including those from Japan. In the process I found a great resource for online photos of Japanese editions, which sent me back for additions to my reviews of Munch’s other Honegger recordings and Karajan’s.

14 February 2018

Morning

Sent: Wednesday, February 14, 2018 7:47 AM
Subject: A message from Communities

Hello Discophage,

Thank you for writing in.

I have reviewed your profile and found active reviews appearing between April 2009 and August 2016. Here is a link to your Profile:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/profile/amzn1.account.AGAFM74L2RIJ5O36NNYH4Z5ISQNQ

We’d appreciate your feedback. Please use the buttons below to vote about your experience today.

Best regards,

Zelda.

Amazon.com

 

Now, of course, I click on the link, which takes me to My Profile, and I see ABSOLUTELY NO CHANGE from yesterday, eg all my reviews between April 29 2009 and August 18 2016 DO NOT show up on My Profile:

 

Inept, incompetent Amazon asses. I wrote back.

 

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And the Amazon nightmare continues. Minutes later (hey, that was quick!), I receive an answer:

Sent: Wednesday, February 14, 2018 11:15 AM
Subject: RE:[CASE 4875863951] Issues with a website feature

Dear Seller,

Greetings from Amazon Seller Support,

Unfortunately, I was not able to find a selling account (reichenbachedouard@gmail.com) connected to the email address you sent your message from.

For account confidentiality reasons, we do not release account information to email addresses other than the one associated with your Amazon.com selling account.

Please re-send your message using the email address associated with your selling account.

If you no longer use that email, please update the email address on file for your account.

As a security precaution, we ask sellers to change their email addresses directly on our website. This ensures that the user requesting the change knows the current login credentials for the existing seller account. This prevents any unwelcomed changes.

To change your email address:

1. Log in to Seller Central
2. In the **Settings** section, select **Login Settings**
3. On the **Login Settings** page, in the **Password Settings** section, click **Change**.
4. On the **Password Settings** page, enter both your **Old password** and your **New password**
5. Click **Submit**

Thank you for your understanding of our account security precautions.

I hope that the above information helps you. However, If you need any further assistance, feel free and get back to us and be assured that we will be more than happy to assist you again.

Have a lovely day ahead!

Please let us know how we did.

Were you satisfied with the support provided?

 

Resounding NO. The support provided was TERRIBLE! In fact, I see that it’s partly my fault – sort of. I’ve already been subjected to this kind of shit by Amazon – many times. Some time ago, in another one of their customary moves to the worse, they changed the way Help requests were directed to them, and if you picked just about anything other than “Customer reviews” or “Customer discussions”, the requests went to Seller support rather than Customer support. And from there, they’d always send you the generic response, “we can’t find a seller account associated to this e-mail adress”. OF COURSE YOU ASSES, since I’m sending the request NOT in my quality of seller, but as a CUS-TO-MER.

And now things are even worse, because in yet another, and recent, change to even worse, they’ve suppressed all links to “Customer reviews” and/or “Customer discussions” (and of course, they have suppressed the Customer discussion boards altogether). So now, when I try to contact them for problems with Customer reviews or Customer profile, I more or less go on a limb, choosing “Give Amazon Feedback” or “Website features”, and, knowing what’s coming, I am very careful to say explicitly, and in capsize: “This request is sent as CUSTOMER, issue with CUSTOMER reviews, associated with email xxxx@xxxx.xxx, NOT AS SELLER“.

I had in my original request, and I thought I had in my reply to their first answer – but I see now that I had omitted to do so, thinking that, as it was a follow-up on previous exchanges, they’d relate it to those. Fatal mistake: NEVER give credit to the intelligence, competence and care of the bottom-tier who manage Amazon’s daily exchanges with you – and then you can only be happily surprised.

Well – I replied back. To think that they’d style themselves “Earth’s most customer-centric company“!!!! And “Donald Trump, most truthful man in the history of mankind“, I suppose…

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And with all that, I was able to repost my two reviews of Gennadi Rozhdestvensky‘s Honegger (recorded in 1985-86), Symphony No. 2 (with the Suite from Phèdre and three excerpts from the music for Abel Gance’s Napoleon) on Olympia OCD 212 / Melodiya MCD 212 (1988), and Symphonies Nos. 1 & 5 on Melodiya MCD 154 (1990) (I have found no trace of an Olympia counterpart for the latter). VERY idiosyncratic readings, marked by VERY slow tempos, but any sense of sluggishness is offset by the extraordinary bite of the Soviet players, abetted by the stupendous Melodiya sonics, which place you in the middle of the orchestra (and, in symphonies 1 & 5, nearer to the back and brass). For that reason, certainly not first choices, but certainly CDs that belong to the collection of the serious Honeggerite.

13 February 2018

Transferred from Amazon my reviews of two essential Honegger CDs, Neeme Järvi’s Symphonies Nos. 3 & 5 + Pacific 231 on Chandos 9176 (1993) and Mariss Jansons’ Symphonies Nos. 2 & 3 + Pacific 231 on EMI (1994). Both are among the best Liturgiques (others being those of Baudo, Mravinsky, and Karajan, with Plasson and Fournet also excellent versions), both following the furious model of Baudo and Mravinsky rather than the more expansive and grandiose one of Karajan. Jansons’ is even the fastest Finale ever recorded, and there’s a serendipitous irony that, in the very same month (December 1993), Jean Fournet would have recorded the slowest one ever! Jansons’ Second Symphony is excellent, though not quite on a par with the very best ones (all those of Munch belong there, with Baudo’s and Karajan’s). But I would venture to say, however reluctant I am to make such pronouncements, that Järvi’s 5th is the best ever – and, yes, I’ve heard almost all of them. Both Pacifics are excellent also, Järvi’s a touch better even than Jansons’ because of his great sonics – but none are quite equal to Bernstein’s.

Going to My Profile on Amazon because I was trying to locate my review of Denzler’s Liturgique on LP. The entry itself for the LP has been suppressed, but last time I looked (which was a long time ago), the review was still among my list of reviews, living some ghostly existence somewhere in the Amazon “system”.

But there, very bad surprise: all my reviews between April 29, 2009 and August 18, 2016 – gone. The reviews just jump from the one posted on April 29, 2009 and the one posted more than seven years later:

What a fright! (more a surge of grim rage, rather). That would be more than 1,000 reviews – gone. Sure, I keep copies on my computer – not always the final version, though, rather the final draft, which I then always marginally modify when I post the review. But it’s really the fact that I don’t keep track of what I posted in which chronological order.

But, after the first moment of startlement, I think it must be a glitch with the Profile. The reviews are still online, on their respective product pages, since I’m transferring all those Honegger reviews from 2013 and am finding them directly on the CDs’ entries, not going through My Profile. Well, I wrote to report the glitch (hoping it is indeed a glitch) and asking for a fix.

But it reminds me (if ever I had forgotten) that Amazon cannot be trusted for a second, and that I need to transfer these 2,500 reviews before they really delete them all.

12 February 2018

Yesterday and today, posted (not reposts from Amazon, but reviews written back in 2013 and pending):

Mravinsky‘s extraordinary Symphony Liturgique recorded live in 1965 with its many CD editions

Ansermet’s complete stereo Honegger, Arthur Honegger: Symphonies Nos. 2-4, Pacific 231, Le Roi David, Une Cantate de Noël. Frank Martin: In Terra Pax. Ernest Ansermet, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. 3 CDs Eloquence 480 2316 (2012)

Locating all (I hope) the CD reissues, including those from Japan (sleuth work!); finding suitable front and back cover scans or photos (back covers are sometimes hard to find, but that’s where the essential information is located); linking all the references to other versions, inserting photos… Lots of work!

10 February 2018

I’ve added Michel Plasson‘s recording of the complete symphonies of Honegger.

I’ve also added an addendum to my review of Baudo’s complete cycle. I had been puzzled ever since reviewing it back in 2013 of the sonic problems with the transfers of both the Western and Japanese reissues – especially since they were the inverted image of each other: in the Western set, the sonics were great, but incomprehensibly the transfer of the First Symphony was problematic, hollow and metallic, while those problems did not affect the 4th symphony, although it was recorded at the same sessions in 1973. In the later Japanese reissue, the First was great … but the all the rest was problematic, “not as clear, present and vivid as those of the earlier set”… and it is the Fourth that fared worst. All this seemed so senseless that I wondered if it hadn’t been a trick of my imagination when I had reviewed both sets five years ago. So I ripped both Symphonies 1 & 4 onto Audacity to compare the dynamic curves. Eloquent – and definitely NOT a product of my imagination. But still senseless.

9 February 2017

What takes a lot of time in posting here all the Honegger reviews, are all the cross-references. Each review will mention a number of comparative versions, including some that I haven’t yet transferred over here. So I keep not, and when I do transfer and post the relevant review, I need to go back to the first one and link it. I’ve just re-posted my review of Serge Baudo’s complete cycle on Supraphon, and because of the set’s historical and musical significance, I had quoted it a lot in other reviews. So link, link, link.

And I’ve got so much more that I need to bring over. The complete cycles of Plasson, Dutoit and Luisi… The individual symphonies of Mravinsky (great Liturgique), Winkler (great Liturgique), Munch’s 2nd with Orchestre de Paris and 4 with Orchestre Lamoureux, Ansermet’s Liturgique, Järvi (great Liturgique & 5), Jansons (fine 2 & 3), Fournet (great Liturgique, very idiosyncratic, very unique), Rozhdestvensky (very personal takes on 1, 2 and 5), Yuasa, Russell-Davies, Lopez-Cobos, Vasary, Turovsky… and the LP versions! Michel Tabachnik in 1, Jean-François Paillard, Izler Solomon in 2, Robert Denzler in 3…  Plasson’s tone poems on DG… The Christmas Cantatas of Michel Corboz, Thierry Fischer and Vladimir Jurowski…. La Danse des morts by Henry Vachey… Cris du Monde by Baudo (in Czech!) on Praga… And the Concertos… It’s going to take some time….

8 February 2018

No time today to post or repost Honegger reviews, regrettably. But I was able to find the fix for one little glitch that had bothered me since the beginning of this webiste: how to prevent that clicking on one of the cover photos posted on any review would load the photo’s page. The problem is that, now, I’m going to have to go back to every single review posted here and fix individually each photo (and there are at least two per review, back and front cover – and sometimes many more). And the fix requires five clicks per photo…. So I spent my time today fixing all my Honeggers…

I also pulled out my rare Honegger LPs – to which I make some references in some of those reviews -, scanned them and added them where relevant. Very happy with the result. Collector’s glee.

7 February 2018

Two new posts, one a transfer from Amazon, the other from notes I had taken back in 2013 but not published:

Arthur Honegger: Symphony No. 3 “Liturgique”, Chant de Joie, Horace Victorieux. Basler Sinfonie-Orchester, Paul Sacher. Pan Classics 510 053 (1992), Accord 203 022 (1995?)

and Paul Sacher conducts works personally commissioned: Bartók (Divertimento), Stravinsky (Concerto in D), Honegger (Symphony No. 2). Primož Novšak, solo violin (Bartók), Henri Adelbrecht, trumpet (Honegger), Collegium Musicum Zurich. Erato Japan ECD 75545 (1989)

As the commissioner and premiere performer of many of Honegger’s masterpieces (Symphonies 2 to 4, La Danse des Morts, the Christmas Cantata, Concerto da camera), Sacher has unique legitimacy in this repertoire, and any document of him conducting these works is of paramount interest (he also recorded the Christmas Cantata in 1954 and the Concerto da camera on a small Swiss label at the end of the LP era, but no recording of him in the 4th Sympony and Danse des morts has surfaced commercially). That said, the great admiration bestowed upon him for his role as a patron did not always extend to his skills as a conductor, and it is illustrated here: his Second Symphony is one of the most tensionless I’ve heard, and his Liturgique is nothing special.

I’m reminded that I also have a few rare LPs of Honegger, recordings that were never reissued to CD, or only from unofficial labels and as transfers directly from the LPs, and that I wrote reviews of those too (or took detailed notes for reviews) that I never published on Amazon. In fact, for one of them, Symphonie liturgique by Robert Denzler on Decca in 1955 (and a great performance too), I DID publish the review under the entry for the LP… and the entry was suppressed shortly after… (the recording was reissued by Decca in 2015, on their mammoth set “The Decca Sound: The Mono Years 1944-1956”, which I bought almost only for that recording). So I need to post all those too on Discophage.com