Dear Amazon: You don’t get to use words like “double”

On Tuesday, Amazon issued a press release entitled: “Worldwide Kindle Device Sales More Than Double Last Year’s Record Over Holiday Shopping Weekend.”

Here’s the thing, Amazon. You never told us last year’s sales numbers. In fact, you never told us ANY sales numbers. Double no information is still…no information.

Dear Amazon: Until you tell us WHAT you’re doubling, you don’t get to pretend that your use of the word “double” has any meaning or significance.

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John Kirk

John R. Kirk is a recovering attorney. He has also worked as a financial advisor and a business coach. His love affair with computing started with his purchase of the original Mac in 1985. His primary interest is the field of personal computing (which includes phones, tablets, notebooks and desktops) and his primary focus is on long-term business strategies: What makes a company unique; How do those unique qualities aid or inhibit the success of the company; and why don’t (or can’t) other companies adopt the successful attributes of their competitors?

18 thoughts on “Dear Amazon: You don’t get to use words like “double””

    1. Sales people are allowed to use any trick in the book. It is our job to call them on it and throw the book at them.

      1. John,

        I have to take you to task on this one. Are there sales people who will use any trick in the book? Yes, but I believe you are painting with too wide a brush.

        As a former sales person for a “Mr Rogers” type company (the name used by our competitors) we features, benefits, and advantages of our goods and services without deceit. We used deflection when possible about our competitors actual rather than perceived advantage. The company was profitable, I was well compensated, and did not feel ashamed to be a sales rep as I would have if I was told to use “any trick in the book” to get a sale. Successful sales people create relationships because repeat business is better than trying to get new business.

        We all have something to sell whether we are doctors, (recovering) attorneys, etc or we work for someone selling something, e.g., a medical provider in an HMO network.

        1. Hey, pawhite524. I said sales people “are allowed” to use every trick in the book. That doesn’t mean that they should use those tricks or that they all do. I was trying to suggest that while something may be legal, that still doesn’t mean that it’s always right. I was not trying to suggest that every sales person uses tricks or uses them irresponsibly.

          1. John,
            Thanks for taking the time to reply. Fair enough and seeing your point I believe I over-reacted a bit. Mea culpa. The situation I shared about the company I worked for was one where we were not allowed to use any trick in the book or risk being fired. Admittedly, this is a unique situation but made perfect sense in reality.

      2. The problem is, these are not sales people making these claims. And I think it is the SEC’s job to make sure that companies that make statements regarding business information are truthful.

  1. Investment fund managers are using “we doubled our sales” (with no actual data points) to keep this repeat of the dot com debacle afloat.

    It reminds of the pilot who upon discovery the compass was broken told the passengers, “I don’t know where we are going but we are making excellent time!”

    1. Notwithstanding a $274 million loss in the most recent quarter, Amazon did have a profit of $40 million for the 12 months ended Sept. 31. I don’t think institutional investors are fooled by Amazon’s contentless Kindle sales reports, but they obviously do believe that at some point in the fairly near future, AMZN is going to become far more profitable. It’s hard to see just what the source of this optimism is, but I can’t blame Jeff Bezos for taking advantage of it for as long as it lasts.

      1. I believe the history of Amazon is that they swing back and forth between profit and loss, and that this is intentional and planned. They anticipate a loss period when they invest in some new activity or facility, and this is how they grow the business. It seems to be working!

        1. Amazon’s recent quarterly loss was their first in a while. Their margins are thin, but they have stayed on the positive side.

          1. It’s hard to say. It was very unfocused for a long time, but more recently seems a more sensible part of a net services strategy. But I cited Bing as an example of persistence, not of wisdom.

      2. Steve,
        Thanks for taking the time to respond. That annual profit on Amazon’s gross sales should have investors running away, no? This year the profit will be what, 0.5%? I admit I am not a stock investor any longer as the stock market made me crazy so maybe I don’t see this clearly at all…

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