Jeff Bezos's email address

My leaf blower, Jeff's email address, the connection, and 7 other things worth your time.

A few years ago, when we moved out to the suburbs, I bought a lawn mower.

Our yard isn’t huge, so I went with an electric one. But, when I went to use it for the first time, the battery was a dud.

Thus began a customer service oddyssey.

Eventually I gave up and sent an email directly to the company CEO. To my slight surprise, I got a call a day later from a top executive apologizing, offering to replace the battery, and throwing in the additional product of my choice as a way of making it up.

I went with a leaf blower. They assured me that as a first time suburban homeowner, I would find it useful.

Warning: Apparent nonsequitor coming up, but it will hopefully make sense in a minute.

I’ve written a lot of articles about Jeff Bezos over the years: more than 150 according to Google. And when I do so now, I try to remember to email him directly beforehand.

At first, I did this to try to short-circuit Amazon PR, and ask for comments. Since I never got a reply, and yet the emails also never bounced back, I kept it up.

I started to find the whole thing funny. I liked imagining Bezos out there somewhere, running a meeting or counting his billions, when his phone buzzes and he looks down to see yet another email from that Murphy guy.

OK, so how did I get his email address in the first place, you might ask?

Actually, it’s kind of an open secret. I am sure he has multiple other addresses, but I’d always read that you can reach him at “jeff@amazon.com.”

In fact, it’s been said (actually, I reported on it myself) that Bezos sometimes has a habit of reading customer service emails and forwarding them to different departments or leaders at Amazon with a single character added: “?”

Getting a question mark email is "a ticking bomb” for people within Amazon, according to Brad Stone’s book, “The Everything Store.” It "elicits waves of panic," as Amazon employees scramble to explain what went wrong--and make it right.

This is what I had in mind when I emailed the CEO of the lawn mower company. I wondered if I could craft an email that would prompt some version of a Bezos-style “question mark.”

I don’t think I realized it at the time, but it turned out this CEO had previously been an executive at Amazon, so maybe that’s why it worked.

Anyway, I thought of it all again for two main reasons.

First, I stood in our driveway yesterday, noticing all the leaves that had fallen around the pool. Ah yes, I thought, the leaf blower.

(I really don’t get as much use out of it as the lawn mower company insisted I would, but the price was right.)

Second, I recently wrote yet another story about Bezos for Inc.com.

This one was based on an anecdote that a former employee shared, about the time Bezos stopped a meeting and demonstrated a “5 whys” analysis, as they investigaged how a minor injury happened at an Amazon fulfilment center.

I think it’s a legitimate and interesting story, but when I emailed Bezos (as always), this was not the story I thought would prompt my first ever reply.

Lo and behold, it did — not from Bezos himself, but from an assistant:

“I really appreciate you thinking of Jeff and offering the opportunity to interview him.

I’m afraid Jeff’s schedule is busy enough these days that he’s unable to participate in as many events as he would otherwise like to and I’ll have to respectfully decline.

We do appreciate the opportunity, though, and wish you all the best.”

So, finally: proof that jeff@amazon.com still works.

Bezos’s net worth increased by an unbelievable $13 billion yesterday, which is the single largest amount of money anyone has ever made during the eight year history of the Bloomberg billionaires index, which tracks the net worth of the mega wealthy.

Me, I got a free leaf blower. But more important, a story.

Leave a comment

7 other things worth your time

  • Could some people have a natural immunity to Covid-19? A new study suggests the answer might be yes. (BBC)

  • I wrote this a few months ago, but suddenly it’s trending all over social media. In short, Elon Musk’s mom wrote an essay, and shared five parenting “tips” that she says helped Elon grown into — well, grow into Elon Musk. (Inc.com)

  • Florida teachers sued the state’s governor to try to overturn his order that all schools have to reopen. (ABC News)

  • A couple who pointed guns at protestors in St. Louis have been charged with felony misuse of a weapon, but the state’s governor hinted he’s likely to pardon them. (Buzzfeed News)

  • The fraud trial of former Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes trial has been postponed until next year due to coronavirus. (Bloomberg)

  • This is senseless, but as it happened not far from me I want to mention it: A U.S. district judge’s son was shot and killed in her home and her husband wounded, apparently by a self-described “anti-feminist” lawyer who had a frivilious lawsuit in her court, seeking to prohibit the wartime military draft because it doesn’t provide for conscription of women. The gunman later died after turning his weapon on himself. (New York Times)

  • Republicans and Democrats meet today to start trying to hammer out a new coronavirus recovery bill. They’re far apart, and an insider says if a deal happens it will be at the 11th hour.

Photo credit: Steve Jurvetson, Flickr. If you liked this post, and you’re not yet a subscriber, please sign up for the daily Understandably.com email newsletter, with thousands and thousands of 5-star ratings from happy readers. You can also just send an email to signup@understandably.com.


And of course, please share Understandably! Seriously, that’s the #1 thing we need right now, is for people who enjoy this newsletter to encourage friends and family to sign up as well. Thank you!

Share

One-click review and feedback: