Amazon Goes Down on Prime Day—and Customers Are Still Getting Error Pages

Outages, looping pages and no deals (cute puppies, though)

Amazon's Prime Day is an epic fail so far. Credit: Amazon
Headshot of Ann-Marie Alcántara

Amazon is getting to know what Black Friday is like for its brick-and-mortar counterparts on its own annual Prime Day.

The site was hit with outages, looping pages and deals that only some customers were able to see. As of this writing, Amazon was still looping its deals page back to the homepage, the app wouldn’t load deals and Prime Now also didn’t load any products related to Prime Day.

“This is the online equivalent of a bad Black Friday promotion,” said Bob Phibbs, CEO of The Retail Doctor, a retail consultancy firm.“It is the ultimate in bad customer service.”

Amazon customers were complaining on Twitter about the site being down, Alexa not working and just general frustration that the company couldn’t get it together for their own made-up holiday.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Amazon stated: “Some customers are having difficulty shopping, and we’re working to resolve this issue quickly. Many are shopping successfully—in the first hour of Prime Day in the U.S., customers have ordered more items compared to the first hour last year. There are hundreds of thousands of deals to come and more than 34 hours to shop Prime Day.”

Crimson Hexagon, a consumer insights company, reported that 80 percent of Prime Day posts “reflect anger or sadness.” If you’re a consumer wanting to voice your frustrations, don’t even bother; an Adweek editor tried to buy something and received an automated response from the contact page stating, “We’ve heard some customers are having trouble with our website right now. We’re very sorry and we expect to have the website fully functioning again soon. Customer service is currently able to answer general questions, but if you need help with your account or an order, please try back later.”

While consumers will most likely still shop for Prime Day (whenever the site is back), Phibbs said the whole episode says a lot more about ecommerce and Amazon’s dominance of it.

“This idea that online is foolproof and so much better than brick and mortar [when] the reality is there are a lot of things that can go wrong,” Phibbs said. “I don’t think anyone expects for Amazon to go down.”

The implications don’t just revolve around customer satisfaction; Amazon’s stock dipped 1.43 percent in after-hours trading.

“In my 19 years working with Amazon, an outage of this length is incredibly rare, if not unheard of,” said Eric Heller, CEO, Marketplace Ignition, a Wunderman Commerce agency. “Given that this outage appears to span not just on the website but also mobile and within the first hour of the sale, our rough estimate of the impact is on the order of more than $1 million per minute.”

Phibbs also pointed out the customers who won’t be shopping on Amazon today due to the site being down, like busy moms or anyone planning to shop on a lunch break (Prime Day started at 3 p.m. ET, making it 12 p.m. PT on the West Coast).

At the very least, there are two silver linings to the outage for Amazon. People are discovering the company’s adorable error pages that feature the “dogs of Amazon,” tweeting their frustrations with a screenshot of the page. And, it looks like Amazon made the right choice in extending Prime Day this year.

“It’s hard to say at this point if the sales wouldn’t simply be pushed later, but as of now, it’s looking like a good idea that Amazon extended the day,” Heller said.

@itstheannmarie Ann-Marie Alcántara is a tech reporter for Adweek, focusing on direct-to-consumer brands and ecommerce.