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Amazon vs. the rest of the FAANG

by Alex Yumashev · Updated Aug 23 2021

About eight years ago someone hacked into our AWS account and launched hundreds of GPU virtual machines for cryptomining. Our monthly bill went from the regular $200 to over $50k overnight. We did not have a paid "support" plan, we were not a VIP client (on the contrary, we were two scared kids trying to grow our little SaaS). But one phone call - and the problem was solved in 10 minutes.

I didn't even call AWS customer support, I phoned the "regular" Amazon online store, the Italian one at "". I'm not even based in Italy, it was simply the first thing popped up during my "panic-mode googling". But in 10 minutes they managed to transfer me to the AWS "US East" support line, verify my identity, connect me to the right person, who looked up the account statistics, swore "damn those miners" and reverted the $50,000 bill.

A couple of months ago we switched our EC2 disks from "gp1" to the new "gp2". After doing that the "read/write latency" has jumped from 1ms to 4-6ms. Not a huge deal, actually. This time I didn't even write support, I just posted a screenshot to Reddit. Like, look folks, what a bummer...

An hour later, an AWS employee showed up in the comments, provided his email, contacted me privately, CC'ed another engineer, and in 4 hours the disk was working fine again.

Not to mention endless hours of emailing and live-chatting back and forth with the German and UK Amazon retail support while buying-returning-changing sneakers, home appliances, mechanical keyboards, laptops and who knows what else.

Amazon is the only FAANG company where I can get a hold of an actual real person.

And that person will most likely solve my problem. This is insanely cool. And yes - I know everything about the abusive practices, hellish working conditions, the unionization fight in the US... But from a client standpoint - Amazon is addictively good.

Now try to get a hold of a real person at Google. Or Facebook. Good luck with that.

We are currently connecting an extended Facebook API, which requires us to send a review request. For that - you need to verify the legal entity. For that - you need to have a paying advertiser account. Which we do have, but it is blocked (???) for some reason. And to unblock it, you need to file a thousand documents including passports, tax exempts and almost an STD certificate...

And at every step of the way you're communicating with a robot. Which sends you automated replies like "we're unable to validate your documents because our OCR supports English only".

Scott Farquhar (founder of Atlassian) once said that "great support is the best marketing". I should probably insert a joke that Atlassian is not what it used to be, but it's still 100% true.