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Amazon Customer Service - The Good, the Bad and the Kindle

Please find below my account of my interactions with Amazon's customer service desk, Unfortunately I don't have a photographic memory, so all 'Quotes' are paraphrased.


I've not had the best of weeks, on Monday Morning I tweaked my back whilst putting something away in a drawer, then Tuesday was a day of re-immersing myself back into a project at work, which had been on hold for over a month.

On Tuesday evening, in an effort to wash away a day of concentration and rest my back, I settled down with my Kindle to continue my Journey into 'The Rook' (which is a fun Sci Fi book by Daniel O'Malley) and I quickly saw that there was something wrong with the screen.

The screen showed text on 2/3rds of the text, but the other 1/3 was lines and lines and lines... (Thanks Tubbs)

After a little research on the web, it became clear that this was a common problem on e-Ink Kindles, so I logged onto and entered the twilight zone of the Help Section. It took me a few minutes to wade through the many sections about the Kindle bookstore and Software to find the right section to get help with my hardware.

Once I'd walked through a few steps (Have you turned it off and on again), I was asked whether I wanted to email Amazon, phone them, or click on a button to get them to phone me. I chose the latter not expecting much as It was after 20:00 on a Tuesday evening. Within 5 minutes my phone rang, and I was walked through a few steps by a helpful Amazon Agent. Unfortunately it was resolved that the Kindle was broken, and that it was also out of warranty.

I was already expecting both of these to be true. After hearing previous accounts of Amazon's Kindle issue responses, I was also expecting what the Support Desk agent said next.

"Your Kindle is out of warranty," The Agent informed me, " but as a gesture of goodwill, I can offer you either a Kindle reader which should be £69 for £55, or a Kindle Touch which should be £109 for £69.

Now, I use my kindle a fair bit. I'd paid £111 for the Keyboard, Wi-Fi only version almost 2 years previously and I'd hate to be parted from it. I could read using the Kindle App on my iPad, but the Kindle is a far better reading experience.

Recently I'd been tempted by and lusted after the Kindle Paperwhite and had almost pressed the Checkout button a couple of times on the Wi Fi version. With the Paperwhite being the same price as the Touch, I was smelling a win - win deal between myself and Amazon.

"If the Touch should be £109, can I get the £109 Paperwhite instead for £69?" I chanced my arm with the Agent.

"I'm sorry Sir, I'm not able to offer you the Paperwhite today with a reduction." the Agent replied.

I was disappointed, but I had an ace up my sleeve.

"The problem I've been having seems to be a common problem with the Kindle," I started, "if that's the case, it suggests a Defect in the product and as such it should be covered by the European Union's laws on fitness for purpose"

At this point, the agent stopped

"With this in Mind, I'd like a straight replacement for my current Kindle, but if a deal can be done for the paperwhite, I'm happy to pay the £69 to upgrade."

The Agent again said that this he was unable to do that, so I asked to speak to a manager.

Unfortunately the Supervisor also was not able to do me a deal on the Paperwhite, so I pressed my claims for a replacement under EU Law of fitness for purpose, and the Supervisor agreed immediately.

Within Half an hour, I received an email with details of the replacement device which was winging it's way to me.

On Friday, the Postman delivered me a replacement Kindle Keyboard with Wi-Fi and 3G, my previous model didn't have the 3G, but I suspect that they don't carry a Wi Fi only keyboard Kindle anymore.

I'm a satisfied customer, I can continue to read my ebooks on an excellent device. Amazon's Staff were Professional and Polite and I will continue to buy books from them.

I do have further thoughts on this though.

The Good - This interaction suggests that the Fault is indeed recognised by Amazon as a manufacturing defect which they are liable for, and that Procedures are in place to handle this, If this were not the case, I doubt that the Supervisor would have agreed quite so readily to a free like for like replacement.

The Bad - If that's true, Amazon (Not the Agent, the company) were knowingly trying to sell me a replacement product which had failed due to a Manufacturer's Defect. If I hadn't pushed my claim, it's possible, I would have been fobbed off.

The (Replacement) Kindle - With some pushing, Amazon fulfilled their obligations.

The Confusing - I was surprised that Amazon weren't willing to extract a further £69 out of me at a cost to them of £40 over me buying a new Paperwhite, rather than sending me a 'free' device which is inventoried to them as worth £149

The lesson, is to make sure you know your rights, do lots of research and ensure that you get the service you deserve.


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