Amazon’s Insulting Kindle Replacement Offer [Rant]

Image via CrunchBase

Normally, I try to keep Global Geek News as much of an upbeat and happy place for geeks and nerds to visit as possible, but I have to rant about the horrible Amazon customer support experience I just had.  I almost never take the opportunity to rant on here (I don’t think I have done so in a couple of years), so if you want to see how irritated I can get and find out just what Amazon did to inspire my anger, read on!

Not long after Amazon launched the Kindle 2, I decided to order one since the idea of carrying all my books in one device seemed really handy.  That was over 3 years ago and I have absolutely loved the device ever since, especially since it was one of the few Kindle 2 e-readers that were on the Sprint 3G network rather than the AT&T 3G network (I get better coverage around here with Sprint who is also my cell provider).  Unfortunately, my Kindle 2’s life came to an end today when I pulled it out of my backpack to discover the screen had somehow cracked despite its protective cover that has served it will for over 3 years.

At this point I assumed all hope was lost but decided to give Amazon’s Kindle support a call to see if it was possible to repair it.  After all, what did I have to lose?

After waiting on hold for about 20 seconds, some guy who I believe was named Mark (which I’m guessing must be a popular name in India) told me that Kindle 2 parts were no longer available to them to be able to fix my device.  Considering my Kindle 2 is over 3 years old, I suppose I kind of expected an answer like that.  However, he said that he could offer me a discounted Kindle 3 as a replacement.  Then I was put on hold.

A minute or so later, ‘Mark’ came back to tell me the best he could do was “upgrade” me to a Kindle 3 (note: this isn’t even the current generation Kindle) at the cost of $84 plus I would have to deal with the hassle and expense of sending it back to Amazon.  REALLY?!

I’m not an unreasonably kind of guy (it really doesn’t take that much to make me a happy customer), but to try to “upgrade” me to a Kindle that uses AT&T’s inferior 3G network compared to the Sprint 3G network that I am on and at the cost of more than I would spend on a current generation Kindle is downright insulting!  I pointed out the fact that it would cost me more to replace this Kindle than it would to just by a new one, but ‘Mark’ didn’t seem to care and I could take the offer or leave it.  At that point, I declined the offer and ended the call.

After a couple of minutes and a few pissed off tweets later, I decided to fill out the survey that I was linked to in the automated e-mail that Amazon sent after the call.  Of course I voiced my displeasure in the survey and was then invited to give them another chance and call them again.  Since this has worked out well for me in the past after initially dealing with support people that were either new or didn’t know what they were doing, I decided to give it a shot.

A minute or so later, I was connected to another hard to understand Indian guy (I am just assuming based on the accent which I am usually very good at detecting) by the name of David (seems American names are really catching on in that part of the world).  David seemed slightly more interested in helping me but not by much.  After putting me on hold for several minutes, he offered me the same Kindle 3 deal but for $65 and some sort of $20 promotional credit which was never really explained (not that I could understand much of what he said anyway since he seemed to be using a rather crappy headset).  Of course I still found this to be unreasonable considering I would have to ship back my Kindle 2 before things would even get rolling.  After I declined the offer, ‘David’ hid back behind the hold music to try to get me a better deal.

After a couple more minutes, ‘David’ returned with the final offer of the $65 replacement fee and a $25 promotional credit (which was still never explained) and then he rambled off something that couldn’t be understood, even after he repeated himself (crappy headset + foreign accent = fail).  At that point, I said no again and ended the call since it was pointless to continue trying to talk to somebody I couldn’t understand anyway.  If ‘Mark’ had lead with this offer, I would have considered it, but after the insulting first offer that ‘Mark’ gave me, they are going to have to do better than that.  I’m not looking for a free Kindle, but I do expect to be treated like I am worth more than pond scum.

So, I am now stuck without a Kindle and that will likely stay the case at least until the new ones are announced in the next month or so (according to the latest rumors).  Apparently the culture at Zappos hasn’t rubbed off on Amazon as much as one would have hoped.