Amazon and the Kindle: A customer service tale…

Early in my experience with the Kindle DX, which I love and use constantly, I put the default Amazon case or cover on it. The cover attaches to the Kindle through two metal tabs that engage in the side of the Kindle’s plastic case. It’s not a bad cover, but it turns out that if you open the cover upside down accidentally (easy to do since the nondescript black leatherette looks about the same apart from the Amazon logo), the metal tabs flex the Kindle’s case and it can become cracked. Mine was within 2 weeks of getting the device, but without any real damage. I kept using the Kindle since I didn’t want to hassle with returns, migrating content, or being without my Kindle.

Last Friday night, I open an email from Amazon, and it contains a friendly reminder about my Kindle warranty and what it provides me. And in the middle, a little paragraph precisely describing what can happen if you open the default cover/case backwards — describing the cracking I’ve got. And the email encourages you to get in touch with Support.

After decades of purchasing high-tech gadgets and software, naturally I’m skeptical, but this is Amazon, so I shoot them an email and say I’d love to get the cracks fixed so they don’t get worse, but don’t want to be without the Kindle for very long.

Within 15 minutes I get a simple, auto-generated email saying that a replacement Kindle DX is in the shipping queue, and that when it arrives I should simply transfer any non-Amazon content I’ve loaded onto my old one, swap devices, and send the old one back with the pre-paid shipping label provided. In fact, I have 30 days to migrate to the new device and send the old one back (if I don’t, they’ll simply charge me the cost of the device).

I shouldn’t be blown away by this, because Amazon bases their business on fast service, shipment, resolution of problems, etc. When they estimate the delivery date of a book, I know it’s always that date — or earlier. Returns of erroneous shipments or broken items have always been easy. So I should have expected this kind of treatment for the Kindle.

But I didn’t. Somehow, when the product or service is highly technical — not just an order of toiletries, CDs or books — I’ve come to expect crappy service and support. Haven’t you?

Amazon (and to a significant, but lesser extent Apple) continue to show that customer service and advanced technology and services can go together quite nicely. Kudos, Amazon. And thanks — not just for fixing my Kindle, but going out of your way to remind me that I had every right to have my cracked Kindle fixed.