The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Will Kindle Fuck Up Amazon?
January 13, 2010, 5:55 am
Filed under: Comment

I like Amazon … I think they’re a great company that offer people the opportunity to get the things they want regardless of where they live and they do it efficiently and effectively.

Saying that, I’ve never regarded them as a great ‘brand’– I don’t think people would actively go out of their way to transact with them if they had a cheaper/easier-to-get alternative to hand – however they are very well run and managed and like my friends at Google, they have realised there is huge brand and profit potential by developing products and services that move them into areas where they will infiltrate into other parts of people’s lives other than their digital habits and/or postal collection routine.

Now I’m not going to talk much about Kindle – that’s a post for another day, especially when the stuff we’ve done for them and Google hopefully comes to fruition – however there are 2 things that have happened recently that has made me think their focus on their new digital book reader has led to them failing in their goal to be ‘Earth’s most customer-centric company.’

Issue 1

So I got a new Kindle at Christmas … and as usual, it got delivered in their customary brown box.

Anyway, just as I was about to open it, I saw this logo on prominent display …


Now obviously they think this is a good thing to say – either because they know people are fed up of having to spend 30 minutes trying to open their DVD’s and CD’s or because they have had complaints in the past – but for some reason, their ‘frustration free’ packaging was errrrrrm, fairly frustrating, which is why the only way I could get my hands on my new toy was to do this …


Who the hell did Amazon get it certified with? NASA?

OK … OK … I know I can’t even wire a plug … but come on, surely a cardboard box should be easy to open, especially if it claims to be ‘frustration free’.

Issue 2

So after almost breaking my arm opening the box, I decided to use the machine and guess what – it didn’t work.

Well it worked, but when I tried to buy a book, it never said any was available.


So I rang Amazon in America and they said to me that like iTunes, the books available were determined by region and so the ‘way around it’ was to change where I said I was located [currently HK] and put either my UK, US or Australian home address.

While it was a bit of a pain, it only took 2 minutes to do and suddenly my Kindle was working as expected and I spent the rest of the day buying more books than you’d find in your local library.

All good?

Well yes … until the next morning when I got an email from Amazon saying that they thought I was trying to ‘cheat the system’ and unless I could prove I was a resident of the US, then they would have to freeze my account because there are strict rules regarding which books are available for which country.

To say I saw red is a massive understatement – and it only got worse given it took me 20 minutes to find an email address to respond to – so conjuring up my father’s spirit, I fired off a pretty harsh email telling them to basically go fuck themselves because [1] they told me to change my main address and [2] what’s the point having a Kindle if publishers don’t want to sell books in the country you’re in.

Twenty four hours later I got a reply apologising, saying there must be some misunderstanding because the previous email was only sent because they wanted to offer me the best service possible because their goal is to be Earth’s most customer centric company.

Yeah right … twats.

The thing is, I’ve spent a bloody fortune with Amazon over the years … and they have always been great, even when there’s been a problem … so I find it quite interesting that the moment they launch their own product, some core pillars of their business go to pot.

Whilst we may be a society that can be seduced by the cool and new … companies cannot afford to view good customer service as an option, especially when they have built up a great reputation over many, many years.

Amazon may have earnt a sizable number of ‘credits’ in the Rob Campbell ‘patience’ bank, but if they continue to behave in this profit-centric manner, they will realise they can go overdrawn faster than a Beverly Hills teenager shopping with their Daddy’s AMEX.

49 Comments so far
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The customer/client is always right?

Comment by John

with the amount of fucking shit you buy from the brown cardboard box company, they should have enough “credits” to break all your bones and still know youll use them.

every month when im paying my leave me the fuck alone alimony i think of how much it would cost me if i had to feed your gadget and dvd addiction and breathe a big sigh of relief. both my exes and their blood sucking shark bastard lawyers thank you.

and im fucking first on here to comment. back where i fucking belong.

Comment by andy@cynic

So nearly.

Comment by John

i dont fucking believe it. what the fuck are you doing up at this time dodds? just back from a date at the school disco?

Comment by andy@cynic

Not yet midnight – I haven’t turned into a pumpkin.

Comment by John

and any company that says they want to be earths most customer centric company sound like they need a good fucking marketing speak slap in the gob.

just seen forest lost against the thick brummy bastards. take it youll be off work for 3 months to get over it? how will i tell the difference to your normal work ethic?

Comment by andy@cynic

thanks for putting that image in my mind dodds.

Comment by andy@cynic

Any company that isn’t customer-centric won’t survive.

Comment by John

I’d just like to commend my fellow commenters for the high quality of comments on this post.

Comment by John

I think Andy’s point was that saying “customer centric” is a bit like an ad agecy saying “Creatively led”.

1. It should damn well be
2. At least say it less jargony terms

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I too was saying that it’s a redundant claim.

Comment by John

Indeed you were, I picked up a hint of disagreement that I now can’t find again!!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I can’t spell tonight…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

one thing i dont get is the pricing. i guess i dont need to understand why a kindle edition is often/sometimes slightly more expensive than a real paperback. it might be because of contracts with publishers etc., but still… and to find out that you do not need the kindle to buy kindle books takes a bit of an effort. which i can understand as they want to sell the hardware. but i just want ebooks and not the device. so it was a bit of an annoying experience for me after all. i am wondering how many people give up and think ebooks are only available at amazon via the kindle and dont buy the device, but the paperback in the end, or go and check other online stores out and maybe get hooked on another reader etc pp…

Comment by peggy

Same question we keep asking about downloadable games. Just because they aren’t a physical prduct doesn’t mean you can keep a 5 year old game at full price and expect us to pay it!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Speaking of brand building….google vs gov of people’s republic.

case of walking its talk, or not being able to gain foothold and exiting gracefully with eye towards audience in west?

Comment by Niko

is 2010 the year no fucker has a life? whats with all the comments and theyre even keeping on the subject matter. why the fuck has campbell put in your tea?

thank you mortimer for defending my honour against bully dodds but mr pumpkin makes george look like arnie so i think i can handle it from here.

Comment by andy@cynic

by the way where the fuck is age and swear a lot? why the fuck arent they making my life a fucking blog comment misery like the rest of you?

Comment by andy@cynic

Have I missed some news? Has the European timezone changed or something because I’m with Andy, WHY IS EVERYONE WRITING WHEN THEY SHOULD BE IN BED?

Saying that it’s quite nice to get up and see a sea of debate/insult going on – it’s like old times, which is backed up by the fact my beloved Nottingham Forest have gone back to losing ways.

Bloody typical … I put up a video of their glorious win against WBA, Billy wins the manager of the month award and our keeper, Lee Camp, wins the player of the month and we lose. And what makes it worse is we were all over them … and they’re a Premiership side. Bugger.

And I’m glad John clarified his point because like Mr M said, saying you’re a ‘customer centric company’ is the sort of bland, currency of business, corporate twaddle you expect from out-of-touch, insular and delusional industries like adland.

PS: Welcome to our hell Niko … or should I say ‘my’ hell given certain people in Mountain View think I am Mr Asia. I can’t even order a bowl of bloody noodles properly half the time so the chances of stopping co-ordinated web attacks in a country where the Government are behind or associated with most things, is pretty unlikely.

Where’s Mr Frith when I need him? 🙂

Comment by Rob

I don’t think your recent experience with Amazon represents a downturn in their generally excellent customer service performance, but it appears their desire to roll out Kindle as quickly as possible is throwing up some technical and publishing problems they had not foreseen which is causing the company to react in ways people don’t like or deserve.

I still prefer retro books though. 🙂

Comment by Pete

Hey all…

I’m here Andy, I’m just having an absolute shit start to my year. Apologies for my lack of uninsightful, often off-topic comments… I have been reading though, Rob.

Comment by Age

Sorry 2010 is turning to shite Age, maybe you operate on the Chinese calendar which means your new year starts on Feb 14th – annnnnnd it’s the year of the Tiger which is bound to be your sign – so all will be good, oh yes, it’s written in the stars, just like that Audi ad I slagged off.

Comment by Rob

I would imagine dear “Baz” would find this post of particular interest Robert.

I am inclined to agree with Peter, I doubt Amazon are about to experience an iminant collapse of their service standards. Still one complaint can go further than one compliment.

Have you downloaded Richard’s books on your device Robert? You know he will ask George.

Comment by Lee Hill

Yeah – take their side why don’t you Lee!

And of they were the first books I downloaded. Oh you mean LEGALLY downloaded – ahhhhh, that’s another thing altogether, ha!

Comment by Rob

Amazon are screwing publishers on their % so the price difference must be based on what they think they can screw out of the public so it’s no wonder they’re focusing all their efforts on pushing the device because like ipod is for apple (sorry baz) it’s filling their pension fund. I hate kindle.

Comment by DH

I’m not a big fan of Kindle – but then when our “reinvention” of it happens, it’ll be great and we’ll all be knighted and thanked by the American people.

Or George will. Bastard.

Anyway, I think the Kindle and e-readers will be here for a long time – not because people want them particulary – but on top of the many industries that have a vested interest in its success, publishers will push it like bastards because this format represents a more cost effective way to run their business, especially given quality journalists costs a fortune and too few people value it enough to pay for it.

I don’t agree with Murdoch on much – but his point that the quality and value of real journalism is being destroyed with the freedom of information is a valid one … and it’s not something I blame Google for [I wouldn’t dare, ha!] but because society now needs to have their inherent views & prejudices justified so they are only seeking information that backs up their view rather than makes them think and/or question.

A friend of mine said something recently I love … the brain is driven by fear, however if all we fill it with are views and opinions that back up what we already think/know, are we in danger of being less developed and intelligent than previous generations?

People once said Google is making us stupid … they’re not, our desire for an easy life is and in 30 years from now, I wonder where we will turn for truth – or at least an independent view?

Jesus, I’ve gone more off tangent than you lot could dream of achieving. What did I put in the tea???

Comment by Rob ??

ps if that reinvention is what i think it is..kudos..if not, it should be 😉

Comment by niko

Oh you’ll like what we have come up with – and it’s possibly going to get me a key to heaven. Well it will if one party accepts the truth, the other stops acting like a spoilt little girl who didn’t get a pony for her birthday and the other starts acting their job title.

Sorry, in-jokes there …

Comment by Rob

interesting thought on fear and the brain rob. or murdoch. or whoever said it.

as it happens, i think the mind is also developed by tactile and olfactory diversity. i don’t know if i’ll like the smell of a 20-year old kindle in the same way as i do a book of that age. and i’m pretty sure that all the pages of all the books from all the publishers on kindle will feel the same. which means reading will feel exactly the same for everyone, all the time, forever.

i know. insert same argument for music and records. but i still buy vinyl. so…

anyways, why did you buy one rob? was it really as ‘research’? or are you hoping that it will work better than the 55 phones you bought last year?

Comment by lauren

Chris Jaques said the ‘brain and fear’ thing – it’s far too intelligent for Murdoch, though ironically his ‘journalism’ tends to focus on creating fear for people’s brains.

I’m with you on the smell of books. I also like the look of them – all stacked up on shelves and floors – it makes me feel like I am seeing what I have learnt/thought/felt over the years … same reason I buy music and DVD’s rather than partake in either downloads or fakes.

I say that, but I’ve got to buy another Apple TV because I’ve filled one up with shit reality shows – but that’s nothing to the amount of space I have to have for books, music and film – and it doesn’t matter if I never read/see/hear them again, it just gives me a sense of possibility and security. Does that make sense? Probably not … probably because I’ve not expressed myself well.

And I did buy a Kindle for research – I have to say that or I can’t claim it as a tax reduction, ha!

PS: Don’t talk to me about bloody mobile phones!!

PPS: Lovely to have you back, especially after the Henry Rollins insult/compliment 😉

Comment by Rob

I hate bloody Kindle. You will never, ever, ever get me to consume anything other than proper books.
Serves you right.

Comment by northern

But I’m agreeing with you …

You’ve been up all night haven’t you? I recognise that reaction from Freddie and George.

Comment by Rob

The world is full of empty shelves.

Comment by John

Are you being deep again John?

Comment by Rob

yes I have, baby sick, fever, the works

Yours sincerely, My Grumpy

Comment by northern

Maybe you could hire yourself out to Boots so they could study you? Always a silver lining.

Comment by Rob

Kindle is great for reading news and short things like blogs, but I feel it will be harder to seperate me from books than it was CD’s.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I think that’s because you don’t need to do anything to enjoy/experience music whereas with books it requires focus and – to a certain extent – physical involvement.

In other words, you’re saying you’re lazy. 🙂

Comment by Rob

The opposite really… I like the physicality of books for a bigger read!

Again with music, online is great for songs; but for albums it feelslightly hollow without physicality.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

You know I was just teasing.

Comment by Rob

Of course!!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I went out with psychologist once. Very fit, very nice but kept analysing me. Probably gave her fodder for the next twenty years.
That was quite enough.
Wonder what she would make of my blog, or, more worryingly, what she would make of this one…

Comment by northern

I thnk she’d be more interested in the fact you had to clarify she was ‘fit’.


Comment by Rob

I don’t like itunes much either, but at least the thieving little bastards pay for that.
Incidentally, did anyone read Bono’s diatribe in the New York Times on downloading? Laughable.

Comment by northern

Bono? The man that paid for his hat to be flown first class so he could have it for a concert?

Yes I read his comment – and every word reminded me he is a big shareholder in Eidos software, a company losing shitloads of cash through crap games and piracy.

He’ll launch Live Aid 3 anyday now so he can get donations to keep him in stupid sunglasses.

Comment by Rob

Bono only believes in god because he thinks it’s impossible that anything as amazing as Bono could occur by chance.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Which is why I still want this:

Comment by Rob

Off now – got to check how Auntie George is given the task he is working on is now being discussed by Hillary bloody Clinton.

Nothing like 24 hours of international news, politics and blog chatter to make you feel under a bit of pressure. Ha.

Thanks for all the commentry today folks – mental, fun and smart – which would obviously not be possible if it was all down to me.

Comment by Rob

Amazon are the epitome of corporate greed. Money money money money…….

Try buying any book weighing more than a kg and see what sort of state it arrives in – it will thrown in a brown box with a piece of paper to “protect” it. Laughably disgusting attitude to it’s customers. “Oh here’s a £35 book for £25 – oh, by the way, we can’t afford to take the time or care to package it safely so you’ll have to accept it with dented corners”.

And while I’m about it – fuck the Kindle.

Comment by Sam

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