An Open Letter To Amazon’s Jeff Bezos

The following email was sent directly to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

Dear Mr Bezos,

My name is Dan Cohen and I am an editor for the tech website I am also a proud Kindle owner. In fact, many of us on the site’s staff have, and love, our Kindles. I’m writing to you regarding an experience I have had over the past few days that clearly struck a cord with readers and Kindle owners worldwide.

It began last Friday when I got a new iPhone and iPod touch and was unable to load some of my kindle books on them. Not wanting to waste time struggling with whatever download issues I had encountered, I called customer service. As usual the rep was pleasant and clearly willing to help. He problem solved the issue with me and was clear and definitive in his conclusion. He explained that different books have different download limits assigned to them and, once reached, require repurchasing the book. As you can imagine, I was more than a bit surprised since this runs counter to the documentation provided by Amazon. I double checked to see if I had understood him properly and was very specific saying “So you are telling me I need to repurchase the book?” He told me I did. When I asked where I could find the limits in the future, he told me I could not since they are set my the publisher and Amazon often does not know.

Mr Bezos, he was clear, unambiguous, and as you know, completely wrong.

The following day it took no less than three more customer reps to get accurate information and even then there was a lack of clarity. Along the way I was given additional information that proved incorrect and was even told the entire episode was the result of server error.

Even after getting clarification that the number of times you can download a book is unlimited but the number of devices is not, I was told that there is no way to know how many different devices one is permitted to use for any given book prior to buying it.

As you may have been made aware, I posted on both conversations. The incredible interest in the story is proof positive that this is a significant issue and needs, at the minimum, a clear, unambiguous clarification. Among the suggestions I would offer-

1. Please put up a page with all the information including the subtle limitations that even your reps don’t know

2. Please immediately retrain your reps so they do not give entirely false information to unaware customers. This entire episode began because one of your reps was completely wrong on the limitations of the DRM connected to Kindle books. While the other issues would still be present, the misinformation that fueled it would not.

Please know this — I am a huge fan of Amazon and a big supporter of the Kindle. I truly believe it is the future, and there is no company better positioned to move people toward this technology than Amazon. You have already shown this to be the case. At the same time, however, when more than 90,000 people take the time to read two articles about my experience it also becomes clear that clarification need to come from the top.

I truly hope you will do just that.

Dan Cohen
Editor Gear Diary
Proud Kindle 2 owner

Link to 1st Post

Link to 2nd Post

Categories: Editorials

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19 replies

  1. I really hope that they do something positive in reponse to this situation.

  2. You and me, both. I love my DX. I want to buy more books for it. I don’t want to worry about what I can or can’t do with my books when or if I upgrade. Waiting for clarification…

  3. It seems, to me, the publishers may be greedy. However, it would be nice for Amazon to come out and say it. If there is a limit, fine. Let us know WHICH ones have that limit and we won’t buy from them! Which is what they are afraid of. 😉

  4. Agreed, Joel.

    I am a new Kindle 2 owner. I bought one after the team review here at Gear Diary, largely because of that review. The device is expensive (so is the DX for that matter…) and in this economy, discretionary purchases of that amount are difficult to justify. I am hoping that I don’t regret making the purchase. I’m just sayin’…

  5. At a bare minimum, Amazon should be doing what Apple has done with iTunes, where their DRM policy boundaries are clear, absolute and delineated. You can have iTunes approved and usable on up to five computers, you can release a computer (I believe) 5 times a year, and once a year you can release all your computers and resign up all the computers. You can do it yourself, and you don’t need a rep’s help. iTunes policy is clear and it is unambiguous.

    Amazon’s Kindle DRM policy needs to be just as clear and unambiguous.

  6. I think it is a given that publishers are greedy … and if they have been watching the RIAA they know that Congress will bend to their will and enact anti-consumer laws for no good reason.

    But as Judie says, having clarity & transparency is the key.

  7. Michael–
    and customer reps who have a clue. :)

  8. Dan,

    What did the CSR’s Supervisor and CSR Manager say when you spoke with them about their reps confusion? Spending many years in Support Management, I know that this type of confusion really stems from the people in charge of the reps. They should have got the correct answers for you and informed the CSR of their error immediately. Having dealt with multiple inaccuracies, the reps should have also pointed you directly to their Manager. If this didn’t occur, then this should be addressed as well.

  9. LordDavon, four reps, four different variations of answers, and even the fourth and final one had to put me on hold twice to “look into” finding the answers to some of the specific questions I asked. As I have noted in a number of places, there are a host of issues. None of them make me regret being a Kindle owner but all of them need to be addressed. Among the issues are the reps themselves.

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