January 02, 2010

Kindle Part II - Why I'm still a luddite

This morning I was walking my dog, and in his haste to find a comfortable place to do what he does on walks, he yanked the leash to its end. This would have been all well and good on any other day, but on this day, I had decided to do some multi-tasking, reading my Kindle on the walk.
My poor Kindle 1 leaped from my grasp and tumbled two full twists before hitting the cement walkway. As I yelled profanities at the dog, I knelt down and cradled the pieces of my poor abused electronic book and slid the back onto the unit, cradling it back into the (haha!) protective leather case.

Damaged..the screen connections were damaged. My poor e-book had taken a hit to the top-left corner of the screen, and it had ripped apart the e-ink screen connectors, so there were now lines running both across and down the left and top of my display. Sadness, pure sadness, ran through my soul. This is an expensive book. I had paid a good chunk of change for this unit some time ago. Sure I had received $80 cash back from Bing, but I bought the unit right before the 2nd gen Kindle arrived, so I still ended up paying more than the current full price.

After looking on the web for suggestions, I tried the reset button (no dice), and eventually called Kindle Customer Service at Amazon. Upon calling Amazon at first I received a call center with a heavily accented customer service rep. My hopes were almost dashed at being understood, when he passed me on to 'Kindle Customer Support', which appeared to be staffed by understanding and caring English-speaking folk. They understood what had happened and at first promised to take care of me.

That is, until I got to the second representative. He identified that the unit was out of warranty, and I told him that I knew that and would be willing to pay for repairs, and THIS is where I decided to not replace my Kindle with another Kindle.

It can't be repaired. They don't repair the units. Not even the units that are in fine working order except for the screen. They only replace them. And they only replace them with newer units. WHAT!?!?!??!!?! No, no, no! The Kindle 1 has a replaceable battery and takes memory cards that allow me to separate my library, and store much more material. The Kindle 2 buttons aren't as good as the Kindle 1. Yet, the rep categorized the Kindle 2 as an upgrade. Some upgrade! And I'd be paying for a new unit that I liked less? What kind of a deal is that?

Now, back to the luddite comment. If I had dropped the book I was reading (a 19th century text on 'How to Live on 24 Hours a Day'), it wouldn't have dented and become unreadable. It may have become unbound, being more than 100 years old, but I'd have been able to see the top lines of the text when I gathered the sheets from the ground. Perhaps one page may have torn, nay two, but not each and every page of that book and every other book in my library safe at home. It is things like these that make me pine for the old ways, assuring me, over and over, that the new ways are not always better, and in some ways worse.

My poor Kindle. Someone tell Jeff Bezos that his 'upgraded' Kindle isn't getting my vote. I'll use my poor Kindle 1 until the day I can't read the screen at all (which may be soon if I drop it again), but I'll be damned if I replace it at full cost with a unit that takes more capabilities away from me. The fact that a manufacturer no longer supports equipment for repair at less than 2 years after you buy it is disappointing and goes to show just what kind of throw-away consumer society we've become. I am sorely disappointed in Amazon's inability to support their product, but they're certainly not the only ones. I'd pay extra at this point for something with a 10-year warranty (not that dropping should be a covered event). Maybe I'll go out into my garage and hug my Stanley and Craftsman tools.

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