Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Amazing Amazon Service / Paying You To Stop Working

Recently, my Kindle Lighted Leather Cover's light stopped working. I wasn't sure what the reason was because there were no screws that I could tinker with. The case came with one year warranty so I knew Amazon could get it replaced for free. What I didn't expect was how well the process went.

Firstly, I had to call them, so I switched on Skype, went to Amazon's 'contact us' page, and called the US number. A lady answered and I told her about the problem. What's wonderful is that Amazon's tech support personnel are really out of this world. I've called them a few times and they are consistently nice to talk with. They are not in a hurry, they will listen to you, they will wait (and really wait patiently) for you to provide information.

Anyway I'd done my homework. I told her that I narrowed down the fault to the lighted cover because I'd tested the cover with another Kindle and the light still didn't work. There was a possibility that this other Kindle was faulty, but I reckoned it's pretty unlikely. It was more likely that the cover was at fault.

She listened to me, got the picture, and said she would refund me the cost of the cover. I was floored! No more interrogation? No more 'are you sure you didn't drop it on the floor only to have a car accidentally drive over it?' Didn't I need to send the faulty one back first? She said she would overnight a new cover over, but the colour I wanted was out of stock, so the next best thing would be to refund me the money so that I could buy whatever I wanted. I was told to return the faulty cover and was given an address label to print out and paste on the package. Brilliant!

The story didn't end there. I later realised that the return address label was meant for people in the US, and it had no address printed on it, only bar codes. The customer can just drop the package off at any post office and that's that. So I emailed Amazon about this 'problem', told them I was currently overseas, and could they give me another address label to use so that I could ship the faulty Kindle cover back to them.

A few hours later someone emailed me back.


I'm sorry to hear about the problem you are experiencing with this return. In this case, please return the item to our return address below and write back to us with the return shipping charges and we will refund the same to the payment method used in your order. Please write the reason for your return on the packing slip, put the slip in the carton, and wrap the package securely. If you no longer have your packing slip, please write your order number on a slip of paper.

Send the package to:
     172 Trade Street
     Lexington, KY 40511

Please write back and let us know what you paid for return shipping so we may credit you the correct amount. Please visit the following link to provide the information we requested....

Wow! They are paying for my shipping! So this has been quite a pleasant surprise because even though I've heard of superlative service from Amazon, I haven't really had the need to use it before. I filled in the form stating how much it cost me to ship the lighted case back.

Update (30th January): I received an email from customer service.

Greetings from Amazon.com.

We're writing to let you know we processed your refund of $6.00 for your Order 104-6085509-7637041.

This refund is for the following item(s):

Item: Kindle Lighted Leather Cover, Burnt Orange (Fits 6" Display, Latest Generation Kindle)
Quantity: 1
ASIN: B003DZ167A
Reason for refund: Account adjustment

Here's the breakdown of your refund for this item:
Goodwill Refund: $6.00
We'll apply your refund to the following payment method(s):

Gift Card: $6.00

Refunds typically complete within 10 business days and appear as a credit on your statement.

The amount credited to your Gift Card balance should be automatically applied to your next eligible order on our website.

Have questions about our refund policy?
Visit our Help section for more information: http://www.amazon.com/refunds
We look forward to seeing you again soon.


We're Building Earth's Most Customer-Centric Company

As expected, everything went well!

A question I am curious about is: what on earth is going on?! How does this level of customer service come about? I don't know but I sure will like to. Maybe I'll talk about another company associated with Amazon called Zappos.

Zappos is an online shoe store that's also famous for its customer service; it was bought over by Amazon in 2009. Zappos' training programme for new employees is quite interesting. They want to make sure that every new hire shares their corporate culture, concern for the customer and so on.

Now one way to make sure that happens is to intentionally keep only the people who really want to work in the company. But how about the others? Those who are not so keen to do a good job? You may wish to fire them. Sometimes, though, people need some encouragement, so that's what Zappos management is doing.

In the middle of the training programme that all new employees have to go through, they are given the chance to back out. Some people may have always wanted to work there but after going through part of the initial training decide that Zappos is not for them after all. Here's the interesting bit: Zappos management will pay you to back out! To the tune of US$2000. Take the money and leave, no questions asked.

If we were to apply this to the teaching service in Singapore, it'd be similar to saying to a trainee teacher at NIE and saying, 'OK, here's the deal, you've had a taste of school life. After experiencing a bit of what a 'teacher' is REALLY like, we understand that you may feel teaching is not your thing. So we're giving you a chance to QUIT. In fact, if you back out now, there'll be NO penalties, and we'll PAY you $2000 as a goodwill gesture to compensate for the time you've spent with us. Think about it. We'll ask you again in a few weeks.'

I'm not sure if this will ever happen, but if it did, it'll be very impressive! The idea is to recognise that some people may change their minds, and that it's perfectly all right for them to do so simply because it's best for everyone. The other good thing is that only the truly interested people remain, the ones who don't wish to cash out and stay on.

Perhaps Amazon, after acquiring Zappos, have also taken a leaf out their hiring practice. I won't be too surprised if that's the case, given the ease that my Kindle cover was replaced. For the record, if MOE offers me $3000 today to quit, I won't do it. I think I quite like my job LOL!

Further reading:
Why Zappos Offers New Hires $2,000 to Quit
The policy of providing a let-out after one week has gained worldwide attention. Columnist Keith McFarland explains why it makes sense


Joo Kwang said...

Great sharing! It gives me more confidence to continue with Amazon! Thanks Jeff, for your useful information here, I got my Kindle3 sometime ago and is using it really well.

A question though. If I want to purchase ebooks from Amazon, is there a difference to purchasing them with Credit Card payment or is it better to buy a Gift Card and deduct from there? In addition, I was using the VPN to 'mask' the IP and make them think I am in the States, but could I just simply change the location settings in Amazon to The States from Asia & Pacific. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks a lot always!

jeffyen said...

I think it's better to use the gift card method. Without the vpn, they can tell (even if you change country to US), so that's not good. Just follow my instructions in the earlier blog entry. :)

cheng said...

hi Jeff
any ideas on getting a kindle repair here in singapore? my kindle (2nd generation) screen is bad. Amazon asked me to return it and will send me a replacement (same model) for US$89.

jeffyen said...

Cheng, I'm not aware of a repair facility here. If I'd you, I'd spend US$50 more and get a new Kindle 3. The screen is so much better. :)

Snail said...

Hi Jeff,

did you use DHL to ship the package back to US?

I'm going to send a defect kindle back to them but confused which one should is use? singpost / DHL.

jeffyen said...

Snail, there'e no need to send it using DHL. Just treat it like a normal small package since it's very light, and use Singpost.

Donut said...

my kindle 3 screen just cracked when i drop it on floor. May i know if there is any way to send it to usa for repair.. it under warranty.

If i use singpost, what service do i use? i really confused with their service.. Guidance much appreciate!!

Merchant Services said...

Good to hear everything went well. Whenever I receive good customer service, I usually become a loyal customer of that store or company. Your story was overwhelming and I think I'll be visiting Amazon more often. :)


jeffyen said...

Donut, they may just send you a free one. Contact the Kindle customer support dept.

If you need to send the case back, just put it in an envelope and post using normal 'small package' I believe. It costs less than $10 as mentioned in this blog entry.

Xinyi said...

I accidentally dropped my Kindle and now it has black lines across the top of the screen for about 1cm. It's still usable/readable so I'm wondering if it's worth the trouble to call them up and send it back for repair. From your experience, do you think it's worth the trouble? Alternatively, is there any shop that does repairs locally?

Thanks for the help :)

jeffyen said...

Xinyi, perhaps you can just keep it. Or you can skype them and see if they can send you a new one. I don't think repairing is worth it since your unit is still essentially usable. I don't think there are local repair shops as these are e-ink components that need to be replaced.

CsianG said...

Helo Jeff. Thank you for sharing. I have my Kindle screen cracked also. I contacted the Amazon service center and they offer me a replacement. But, I have problem in the shipping and payment. They need US address for shipping and US-issued credit/debit card for verification.

Can I seek your advice in this issue?

jeffyen said...

csiang, the US address would be your comgateway or borderlinx address. Go and apply for a cgw address if you don't have one.

I am not sure why they need a credit card for verification. Usually they will ask you to ship back the faulty device?

Make sure you contact the kindle division's tech support rather then the general amazon one. There's a link at your kindle account for reaching support...

Kelvin said...

I have not use my Kindle for a couple of months and when I took it out (after purchasing a copy of Steve jobs Biography on Kindle) recently the screen just went haywire.

The pages 'overlap' each other and is totally unreadable. Despite charging to full capacity and hard reset a few times. The screen just refuses to work.

I read about your return experience and decided to call them via Skype again. I have to say the call quality via Skype is superb.

OK. back to the Kindle. They put me to the technical department and I explain the problem to them. Also told them I have attempted to hard reset a few times. They than ask me 2 other questions. 1. Did I drop it? 2. Did I wet it? I said NO to both questions and he told me he is arranging for the replacement to be ship to be right now. Just like that.

They did asked for the credit card information, reason being if I did not return the faulty Kindle within 30 days they will charge my credit card for the Kindle.

As per Jeff's experience, he told me he has sent me the email to print out the shipping label. Having learn from here, I told him I am currently in Singapore and asked for the address to be send to. Which is the same as the one provided here.

There are 2 emails sent by them. 1st is the earlier email with links to print the postage label as well as my order information (yes, they have already arrange the shipment of the replacement Kindle). The 2nd email has the address to send to and also a link to submit my tracking number and amount paid for postage.

I packed the kindle back to the original box and proceed to SingPost to sent it out. However, I was rejected by SingPost as the item contain Lithium battery (which Amazon require me to paste on the outside of the box indicating "Contains Lithium-ion batteries, NO Lithium-Metal").

So I was left with the commercial service. I drop by DHL service centre and was told to sign a declaration and was charged the min 0.5kg (It was 424g) of SGD73.60.

I send the info to Amazon (via the Link provided) and within an hour I got a reply thanking me for sending the faulty Kindle back and providing the tracking number, They also told me they have proceed to process the USD58 shipping refund to my gift card (as I bought the Kindle using gift card).

YES, they are refunding all USD58 (equivalent of SGD73.60 I paid) I paid for shipping for a (now) USD99 Kindle. I am impressed.

Even though I need to pay extra for the shipping from USA (Borderlinx) to Singapore, I am still a happy Amazon customer. Amazing Amazon.

Anonymous said...

to kelvin:

i am experiencing the same problem, and i have contacted the amazon customer support.

Regarding the credit card info, did you include it in the end, and use a singapore billing address? I was told i had to include my credit card information in order to proceed with the return, and i did so. I'm wondering if this will lead to them locking my kindle.

Thanks for your help!

C.P said...

Thanks to all your positive comments and advice on Amazon customer service, decided to contact them regarding my faulty Kindle.

I had the new Kindle 4 for a month when the power button refused to start up the unit. Then I also have problems charging the unit. Checked the Amazon troubleshooting page, and did many rounds of hard-setting the unit but problem persists.

I sent an email to them about my problem. They replied that I need to call or chat with them to troubleshoot further. So I did a live web chat. Within minutes, they offered to replace my unit. I expressed my apprehension that same problem would recur but they assured that the replacement unit will have no such problem. (Great! :) They then asked for my mailing address. Told them I'm based in Singapore but they said they can only ship it to a US address and asked if they can use the one in my account (vpost usa). Told me that I have to return the faulty unit in 30 days else they will charge me for the new unit .

I said ok but can I ship the faulty unit from Singapore? They said yes, please insure it too and Amazon will refund the entire shipping costs. (Wow! )They emailed me with all the details on how to do the return, print label etc.

They shipped the new unit overnight and within 2 days, it's already at vpostusa! And the cost to ship it to Singapore was only $17.90!

As for the faulty unit, I went to DHL service center at Tai Seng Drive cos the DHL outlets at the petrol stations can't do the paperwork regarding the Lithium battery. Anyway, total costs was $72 plus another $30 for the insurance. Sent the details to Amazon. Within a day, they refunded the full amount of $102 to my credit card (had used it to pay for my original Kindle)!!!

It is really an amazing service through and through. Though I have used the Kindle for such a short time (love the e-ink page) and was initially frustrated with the technical problems, their responsive service restored my confidence and willingness to give it another try. Amazing Amazon indeed! :)

jeffyen said...

C.P., thanks so much for your report. There's just no other way to say it: it's truly amazing service.

Hopefully the new set isn't a lemon. You do have vpn access right? If not, can email me...

C.P said...

Hi Jeff,

Got the vpn access from you previously lah. Thanks so much for that!

Surprisingly, I had managed to buy like about 20 books from the Kindle store over the wireless on the device. It just downloads instantly so amazing. Know that you advised not to but wondered if this is viable in the long term.

Your blog has been very useful to my Kindle adventure that I hope that my recent experience with Amazon may be helpful to your readers.

jeffyen said...

C.P., it may not be viable in the long run; it's a hit and miss thing. I still get emails from people saying they got the 'dreaded email' from amazon...

Julie K said...

Hi, I bought a Kindle 5th Edition when I was on a transit flight in London Heathrow Airport on October this year. The problem I have now is that the screen freezed for 3 days now. I tried to reset by pressing the on button below it but it was unresponsive. The screen freezed at the last page I was reading and was not able to turn to next page. Since I bought it from a third party, I'm not able to return it to Amazon. Do you know where I can have it repaired in Singapore?

jeffyen said...

Julie K,

What's probably happening is that the power is drained. Just get a USB cable and charge it with your computer etc. until the orange LED turns green. Try this first.

Julie K said...

Hi Jeff, I tried that, but the light went off after 5mins or so. What would you recommend?

jeffyen said...

Julie K, do you mean the yellow LED light went off in 5 minutes?

Try this: While the LED light is still on, press the power button for at least 20s, then release.

Julie K said...

Hi Jeff,

I did but no response. What else would you recommend?

jeffyen said...

Julie K, email me at jeffreyyen@gmail.com

What is shown on the screen all this time?