GRAY MATTERS: Comparing Midterms 1934 and 2010

@#$%^ Amazon

UPDATE: 8AM TODAY: Late last evening, Crabby took another shot at getting her new Kindle to work.

Not believing the Amazon rep who said her ISP was at fault, she deduced that the fix needed was probably a router setting. Since these are a mystery to Crabby, she telephoned tech support at her router manufacturer.

The free support period had long expired, so with a great deal of language difficulty, Crabby first questioned the rep to determined that they could fix the problem. Satisfied, she then paid an outrageous sum of money for the support.

A techie led Crabby through a quick and minor software update and then told her to change ONE router setting. She tried connecting to her WiFi again and it worked. The Kindle became functional. So in summary:

• Amazon sold a device knowing that it might not work.

• Three different Amazon reps gave Crabby three different explanations, none of which were a correct analysis of the problem.

• Crabby figured out the source of the difficulty all by her little self and paid enough for the fix that she could have spent less to buy the $189 Kindle with 3G that would have worked from the getgo.

Crabby has been using complicated technology long enough to know that when she has a problem, it is not unique. Thousands, maybe millions have the same the difficulty.

Someone at Amazon knows there is a router problem with an easy fix, but instead of training their reps or, better, including instructions for equipment from the major router manufacturers, they prefer alienating a long-time customer.

Having had a little time to play with the Kindle before she fell asleep last night, Crabby thinks the device is quite cool and will be useful. But she will forever be suspicious of Amazon.

Imagine, if you will, an eight-year-old at her birthday party who has just torn the wrapping paper off a pretty package to discover a Playstation. Wowowow. But after Dad spends 30 minutes trying to set it up, it won't connect. The little girl is completely deflated and disappointed. It ruins her birthday.

That is exactly how Crabby Old Lady feels right now. Let her explain.

Last week, in a fit of modernity, Crabby bought a Kindle – the little $139 version. She figured it would be good for books she reads once and doesn't need to keep that are less expensive in Kindle editions than hardcovers and some paperbacks, not to mention the tens of thousands of free books to choose from.

It arrived yesterday afternoon and because Crabby is like an eight-year-old when she gets a new toy, she figured she could play for awhile and still take care of the preparations for the TGB elderblogger meetup on Saturday.

The Kindle comes with a cute, little Quick Start Guide and it was easy to get it plugged in to charge the battery. Then she tried connecting to her router network. Kindle refused the connection. (Why is nothing ever easy with electronics?)

Thinking she must have gotten the password wrong (how often does anyone use their router password?), she checked her records and tried again. She was refused again.

After a third refusal – with those chores nagging and knowing that her energy fades by about 3PM every day - Crabby phoned the Kindle help line. Amazingly, she waited only a minute for a customer service representative. Hoo-ray.

After the usual preliminaries to prove Crabby is who she says she is, she explained her problem. Then:

AMAZON REP: Press “home” and type in “date,” he said. [Crabby fumbles with tiny keyboard.]

CRABBY: It says January 24, 2010. That would be a problem, I think.

AMAZON REP: Yes, that is why you can't connect to your WiFi network.

CRABBY: How do I set the date correctly?

AMAZON REP: Go to a public hotspot that doesn't need a password and it will reset itself.

CRABBY: Huh? Isn't there an internal calendar?

Well, no. The Amazon representative said that in newly manufactured Kindles the date problem has been corrected. Crabby could return this Kindle and they would send another. But, he said (now get this), there is no guarantee it would include the date fix.

The rep told Crabby that most McDonald's and Starbucks have hotspots. Well, Crabby's never seen a McDonald's anywhere near her home. She recalls a Starbucks, but isn't sure where. And anyway, the Kindle hasn't finished charging and if it's anything like a new cell phone, it won't finish for three or four hours.

It's probably just as well because as soon as she finishes bitching in this post, she'll get back to her preparations for Saturday.

But she is one pissed off Crabby Old Lady (and an unhappy little girl too).

What can be said about a company that charges a customer's credit card and knowingly sends out a product that is possibly defective? That requires one to wander around town hunting for a free hotspot?

10 MINUTES LATER: Oh, wait. It just got worse. Crabby had filled in an email rating request for her customer service call giving them a failing grade and then the phone rang. Amazon, wanting to know her problem.

But then, THEN, the rep wouldn't talk to Crabby because, she said, the name on her customer account is not the name Crabby gave her. Crabby checked her account name online and it is the name she gave them.

After a ten-minute wait on hold, the rep deigned to speak with Crabby and told her the WiFi connection date problem was with Crabby's ISP and they couldn't help her connect her Kindle.

Crabby is now way beyond her cute little birthday girl metaphor. Amazon has turned her into a giant, raving lunatic. She can only hope now that the first rep is correct and when she can find the time, she'll go look for a hotspot.

30 MINUTES LATER: Another call from Amazon from yet a third rep who walked Crabby through a software update and again Crabby attempted a connection to her WiFi. FAIL! And no more suggestions from the Amazon rep.

Nothing for Crabby to do now but return the damned thing.

Crabby has left raving lunatic behind and is back to being a disappointed little girl.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dolores Banerd: One Wedding. One Funeral. One Week.


On occasions like this, I hate "e-progress". What a bummer. Maybe, Millie G. can offer a suggestion. :)Dee

I have steam coming out of my ears and my blood pressure has risen just from reading this. I have spent more time on the phone pushing buttons and listening to loud Muzak than I care to think about. I don't think I'll ever order anything again. Well, that's a lie. I'm sure I will. I just hope it works when I get it.

Bought a Logitech keyboard/mouse online. Wouldn't install due to some arcane problem. After a series of 55 (fifty five!) e-mails with folks whose proficiency in English matched mine in (just picking a language totally at random here) Hindi, I gave up. It's not worth the aggravation. In the future, I'll send it back or trash it after a reasonable effort to resolve the problem.

We all work as Beta testers for these corporations, discovering for them what glitches they left unsolved in their devices. It is probably cheaper for them to have us mad at them than to spend the money to sort out what it would take to make their devices work more easily.

Talk about unhealthy stress ...

I hate stuff like that and even find it frustrating reading about someone else's experience with it. It's not right how they treat customers. grrrrrrrrr for your disappointment. I'd have felt the same way.

On the other side of this frustration level, I had a wonderful experience with a Home Depot complaint system. Thursday, we had had a problem and when I got home, I emailed them what it had been. Immediately I got back an email saying they were glad I had written and I'd hear more from them soon. I figured, yeah right, based on prior experiences similar to it other places. Within a few hours, I received a meaningful email which meant someone real had read my complaint; and they said I'd hear from the local store within a few days. That was promising and then lo and behold that store called before night and offered a satisfactory compromise to the difficulty. I was in shock but it does work that way sometimes... not often enough though.

So sorry about this with the Amazon Kindle, but glad you posted it. I was on the verge of buying exactly that Kindle, and will certainly now rethink that decision!

The tech help is often non-existent on lots of electronic gadgets. However, I had one very pleasant exception: Magic Jack. One of the cheapest gadgets out there that lets you use a phone set via your computer, I love it. But it wouldn't install, so I contacted support via email...and not only did the girl help me get it up and running, she told me how to download a patch to fix my DVD drive, which hadn't worked in a long time!

But that is the exception; most of the time, I get frustrated and very little help, especially from my local cable TV/Internet provider.

Last Saturday, I received my Kindle--same $139 model as yours. I don't have wireless and had to go to a Starbucks to download my purchased books after trying, unsuccessfully, to download using a USB connection.
But, sometime later (and I don't remember if I was in a wireless spot) I decided to set the time--Menu-->settings-->2nd page--> Device time.
Just checked and it also set the date. Now, I will see if I can download something with my USB connection.

Google for wi fi in your area--maybe something close to where you are. Get the date set and you will love your new Kindle toy.

Another thing--if you have a Mac, you can download "Kindle for the Mac" (I think it's called).--Have it on my home computer and it gives you the ability to read Kindle files on your computer--not that you want to, except for the Kindle User's Guide, which is nice to look at while you get familiar with your toy. Seemed to be a free download--and I suppose there is something similar for a PC.

Don't give up, you'll be just so "with it" setting on a park bench reading your e-book.

I am so sorry. I now think I will take a pass on this.

I'm so sorry you had such a problem with your new Kindle. I got one, had no difficulties since we have wifi in our house and I LOVE it. All those books in an instant- oh yeah!

Wishing you and all your guests a wonderful get-together tomorrow.

I loved my Kindle and now my Kindle ap on my I-pad but I am lucky to have an "in-house expert" husband who began his career in computers in '59 and can solve any problem. And no, I am not lending him out. Gladys

I had a similar problem so I understand your frustration. It turns out the "password" is not the password you assigned to your router but actually your router "security key" which is a different thing altogether. I didn't call Amazon but got the help I needed from in the troubleshooting section. Once you get it working you will love your Kindle. Don't return it, enjoy it!

I never had that problem. Mine loaded up just fine.

No help for you, though.

Sorry you're having a crappy time with it. I really like mine and fortunately, I get my downloads/orders PDQ via the Wi-fi.


Newer routers do not use a security key. The password is sufficient.

What you need is a teen-ager. They do all this effortlessly!!!

I share your frustration. Mine is not with a gadget but with a company. After canceling their service 8 months ago they suddenly charged my credit card with $425. It's a long saga and I think I will write a post on it.

I spent hours and hours trying to solve this nerve wracking problem and wish I could sue the b------s for the stress they caused me. It is not resolved yet, but when it is I will tell all on my blog.

Where, oh where, is the sense of responsibility in today's business world? In their lexicon 'The customer is always wrong'.

I have the Kindle 2 with the wireless (like a cell phone) connection. Never a problem with it. I can use it anywhere. There is no charge for downloading. On a recent trip outside the country, I was charged $5.00 to use the wireless for a week, not bad, since I could get my daily NYT and weekly Nation and download book samples and so on.
So does this model use only wi-fi and not wireless? That would make it way less convenient.

Oh, I mean to say there is no charge for using the wireless within the U.S., including Hawaii, where I live.


If Ronni waited for me to help her out she'd have to wait "until the cows came home."


I've had my Kindle for a few weeks now and am just starting to find my way around.

It can do so many things - I just have to figure out how to do them. :-)

So far my experiences with amazon have been good. I wouldn't say exceptionally great, but it has served it's purpose with customer service. I've though about buying a kindle instead of buying books. Great things about the kindle is you can download books anywhere and almost instantaneously.

Ain't technology grand?! Well, no, not always. I've been considering buying a Kindle (or an iPad) for my husband's b'day but haven't yet because I've heard that there are problems. His b'day is early next month, and I think I may wait until Christmas--or maybe even next year! Seriously, it sounds like some work better than others, and I'd really appreciate knowing which models they are; also, Kindle or iPad??

I have both devices and I would vote for the Ipad. Although it is more expensive, the Ipad is so much more flexible. Beside being an e-book, it has many other applications including a Kindle ap. The Ipad is back-lit, which the Kindle is not so it is easier on the eyes. The only advantage that I know of for the Kindle is that it is easier to read glare. The Ipad does not do well outdoors. Gladys

I bought a new HDTV with wireless internet capacity this week
so I could stream movies and it refuses to take the password to my network. The password has worked with every other device so I have no idea where the problem is. I thought it could be the router but it might be the TV. There are work arounds but I want it to work the way it claims. This will take me some time to figure out.
I wish all these devices played nice with each other.

Actually, Oct 8th IS my birthday. For real.I am now 65. Not that that is relevant to anything.

I have contemplated buying a Kindle but maybe not if it is this complicated. I am assuming you just need to connect to the internet to download the novel/book. But not to read it? As they show people in buses and cars reading the bks in their kindle.

I think you did well though sorting through this. It's a mad, mad, world. I think the Existentialists and Theatre of the Absurd folks had the right flavour about the absurdity of life.

Brava, Ronni, for figuring out the problem yourself. That must have been a good feeling, even if you are angry with amazon. This also is helpful information about the cheaper Kindle. TY.

Glad you got your Kindle squared away. I'm sure you'll love having an e-reader. For those who are considering buying one, I would suggest the Barnes & Noble Nook which has many advantages over the Kindle, i.e. you can download books from your public library and can let a friend borrow a purchased e-book. (More info on the B&N site.) I do not have WiFi, have the 3G model and have been happy with the free B&N support system.

Thanks for the comments about the Kindle, iPad and Barnes & Noble Nook (which I hadn't even considered before). With a little additional research, I may be able to make a decision before my husband's b'day. Cost is definitely an issue, but I want to get something he'll like and that won't be too problematic. He's a bit of a techie so what may intimidate me won't faze him.

OYE VEY!!!!Another gadget - I bought a Pogo solitaire e-game from Amazon - was charged double to my bank account - it took a month to rsolve that - and the thing doesn't work - broken screen - so now I filed a claim...I am not into all this tech stuff and will just have to hold a book. By the way - Book Page is a wonderful site and just won a book called The Room. Wish I could come to your elderbloggers gathering but Brockton Mass. is a little far. L'CHAIM to all the folks.

So many interesting comments here. Love it.

I too was disappointed in the Kindle. I got it as a gift and I plan to sell it and get a Sony Reader. The biggest drawback is that you can't download library books to it. It's a "closed loop" and I refuse to be locked into buying books. The forums have an illegal workaround but the Sony Reader my DH got has no problem loading library books.

One thing you ought to know, is that you can always download Kindle books on to your computer and then from the computer on to your kindle. It takes two more minutes or thereabouts, but it's quite efficient and works.
At the moment, my Kindle is not working and as I am in France, I had to make arrangements to have it returned to Amazon and getting one that works back to me. I am cheap and don't want to pay extra postage ;)
I do miss my Kindle though. Much easier to carry around in my rucksack than a book. I do read quite a bit on the underground and on buses.

Love it Kindle

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